Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Second Amendment and Founding Era Arms Mantras

The People Are Not To Be Disarmed Of Their Weapons
Updated 
Arms mantras from the period when ratification of the new U.S. Constitution was underway were statements based upon the necessity of an armed population offered in support of, or opposition to, the new government's adoption. Of the previous seven posts immediately below, the first three present Federalist arms mantras from supporters of ratification (Noah Webster, Tench Coxe, and Zachariah Johnson), and the last three are arms mantras from Antifederalists (Federal Farmer, A Landholder, and George Mason), who opposed ratification for two main reasons - lack of a bill of rights in the Constitution and the new government's extensive military powers, which would lead to tyranny.

Federalists argued that the extensive military powers of the new government could not lead to tyranny and oppression because the people were armed and able to prevent that from happening. They routinely argued that the people or militia could not be disarmed, statements that were answers to contrary claims by their opponents. It was Federalists who argued against any amendments of the new Constitution, whether bill of rights proposals or other amendments to alter specific delegated powers. They adamantly opposed any alterations of the Article 1, Section 8 powers of Congress and never accepted a single one, especially after they gained control of the First Congress in 1789.

A bill of rights was not included within the Constitution because the Federal Convention of 1787 had unanimously voted down a bill of rights committee. Thus, since most Americans strongly supported a Federal Bill of Rights to limit government powers, Federalists were in the unenviable position of arguing against the need for one. Their arms mantras indicate that the Constitution's supporters based their entire polity on an armed population capable of controlling any forces that the government might raise to coerce the people. Note, however, Federalist arms mantras were not presented in support of protections like the Second Amendment to the Constitution since Federalists opposed all amendments (except when politically forced to accept them by their opponents).

Antifederalists completely agreed with their opponents that an armed population existed and that the people being armed was a necessity in the future to assure a free country. They feared that this essential situation would not continue to exist if the Constitution was ratified because the proposed Federal Government's powers were unrestrained, especially the military powers. Opponents of ratification argued these powers would allow the government to disarm the people in various ways, thus negating the essential control of the people over government raised forces. The Antifederalist arms mantra was generally used to argue for alteration of military powers. Proposals for limits on a standing army, guards against a select militia, and assurances that the states could organize, arm, and discipline their militia were all accompanied by Antifederalist arms mantras. 

The six Founding Era arms mantras presented below, and numerous others collected in The Origin of the Second Amendment, clarify why Federalist leaders and the overwhelmingly Federalist First Congress were willing to accept Antifederalist supported and developed Bill of Rights protections for individual rights taken directly from state bills of rights, like the Second Amendment's protection for an armed populace, which all understood as essential to free government, but they were unwilling to change the Federal Government's military powers one iota. These arms mantras also help us understand the fundamental purpose of the Second Amendment - constitutional level protection for the people's control over government employed forces that might be used for future oppression of the the people. 
[Further information on Founding Era arms mantras and the context of their use can be found in The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms, pp. 92-111. The next post will explore the fundamental purpose and full context of Second Amendment predecessors found in Mason Triads.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - George Mason's Antifederalist Arms Mantra

The Militia May Be Here Destroyed...By Rendering Them Useless - By Disarming Them
[George Mason employed the Antifederalist arms mantra in a speech to delegates of the Virginia Ratifying Convention on June 14, 1788 in support of an amendment of Article 1, Section 8 militia powers. At the end of this speech he stated the specific amendment sought and the fact that it was the only one needed for this part of the Constitution. Mason clearly equated the militia and the people, and it is evident that he thought an armed populace was the proper defense of liberty against government raised military force. Excerpts from this speech have often been used by modern control advocates to link militia powers amendment discussion with Second Amendment development and intent, even though the subject under discussion was not adding Bill of Rights protection, which preexisted the writing of the Constitution, but alteration of a specific power that did not exist until the Constitution was written. The amendment Mason specified was not the Second Amendment's predecessor. Further information on this point can be found in Error as Foundation for the Mother of All Ideological Divides.] 
"There are various ways of destroying the militia. A standing army may be perpetually established in their stead. I abominate and detest the idea of a government, where there is a standing army. The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practised in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless - by disarming them. Under various pretences, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them, &c. . . Should the national government wish to render the militia useless, they may neglect them, and let them perish, in order to have a pretence of establishing a standing army. . . .

