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56


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 56, September 30, 1999

Those Horrid, Horrid Guns!

By James J. Odle
jodle@primenet.com

Exclusive to TLE

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
-- Second Amendment to the US Constitution

Part One: Setting the Record Straight

           As a truck driver, I spend a lot of time listening to talk radio. A lot of time. Ever since the Columbine madness, the airwaves have been saturated with both hosts and callers offering opinions which range from the totally uninformed to those being offered by people who should be able to put the history and case for our inalienable right to keep and bear arms fully, thoroughly and completely. Nobody has succeeded yet. Not Rush Limbaugh. Not Michael Reagan. Not G. Gordon Liddy (who has the brains, a sympathetic outlook on private gun ownership, knowledge of history and legal training to do so.) Mind you, some of these estimable gentlemen and their callers have come close. Nevertheless, something always seems to be left out.
           So I will take a shot at it.
           If we recall our basic high school history correctly, prior to the Revolutionary War, the British had this nasty habit of quartering their soldiers in the homes of the civilian populace against their will. In turn, this practice created a great distaste and distrust for standing Armies.
           So after the British were defeated, the last thing that the colonists wanted to see was another standing Army. When the time came to address the matter of national defense in the Constitution, James Madison wrote:
           "To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years." Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. This is in the enumerated powers section.
           You see, at the time of the Constitutional convention, the nation was economically and militarily weak. The colonists did not want another standing Army, but the Founders did see a need for one for a short period of time. Hence the two year time period mentioned above. The last thing they wanted was a permanent standing Army as they intended the people as a whole (or at least the men) to be the standing Army.
           Do we have any confirmation of this?
           Here are a few of the many available quotes from some of our Founding Fathers and other early Americans:
           "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people...To disarm the people, that is the best and most effective way to enslave them..." -- George Mason
           "The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside...horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them..." -- Thomas Paine, I Writings of Thomas Paine at 56, 1984
           "Before a standing Army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States" -- Noah Webster, pamphlet aimed at swaying Pennsylvania toward ratification
           "Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" -- Patrick Henry
           "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 tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." -- Thomas Jefferson
           "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson, proposed Virginia Constitution, June 1776, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)
           "The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them." -- Zachariah Johnson, 3 Elliot, Debates at 646.
           "The right of the people to keep and bear...arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country..." - James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789
           "No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state...such area well-regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen." -- Richard Henry Lee
           "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..." -- Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights
           "Congress shall never disarm any citizen unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion." -- James Madison
           As we have seen from above the Founding Fathers had three expectations of the Second Amendment: 1) To replace the standing Army and provide for the national defense; 2) To guard against domestic tyranny; and 3) To provide for personal protection against criminals.
           So what was life like in colonial America?
           It may surprise the curious reader to know that early Americans were not only allowed, but they were often required to own firearms. From time to time, local sheriffs would hold musters at which all the men [the local militia] were required to show up with the assault weapons of the time, fully functional, ready to go, with an appropriate amount of ammo. Also, sheriffs could call-up local militia members, form a posse, and chase down criminals.
           So, in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, "ARE WE CLEAR?", as to the purpose of the Second Amendment?

Part Two: Those Horrid, Horrid Guns!

           Cogent replies to the anti-gunners among us:
           I know what you're thinking.
           You're thinking that if we simply rid ourselves of those horrid, horrid guns why the birds will sing, the flowers grow, the rivers flow and life will be just peachy! Heaven's gates will open and we will romp in the Elysian Fields. Nay, a veritable state of Nirvana will spring up among us! [OK. I'm exaggerating.]
           Nevertheless, join me in the real world.
           As I mentioned above I listen to a lot of talk radio. I have heard the ignorance and deliberate misrepresentations of the Second Amendment. I have also heard the clever rationalizations for ignoring the same.
           Here then are a few of the typical criticisms directed toward supporters of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms together with the appropriate cogent reply:
           Anti-gunner: You gun nuts always seem to forget the first part of the Second Amendment where it says, "A well regulated Militia" This gives the government the right to have an army!
           Second Amendment Advocate: Sir, I demonstrated in Part One that the word Militia means all of the people. Nevertheless let us go through this from a different direction. Rush Limbaugh always says that words mean things so here goes:

