February 28, 2017 | 2nd Amendment, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Founders, Militia, Sovereignty
by Nicholas Testaccio
In order to subscribe to the individual rights theory you must ignore the history of the nation and what the Founders specifically understood from personal experience. You must ignore the fact that the individual rights theory is a product of the later part of the Twentieth Century. You must also ignore the fact that the promoters of the theory are the same people who pushed through some of the most restrictive gun laws.
It’s simply a matter of bait and switch. If you convince the public that the Second amendment protects an individual right rather than the awesome power that the Constitution recognizes as the only authority “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” you’re one step closer to removing the sovereignty of the People.
The Second amendment reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. What does that mean in terms of those who wrote the Constitution, and for whom the document was written?
In Pollack v. Farmers Loan and Trust Company, 157 US 429, 558 the court opined, “What did those who framed and adopted it understand the terms to designate and include? We must remember that the fifty-five members of the constitutional convention were men of great sagacity, fully conversant with governmental problems, deeply conscious of the nature of their task, and profoundly convinced that they were laying the foundations of a vast future empire. *** They had immediately before them the example of Great Britain, and they had a still better school of political wisdom in the republican constitutions of their several States, which many of them had assisted to frame.”
In Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. 213, 332 the court noted “On this subject also, the Court has taken such frequent occasion to declare its opinion as to make it unnecessary, at least, to enter again into an elaborate discussion of it. To say that the intention of the instrument must prevail; that this intention must be collected from its words; that its words are to be understood in that sense in which they are generally used by those for whom the instrument was intended; that its provisions are neither to be restricted into insignificance nor extended to objects not comprehended in them, nor contemplated by its framers is to repeat what has been already said more at large and is all that can be necessary”.
Each of the Thirteen colonies had their own constitution that framed the workings of their respective republics. Each had its own militia that, for the most part, had existed for some 150 years prior to the revolution. Each understood militia to mean the body of the People with all able-bodied men, generally, from 17 – 45 required to keep and bear the prescribed firearm exactly as detailed in the statutes. Each understood the role played by militia when the first shots were fired on Lexington Green.
Tenche Coxe wrote: “Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. –The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” I Annals of Congress (August 17, 1789)
George Washington: “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
William Rawle: “In the second article, it is declared, that a well regulated militia is necessary to a free state; a proposition from which few will dissent. Although in actual war, in the services of regular troops are confessedly more valuable; yet while peace prevails, and in the commencement of a war before a regular force can be raised, the militia form the palladium of the country. They are ready to repel invasion, to suppress insurrection, and preserve the good order and peace of government. That they should be well regulated, is judiciously added. A disorderly militia is disgraceful to itself, and dangerous not to the enemy, but to its own country. The duty of the state government is, to adopt such regulation as will tend to make good soldiers with the least interruptions of the ordinary and useful occupations of civil life. In this all the Union has a strong and visible interest.” – William Rawle, “A View of the Constitution of the United States of America” (1829)
Most important are the words of George Mason Co-author of the Second Amendment: “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788. Clearly, the authors of the amendment understood that the word militia meant all of the People. It did not mean some body of the army, nor John Rambo out there pretending to be some super soldier.
So why is there this insistence that the second amendment is about an individual right and nothing else? Why is it that modern Americans can’t comprehend that militia is “the whole of the people” as stated by one of its authors?
In part, the idea of serving in some fashion is out of the question for most people. The Dick Act came into effect because the states allowed the militia to atrophied. Even the congress understood the need for “the whole of the people” to be armed and “well regulated”. The congress recognized the serious nature of this deficiency and invoked their power at Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 to allow the states to have some force available for emergencies. “No state shall, without the consent of Congress, *** keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace.” It was a move prompted by the fact that Americans had become ambivalent, and could care less about the duties prescribed by law.
From the current New Jersey state Constitution:
Article 1, Section 3, Clause 1
“Provision for organizing, inducting, training, arming, disciplining and regulating a militia shall be made by law, which shall conform to applicable standards established for the armed forces of the United States.”
Article 1, Section 3, Clause 2
“The Governor shall nominate and appoint all general and flag officers of the militia, with the advice and consent of the Senate. All other commissioned officers of the militia shall be appointed and commissioned by the Governor according to law.”
From the Virginia Constitution, upon which the Second was drawn:
“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”
From the Virginia statutes:
-  “[I]n each county * * * all free male persons, hired servants, and apprentices, above the age of sixteen, and under fifty years, except such as are * * * excepted [under the statute], shall be enlisted into the militia[.]”
