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The Boundaries of the Second Amendment

SayUncle brings up a post from a blogger who is unhappy about some of the stuff appearing on the Free Republic.   Stuff which is pretty tame by Internet standards.  SayUncle comments:

Any way, I don’t mind so much. The Bush years turned a lot of lefties into gun nuts. In fact, the picture that Mr. Fifth Of November Poser used was prominent on a lot of lefty, pro-gun sites. Looks like the Obama years will get a lot of righties back into the gun rights movement.

I agree with Uncle to the extent that it’s making people understand, in an abstract way, why the Second Amendment is important, but I can sympathize with concerns about people speaking of revolution as a means for resolving disputes among political factions.  When I think about the Second Amendment philosophically, at least its collective purpose rather than its personal one, I think of it as a means for ultimately enforcing Popular Sovereignty as the source of government legitimacy.  It restricts the government’s power only to those actions which embody a will of the people as a whole, and seriously raises the cost of defying that will.  In other words, you “vote from the rooftops” because you can’t, in a meaningful way, vote from the ballot box. I’m less sanguine about arms as a means for resolving domestic political disputes between quarreling factions.  Down that road lies disaster, and the end of our Republic.  Political disputes should be resolved with words, ideas, activism, organization, campaigns, and civility.  Arms are for extreme circumstances.

I am sympathetic to those that believe Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner, and the Second Amendment was meant to allow the well armed sheep to contest the vote.  I do not believe we ought to worship at the altar of Popular Sovereignty to ridiculous levels.  If a majority of Americans ever vote for a government that advocates exterminating an unpopular minority, I will agree we ought resist it, with violence if necessary.  If a majority acquiesce to Congress unilaterally dissolving our Republic and reforming it around a Parliamentary model, I would agree that should be a deal breaker as well.

But no one is seriously proposing these things, and what is being proposed is in the realm of peaceful partisan politics.  I’m not going to machine gun my fellow man over medicare, or take out a tank over taxes.  I won’t shoot it out with a subgun over the stimulus, nor defend my construction of the commerce clause with continuous cannonade.  We have a system that allows us to redress that peacefully, and without annoying, aggravating alliteration.  While I share Uncle’s sentiment about making more people see the importance of the Second Amendment, I worry greatly about what people are thinking it’s actually for.

11 Responses to “The Boundaries of the Second Amendment”

  1. Joe Huffman says:

    All the examples you gave for the use or non-use of violence to “settle the dispute” were for easy questions. How about question such as banning all semi-automatic firearms? Or nationalization of the banking industry? Nationalization of the oil/energy industry? Nationalization of telecommunications industry? Nationalization of health-care? Nationalization of the software industry? Nationalization of all corporations? Confiscation of all real property?

    Fascism, in this country, will come slowly and with a smiley face.

    I probably don’t have any better answers than you do, but I can think of a lot of very interesting questions.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I’m not sure how well the Second Amendment can answer the boiling frog problem. As much as I’d like to think it does, I’m not sure it can.

    I also wasn’t meaning to address the issue of a “people” deciding they can no longer live within a political union with other “people” they irreconcilably disagree with.

  3. RAH says:

    I find it interesting and alarming the number of 10th amendment resoultions in the states this year. Interesting because I agree and alarming becaue it illustrates the amount of discontent among the states leglislatures. I believe this is meant as a warning not to trepass too far, But what happens when the federal government does ignore the warning?

  4. RAH says:

    The scary thing is that Obama seems to think this pushback Santinelli and the Tea Partty and GOP resistance is against him not his dangerous policies.

    I think in his arrogance he will run right over these objections and cause the conflagration. That is what is scary.

  5. Joe Huffman says:

    RAH, I don’t think the Feds will ignore it. I think they will attempt to crush it. Federal Supremacy or whatever the legal phrase is…

    The question is what will the judges say and then 1) What will the states do if the judges go against them? or 2) What will Obama and the Democratic majority in the legislature do if the judges go against them?

    I have often pondered, without arriving at a solution, the question of the “what can/should an individual do to regain our lost freedom?” And it appears one or more solutions I never thought of may be appearing on the horizon which seem obvious in retrospect. The state legislatures may push back and the looming financial collapse of not only the most socialist states but the Federal government.

    The question is, if the Feds collapse can the solvent states resist going down the drain at the same time and/or resist an attempt by the Feds to confiscate/control all wealth in an attempt to save itself.

  6. Harry Schell says:

    Lincoln settled the primacy of the central government via the Civil War. For a long time this was not a bad thing, but we are methinks getting to a tipping point.

    That states now are reasserting their boundries under 10A is a good thing, but mostly a statement. It might stick legally and to a point, but I cannot see Bama or his ilk accepting “no” gracefully when it comes to something they really want, such as disarming citizens. If they can’t pressure some federal judge into overruling any adverse legal decisions, they will use some kind of force to get compliance.

    Most likely this would take the form of denial of funds for programs like SCHIP. Few states have such financial resources that they can function without all the federal funding they currently get, if any.

