Posted by: JDM..... | March 29, 2013

The Horse’s Mouth….

and the Second Amendment….

It’s not about guns. It’s not about the twenty first century definition versus the eighteenth century definition of “militia”. And, fundamentally, whether we like it or not, it isn’t even about the recent string of insane behaviors involving firearms. It is about all of these things, to varying degrees, of course, but at its core it is about “power” and the relationship between the federal government and the people.

Pundits and kitchen table geniuses offer glib interpretations of what the Founding Fathers meant by each word and phrase of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but none that I know of got their information first hand. Every one of us who has an opinion formed that opinion by digesting the output of multiple resources and presenting an analysis, or simply by pulling it out of a body orifice.

I’m lazy. I don’t want to go to all of that trouble, only to have some intellectual snot-ball re-roll the dice just to come up with another number. So, I dug out a book about James Madison to see what he might have had to say about the whole thing a couple of hundred years ago:

“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 shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American….The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or the state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People.”

James Madison

It caused me to wonder how those who would restrict the right of Americans to own firearms by defining “militia” as an organized standing military organization came to that conclusion. It causes me to wonder where those who would limit private firearms possession to manually loaded shotguns suitable for hunting got their supporting information. It causes me to wonder by what process some have concluded that Congress did not mean for the people to be “well armed”, but simply to plink at upland game birds. Which reminds me, … it has also become the rage to snort with self satisfaction when declaring that nobody needs an AK-47 to hunt with. Well, nobody buys a Rembrandt to fry eggs in either, but what the hell does that have to do with anything? I doubt anyone spewing that kind of genius around has ever even considered “hunting”, unless perhaps they thought once that it might be fun to go out and scare up some hamburger.

Government has a pretty tough job, actually, having to continuously maintain a balance between the liberties as described in the Constitutional framework of our society, and the safety of that society as a whole.

A number of things have progressively made that task more difficult.

The population has grown in size and diversity over the course of more than two centuries. Once almost exclusively made up of European immigrants and their descendants, today one would have to do some hard work to find an ethnic or cultural group not represented. The population in 1790 was less than 4 million, while today it has surpassed 315 million.

The world is a different collection of circumstances and relationships than it was 220 years ago as well.

Science and technology have taken us from exploring the globe in wooden sailing ships to exploring space in vessels composed of materials and driven by forces unknown back then.

While we must adapt to growth, scientific and technological advancements, and cultural changes in order to keep our governing structure in context, that structure and the underlying principles according to which it was designed, remain fundamentally intact.

I think we take a great deal for granted in the United States today and have become complacent. Those who so glibly dismiss the idea of the People owning firearms, or the need for the People to be wary of the government must live in glass bubbles where they watch cartoons and breathe nitrous oxide all day. They are the compliment of those who live in stocked bunkers as though The End began last Tuesday, but they’re keeping it a secret unless you know the password. The gap between such extremes is vast, with plenty of wiggle room for intelligent disagreement and discussion.

Just to give those who might be interested something to chew on for starters, I’d like to repeat, with emphasis, the poignant quote by the Father of the Constitution himself, cited earlier, who also spearheaded the creation of the Bill of Rights, and the man who was the fourth President of the United States, James Madison:

“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 shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American….The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or the state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People.”

One can’t get much closer to the Horse’s Mouth than that…..

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

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Responses

  1. Very nicely said. Odd that you and I are writing about the same thing only a day apart.

  2. Damn I am so very proud to be your kid! That was beautiful. Very patriotic. Very AMERICAN! In my opinion, I believe our founding fathers put in black and white the basics that need to be kept. As long as the basic framework is kept it place, everything else will work itself out. Once we start adjusting that framework to fit circumstances in the present, we stop being the beacon for freedom that we have been for two centuries. Freedom isn’t easy, and it isn’t pretty sometimes; but pretty and easy aren’t guaranteed by our constitution.
    Thank you for writing this!


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