Second Amendment -- Translation

           "A well-regulated (This means well trained) Militia, (All of the people) Being necessary to the security of a free state, (Hey, private ownership of arms are necessary for a free country) The Right (Notice that is says right not privilege!) Of the People (That's everybody, pal) To keep (This means 'to own') And bear (This means 'to carry') Arms (Personal weapons of all types, shapes, forms and varieties) Shall not be infringed." (The government may not lawfully interfere with the personal, civilian ownership and carrying of weapons.)
           There you have it. The Second Amendment in plain English.
           Anti-gunner: Yea, but you left out the part [Article 1, Section 8] where it says:
           "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repeal Invasions; 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;"
           Second Amendment Advocate: Allow me to point out then when there is a conflict between the Bill of Rights and the remainder of the Constitution the Bill of Rights takes precedence. Further, each and every right in the Bill of Rights is an individual right. To argue otherwise is to make a mockery of our history and the English language. Further, the phrase 'Bill of Rights' is a misnomer. The so-called 'Bill of Rights' is really a list of prohibited activities that, had we a law-abiding government, no government agent would be doing!
           Anti-gunner: But the Second Amendment is obsolete! The Founding Fathers never anticipated machineguns, hand grenades and other high caliber high power weapons!
           Second Amendment Advocate: No, but they did anticipate that the Constitution may need to be modified from time to time so they wrote in it the procedures for amending it. There is only one way for those who dislike the possession of arms in private hands to go about lawfully getting what they want and that is through the repeal of the Second Amendment. Sure it is cumbersome. It is supposed to be cumbersome. But it would be playing within the rules that have been given us. To do otherwise is to encourage more abject contempt for our rights and lawlessness on the part of public officials. If you think we need more of that then you haven't been paying attention to what has been happening in this country. Do you really want public officials cherry-picking which portions of the Constitution they will respect and which they will ignore?
           Anti-gunner: But you don't need guns! You have the military and police to protect you!
           Second Amendment Advocate: We need personal weaponry for the same reason we need fire extinguishers -- as a hedge against a future we hope will never come. Besides, what are you so worried about? If I don't need my guns then they will lie peacefully in my cabinet or ride underneath the front seat of my car and never bother anybody. If you will investigate the subject then you will discover that in nations where the people have been deprived of their weapons that crime increases, government runs rough shot over the people. It has always been a dangerous world out there and personal safety and security is never enhanced by private citizens giving up guns! The Russians suffered with communism for roughly seventy years because they didn't have weapons. Seventy years of abject slavery and poverty. Seventy years of secret police. Seventy years of watching their loved ones being hauled off to the gulags [if they weren't executed first.] Slobo in Kosovo was able to get away with stomping on his people because they didn't have weapons.
           Also, in case you are not aware of it, our governments have never had any legal duty to protect us. Nor do they have the competence. We will not be provided with our own personal cop to escort us through life. If you think relying on the police to protect you is a good idea then download the file "Dial 911 and Die!" from the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership website http://www.jpfo.org/Dial911.htm [also http://www.jpfo.org/dial911anddie.htm] And besides, criminals will always have weapons.
           You should also know that in states where there are concealed carry laws, crime declines.
           Besides, what protects me from the government? With a federal government so obviously lacking in anything resembling morality, honesty and anything resembling integrity there is little reason to have confidence in any of them. These are people who are so crazed with power that they would, in the immortal words of P.J. O'Rourke, "boss the grass in the fields and tell the grass which way to bend in the wind if they thought the grass had ears to listen."(A Parliament of Whores.) Did you notice that the hapless victims of government aggression at Waco, Ruby Ridge, Athens, Tennessee surely needed their weapons?
           Anti-gunner: But I don't want untrained people out there carrying weapons!
           Second Amendment Advocate: Since when are your wishes relevant? Everyone has a Constitutional and basic human right to keep and bear arms regardless of the wishes of the community, city, state or country. That is why it is called a right and not a privilege Nevertheless, I would certainly advocate those who wish to carry arms for their protection to go through some sort of professional training which includes knowledge of laws, marksmanship, and proper judgement as to when to use deadly force are imparted. I also advocate monthly trips to the range to maintain proficiency. I also advocate training of children [beginning at age 9] to use and respect firearms.
           However, I will not advocate mandatory training and licensing. This practice is unconstitutional. It converts a right into a privilege I favor Vermont style carry.
           Anti-gunner: Enough already! Can't we all just get along?
           Second Amendment Advocate: Sure we can get along! But you need to become educated. Check out the reading list and become informed.

A Short Reading List

On gun issues:

The Samurai, The Mountie And The Cowboy: Should America Adopt The Gun Control Laws Of Other Democracies, David B. Kopel

Targeting Guns: Firearms And Their Control, Gary Kleck

Stopping Power, J. Neil Schulman

More Guns, Less Crime, John R. Lott, Jr.

A Right To Bear Arms, Stephen P. Halbrook

That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution Of A Constitutional Right, Stephen P. Halbrook

On social issues:

Freedom In Chains: The Rise Of The State And The Demise Of The Citizen, James Bovard

Lost Rights: The Destruction Of American Liberty, James Bovard

All The Trouble In The World, P.J. O'Rourke

Parliament Of Whores, P.J. O'Rourke

We The Living [for a picture of what life is like for those who live under tyrannical government], Ayn Rand


James J. Odle is a splendid fellow who, unlike the vast majority of so-called 'public servants' has a real job in the private sector performing real work which a real employer voluntarily pays him to perform. He also presents a triple threat to the anti-gunners in that he is a Life Member of Gun Owners of America, a $25 a year member of the National Rifle Association [if they want more they'll have to earn it], and a member of the Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership [hey, you don't have to be Jewish to join.]


Brownbacks and Bluenoses

Senate committee on American culture likely
September 22, 1999
Web posted at: 2:28 p.m. EDT (1828 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Senate is poised to establish a Special Committee on American Culture, headed by a vocal critic of Hollywood, which will have the power to subpoena documents and witnesses.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) is expected to head the bipartisan Culture Committee. He has suggested Hollywood is responsible for creating a culture of violence and profanity that has undermined the morality of America's youth. A Senate subcommittee is expected to vote as early as Wednesday to decide whether the full Senate should vote on establishing the committee. ...


Don't Worry, Herta, We're Working On It!

"I am not oblivious to the problem that the government in Washington has with [control over] the individual states ..." -- Germany's Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin

Source: "Germany Sues U.S. For Breaking Law" http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/19990916/pl/germany_usa_1.html


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