Despite his formidable writing, political analysis, and intellectual talents, Wigderson misses the point of the Second Amendment by a mile. Obviously, Wig's in need of some target practice.
Jim contends that 'we have nothing to fear from a tyranny here in the USA,' and thus, the Second Amendment was REALLY written to assure the US of a prepared civilian-military force. This contention is partially accurate, of course. Should the US be invaded by some foreign army, weaponry already in the homes (or hands) of the citizens will be necessary and quite useful.
But Jim seems to ignore the history. The "shot heard 'round the world" was fired specifically to prevent the Redcoats (that would be the Government's troops at the time) from seizing the guns the Colonials had stored.
The King of England (through his appointed local governor) WAS the Government of the Colonies at the time. He was also judged to be a tyrant by the Colonials.
By no co-incidence, the Founders specifically included the Second Amendment into the Constitution following the Revolution against a tyrant. They were well-aware that tyrants arise, and sometimes are VERY popular fellows (see above quotation's author.)
Self-defense and the defense of others is good, and an inalienable right. It was the contention of the Founders that a corollary right was the ability to overthrow a Government (ANY Government) which was adjudged to be a tyranny.
Frankly, it's not likely that Washington will become so oppressive that a critical mass of the citizens will decide that a revolution is necessary. But that does not obviate the reality of the Second Amendment's genesis.
Does Badger Outdoors sell tanks? Aircraft carriers? How about nukes? I'm ready and willing to arm myself against any tyrannical government out there. But as David Koresh demonstrated, I might need some help evening the playing field.
This is not to say that I'm opposed to the second amendment, or the rights of gun owners, or even concealed carry. Heck, if I had steady hands and a couple hundred extra bucks, put the gun rack on the back of my Hyundai.
(I once fired a "muzzle loader" on the Fourth of July. That was fun.)
But the second amendment is as much about sovereignty resting with the indivdual as it was with shooting red coats.
Bear in mind the Constitution was amended and passed in a time of peace. Shortly afterwards Washington had the Whiskey rebellion put down. So much for standing against a tyrannical government.
As for the Hitler remark, well, the Poles and the Polish Jews each had an uprising in Warsaw. Well trained troops with superior firepower will win every time even over a somewhat organized and armed revolt if the will is there.
As for needing target practice, I'm willing to go anytime. Just don't expect me to hit anything. :)
"Well trained troops with superior firepower will win every time even over a somewhat organized and armed revolt if the will is there."
Maybe you should rent Blackhawk Down.
Does anyone here doubt that we could reduce Mogadishu to rubble using non-nuclear force if we so chose? Seriously.
Let's say for a moment that our government was as ruthless as the government in Beijing. How fast would we have reduced Iraq, or anywhere else we so chose, literally back to Stone Age?
Governments fall not because of a well-armed citizenry. They fall because of a crisis in the elite's ability to sustain the structure of the state. The Bolsheviks took over not because they had the best guns or the most guns but because the ruling class had lost faith in both their ability and justification for ruling. The same is true of every government that has failed internally since the Treaty of Westphalia.
Elliot--'Dish is not a comparison.
Jim, Revolutions succeed because the middle class revolts. It is true that the elites lose the will to win--but the middle class wins because 1) it HAS the will and 2) the elites are NOT assured of the military's support.
I mostly agree with you James, but I do think your assertion is not 100% accurate in a world where asymmetric force seems more and more effective.
However, on average, the Abrahms tank will trump the citizen armed with a 9mm.
I'm having a hard time with this comment
"It was the contention of the Founders that a corollary right was the ability to overthrow a Government (ANY Government) which was adjudged to be a tyranny."
By that standard it would seem the Confederacy had some moral authority. Since the confederates had adjudged the Union to be a tyranny they took up arms against Fort Sumter.
It is axiomatic therefore that it was wrong for the Union to defeat the Confederates for exercising their inalienable rights.
To recap then, the Second Amendment is a fine article. But let's not defend it by saying overthrowing the government is good.
Actually, take slavery out of the equation and I think you can make an argument that the Confederacy was within their "rights" to secede.
Of course, you can't take slavery out of the equation, so the point is moot.
Slavery most certainly can be taken out of the equasion, as far as The South seceding, that is.
The question of slavery and The War didn't intersect for Lincoln until 1863... when oddly enough, he was losing support for the war in The North. By embracing the abolitionist cause, he could now claim the moral high ground, and that he was doing "God's work".
States Rights and economics were the name of the game in 1861. Sheesh guys... Indiana came just a handful of votes shy of leaving the Union as well.
As far as opening fire on Ft. Sumter... The South had every right to. All Union forces were evacuated from South Carolina soil withth eexception of Ft Sumter. The Union and the Confederate govt of SC agreed that the Union could retain possesion of said fort, with the proviso that it could not have it's strength increased (both in troop strength and/or weaponty). The North violated the agreement when they tried under cover of night to reinforce the fort with more troops.
By breaking the agreement, The North had committed an act of war.
*** hey, isn't this posting about the 2d Amnt? ***
Yes, the Confederacy WAS justified in its secession. There is NO, zero, zip, nada, provision in the Constitution which makes entry to the USA irrevocable.
But Lincoln offed a lot of lives to make it irrevocable, you see--and in the process, paved the way for the obrogation of the 9th/10th Amendments with the 14th.
