The issue there was not guns but the use of tax money to pay for teachers of religion. In the paragraph quoted above, Madison went on to say that citizens should object to the requirement of paying even “three pence” to support a religion because a government that extracts even that trifle may go on to coerce religious conformity. The small things are not small. The small things are where the people still have the capacity to fight authoritarian government.
Democrats know this. They are part of this American culture of deeply engrained belief in constitutional rights. What is different to the Democrats is that they don’t believe that the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutional right. They think the Supreme Court misinterpreted the Second Amendment when it found a constitutional right. District of Columbia v. Heller was a 5 to 4 decision, and the 5 are the 5 Justices, still on the Court, whom the Democratic Senators would love to have a chance to replace.
Read the whole thing.
Democratic politicians claim that they don’t want to take away people’s guns, but the pols’ behavior belies the claim. As Althouse points out, the Democrats appear to be looking at all possible ways to restrict the right to arms. The only things that hold them back are the Republican controlled House of Representatives, fear of a backlash by voters, and the courts. But we can be sure that the Democrats will seize any opportunities to restrict the RKBA that appear.
If you haven’t yet done it, now might be a good time for you to join or renew your membership in the National Rifle Association. I just joined. The NRA isn’t perfect but it’s the most effective advocate for the right to arms that we have.
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Historical usage and past court opinions suggest two classes of arms, Citizens arms – individually operated, solid firing, home kept, and State arms – crew operated, shell firing, armory kept. (state being used for government in general.
That post also reminds us of the thin thread by which the Heller decision, and our rights, hangs. One Supreme Court appointment. The fools who thought a vote for Romney didn’t matter may learn how much it mattered.
Bobmark – I’ve heard the distinction being arms and munitions. Cannons, shells, and grenades being munitions and under other regulation.
As a matter of law, I don’t know. But as a matter of public safety I don’t think there’s a pressing reason to make an issue of distinctions between types of arms. The kind of person who won’t misuse a pistol wouldn’t be likely to misuse a cannon (not that most people would want a cannon, but that’s beside the point). But the kinds of people who can’t be trusted with small weapons will disregard laws about any weapons. Mexican drug gangsters are a good example of people in the second category.
I think it’s clear by now that laws against the bad weapon du jour will generally disarm only law-abiding people. The question then becomes, why do they want to disarm us? And if they don’t trust us with arms, why should we trust them?
There are so many straw men arguments both pro and con, with one sides extreme partisans arguing the 2nd amendment is meaningless, the other is nuclear bombs in every home. In the context of the times, a citizen would likely keep a rifle, handgun, or fowler in their home for hunting or defensive purposes. The state armory held cannons and mortars for defensive or attacking purposes (note it’s illegal to attack with a citizens arm except under the auspices of the state). While a individuals or trading companies purchased cannons, the level of wealth in the country would make it an comparatively rare event.
As technology changed over time the same basic division was maintained, with indiviually operated, solid firing small arms in citizen hands, with crew operated, shell firing arms in state hands (a shell being thin cased, explosive filled). Magazines on small arms appear circa 1860 soon followed by box magazines circa 1880, in contrast to the crew operated belt fed machine gun circa 1890.
Who is arguing for nuclear bombs in every home? Meanwhile there are plenty of people arguing that the 2A is meaningless or should be repealed.
My guess is that most American RKBA advocates would tolerate significant regulation if they believed the other side was arguing in good faith. However, the other side has obviously not been arguing in good faith, since it uses every instance of mass-murder as a pretext to promote legislative, regulatory, “gun safety” and litigation measures that amount to a strategy of prohibition by increments.
Here’s the thing. The 2nd amendment is wide open. “No infringement….” means NO INFRINGEMENT. IMHO, you’re free to have any weapon (period)
Well, you say, “that’s just crazy there would be chaos and anarchy”. To which I say, “fine, let the solution to the problem be solved legally”. If there is a strong need for weapons control amend the constitution, I’m fine with that.
This is not complicated.
The distinction is “bear” arms versus other means of moving them around.
Man-portable is bear-able. Rifles and pistols.
So no artillery, tanks, ICBMs or jet fighters. No crew served weapons, no SAWs, no mortars.
Of course, a man-portable weapon these days can be serious fire-power. There are over 600,000 fully automatic rifles in the private homes of Swiss citizens. They are careful about preventing mentally unstable people and criminals from having them. The Swiss enjoy an enviably low crime rate, and an enviably small, efficient government that knows its place.
I don’t think it’s obvious that “bear” means “bearable by one person”.
Note also that there are many fully automatic rifles, including belt-fed weapons that are too heavy to be used by one person and are intended to be crew-served, legally in US private hands.
I believe that Switzerland has in the past, and may still, allow private citizens to own cannons.
But all of this is a digression. Surely the 2nd Amendment covers at least military-style semi-auto rifles of the types the gun banners want to make anathema.
My reading of the studies is that strict or permissive gun laws don’t matter much one way or the other. There is a lot of cultural symbolism going on here, with neither side homogeneous. For example, both hunters and more strict consitutionalists tend to support 2A rights, though those groups are not identical; those not raised with firearms and urbanites tend to favor restrictions, though again, those groups are not synonymous.
This is not to call the controversy unimportant. But it does suggest the lines along which 2A supporters should make their case. There will always be a Va Tech or Sandy Hook to whip up excitement. No matter how strict or permissive the laws are, those events will always move public sentiment toward restrictions. Please use the low crime rates in some states (such as mine in northern New England) with relatively mild gun laws in your appeals. Even some Massachusetts and New York people have come ’round once they got here.
Not all Democrats, or even liberals, are in favor of restrictions. It is an urban/rural breakdown. Remember Howard Dean’s line “Hell, this is Vermont, where even liberals own a couple of guns.”
I didn’t say it was obvious, I am saying it is what the drafters meant.
I should have been clearer.
IMO the drafters meant we have the right to bear ANY type of arms without infringement. Cannons were used by the American militias in the Revolutionary war. Would we have won our independence from England without them?
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