But when once a standing army is established in any country, the people lose their liberty. When, against a regular and disciplined army, yeomanry are the only defence, - yeomanry, unskilful and unarmed, - what chance is there for preserving freedom? Give me leave to recur to the page of history, to warn you of your present danger. . . Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man [Sir William Keith], who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia. . . Why should we not provide against the danger of having our militia, our real and natural strength, destroyed? . . .I wish that, in case the general government should neglect to arm and discipline the militia, there should be an express declaration that the state governments might arm and discipline them. With this single exception, I would agree to this part, as I am conscious the government ought to have the power." [The Origin of the SecondAmendment, pp.401-402]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - A Landholder's Antifederalist Arms Mantra

They May Arm or Disarm All or Any Part of the Freemen of the United States
[A Landholder requested republication of a Boston newspaper essay in the Philadelphia Freeman's Journal of January 16, 1788. The reprinted version was altered from the original by more strongly emphasizing the Antifederalist arms mantra presented. This text shows how period authors understood the militia to be the freemen, and that those opposed to the new Constitution feared the new government would disarm the people, thus enabling enforcement of tyranny by a standing army. The concept of an armed populace capable of preventing tyranny was presented as a well regulated militia - common, and well understood, period terminology.]

"It is asserted by the most respectable writers upon government, that a well regulated militia, composed of the yeomanry of the country, have ever been considered as the bulwark of a free people. Tyrants have never placed any confidence on a militia composed of freemen. Experience has taught them that a standing body of regular forces, whenever they can be completely introduced, are always efficacious in enforcing their edicts, however arbitrary; . . . No, my fellow citizens, this plainly shows they do not mean to depend upon the citizens of the States alone to enforce their powers; they mean to lean upon something more substantial and summary. They have left the appointment of [militia] officers in the breasts of the several States; but this appears to me an insult rather than a privilege, for what avails this right, if they at their pleasure may arm or disarm all or any part of the freemen of the United States, so that when their army is sufficiently numerous, they may put it out of the power of the freemen militia of America to assert and defend their liberties, however they might be encroached upon by Congress. Does any, after reading this provision for a regular standing army, suppose that they intended to apply to the militia in all cases, and to pay particular attention to making them the bulwark of this continent." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, pp. 211-212]

Second Amendment History Online - Federal Farmer's Antifederalist Arms Mantra

It is Essential that the Whole Body of the People Always Possess Arms
[Federal Farmer wrote two pseudonymous series of Letters to the Republican, published as two books, the first appearing in November of 1787, the second in May of 1788, the letters being consecutively numbered throughout the series. They consist of detailed discussions of problems with the proposed U.S. Constitution, such as the need for a bill of rights, the dangers from the new government's military powers, and solutions to such problems. This particular arms mantra was linked to misuse of the proposed government's militia powers resulting in the people being unable to defend themselves against government raised forces. Mention of a select militia was a response to suggestions in support of government selected corps of militia that consisted of only a small part of the able-bodied free men. The first quote is from his earlier series in Letter III. The second from the end of Letter XVIII, the final one of the series. It is Federal Farmer's closing advice on a solution to guard liberty against the numerous problems he discussed throughout the entire series.]
"It is true, the yeomanry of the country possess the lands, the weight of property, possess arms, and are too strong a body of men to be openly offended - and, therefore, it is urged, they will take care of themselves, that men who shall govern will not dare pay any disrespect to their opinions. It is easily perceived, that if they have not their proper negative upon passing laws in congress, or on the passage of laws relative to taxes and armies, they may in twenty of thirty years be by means imperceptible to them, totally deprived of that boasted weight and strength: This may be done in a great measure by congress, if disposed to do it, by modelling the militia. Should one fifth, or one eight part of the men capable of bearing arms, be made a select militia, as has been proposed, and those the young and ardent part of the community, possessed of but little or no property, and all the others put upon a plan that will render them of no importance, the former will answer all the purposes of an army, while the latter will be defenceless." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p. 91]

"to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them" [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.355]

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sources on Original Second Amendment Meaning, History, Purpose, and Intent

Updated January 27, 2013
Based on recent Google searches, there seems to be a great interest in original information on the Second Amendment. Such searches, depending on the exact terms, lead to between 2 and 64 million results. That many links makes for a daunting task in locating reliable results actually containing original period information. For that reason, this post links to results of my Founding Era based research carried out over the last four decades. See links to my online articles and other posts here, here, and here.

