Gun control: The right to commit treason

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CONSERVATIVE Republican Brett Joshpe thinks the Republican Party has to embrace “sensible gun control” or pay a price at the ballot box. “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes,” he writes. Kevin Williamson calls Mr Joshpe’s reasoning “soft-headed”:


 

The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions. The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person — let alone a Harvard Law graduate — believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity. There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny.

He goes on to cite Joseph Story, a Supreme Court justice from 1811 to 1845:

The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Obviously, Joseph Story was wrong. Militia are hopelessly inadequate as a means of defending a free country. While “people’s war” militia-based strategies have been employed to wear down invading armies in numerous countries over the past century, not one of those countries (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, southern Lebanon, etc) is “free”. This is not an accident of history. Freedom is the product of orderly democratic governance and the rule of law. Popular militias are overwhelming likely to foster not democracy or the rule of law, but warlordism, tribalism and civil war. In Lebanon, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Colombia, the Palestinian Territories and elsewhere, we see that militias of armed private citizens rip apart weak democratic states in order to prey upon local populations in authoritarian sub-states or fiefdoms. Free states are defended by standing armies, not militias, because free states enjoy the consent of the governed, which allows them to maintain effective standing armies. Like every other free country apart from Costa Rica, the United States has a standing army in times of peace, and has since 1791, when the founding fathers realised a standing army would be necessary to fight the irregular popular militias of the continent’s Native American peoples. (Guess who won?)

Written By: The Economist
continue to source article at economist.com

17 COMMENTS

  1. No popular militia has ever prevented the seizure of power by an authoritarian ruler.

    Spain 1936. A popular militia rose up in barcelona, which defeated the first attempted coup by the army, though it didn’t prevent Franco’s second war, though arguably that was because it got rearranged into a standing army when virtually all the regular army officers were on franco’s side (only one regiment was not). Not that I’m defending no gun control mind you: most of those workers weren’t armed.

  2. In some ways, the US second amendment was one of the most revolutionary ideas that the US founders had. The idea was that the country would not have a standing army and would instead rely on citizen militas to defend itself. The hope was that without a standing army the US would not waste effort on the military adventures that plagued Europe at the time.

    Unfortunately, the desire to expand and grow soon over-rode this radical idea. Even Jefferson gave in to funding a standing Navy to help the US maintain and expand its maritime trade and to compete fairly with the UK.

  3. The Military of Switzerland perform the roles of Switzerland’s militia and regular army. Under the country’s militia system, professional soldiers constitute about 5 percent of military personnel; the rest are male citizen conscripts 19 to 34 (in some cases up to 50) years old. Because of a long history of neutrality, the army does not take part in armed conflicts in other countries, but takes part in peacekeeping missions around the world.

    The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their own personal equipment, including all personally assigned weapons, at home (until 2007 this also included ammunition[3])

    This is the “well regulated militia” envisioned by the authors of the Second Amendment, surely? Not the appalling free-for-all that the loons of the NRA support. I see that recently keeping ammunition at home has been banned, impossible in USA which seems unable to learn from any other nation…

  4. In reply to #1 by littletrotsky13:

    No popular militia has ever prevented the seizure of power by an authoritarian ruler.

    Spain 1936.

    Then there was also the US embargo against Spain, Stalin’s shenanigans, and a host of other factors that gave the fascists an advantage. I do find the OPs point facile in this area.

    “Oblast je pri nas Ljudska.”-Tito

    Our authority is that of the Ljudska. Ljudksa, commonly translated as ‘militia’ refers to a popular and spontaneous, militant uprising. If a people are so proactive, even a dictatorship is an expression of vox populi, as we can count on them to overthrow the government, and a complacent democracy can be as unrepresentative as tyranny.

    What one calls a democracy can be a nuanced issue, such as military takeovers in Brazil which were more true to democracy than the elected government. The OP lists Vietnam and Afghanistan as not free… how many countries are “free”? What is the statistical likelihood of these two concepts lining up in history, considering almost all governments have been tyrannies? I’m unimpressed with the suggestion of a pattern here.

    There are many problems with the OPs argument.

    In America, the government is chosen at the ballot box, and our representatives make the laws and execute them.

    Oh, what adorable naivite. It must be nice to be rich and White, but I would never trade my awareness of how things really work. Sometimes the Martin Luther King method works, where one marches without a permit to face hoses and dogs, but sometimes the Black Panther approach is more effective. Things get really sick in America, and sadly violence and weaponry can be positive tools for change.

