January 3, 2013

“Why the 2nd Amendment”

Walter E. Williams breaks with Louis Michael Seidman, who believes we need to scrap the Constitution (or rather, those parts of the Constitution that don’t comport with the sensibilities of Louis Michael Seidman, in this, the United States of Louis Michael Seidman), and instead goes a different direction:  he summons up some historical context for the second amendment, presented through the words of those old dead white propertied patriarchal slave-owning bastards who greedily conspired to restrain the good works of benevolent philosopher kings and kindly despots.  Like, for instance, Louis Michael Seidman.


Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, said: “The British are not coming. … We don’t need all these guns to kill people.” Lewis’ vision, shared by many, represents a gross ignorance of why the framers of the Constitution gave us the Second Amendment. How about a few quotes from the period and you decide whether our Founding Fathers harbored a fear of foreign tyrants.

Alexander Hamilton: “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” adding later, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.” By the way, Hamilton is referring to what institution when he says “the representatives of the people”?

James Madison: “(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Thomas Jefferson: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which inspired our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, said, “To disarm the people — that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

Rep. John Lewis and like-minded people might dismiss these thoughts by saying the founders were racist anyway. Here’s a more recent quote from a card-carrying liberal, the late Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey: “Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.” I have many other Second Amendment references at http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/quotes.html.

How about a couple of quotations with which Rep. Lewis and others might agree? “Armas para que?” (translated: “Guns, for what?”) by Fidel Castro. There’s a more famous one: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” That was Adolf Hitler.

Here’s the gun grabbers’ slippery-slope agenda, laid out by Nelson T. Shields, founder of Handgun Control Inc.: “We’re going to have to take this one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily — given the political realities — going to be very modest. … Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time. … The final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal” (The New Yorker, July 1976).

There have been people who’ve ridiculed the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, asking what chance would citizens have against the military might of the U.S. government. Military might isn’t always the deciding factor. Our 1776 War of Independence was against the mightiest nation on the face of the earth — Great Britain. In Syria, the rebels are making life uncomfortable for the much-better-equipped Syrian regime. Today’s Americans are vastly better-armed than our founders, Warsaw Ghetto Jews and Syrian rebels.

There are about 300 million privately held firearms owned by Americans. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives.

Sure. But that’s probably just a coincidence.

Still, so long as we’re here, let’s ride that coincidence wave and add a few more citations on gun control.  Just for historical context — with the proviso that of course we aren’t comparing gun control advocates to histories greatest monsters.

We’re merely showing how they support such monsters — or at least, would have, were they to espouse their current views in other historical contexts.  To wit:

Stalin:  “If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.”

Mussolini:  “The measures adopted to restore public order are: First of all, the elimination of the so-called subversive elements. … They were elements of disorder and subversion.  On the morrow of each conflict I gave the categorical order to confiscate the largest possible number of weapons of every sort and kind.  This confiscation, which continues with the utmost energy, has given satisfactory results.”

Mao Tze Tung:  “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun.  The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”

Dianne Feinstein, one-time concealed carry permit holder:  “If I could have banned them all – ‘Mr. and Mrs. America turn in your guns’ – I would have!”

Janet Reno:“Waiting periods are only a step. Registration is only a step. The prohibition of private firearms is the goal.”

Sara Brady, Chairman, Handgun Control International: “Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed.” [update: according to snopes, this is a bogus quote -ed. Thanks to charles a]

Now let’s add to Williams’ list a few not-so-dead-white-propertied slave-owners greedily trying to constrain a benevolent ruling elite and the philosopher kings with whom they surround themselves.

The Dalai Lama:  “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”

Gandhi:  “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.”

George Orwell:  “That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

Honestly. This one seems a no brainer to me.  But then, I’m one of them Constitution fetishizers and an NRA member.  So a pox on my house, etc.  Oh.  And Wayne LaPierre needs to be hunted down and his head jammed on a pike, the filthy terrorist.

For peace.

Up being down, black being white, Erik Loomis being a professor of anything.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:37am

Comments (19)

  1. Orwell’s quote could be one of the subtlest double-entendres ever, if spoken in the voice of a smart politician.

  2. Would that Orwell had more in particular to say about the modern fetish with symbolism and abstraction as such. But then, that would probably make him something other than modern.