I have also produced two printed books - a recent history, The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms: A Definitive History of the Second Amendment, and an earlier massive period document collection, The Origin of the Second Amendment: A Documentary History of the Bill of Rights in Commentaries on Liberty, Free Government, and an Armed Populace, 1787-1792. My online articles and printed history rely on the relevant period sources reprinted in The Origin of the Second Amendment for documentation.

The previous three posts in the Second Amendment History Online series have presented Federalist arms mantras, which are statements by supporters for ratification of the U.S. Constitution that tyranny was not possible under it because the people were armed. There were numerous such arms mantras, and there were also numerous Antifederalist arms mantras, which maintained that an armed populace was not guaranteed under the Constitution and, as a result, its adoption would lead to tyranny. The next few posts will present some of the Antifederalist versions.

All Ratification Era arms mantras and other relevant sources placing the Second Amendment in its proper period context of the struggle to add the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution are reprinted in The Origin of the Second Amendment. It is the only complete collection of its kind relating to the Second Amendment, and that is the reason it has been extensively cited backing up the individual rights rulings in the U.S. v Emerson (2001), Parker v District of Columbia (2007), and District of Columbia v Heller (2008) decisions. It consists of relevant documents and excerpts from newspapers, letters, convention speeches, bill of rights proposals, ratifications of the Constitution, notes, and other period sources. Each document presents a literal transcript of the original, provides a citation to the source, and is presented without editorial commentary. Origin also contains an introduction intended for those entirely unfamiliar with period history.

In addition to all period arms mantras, The Origin of the Second Amendment includes all relevant sources covering other related subjects such as Bill of Rights demands, discussion, and development, militia related discussions, and the limited nature of the proposed Federal Government. There are several appendices, one containing the eight state declarations of rights extant when the Second Amendment was written. These are included because they were constantly mentioned as the source for the Federal Bill of Rights during the Ratification Era.

The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms is my history of American Second Amendment development. It traces every term of each clause from its author back to the earliest authors and usage in American state bills of rights. It then traces that usage back to the events that brought about such usage. Even earlier Colonial Period usage of the terms found in the Second Amendment are presented so a full understanding of American usage of the amendment's language is explained and documented. The Founders' View presents historical evidence never before examined regarding the Second Amendment predecessor context as leading Mason Triads parts.

While there are many excellent articles and books on the Second Amendment that rely on or present period sources, there is only one complete Ratification Era source, The Origin of the Second Amendment, and only one history based directly on that collection by its editor, The Founders' View ofthe Right to Bear Arms.

Hopefully, this information is what readers are searching for. Please pass links to it along to those who are in need of it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - Zachariah Johnson's Federalist Arms Mantra

The People are Not to be Disarmed of Their Weapons
[Zachariah Johnson was a Federalist member of the 1788 Virginia Ratifying Convention, which adopted a proposed bill of rights and list of other amendments to the Constitution after its ratification. Antifederalists, led by George Mason, had actually prepared the bill of rights and list of other amendments. Virginia Federalists managed to achieve ratification of the Constitution by agreeing to send all of the proposals on to the new Federal Congress for consideration and promising to support the bill of rights protections. Johnson's Federalist Arms Mantra was part of a speech to convention delegates on June 25, 1788. On the previous day, Patrick Henry had introduced what became the model for the U.S. Bill of Rights that contained the original two-clause Second Amendment predecessor.

    In this particular instance, the armed populace argument was deployed by Johnson to counteract fears that the Federal Government would have power to make a religious establishment. Note also, as in all period arms mantras, the people's weapons that Johnson referred to included the common single shot flintlock arms and bayonets of the period, exactly what soldiers employed by the government would be armed with.]

"The diversity of opinions and variety of sects in the United States have justly been reckoned a great security with respect to religious liberty. The difficulty of establishing a uniformity of religion in this country is immense. The extent of the country is very great. The multiplicity of sects is very great likewise. The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them. The government is administered by the representatives of the people voluntarily and freely chosen.