As to the slavery thing: Lincoln, pre-War, wanted to abolish slavery, but did NOT use it as a causus belli because it may have thrown some other States to the South.
Which brings me to my point. There is no moral authority for the right to bear arms if the arguments for that right include the ability to overthrow any government with which we disagree.
Surely you won't argue the Confederacy was a moral government.
If anything, the right to bear arms should be couched in argument to defend our government. As long as criminals and terrorists threaten we have the right to defend ourselves and our government with private arms.
To sum up, i think it necessary to wisely defend the rights that we have. I don't think it wise to include in that defense the right to overthrow the government.
Eric, I don't follow your logic, and I think you are conflating the CSA's slavery practice imprecisely so as to arrive at a rhetorical inaccuracy.
As to the CSA: they did NOT propose to "overthrow" the Federal Gummint. They proposed to withdraw from the Union. BIG difference.
Moral authority must be based on a rightly-formed view of man. That view includes the inherent dignity of EACH man (so slavery is 'out').
A Government which egregiously violates the dignity of men (some of them, or all of them) is by definition immoral and SHOULD be overthrown.
Such violations could occur in areas of basic human rights (life, liberty-within-common-law-constraints, and worship), or in 'second-stage' rights such as enumerated in the first several Amendments--press, association, arms, search/siezure, etc.)
Although a more nuanced case, tax policy CAN become a violation of human rights, as well.
Let me repeat: I do not expect that the US Gov't will become a "tyranny" in the near future--but there is no question in my mind that it COULD, at some point in time.
The Colonials did EXACTLY what the CSA did--withdrew from another Government's authority, by the way. Did the Founders have "moral authority?"
Further, you imprecisely define the CSA "government" as "immoral." The CSA government's PURPOSE may have been partially 'immoral,' in that one of the purposes was to retain slavery. THAT is patently wrong.
But another purpose was to gain trade advantages with other countries--i.e., to raise their economic status. If we exculpt the slavery issue (difficult, yes) from the question, what's the matter with that?
Certainly it is more "prudent" not to mention tyranny as one of the reasons for the 2A. But that doesn't mean that it was NOT a reason. The Founders had just fought a war with what they considered to be a tyrant who was also the Government.
Thus, the 2A.
You raise a number of points. I will address them in the order presented.
Withdrawing from a government by force of arms clearly implies the overthrow of local sovereign authority. Otherwise you wouldn't need arms.
You argue that a government which violates the decency of men SHOULD ( your emphasis ) be overthrown. Socialists and Communists would agree with you. That is why i would not use this argument in defense of the Second Amendment.
I agree, the Founders and the CSA acted in exact same way. But the Founders acted to protect democracy. The CSA acted to prevent democracy. Thus, the Founders acted morally and the CSA did not.
Hmm... I'm uncertain how it's possible to be partially immoral.
But I think you understand my point. By saying the Second Amendement right to bear arms includes the right to overthrow the government, one can morally equate the actions of the Founders and the actions of the CSA. And the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, etc. All of these groups believed the goverment a tyranny after all.
I think the right to bear arms should include arguments to defend our government from criminals and terrorists. I think it should be an argument of partnership.
"Withdrawing from a government by force of arms clearly implies the overthrow of local sovereign authority. Otherwise you wouldn't need arms.">
The King chose to shoot it out, not the Colonists (although they were obviously prepared for it.)
"You argue that a government which violates the decency of men SHOULD ( your emphasis ) be overthrown. Socialists and Communists would agree with you. That is why i would not use this argument in defense of the Second Amendment.
So what? Stoppped clocks are right twice a day, and Socs/Commies can be, too. There IS such a thing as avarice, which accounts for the graduated tax system we have.
"By saying the Second Amendement right to bear arms includes the right to overthrow the government, one can morally equate the actions of the Founders and the actions of the CSA.
And the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, etc. All of these groups believed the goverment a tyranny after all.
Waaayyyyy back up there, I mentioned 'critical mass'--only the Middle Class can lead, finance, and win a rebellion. It won't be 12 loonies in SanFran, or Montana, or the blogosphere. It will be a LOT of right-thinking individuals.
"I think the right to bear arms should include arguments to defend our government from criminals and terrorists. I think it should be an argument of partnership."
The 2A specifically includes "militia."
As to the Revolution being fought "to defend democracy": excuse me, but there WAS King George. Not a democracy, my man.
The King was enforcing his laws. Since the colonials fought back they clearly didn't want those laws enforced. Thus they sought to overthrow authority.
You don't need the middle class to overthrow authority. You simply need a well timed weapon of mass destruction. But as long as anybody adjudges the government a tyranny then that's okay.
You forget Parliament. The Colonials had been demanding representation and had received none. The Colonials therefore acted to achieve democracy. Arguably you could say they acted to restore democracy since they had it when they were in England but lost it when colonizing America.
"You don't need the middle class to overthrow authority. You simply need a well timed weapon of mass destruction.
Yeah, and nukes are available at Wal-Mart for $10.95. Right.
But as long as anybody adjudges the government a tyranny then that's okay.
You are becoming a parody of yourself. Your arguments are becoming silly, which is too bad.
Not familiar with the word parody are you.
Well it's your blog, enjoy the last word
Yes, I am familiar with the word "parody." Look it up. You can learn something.
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