What the heck does “Federal Farmer #18” have to do with modern day America?Â […] So, are we to believe that these letters are the foundation for our country? No. They are written by an anonymous person who did not like the provisions of the Constitution nor the idea of a strong federal government. They are not the law of the land. They are letters written more than 200 years ago by a private citizen. Do you actually believe this stuff?
They are extremely relevant to modern day America because we are still engaged in some of the very same debates, arguments between federal powers, state powers, and powers retained by the people. In fact, we’ve been arguing about that topic since the country was founded. So it’s difficult for me to see why someone would suggest they have no relevance in today’s world. I think the debates are still highly relevant, for instance, Federal Farmer 18 is fairly important for understanding the context of the militia in 18th century America. The Second Amendment begins with “A well-regulated militia,” so if you’re going to set out to interpret what could have been meant by that, Federal Farmer 18 is certainly among the sources:
A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, and render regular troops in a great measure unnecessary. The powers to form and arm the militia, to appoint their officers, and to command their services, are very important; nor ought they in a confederated republic to be lodged, solely, in any one member of the government. First, the constitution ought to secure a genuine and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include, according to the past and general usuage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia useless and defenceless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permanent interests and attachments in the community to be avoided.
The debates surrounding the distribution of military power, that were hashed out in the Constitution, are not serious debates today. The federalists not only won on that count, but we’ve largely abandoned the militia system as the cornerstone of our national defense.Â Very few people seriously advocate replacing the US Army and Air Force with a citizen militia. Our military institutions are well-respected by most people on our side of the issue, and we do not fear them. But we are still having a debate on the meaning of the Second Amendment, and that’s where these documents are relevant.
The problem is, our opponents do not wish to debate the Second Amendment. They do not even wish to debate. While their lack of real grassroots is prime cause for the downfall of theirÂ movement, failing to build a serious, intellectual case for their cause within the contexts of American constitutional law and traditions, has also been a major factor.
It is certainly possible to make such arguments, but they would not be as emotionally satisfying to proponents. The modern gun control movement largely emerged from xenophobic and racial anxieties that arose as we moved from a more agrarian, rural economy, to a more urban and industrial economy, fueled heavily by immigrant labor, and from blacks migrating to the North from the South. The history on this is fairly unassailable, but our opponents have largely taken the ostrich approach to dealing with these facts, and learning and understanding the subtle nuances of folk and constitutional traditions surrounding gun ownership.
Make no mistake, I don’t believe modern gun control advocates are fueled by racists and xenophobic fears, I think they are largely afraid of anyone with a firearm, but they have continually denied history, and denied its relevance. This has been a great advantage to our side in this debate, as it allows us to have one. The reason our opponents don’t want to debate, is because they can’t. They can’t because they’ve had no serious intellectual challenge to the case we’ve built against them. They aren’t going to accomplish that with the leadership of any of the current gun control advocacy groups, save perhaps MAIG and Joyce. MAIG is probably too political an organization, and Joyce wastes and has wasted a great deal of money on people and organizations who are far too light weight to get the job done. While MAIG is close, I still don’t think we’ve seen what will replace the modern gun control movement once it sinks into oblivion. But something will replace it.
Most people are just not interested in your version of history and gun use in days gone by.
Funny, our traffic numbers say otherwise, and that’s not even counting blogs that aren’t politically centered, like The Firearm Blog, which I’m pretty sure draws about 8x the traffic this one does. Plus, we don’t need most people to be interested. Most people aren’t interested in golf either, but that doesn’t matter. As long as there are more of us than there are of you, we’ll be the ones that have more political relevance.