    Under these circumstances, should any one attempt to establish their own system, in prejudice of the rest, they would be universally detested and opposed, and easily frustrated. This is a principle which secures religious liberty most firmly. The government will depend on the assistance of the people in the day of distress. This is the case in all governments. It never was otherwise." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p. 452]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - Tench Coxe's Federalist Arms Mantra

The Birthright of An American
[Tench Coxe wrote more than one series of articles supporting ratification of the proposed Constitution. His pseudonymous article, A Pennsylvanian III, presents one of the most detailed and explicit statements of the Federalist Arms Mantra ever penned. It appeared in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Gazette on February 20, 1788. Once again, there was no assurance whatsoever within the proposed Constitution that the armed populace Coxe was claiming as the ultimate power under the Constitution would exist in the future. It must be remembered that it was the Antifederalists who supported amendments of the Constitution, and it was they who promoted and developed the proposals that became the U.S. Bill of Rights. The reference below to "the minority of Pennsylvania" is to the members of that state's ratifying convention who opposed the Constitution and proposed amendments including a bill of rights with Second Amendment related protection. This article was based on a copy of The Federalist #46, which dealt with the same subjects, that had been provided to the author by James Madison. A Pennsylvanian III was addressed "to the citizens of America".]
"The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for THE POWERS OF THE SWORD ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE YEOMANRY OF AMERICA FROM SIXTEEN TO SIXTY. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army must be tremendous and irresistable. Who are these militia? are they not our selves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom, Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. What clause in the state or foederal constitution hath given away that important right. . . . If the people see the least reason to apprehend a breach in the constitution by the grant of money for more than two years [for a standing army -ed.], they can elect new representatives, and they can by virtue of those military powers, which are inseparable from their own persons, suspend every operation of a Congress, which shall have thus ceased to be a lawful and constitutional power. From this circumstance, and from the citizens of the United States possessing the right of creating directly or indirectly every military officer and of granting every military resource, I do not hesitate to affirm, that the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the foederal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, pp.275-276, emphasis original]

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - Noah Webster's Federalist Arms Mantra

 Before a Standing Army can Rule, the People must be Disarmed
Updated January 25, 2013
[Noah Webster, of later dictionary fame, was a strong Federalist who wrote an early pamphlet, An Examination Into The Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (October 10, 1787), under the pseudonym A Citizen of America. This was published only three weeks after the Constitution was made public. Webster's purpose was to defend the proposed Constitution and argue for its ratification without amendment. His view on an armed populace is not based on any stated protection for such a concept in the Constitution. There was no constitutional assurance for the armed population that Webster so clearly described as the source of power and the check on possible government tyranny. This specific problem, the Constitution's failure to assure the people's control over the government they were being asked to ratify, was emphasized in period Antifederalist arms mantras, which will be presented in future posts of this series.]
   "But what is tyranny? Or how can a free people be deprived of their liberties? Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety. A people can never be deprived of their liberties, while they retain in their own hands, a power sufficient to any other power in the state. . . .
   Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any other force that exists among the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in American 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 pretence, 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." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.40]

[The Origin of the Second Amendment is the documentary source for the Second Amendment History Online series. This document collection was cited over 100 times in the U.S. v Emerson decision, cited in the Parker v District of Columbia decision, as well as several times in Justice Scalia's Heller decision. The reason for the extensive citations relative to Second Amendment intent in those decisions was because Origin reprints nearly 800 pages of documents (newspaper articles, letters, broadsides, notes, convention debates, speeches, etc.) from the Ratification Era relating to the need for the Federal Bill of Rights, the necessity of an armed populace, and militia related discussion, all emphasizing the limited nature of the Federal Government's intended powers.]

Please, if you find the above information helpful, make sure to pass it along so others will know of its  existence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

FOX's Hannity Show Hits Snag with Quotes of the Founders

What is it with Sean Hannity and the producers of his show on the Fox News Network? We know they are pro-rights, no doubt about that. Twice in recent weeks, while discussing Second Amendment infringement issues related to gun control, Sean has presented quotes of Founders that were not accurate.

First, on the Friday evening, January 4 Hannity show, he used a quote of George Washington regarding firearms and liberty teeth that is undoubtedly bogus. Reliable historical evidence that it is actually a quote of Washington has never been found. If anyone has a verifiable source for it, please provide it.