  3. The problem isn’t the guns themselves. The problem is guns in the hands of people that our would-be and already-like-to-think-of-themselves-as betters don’t approve of.

    People like you and me.

  4. My dad, a dedicated Krugman reading, class warfare waging, global warming believing, redistributionist democrat knows gun control is an absolutely stupid thing to do because it doesn’t work. He gets it, so why don’t others?

  5. Ted Nugent’s open letter to Joe Biden on guns

    Probably too wordy for some.

  6. Why this obsession with repealing the Second Amendment when what’s really needed is blunt instrument control?

  7. That’s a funny photo of Chuckie’s grip. What a putz.

  8. Greetings:

    Whenever this issue is resurrected, I usually try to explain the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in this manner.

    Some people find the construction of the amendment difficult to understand. So, try reading the last bit, “the right of the people…” bit, first. Now that pretty clearly lays out what the founding fathers want to happen and I don’t see anything that I could misinterpret as including “reasonable regulation”. (N.B. Salami-slicers love this conclusion the most.)

    The first part of the amendment is the founding fathers’ justification (“raison d’etre” pour Senator Kerry). It addresses the “enemies, foreign or domestic” issue as these are the primary dangers to our democratic republic, invasion by foreign enemies or a government that becomes tyrannical. It doesn’t address crime or self-protection from it; and it doesn’t address hunting either, although I’m quite sure the founding fathers had some understanding of both.

    The Constitution is what “the people” authorize our government to do and what they prohibit it from doing. The Second Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights for a reason. In the Constitution’s system of checks and balances, it is the ultimate “checker” and “balancer”.

  9. Probably too wordy for some.

    That was WAAAY over 122 words!

  10. Imagine Chuck Schumer singing, “If I had a hammer…”

    I think the Sarah Brady quote is bogus and the cause is ill served by including it. If that makes me a cornball 2nd amendment supporter, so be it.

  11. Got a source for the bogus-ness of the Brady quote? I didn’t source it myself.

  12. Never mind, found it, charles, and made the note in the post.

  13. “But what about that first part, about the well-regulated militia?”

    “In those days the militia consisted of the whole people, and ‘well-regulated’ meant everyone knew how to use a gun.”


    “Essentially, what it means is the Second Amendment is not about hunting or ‘sporting purposes.'”


    “It was an attempt to ensure the federal government would never be able to dominate the states or the people without their consent.”

    “Oh… Shit.”

  14. “It was an attempt to ensure the federal government would never be able to dominate the states or the people without their consent.

    They’ve consented on your behalf. Now hand over your guns. There’s a good sheeple.

  15. All power consent flows from the barrel of a gun.

  16. “They’ve consented on your behalf.”

    They’re merely asking the sort of question Stalin was said to have rhetorically put to the Pope: “And how many divisions has he?”

  17. Everyone knows that the Dalai Lama is a noted right-wing terrorist teabagger. Of *course* he said guns were Jake for self-defense.

  18. Liberals are scared of guns. The misinformation coming from the mainstream media shows this clearly. Half the op-eds I’ve read coming out for gun control seem to be written by persons who have never fired a gun in their life, or, if they ever have fired a gun, it was a frightening experience, one they do not wish to repeat. The few remaining liberal friends I have do not own guns and believe others should not own guns. When asked who would protect the populace from a tyrannical government, most say either that couldn’t happen or that I’m an paranoid alarmist “Like those militia people out in North Dakota”(exact quote). Not surprisingly, none of them have degrees in history or any clue about the hows and whys of countries being ruled by dictators.

    Liberals don’t like that conservatives are armed because they recognize that guns are what precludes them from ever recognizing their dream of the socialist/marxist utopia they wish to establish. I used to hope this notion would die out as the 60’s radicals died out but unfortunately, that generation taught a new generation of radicals, who are now teaching our children.

  19. Well put, Matt.

    Leftism/Utopianism will never die out because it’s too damn appealing to juvenile minds.