Sunday, June 11, 2017

Why the 'Citizen Militia' Theory Is the Worst Pro-Gun Argument Ever



The following article appeared in the Atlantic on January 31, 2013

By Mark Nuckols  

Two out of three Americans see the Second Amendment as a safeguard against tyranny. What?

The notion that an individual right to bear arms guarantees the American people against government tyranny is of course an old one. Given its apparent validation in the Second Amendment of the Constitution itself, it's not surprising that the notion has survived in some way through to the 21st century. Given its defiance of history and common sense, though, what should be surprising is that it's survived to remain so widespread.

If America experienced a widespread political uprising today, it would bear little resemblance to Lexington and Concord in 1775, with well-disciplined minutemen assembling on the town square to defend liberty against the redcoats. It would more likely be a larger scale reenactment of the "Bleeding Kansas" revolt of 1854 to 1861, when small bands of armed zealots unleashed an orgy of inter-communal violence, unbounded by any laws of war or human decency.  

There is, we all know, a Second Amendment right to gun ownership. Under our constitutional form of government, the Supreme Court has the authority to decide what the Constitution means, and after decades of judicial ambiguity, in District of Columbia v. Heller a majority of the justices found an individual right to gun ownership, unrelated to membership in a state militia. But the Heller decision also makes it clear that this is not an unlimited right, and that it may be subject to extensive government regulation.    

However, in recent years, the belief in widespread gun ownership as a defense against tyrannical government has become an alluring idea, gaining traction with members of Congress as well as fringe conspiracy theorists.  As Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma put it just last week, "The Second Amendment wasn't written so you can go hunting, it was to create a force to balance a tyrannical force here." And if this is insufficiently incendiary, one only need look to the doctrine of the "Three Percenters," with its ominous warning that "all politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war."

It is easy to ridicule such rhetoric as just overindulgence in Red Dawn fantasies about resourceful and brave citizens resisting a modern army with nothing more than small arms and their wits. Even individual Americans armed with military-style assault rifles could hardly pose any serious resistance to any future tyrannical central government supported by overwhelmingly powerful military capabilities. But many otherwise sensible people seem willing to concede that gun ownership could one day play some role in preserving democracy. Just this month, a Rasmussen poll reported that 65 percent of Americans see gun rights as a protection against tyranny.  

There are two primary pillars to this shaky intellectual edifice. The first is a cottage industry of academics and lawyers who have scoured ancient political tracts and common law to establish that in the distant English past that there was a constitutional right to bear arms as a defense against tyranny. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has given some credence to this view: In his majority opinion for Heller, he asserted that "the Stuart Kings Charles II and James II succeeded in using select militias loyal to them to suppress political dissidents, in part by disarming their opponents." This line of reasoning ignores the fact that, in 21st century America, the prospect of monarchs and their select militias oppressing the populace is reasonably remote. It also ignores the fact that the common law evolves and is subordinate to acts of the legislature. Other nations built on English common law have all enacted strict regulation of gun ownership, with no perceptible diminution of political liberties. (cont)

The remainder of author Nuckols article may be found at this link in the Atlantic.
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The left understand it is imperative that ‘keeping and bearing arms’ be represented in such a way as to make limitations imposed upon that inalienable right appear reasonable and in fact, necessary. As a result, they pursue an agenda of placing boundaries on our constitutionally protected right by narrowing the definition of the 2nd Amendment—defining down what it really means to keep and bear arms.

Recently, the left have attempted to attach the ownership of firearms to the right to go hunting. Should gun owners be foolish enough to accept this new definition of gun ownership, liberals will immediately make the argument that no one really need own a pistol, given that they are so rarely used by hunters.  

It’s the sort of scheme which isn’t new to the gun-grabbing left:

In 1936 short barrelled shotguns (such as shot pistols used for ratting) and fully automatic firearms were outlawed [in Great Britain.]  Why? Not because such firearms were ever misused but because the government dictated that civilians had "no legitimate reason" for owning them.  The reasoning has now changed from the government NEEDING TO SHOW REASONS FOR THE RESTRICTIONS to the people NEEDING TO SHOW REASONS TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHTS, to a government TELLING them that there was NO ACCEPTABLE REASON.” 

The American left is following the example of their far left fellows in Britain, using the same methods and arguments to disarm gun owners. It’s for this reason that liberal author Mark Nuckols attempts to render laughable the notion that gun owners might actually believe the “individual right to bear arms guarantees the American people against government tyranny.” Perhaps Nuckols is ignorant of world history. For Tyrants and Dictators throughout the 20th Century took great comfort in disarming the population of the nation they wished to master. Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany and elsewhere. Mao tse Tung liked the idea as well, stating in 1938:

All political power comes from the barrel of a gun.  The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.    

And according to Hitler, in 1942, “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”   

Other, somewhat less “successful” mass murderers also made certain the citizenry had no chance of defending themselves. Idi Amin implemented gun control in Uganda in 1970. Between 1971 and 1979, 300,000 defenseless Christians were exterminated.    



And Pol Pot did away with one million unarmed people in Cambodia.  


Of all the phony contentions and outright misrepresentations voiced by the author, none more readily reveals the depth of his statist loyalties than the following:

Even individual Americans armed with military-style assault rifles could hardly pose any serious resistance to any future tyrannical central government supported by overwhelmingly powerful military capabilities. But many otherwise sensible people seem willing to concede that gun ownership could one day play some role in preserving democracy. Just this month, a Rasmussen poll reported that 65 percent of Americans see gun rights as a protection against tyranny. 


So just lay down our arms and submit to the demands of Big Brother. After all, the government only has our best interests in mind! Could there be any more typically disgraceful rant from the anti-gun, left?

Fortunately, the Founders didn’t agree with Mr. Nuckols.  

"Whereas civil-rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."
-- Tench Coxe, in Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution

"[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
--James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in 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 band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."
--Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).

According to author Nuckols’ a tyrant leading a force of arms exhibiting “overwhelmingly powerful military capabilities” would render the efforts of an armed citizenry moot. But Nuckols forgets that this ‘force’ would be made up of individual soldiers. Can anyone imagine Barack Obama successfully ordering members of the Marine Corps to seize privately owned property, confiscate bank accounts or fire on American citizens?

The Founders knew that only an armed public could preserve their liberty against the actions of a tyrant. And the American people still know that be the case. Liberals like Mark Nuckols might not like it, but it isn’t going to change any time soon.   Ed.

 



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