Then on the Tuesday, January 8 show, Sean used a George Mason quote that was inaccurate. Sean quoted Mason asking "What is the militia?" in the Virginia Ratifying Convention. It should be noted that Attorney General of the U.S. John Ashcroft used the same inaccurate quote when he adopted the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment as the official understanding of the Justice Department during the Bush Administration.

Period sources indicate Mason was actually asking "Who are the militia?", and that he went on to answer his own question, "They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.430] This may be considered an overly picky point, but the Founders understood the militia to be the people (who, they), not an abstract entity (what).

George Mason was, in fact, the dynamo behind the Ratification Era push for a Federal Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment. Readers can find out a lot more about George Mason's development of Second Amendment language at my post, Root Causes of Never-Ending Second Amendment Dispute - Part 20, which examines essential American history relating to Mason that is ignored in the professional historians' Heller case brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those who know me will vouch for my interest in quotes of the Founders, and my efforts to make accurate versions of them available to everyone. Of what value are inaccurate "quotes"? They can be misleading, and they tarnish the reputation of those who present them.

Back to Hannity. If someone reading this has contact with Sean or any of the show producers, please suggest that in the future it would be beneficial if they check the accuracy of the Founders' quotes they intent to present on the show.

It's Not About Gun Control - It's About CONTROL


These are pictures of the pro-rights rally at the Iowa State Capitol in DesMoines on Saturday, January 19, 2013.



    Photo Credit: jjy
This noontime rally was just one of the Gun Appreciation Day celebrations supporting the Second Amendment that were held around the country Saturday. (Pictures taken with an IPhone)



   Photo Credit: jjy
It and many other rallies at state capitols, as well as other events around the country, were carried out Saturday in support of the Second Amendment due to recent organized efforts to infringe its constitutional protections.


   Photo Credit: jjy
If you are looking for Second Amendment information based on Founding Era sources, heed the man's sign.


   Photo Credit: jjy
This young man is displaying the basics of what you need to know about gun control and the Second Amendment.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Purpose of the Second Amendment - What was the Original Language, Who Wrote It, and Why?


The "well regulated militia" language of the Second Amendment, which has confused so many for so long, is relatively easy to trace back to its earliest American author and bill of rights usage. Here is why. Congress based the first clause of the Second Amendment on an exact quote taken from the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.748] Virginia's Second Amendment related language was America's first in a state constitutional level document. So what exactly was the language Congress relied upon?

"that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state;" [OSA, p.459]

Why was this language relied on by Congress as an amendment to the Constitution? The ratifying conventions of Virginia and North Carolina adopted proposed bills of rights quoting Virginia's earlier bill of rights language. [OSA, pp.459, 505] New York's convention included virtually identical language, which itself had been based on Virginia's language. New York described a well regulated militia as "including the body of the people capable of bearing arms". [OSA, p.481]  It is clear that these bill of rights "well regulated militia" references related to the body of the people, not to a government formed select militia like the modern National Guard as has so often been claimed by proponents of gun control.

So who wrote this original language back in 1776? George Mason, [The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms, p.62]  and he used virtually the same language prior to the beginning of the Revolutionary War to describe a voluntary defensive association in Fairfax County, Virginia. It was formed so the people could protect their rights and the existing constitution from violation by government officials and the military forces raised by them. The language that the Second Amendment was directly based upon was intended to protect against unconstitutional and rights violating actions of government carried out by force.

There is extensive historical evidence that "well regulated militia" did not refer to a government regulated or authorized militia, but rather to locally organized defensive forces. Mason's early 1775 well regulated militia references applied to self-embodying, self-organizing, self-officering, self-training, and self-arming associations of all the free men for local defense against a current danger - British government officials and forces. [FVRBA, pp.45-50] No such local defensive associations could have existed unless the men possessed and knew how to use their own arms. The historical sources indicate that government officials and forces were taking every measure possible to limit the ability of Americans for self-defense by decreasing the availability of arms and ammunition. [FVRBA, pp.36-43]

This historical information makes the Second Amendment's language and meaning much more clear. Claims of ambiguity about the Second Amendment evaporate once the stated meaning of its terms and the historical background of their use are known. We find that what advocates of gun control have always said about the Second Amendment's intent, that it was not intended to protect individual rights, is diametrically opposed to reality and extensive period historical evidence. Individuals voluntarily associated for defense against unconstitutional and rights violating actions of force by the government in 1774 and 1775 prior to the formation of any new American governments or any hostilities of the Revolution. This activity was based upon fundamental, unalienable rights that Americans subsequently protected against government violation in their state and federal bills of rights.