    This is the hook in taking the “stimulus” money for welfare programs. When (if) the stimulus money ends, the state taking the funds will have to toss people off the program or find state money for it. Jindal and others don’t want to even start down that path, and Chuckie Schumer, who stands to gain through the increased dependency created, is telling states they can’t pick what funds/programs they want.

    It’s like having a meeting of recovering alcoholics in a bar, with tequila shooters as the single refreshment. The doors are locked and no BYOB of anything. Such a meeting is not going to be a good thing for the addicts, but the guy holding the party is likely to get some cooperation from them as time wears on.

    The use of military force is problematic and for the moment unlikely to be successful. I think too many from the ranks and officer cadre would refuse to fire on citizens. They might shoot back in self-defense, however, and that could trigger the nightmare. I don’t know if I could bring myself to fire on a soldier in uniform. A local cop, with New Orleans and Katrina in my mind, is another issue if yet very unpalateable.

    The federal law prohibiting state/county/municipal agencies receiving federal funds from confiscated arms from the law-abiding in emergencies is just a law. Congress could rewrite or reverse it. Heller is just law, and if another Ray Nagin comes along, you can protest all you want, but the response will be “sue me”. You will still be disarmed.

    I do think it is more likely now in the US that any serious campaign of that sort is likely to result in bloodshed. Someone will decide to die on their feet rather than live on their knees.

    In 20 years, though, with an educational system polluted by Bill Ayers and his ilk, progressively lower standards of living and economic opportunity that results from the path Bama mapped out last night, national healthcare and increased dependence on the central government, people will become reeducated toward compliance and the disarmament may be achieved.

    Look at the English today versus what they were a century before as individuals and thinkers. The oppressive state has largely bred out the Englishman who would brave the midday sun too intense for any but mad dogs.

    If the Muslims in the UK do rampage, it won’t matter much if ordinary citizens are armed or not. “Muddling along” is so ingrained the majority would not understand innately what to do for their self-defense. Prehaps the segment of the population that gives the UK the highest per-capita violent crime rates in the world will respond effectively but the goal of such response may not help those who cannot.

    The UK now is most likely to be our future. Too much dependency on the state is already a feature of life, through employment or welfare. A Los Angeles Times article this Sunday posits that 20% of the population of Los Angeles County is on some form of taxpayer funded assistance. That is 2.2M people.

    If this group were gathered in one city, they would form the 4th largest city in the US, and this total excludes government workers and politicians. FOURTH LARGEST CITY IN THE UNITED STATES. All in one county, in one state.

    Threaten the dole that sustains them, what do you think they will do?

  7. urthshu says:

    >>”I have often pondered, without arriving at a solution, the question of the “what can/should an individual do to regain our lost freedom?””

    As always, resorting to the use of firearms is a last resort. Nobody should be dreaming about being a freedom fighter in the hills.

    But we live in an Information Age, not the gunpowder era, anyway. And they’re using Information Age technologies – laws, records, microstamping, what-have-you – to go about cornering and eliminating whatever freedoms they’d prefer were gone.

    So, I think the first task is to destroy the information. Make it worthless so as to preserve little corners of freedom. Make your own ammo. Take advantage of the still-extant ‘gun show loophole’ to trade firearms. Guard your privacy.

  8. Joe Huffman says:

    Attempting to, even if successful, “…preserve little corners of freedom” isn’t really freedom. It’s avoiding immediate arrest and brings suspicion of you by authorities and associates.

    I’m not saying one shouldn’t do it, I’m just saying it doesn’t bring us any closer to regaining our freedom.

  9. RaccoonBrat says:

    I don’t think the decision will be left to the people whether to use arms or not. The government will decide for you the same way they decided it for Ruby Ridge and Waco. In the 60s Bill Ayer’s group accepted that they would have to kill 25 million Americans for their system to work. How many millions do you think they would have to kill today to insure their radical socialist system? You have to ask yourself the question, do you want your family to be killed? You are a gun owner and all gun owners and their familys will not be given the benefit of the doubt by such a socialistic government. You and your family will be seen as enemies of the state. Don’t think it can happen here? It has already started. “The wise look ahead to see what is coming, but fools deceive themselves.” – Proverbs 14:8 (New Living Translation)

  10. Sebastian says:

    Except with Ruby Ridge and Waco, the government did horrible things, and got away with it. No one fired a shot other than the people directly involved in the confrontation. I just don’t have a lot of faith that people are dissatisfied enough with the government to revolt against it.

  11. RAH says:

    Except the states with the 10th amendment resolutions are setting up a causi belli. The very fact that the states so quickly are shouting ” don’t tread on me” and Obama is quickly setting up a socialist economic nation. Dodd’s ” nationalize banks” and 1 trillion here and 1 trillion there.

    This is not the rebel shouting of a few people this is a large consensus group. Now will the states match action to words. Probably not.

    As another said they will be brought to heel with funding and lack of funding if the fail to take the bait.

    But the emotion of a political revolt, not military is live and well in the states. Obama arrogance can be the spark to turn that to a military revolt. That is scary.

    Or maybe the states are turning Jojn Galt and will separate their tax receipts from the federal government.

    Montana gun rebellion saying that the federal writ does not apply there is an interesting example.

    The courts will not help the states , they have accepted the 10th amendment is evicerated.

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