-  “[A]ll free male persons, hired servants, and apprentices, between the ages of sixteen and fifty years [with various exceptions] * * * shall * * * be enrolled or formed into [Militia] companies[.]”
The statutes I quoted above were standard throughout the Thirteen colonies, and remained in force upon the formation of the Union. Across the states they explain Militia as “[A]ll free male persons, hired servants, and apprentices, between the ages of sixteen and fifty year”.
The Founders understood militia to be all the People “armed and disciplined”. So what has changed in law? The understanding of the awesome power of militia is the only change that can explain what has taken place. As Tenche Coxe noted “Congress have no power to disarm the militia”.
In the eyes of the Founders the “Militia of the several States” represented the ability of the People to enforce the law, and in all manner, maintain a “free State”. The Militia represented the full force of the sovereignty of the People acting as the basis for all law. An aspect of law that was made virtually impossible to change by the construction throughout the Constitution, and the existing state statutes.
In the early part of the Twentieth Century, those who sought to overthrow our “Republican Form of Government” corrupted the definition of militia as one means of dismantling the republic. Instead of the honorable position it held during the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, it was defamed. Militia became synonymous with the KKK, outlaws, and other nefarious institutions. The idea that the American people were stupid and incapable of independent thought became the doctrine, by which our most precious institutions would be ruined, and our sovereignty destroyed.
Throughout the Century we became cowed with fallacy after fallacy. The Sixteenth, and the Seventeenth amendments, neither one “ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States”. The Federal Reserve Bank, no more federal than FedEx. The gold confiscation, Pearl Harbor, the Lone gunman, WMD’s, and even when we’re told to our face that we were lied to as in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, we can’t muster the integrity to admit we’ve been duped.
From the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine of March 1968; “The NRA supported The National Firearms Act of 1934 which taxes and requires registration of such firearms as machine guns, sawed-off rifles and sawed-off shotguns. *** NRA support of Federal gun legislation did not stop with the earlier Dodd bills. It currently backs several Senate and House bills which, through amendment, would put new teeth into the National and Federal Firearms Acts.”
The article goes on, “The NRA supported the original ’Dodd Bill’ to amend the Federal Firearms Act in regard to handguns when it was introduced as S.1975 in August, 1963. Among its provisions was the requirement that a purchaser submit a notarized statement to the shipper that he was over 18 and not legally disqualified from possessing a handgun.”
I could go on, but to most who’ve been snatched out of reality and placed into some oblivion would not only deny the obvious, they’d rather “kill the messenger” than face the ugly truth.
This is a game that powerful people play. There is money from both sides of the battle, and it benefits the few at the top while the rest of us struggle to survive in an ever encroaching, and overbearing State. The Founders were astute, and far thinking. They did not leave to chance the power of the ‘Sword’. They placed it firmly in the hands of the good People, but today we spit on the legacy of the men who mustered on Lexington Green, those who harassed and battled the British Regulars all the way to Boston, and all those who fought for years to free this nation.
The roots, understanding, and need for “[T]he unlimited power of the sword *** where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people” are there for everyone to read and follow. In modern America, even the so-called pro-2nd community fights tooth and nail against the proper application of the amendment that would revoke current gun control, and prevent any future attempts to disarm the populace.
Either the words and their definitions remain in tact today, or we face the dissolution of what was once a great republic. The Founders placed the ‘Sword of Sovereignty’ in the hands of the People. Americans reject their birthright, and instead we fight battles dictated by the enemies of freedom while they occasionally pat us on the head with what we perceive as a victory.
The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the Right of the people, to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. The Constitution recognizes the “Militia of the several States”, and the statutes detail what arms “to keep”, when, how and why to “bear” them. There are twenty-seven words in the amendment, and the so-called pro-2nd community appears to be incapable of understanding the dynamic of the law of the land surrounding this crucial link to liberty.
I’m being generous when I say incapable because there is a darker side to this denial. It is a slap in the face of those who sacrificed in order that this nation could be born. Militia is a requirement of law. It imposes a duty on all members of society. It is not voluntary. It demands that we train, and become proficient in whatever is necessary for “A well regulated militia”. It is the essence of controlling crime on the streets, the halls of the legislatures, and corruption in the judiciary.
On the other hand the individual right requires nothing of anyone. It imposes no duty, creates no office, and in practice is nothing more than talk. It does not demand that we sacrifice a few weekends a year, or muster when an emergency strikes the community. All that is needed of the individual right is for the populace to complain when emergency services are overwhelmed, and have not saved us from whatever disaster we might face. It is a tool for what America has become; a nation of ignorant whiners who know nothing of the Founders and the tools they past to us so that we might, just might keep ourselves and our progeny free and prosperous.