For further and much more detailed information about the Second Amendment's development and purpose, read The American Revolutionary Era Origin of the Second Amendment's Clauses, my short, documented online history.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Second Amendment Intent / Right to Keep and Bear Arms Explained

Updated January 6, 2013
Visitors looking for facts about Second Amendment history and intent can read the results of my research online in several articles and posts, which are described and linked below. The facts of American history can end the never-ending dispute over Second Amendment intent, but only if they are understood and deployed to undermine the error based belief system of gun control supporters.

First, the shortest and most detailed account of Second Amendment history and intent is found in my article, The American Revolutionary Era Origin of the Second Amendment's Clauses. As noted in the prior post, this was printed in The Journal on Firearms & Public Policy's 2011 issue. It traces the well regulated militia and right of the people to keep and bear arms language of the Second Amendment back in history to their earliest American bill of rights usage and authors. Then in goes back earlier in American history to the actual events from which such usage developed. The article amounts to an online crash course in Second Amendment history and intent.

Other online articles include four analyzing briefs supporting Washington DC in the Heller case for extensive historical errors. These demonstrate that those supporting gun control are entirely off base in understanding American history and rights. Such historical arguments were presented in briefs of fifteen professional historians (written by Stanford's Jack Rakove), the city of Chicago, a large group of civic organizations, and three professional linguists. The first analysis, of the historians' errors, Why DC's Gun Law is Unconstitutional, was published by History News Network on February 17, 2008.

Three other articles were published at the Origin of the Second Amendment website. The Windy City's Heller brief attempted to sway the Supreme Court by repeated use of the term "federalism". My article, Chicago Re-Writes U.S. Bill of Rights History, examines and documents historical errors in Chicago's brief.

An extensive founding era document section was presented as an appendix in the Heller brief filed by numerous civic organizations. The Second Amendment as Militia Law, or, Bill of Rights? What Bill of Rights?, is the article examining the off-track historical interpretation presented within it.

Historically oriented analysis of the linguists' Heller brief is found in Professional Linguists Provide Half a Loaf with No Bill of Rights Ingredients.

A common theme runs through the historical Heller briefs of gun control supporters - lack of American Bill of Rights history, context, and intent. What this means in general terms is that they are all wrong, a fact documented at this blog in extensive analyses of the Heller professional historian amici entitled, Root Causes of Never-Ending Second Amendment Dispute, which consists of 24 posts. The gun control advocate view of the Second Amendment is a house of cards - nay, a rather extensive castle of cards. Removing the foundation, which consists of factual errors, causes the whole to crumble. I strongly recommend those wanting to fully grasp the historical import of these posts read them in order starting from part 1 (linked above), because the errors of fact build upon each other. The posts are documented and very detailed (read boring), but the payoff in essential historical knowledge is priceless.

The same suggestion is offered for two other series of six blog posts, each dealing with professional historians' mistakes about the Second Amendment intent. In the Supreme Court's McDonald case, which dealt with the Fourteenth Amendment issue of whether the Second Amendment was intended to apply to state and local governments, some of the same professional historians returned to re-argue Heller related historical issues. This was probably an attempt to get one justice to change a vote. Once again, there were significant historical errors and attempts to divert away from American Bill of Rights history in the two briefs analyzed. The first series, Historians Try to Sell Brooklyn London Bridge to U.S. Supreme Court, attempts to divert to English history for understanding an American Bill of Rights provision. The second series, Historians Try to Sell Brooklyn London Benjamin Franklin Bridge to the U.S. Supreme Court, deals with Pennsylvania history. It was in Pennsylvania that "the people have a right to bear arms" language originated in American bills of rights.

Don't forget to share this post or the above links with those interested in protecting their rights.

Shall Not Be Infringed - How Did The Framers Use This Language?

Updated February 21, 2013
In current discussion about gun control,  the theme regarding Second Amendment intent seems to be that there is no intention whatever to violate Americans' rights. The government regulations and restrictions being offered, it is claimed, would not be prevented by the Second Amendment because they are "reasonable" and make good sense, thus, presumably, not a Second Amendment violation.