    All of this is entirely removed from the Second Amendment, as Red Dog points out:

    In some ways, the US second amendment was one of the most revolutionary ideas that the US founders had.

    It’s almost an anarcho-utopian ideal. We won’t have a military, we will just be militant. This was compounded with an individual mandate obligating everyone to own guns (Second Militia Act 1792). The popular argument about defending against the state is mistaken. It’s initial intent was to render that function of the state obsolete, decentralize martial power. It’s a really weird, really cool idea, unlike the “git off mah lawn” logic being addressed.

  5. The words that are unfortunately left out of “The Right to Bear Arms”, are that citizens should do so only as part of an officially sanctioned and regulated body (and the “Citizens’ Militias” were certainly within this distinction), or when there is a credible threat to local or national security.

    All these functions are now carried out by the US Army, the National Guard, and the police services.

    The US Constitution guarentees many rights to its citizens, but the citizens do not have to exercise those rights. My opinion is that if a US citizen wants to exercise their right to bear arms they should do so by applying to one of the organisations listed above

  6. “military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny.”

    There is a severe problem with this state of affairs. A properly capable home militia should have access to the tools required by the job. In this day and age with threats of WMDs the home militia need an upgrade. Surely, cruise missiles are within the financial grasp and competence of some US citizens? Tactical thermonuclear devices have become remarkably compact could be housed reasonably in larger homes.

    This could herald a huge boom in the US economy with a militia substantially retooling at their own cost. There would need to be controls of course. These devices mustn’t be misused for say hunting or recreation purposes (though some self training would be advisable). And some training would be useful also as far as reliably identifying domestic enemies.

  7. The bottom line is how to stop violent people from committing violent acts. According to FBI stats, preferred method of violent crime last year last was the baseball bat. I’ll ask the obvious ….should we outlaw bats? They only way to stop violent crime is to change the people, not the instruments under which they carry out the violence. There are plenty of existing laws against guns, yet they do not work. It’s time to tackle the problem at the source, the human mind.

    Yes I own guns and aim to continue doing so. Why? Because I can …and I feel better at night knowing I have an excellent ‘force equalizer’ in the event that someone breaks into my home. Yes, it has happened before. I am getting old and can hardly expect to scare off, or subdue a guy 1/3 my age. My weapons level the field. Will they result in lethal force where it may not otherwise have escalated to that point? Yes, however I feel that anyone willing to break into my home had better be prepared to answer the “supernatural being in the sky” question once and for all. I know I will be.

  8. should we outlaw bats?

    The difference is bats harm others when misused whereas guns harm others when used. The only uses of guns are harming humans, harming other animals or practising doing those things. Baseball bats are designed to play a game without harming others.

    There are plenty of existing laws against guns, yet they do not work.

    Some don’t. Judging by data from across the world, the general rule of thumb is gun control works as long as people can’t easily cross a nearby border to somewhere with laxer gun rules. Every mass killing in the US you’ve heard about in the news for decades has relied on more than just a regular gun. What’s more, they’ve only ever happened due to the relevant state or a nearby one considering the relevant super-duper gun legal. This stuff can be controlled, but it’s a team effort. A nationwide law would help there.

  9. If I lived in the USA I would probably own a gun on the basis that I would feel the need to defend my home.
    However it’s the chief reason I never considered living there.
    I’m very pro American and have been for 50 years ;grateful for their military power in opposing the multitude of totalitarian arseholes, who hold sway in other parts of the world.
    I love holidays there with long standing friends .

  10. In reply to #9 by holysmokes:

    The bottom line is how to stop violent people from committing violent acts. According to FBI stats, preferred method of violent crime last year last was the baseball bat. I’ll ask the obvious ….should we outlaw bats? They only way to stop violent crime is to change the people, not the instruments under which they carry out the violence. There are plenty of existing laws against guns, yet they do not work. It’s time to tackle the problem at the source, the human mind.

    Yes I own guns and aim to continue doing so. Why? Because I can …and I feel better at night knowing I have an excellent ‘force equalizer’ in the event that someone breaks into my home. Yes, it has happened before. I am getting old and can hardly expect to scare off, or subdue a guy 1/3 my age. My weapons level the field. Will they result in lethal force where it may not otherwise have escalated to that point? Yes, however I feel that anyone willing to break into my home had better be prepared to answer the “supernatural being in the sky” question once and for all. I know I will be.

