Sunday, March 18, 2007

Coffee Talk

"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 Second Amendment of The US Constitution

On the issue of the peoples right to bear arms, as with any debated topic, each side has chosen to focus on different pieces of the second amendment. Those in favor of "gun control" focus on the words "a well-regulated militia", and those opposed focus "the right if the people to keep and bear arms". One legal case that is frequently cited in relation to the second amendment and militia is U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). The ruling in this clarified that the intent of the second amendment was to strengthen the effectiveness of the militia.
Other arguments, on both sides, always center around the word protection. People either want to protect their families and property by owning a gun, or they want to protect their families and property by removing the threat of the gun altogether.
Now we should clarify what will be meant by the phrase "gun control". We are not referring to the controlling and eliminating of illegal gun trafficking and distribution, and we have very little issue with waiting period and permits needed to purchase a gun legally. "Gun Control" has become the phrase used to advocate the banning of all guns.
So what is the best way to look at the issue of gun control? For starters, let's look at the Constitutional amendment and see what the actual writers had to say about it. Second, let's look at what the opinion has been throughout history since the Constitution leading up to today.
“And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the right of resistance? Let them take arms...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”-Thomas Jefferson
“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”-Thomas Jefferson's advice to Peter Carr, his nephew and ward, in a letter written in Paris in 1785-Aug-19, cited in the Encyclopedia of Thomas Jefferson, p.318 (Foley, Ed., reissued 1967)
“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country...”-James Madison
"The strongest reason for the People to retain the Right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson federalist papers "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." motto on thomas jefferson's seal [c. 1776]
“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.”-George Mason
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”-Noah Webster
“To disarm the people--that was the best and most effective way to enslave them.”-George Mason, founding father who led opposition to adoption of the US Constitution before the addition of the Bill of Rights
“A free people ought [...] to be armed [...]”-George Washington, speech of January 7, 1790, printed in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790
“Free men have arms; slaves do not.”-William Blackstone (1723-1780), English jurist and professor of common law at Oxford
“The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.”-Andrew Fletcher (1655-1716), quoted by James Burgh (1714-1775), in "Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses," (London, 1774-1775)
“If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly.”-Frederic Bastiat, The Law, Paris, 1850
"The signification attributed to the term, Militia, appear from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense... And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of a kind in common use at the time." US Supreme Court, US v Miller
Most of these previous quotes are found at this site. What's interesting is the last quote taken from the 1939 ruling of the US Supreme Court v Miller that has sparked this Coffee Talk.
I'm not sure why, but we were not able to find any creditable/historical quotes in favor of gun control. If anyone knows of any please post them in the comments section.
Basically, our founding fathers had placed a premium on personal liberties and freedoms, and those are the same liberties that need to hold close and not let go of simple because our needs have changed. The minute we let go of any of our freedoms is the minute that they take them all. Where do you stand on the issue of gun control? Talk amongst yourselves...


Anonymous said...

That was a very well written piece on gun control. I agree with you that our founding fathers cherished our freedom and individual rights. I believe we do need to have rules and regulations in place where guns are concerned but we can't ban them all together. And we can't put such tight constraints that law abiding citizens can't defend themselves and their families. It seems to me that no matter how many regulations you put on guns, they always fall into the hands of the abusers. More controls are not going to stop criminals from getting them.

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