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View Diary: Is the 2nd Amendment Really Intended as a Safeguard from Tyranny? (95 comments)

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  •  Instructs its citizens to treason (9+ / 0-)

    Garry Wills has a good article about the historical aspects of the Second Amendment.

    The Standard Model finds, squirreled away in the Second Amendment, not only a private right to own guns for any purpose but a public right to oppose with arms the government of the United States. It grounds this claim in the right of insurrection, which clearly does exist whenever tyranny exists. Yet the right to overthrow government is not given by government. It arises when government no longer has authority. One cannot say one rebels by right of that nonexistent authority. Modern militias say the government itself instructs them to overthrow government— and wacky scholars endorse this view. They think the Constitution is so deranged a document that it brands as the greatest crime a war upon itself (in Article III: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them... ") and then instructs its citizens to take this up (in the Second Amendment). According to this doctrine, a well-regulated group is meant to overthrow its own regulator, and a soldier swearing to obey orders is disqualified for true militia virtue.

    Gun advocates claim that a militia is meant to oppose (not assist) the standing army. But even in England the militia’s role was not to fight the king’s army. The point of the militias was to make it unnecessary to establish a standing army. That no longer applied when the Second Amendment was adopted, since the Constitution had already provided Congress the powers to "raise and support armies" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 12), to "provide and maintain a navy" (Clause 13), and "to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces" (Clause 14). The battle against a standing army was lost when the Constitution was ratified, and nothing in the Second Amendment as it was proposed and passed altered that. 46 Nor did it change the Constitution’s provision for using militias "to suppress insurrections" (Clause 15), not to foment them.
    Yet gun advocates continue to quote from the ratification debates as if those arguments applied to the interpretation of the Second Amendment. They were aimed at the military clauses in the proposed Constitution. Patrick Henry and others did not want the Constitbtion to pass precisely because it would set up a standing army— and it did.

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 01:00:37 PM PST

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