    The home or personal defense argument has merit in places where local law enforcement cannot be relied upon, which I understand to be the case in the USA. However, it hardly justifies owning anti aircraft guns, cruise missiles or helicopter gunships, or other equipment that currently is the province of the standing army, or the national guard. Agreed, NRA members? (If not, please explain). If agreed, then all that’s left is haggling over what’s a reasonable level of armament to keep at home, there is no argument over the basic “right”. For home defense, a shotgun loaded with rock salt is probably as much as you’ll ever need, so I’d respectfully suggest that as a starting point for the haggling. And I expect that this haggling is where any new Gun Control regulations will focus. Magazine size, rate of fire, time to reload, number of weapons, that kind of thing, Which, while it may help tone down the scale of future massacres, does not address the Real Issue.

    I especially agree that the Swiss model is pretty much exactly what the “Constitutional Right” actually meant, and I agree with the other poster who explained the “right to bear arms” into the “right to join the national guard”. The trouble seems to be the cherry-picking of “rights” versus “duties” and “responsibilities” that one hears especially from the NRA and it’s more vocal supporters, which is simply dishonest.

    Armed and dishonest. A terrifying combination, wherever it occurs.

  11. In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

    “Oblast je pri nas Ljudska.”-Tito

    There is a possible mistake in information (not entering in your opinion about Tito) .
    I believe that you did not well cited Tito, or it is a typing error :).
    This sentence as you quoted literally means: “area (region) is human here”, which doesn’t mean much. And the word “ljudska” means “human”. There is no need for capital letter “L” because that word is not a noun (but descriptive adjective), or a name or some political group or movement (or has ever been). :)
    I don’t know from where have you extrapolate that sentence but it can be translated as: “Our domain is human”, which actually make sense.

    No hard feelings :). Bye, and all the best in new year.

  12. Why aren’t flamethrowers legal? I do not want to wound or incapacitate; I want to incinerate.

    Some years ago a person figured out how to get a bomb into the heel of their shoe. Now we all have to take our shoes off before getting on a plane. When common sense rules the day, we will see real reform on our gun issues.

    It is not just guns that are the problem. it is the fact that insurance companies have been allowed to dictate policy to doctors and close most of our mental health facilities because there is no money in treating people with mental issues.

    In Philadelphia two years ago (2011) our murder rate was 21 per 100,000 people. It earned us the national notoriety of being called KILLadelphia. This is the direct manifestation of our collective attitudes towards guns and “crazy” people. When the two mix– well, you all know the outcome.

  13. In reply to #9 by holysmokes:

    Yes I own guns and aim to continue doing so. Why? Because I can …and I feel better at night knowing I have an excellent ‘force equalizer’ in the event that someone breaks into my home. Yes, it has happened before. I am getting old and can hardly expect to scare off, or subdue a guy 1/3 my age. My weapons level the field. Will they result in lethal force where it may not otherwise have escalated to that point? Yes, however I feel that anyone willing to break into my home had better be prepared to answer the “supernatural being in the sky” question once and for all. I know I will be.

    This does not solve anything! It just means that someone breaking into your home will consider the possibility that you are armed and will also carry a gun.

    There are loads of gun accidents in the USA because there are lots of guns around!

    There have been no guns in my (UK) house or (as far as I know) in my neighbours’ houses for the last 30 years. If I decided to tackle an armed intruder, I have plenty of tools around which would make improvised weapons against any non-projectile attack!
    Because there are relatively few guns in the UK, armed criminals can expect to be tackled by a SWAT team, simply because they are carrying guns. They can also expect a longer prison term for the same reason.
    It is an arrestable offence in the UK simply to have an unlicensed gun – or to have a licensed one outside of a locked case in a public place.

  14. In reply to #10 by Jos Gibbons:

    should we outlaw bats?

    The difference is bats harm others when misused whereas guns harm others when used. The only uses of guns are harming humans, harming other animals or practising doing those things. Baseball bats are designed to play a game without harming others.

    There are plenty of existing laws against guns, yet they do not work.

    Some don’t. Judging by data from across the world, the general rule of thumb is gun control works as long as people can’t easily cross a nearby border to somewhere with laxer gun rules. Every mass killing in the US you’ve heard about in the news for decades has relied on more than just a regular gun. What’s more, they’ve only ever happened due to the relevant state or a nearby one considering the relevant super-duper gun legal. This stuff can be controlled, but it’s a team effort. A nationwide law would help there.

    I think the ongoing Oscar Pistorius case is worth thinking about. Whichever way the verdict eventually goes, doesn’t the incident show that the case for all householders being armed is not as simple as its proponents make it out to be?

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