What exactly did the founding generation understand the restrictive "shall not be infringed" langauge regarding the right of the people to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment to mean? Was it only a protection against complete disarmament of the people? Would extensive banning of varieties and types of arms be A-OK? Did it mean that anything gun control advocates suggest as "reasonable" the government can implement without violation?

Those interested in this subject will find my February 8, 2009 post, The Meaning of 'Shall Not Be Infringed', most helpful. It places this language in its correct Bill of Rights context during the Founding Era and examines how those involved in developing American bill of rights language actually used it.

Pass the link on to your friends.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Second Amendment Under Attack!!!



The recent tragic school shooting in Connecticut has resulted in an outpouring of emotion laden grief, numerous calls for draconian gun control laws, and agitated commentary about the Second Amendment and its intent. Those who visit this blog are most likely looking for historical information to help defend their rights. A few, on the other hand, might be looking for someone to blame for the recent horror or to cast names (in typical Piers Morgan style).

I will address some of the erroneous and misleading claims being made about the Second Amendment in future posts. Any name calling by a commenter will result in a deleted comment.

For those looking for historical information, in addition to the numerous posts of this blog, I recommend reading my recent article, The American Revolutionary Era Origin of the Second Amendment's Clauses, which appeared in the 2011 issue of The Journal on Firearms & Public Policy. This short article traces the Second Amendment's language back to its earliest American authors, usage, context, and intent, and it is fully documented.

For those wanting the Ratification Era period sources in a document collection for their own research, The Origin of the Second Amendment: A Documentary History of the Bill of Rights in Commentaries on Liberty, Free Government, and an Armed Populace, 1787 - 1792, is readily available from Amazon.com in paperback (and also available in a sewn library bound hardcover). The Origin of the Second Amendment is the main document source for the above article as well as my most recent book, The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms: A Definitive History of the Second Amendment. Both of my books have been extensively cited in Federal court cases (Origin in Emerson, 2001, and Parker, 2007; both in Heller, 2008).

I have spent a lifetime researching the Second Amendment. Using American historical sources, I have documented the fact that both clauses of the Second Amendment were understood by the founding generation as protecting individual rights. Neither clause related to protecting state authority over the militia because both clauses were based directly on government limiting state declaration of rights provisions. The historical facts supporting these statements are overwhelming and consistent, and they can be found in my article and the two books described above.

The knee jerk reaction of gun control advocates to maniacal shootings is likely a factor in why the problem has not been solved. Every action taken to limit arms possession, the ability to defend oneself, and to create gun free zones by law has failed to stem violence by maniacs, especially in gun free zones. Those disarmed by law cannot defend themselves, and it is not the government's job to defend individuals, nor is the government very good at it.

Public policy should not be based upon hasty action that will not solve the problem being addressed. It should instead be based upon facts, and all relevant facts should be studied. Instead of searching for underlying causes of manic behavior, the intemperate demands for immediate action to do "something" about guns drown out all inquiry or cool reflection. Action should not be based upon the politicized, ideological beliefs of those who hate guns and despise the fundamental rights of American citizens.

For those here seeking historical facts, as well as any seeking someone to blame, I suggest taking note of the information at the SSRI Stories webpage. It presents a mind-boggling collection of school shooting and other maniacal action reports that have linked perpetrators to the use of legal drugs of the Prozac/Luvox class. That this situation has existed without study for decades and has yet to be addressed, largely due to the shrieking demands for gun control after each related tragedy, speaks volumes about why the ideological solutions widely supported by the mainstream media divert all attention away from necessary study of, and changes to, what appears to be a legal drug related catastrophe of the first order.

Shortly after this latest tragedy, I happened to listen to a National Public Radio program that seemed to be set up to discuss the need for gun control. Most of the people who called in during the period I listened instead wanted to discuss the legal psychotropic drug related mania problem. Perhaps there will be some inquiry into the widespread use of this class of drugs and their relationship to manic violence sprees in the near future. This may lead to study that is thorough, relevant, and might actually help prevent the school shooting problem rather than just doing “something” about guns. The latter action is counterproductive for self defense.

Let others know about the SSRI Stories webpage. You might also let others know about my research if they are interested in historical information from an independent Second Amendment scholar.