Friday, June 15, 2012

Insurrection Theory

Time to repost something of Laci's from back in September of 2009.

It addresses recent comments by both Crunchy and Civillian76, that show a lack of depth in our national history that are the legitimate context in which to appreciate and understand the 2nd Amendment.

So while this will appear as posted by me (DG), the credit /attribution belongs to Laci.

Cross posted from Laci the Dog's blog, with permission (in case one of our former Anonymi wishes to complain about plagiarism or otherwise act like a scurvy troll):

Insurrection theory of the Second Amendment…

Yes, it is specifically mentioned that the militia’s purpose is to suppress insurrections, not foment them in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 15:
“To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;”
Not to mention that congress has the power “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”
It is congress’s power to arm the Milita that the Second Amendment addresses (look up the entire text of Patrick Henry’s “Let every man be armed” speech, not the clip the “gun rights” crowd use). Also, check out this quote from Patirck Henry about Article I, Section 8, Clause 16: he wasn’t talking about self-defence, let alone insurrection!
I would also add in Article III, Section iii:
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
To prove that the insurrection theory of the Second Amendment is sheer rubbish.
The problem with the Second Amendment “gun right” theory is that it divorces the Second Amendment from the Constitution, the inconvenient text of the Amendment relating to the militia, and reality.
The Consitution must be read as a whole, not pick and choose.

Laci adds:

From Story’s Commentaries regarding Article III, Section iii of Constitution:

§ 1292. The propriety of investing the national government with authority to punish the crime of treason against the United States could never become a question with any persons, who deemed the national government worthy of creation, or preservation. If the power had not been expressly granted, it must have been implied, unless all the powers of the national government might be put at defiance, and prostrated with impunity. Two motives, probably, concurred in introducing it, as an express power. One was, not to leave it open to implication, whether it was to be exclusively punishable with death according to the known rule of the common law, and with the barbarous accompaniments pointed out by it; but to confide the punishment to the discretion of congress. The other was, to impose some limitation upon the nature and extent of the punishment, so that it should not work corruption of blood or forfeiture beyond the life of the offender.
Another point, Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951) puts paid to the insurrectionist theory:
The obvious purpose of the statute is to protect existing Government, not from change by peaceable, lawful and constitutional means, but from change by violence, revolution and terrorism. That it is within the power of the Congress to protect the Government of the United States from armed rebellion is a proposition which requires little discussion. Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a “right” to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change. We reject any principle of governmental helplessness in the face of preparation for revolution, which principle, carried to its logical conclusion, must lead to anarchy. No one could conceive that it is not within the power of Congress to prohibit acts intended to overthrow the Government by force and violence. The question with which we are concerned here is not whether Congress has such power, but whether the means which it has employed conflict with the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.
Quite frankly, there is a vast body of law that says waging war or advocating insurrection is not a constitutionally protected act.  Asserting that it is in anyway sanctioned demonstrates a serious ignorance of the Constitution and Constitutional history.

Amen Laci - no cafeteria or a la carte constitutionalism!  Here here!  That the Constitution is intended to encourage or allow private gun ownership to oppose some variant of a Hitler is nonsense.  While Thomas Jefferson was off having fun in France, writing back his little snarky comment about blood watering the tree of liberty, it is not fairly and factually represented that the overwhelming response to that line applauding the occasional revolution / insurrection was emphatically negative from the other Founding Fathers. 

Those at home who had to cope with the threat of insurrection potentially undoing everything they had worked so hard to accomplish roundly condemned that bit of bullshit kibbitzing from someone sitting on his silk pantalooned arse from the relative safety and luxury of France.

More to the point is that the right wing nuts quote only that small part of what Jefferson wrote, leaving out all of the more important ideas which preceded that small part.  Let me make a minor contribution to Laci's post by providing it here --- since you can bet the gunloons lack the intellectual honesty to present the rest.

...such  a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them.

Sadly, Thomas Jefferson did not reckon on the future existence of such gross disinformation and misinformation entities as Fox Not-news Propaganda where people would actually become LESS well informed after viewing or listening than those who used no news source at all.  Or the factually inaccurate and intellectually dishonest crap that the other right wing media sources spew - Rush Limbaugh comes to mind as just one example of many.  Nor do I believe that men like Jefferson anticipated the successful misinformation and evil pandering of right wing hate and fear mongers like Bryan Fischer and his ilk.  And last but by no means least we have the utter garbage that is so often promoted by the right wing blogosphere.

Jefferson believed that a little insurrection would simply prompt those governing, the RULERS, to  update and correct the information and do a little - dare I use the word - re-educating of those insurrectionist to the proper facts (ie what the right rejects - factual objective reality).  Jefferson under-estimated ignorance and the power of the Amygdala, probably because so few people comparatively had the right to vote in the U.S. under the original Constitution.  People had to be educated males who owned property - in other words had a certain level of knowledge and affluence.  We no longer believe it is acceptable to shoot a few of them and then try to persuade the rest with facts, and then pardon them.  Rather we take the side of the overwhelming majority of the Founding Fathers who made insurrection and rebellion ILLEGAL, as the only crime specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Now we let the ignorant malcontents vote - and comment on blogs. 

At least some of us DO try to inform the restless uneducated would-be insurrectionist with guns of the facts.  But insurrection still is a crime, still contrary to the Constitution, and the notion that most of those who think they can tell when the government is no longer acting under the authority of the Constitution is wrong - dead wrong, thoroughly wrong, and of course, blatantly stupid as well as misinformed.
I look forward to Laci posting something about those who 'read a book......ONCE."


  1. I think it is quite natural for any government to deem forcefully overthrowing said goverment to be illegal. But in the course of history it has been shown that forceful overthrow of a government has been the moral thing to do.

    Now the winner gets to describe what happened. In the case of America, we were revolutionaries...but if the colonies had failed, then all involved would likely have been put to death as insurrectionsists by the British.

    1. You are correct JimF, but I think it is worth noting that our Founding Fathers were against violent overthrow of THIS government, and that even Jefferson, while appearing in cherrypicked editing of his actual statements to appear otherwise, did NOT support that kind of revolution against the U.S. government, and deemed anyone who would do so an ill informed and deluded fool who should be executed, or wised up and then pardoned.

      We were revolutionaries THE?N. The modern revolutionaries attempt consistently to be non-violent. They become violent when those conflicts and opposition disintegrates into civil wars. In the Arab Spring revolutions - which is what they were, the peaceful ones like Morrocco were not given the press time of Tunisia, Libya or Egypt - or now Syria.

      Revolution is changing, post Gandhi, changing significantly in ways not contemplated in the 18th century.

  2. Quick reiteration:

    Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a “right” to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.

    The idiots who decided to break with Britain at the time of the War for Independence believed that they had exhausted all legal remedies.

    Tory didn't mean that they were totally opposed to independence (one doesn't need an alternative history to see what would have happened had the Tories prevailed at that time, they just need to look at Canada).

    Likewise, the secession of the South led to a bloody civil war.

    But, as Dennis v. United States points out, if there are lawful methods to bring about change, there is no reason to believe in the necessity of revolt.