Debate Magazine

Peace is Patriotic

Posted on the 06 September 2011 by Mikeb302000
This is a follow on to my The Second Amendment and the Military Industrial Complex post, which managed to jump to the top post on this blog in a little over two days, which beat the previous "number one" that had made it to its position in 8 Months!
The problem is that only two comments came in, one of which demonstrated that the commenter totally missed the point of the post.
The issue is not civic right v. individual right, but that the Constitution demonstrated the Anglo-American dislike of standing armies from the 17th and 18th Centuries. I also noted that there seemed to be an interesting correspondence to President Eisenhower's Military-Industrial Complex Speech and the appearance of the "individual right" (non-militia related) interpretationof the Second Amendment

The purpose of the Second and Third Amendments was to prevent the establishment of a Standing Army. That is there was the belief that it was against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace. The warnigns expressed by the founders echoed that made by Eisenhower.
I have long said that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were violations of my Second Amendment right, not gun control:

§ 1197. Notwithstanding the reasonableness of these suggestions, the power was made the subject of the most warm appeals to the people, to alarm their fears, and surprise their judgment. At one time it was said, that the militia under the command of the national government might be dangerous to the public liberty; at another, that they might be ordered to the most distant places, and burthened with the most oppressive services; and at another, that the states might thus be robbed of their immediate means of defence. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§ 1195–97

There you go! Story backs me up aren’t Iraq and Afghanistan “the most distant places”? Aren’t these long tours of duty “burthened with the most oppressive services”?

Although, the military bodies seeing this service tends to be the professional standing army, but that was part of the founders' fear. The Second Amendment served the purpose of a security against standing armies by declaring security of a Free State is through an armed citizenry bearing their own kept arms as part of a well-regulated militia for which is the reason that it shall not be infringed. Disarming the citizens military force for that of a standing army was a well known fear.

Thus, the Second Amendment can simply be reduced to this principle: The right for persons to keep and bear arms as part of the military power of their State in order to make a national standing army within their midst unnecessary.

Unfortunately, we now live in a time where the Standing army is not only necessary, but the real form of national defence.

If anything, the Constitution is a more appropriate justification for the peace protesters than those who advocate "gun rights". There is more than enough Constitutional history and text to provide ammunition to shoot down the notion that the US Constitution in any way supports the "gun rights" concept.

The Concept of gun rights does not withstand scrutiny. On the other hand, there is more than enough evidence of an Anglo-American dislike for standing armies and that the Constitution intended to address that dislike.

When early American patriots spoke of bearing arms they were talking about the safeguards of liberty through security of an armed and well organized citizenry in contrast to safeguarding their homes and families through a standing army and not any constitutional right to privately own and use a gun outside of local restrictions.

See also:

  • Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
  • Documents on the First Congress Debate on Arms and Militia.
  • Amendment II
  • Amendment III
  • Tom W. Bell, The Third Amendment: Forgotten but Not Gone, 2 William & Mary Bill of Rights J. 117 (1993).
  • Willaim S. Fields and David T. Hardy, The Third Amendment and the Issue of the Maintenance of Standing Armies: A Legal History, 35 Am. J. Legal Hist. 393 (1991).
  • Cress, Lawrence Delbert Cress. Citizens in Arms: The Army and the Militia in American Society to the War of 1812
  • Cunliffe, Marcus, Soldiers and Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America, 1775-1865
  • Mahon, John K, The History of the Militia and the National Guard
  • Millett, Allan R. & Maslowski, Peter, For The Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of American: Revised Edition
  • Riker, William H, Soldiers of the States
  • One of the few Law Review articles discussing the historical militia is "The Militia Clause of the Constitution" by Frederick Wiener 54 Harvard Law Review 181(1940).
  • See also Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter I (Of the Expences of the Sovereign or Commonwealth), PART I: 16-27 (Of the Expence of Defence) for a critique of the miltia system from 1775.
  • Also, David Chandler & Ian Beckett, The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Army (ISBN: 978-0198691785) has a section on the Amateur Military Tradition (I.E., the Militia).
  • Weatherup, Roy, Standing Armies And Armed Citizens: An Historical Analysis of The Second Amendment, 2 Hastings Const. L.Q. 961-1001 (1975)
  • Schwoerer, Lois G. "No Standing Armies!" The Antiarmy Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England

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