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June 5, 2013

Second Amendment Ignorance: An American Epidemic

Patrick W. Allen

Not every Second Amendment advocate, owner, user or collector of firearms is a lunatic. The vast majority of these people quietly go through each day enjoying a constitutional right to use their firearms for recreation, competition, collection and/or as an additional measure to protect themselves and their property.


However, there is an ever-expanding, highly vocal, lunatic minority of Second Amendment deniers who monopolize the airwaves, online blogs and bathroom walls with their ignorance and toxic messaging regarding the existence and interpretation of its content, written into the Bill of Rights. [1] They have, themselves, through their own words and deeds, morphed into a new brand of domestic terrorists…from fomenting extraordinarily venomous rhetoric advocating the overthrow of the federal government to blatant threats to murder the President of the United States.


A current case to consider deals with Adam Kokesh, who had planned a holiday armed march on Washington, but cancelled the July 4th event. Instead, he is now calling for his posse to march on all 50 state capitols with the goal of overthrowing the federal government. If you are not familiar with Mr. Kokesh, he is a radio talk show pal with right-wing conspiracy theorist Pete Santilli – the guy who said he wanted to shoot Hillary Clinton and is currently under Secret Service investigation. [6]


Now, this totally off-the-rails nut bag isn’t suggesting something as benign as driving one thousand tractors around the Capitol Building to demand support for America’s small farmers. No, he’s advocating taking five thousand armed idiots across the Fourteenth Street Bridge into the District of Columbia, where it’s against the law to carry a loaded firearm, for the purposes of overthrowing the federal government.


There is no way to describe Second Amendment deniers, who gin up their feeble-minded followers into a frothy lather, than to say that they are simply bat-crap crazy…lunatics and delusional. I strongly believe that psychiatric literature will back me up on this observation and assertion.


A little walk down history lane will shed some factual light in order to (re)educate Second Amendment deniers.


You have to remember that at the time of the Continental Congress we did not yet have an established federal government and each state’s representative(s) to it was looking for any advantage they could get for their home state. Slavery, as we all know, was a lightening-rod issue to the Framers and became a can that was kicked down the road for someone else to deal with. This allowed the Founding Fathers to breathe a sigh of relief by collectively stipulating that Negroes would be considered and counted as three-fifths person.


Historian Gordon Wood notes that:


“If we are to understand accurately the role of slavery in the making of the Constitution, we have to try to rid ourselves of our knowledge of what happened in the succeeding decades. The Founders did not know the future, any more than we do, and most of them at the outset lived with the illusion that slavery in the United States was dying away and would somehow eventually disappear, especially with the ending of the slave trade. Of course, they could not have been more wrong.”


However, the Founding Fathers couldn’t just let those Negroes run amuck. Hence, the Second Amendment was born. The amendment was purposefully written with ambiguity and obfuscation into the Bill of Rights in order to facilitate compromise between northern and southern states regarding the question of slavery.


James Madison was the author of the militia clause in the Constitution and the Second Amendment. His text was written to assure the southern states that Congress would not undermine the slave system by disarming the militia, which at that time was the principal instrument of slave control throughout the South. [5]


Mr. Madison’s original Second Amendment text was: "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."


Today’s political Right (and those who have bought into their argument) would appear to completely dismiss the first phrase relating to the militia, the phrase that gives the leading, primary meaning of the sentence and to which the second phrase relates. The word “militia” is defined in the Constitution itself:


“The Congress shall have Power . . . To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” [Article 1, § 8.]


The reality is that the Framers wrote the Constitution and added the Second Amendment with the goal of creating a strong central government with a citizens-based military force capable of putting down insurrections, not to enable or encourage uprisings. The key Framers, after all, were mostly men of means with a huge stake in an orderly society, the likes of George Washington and James Madison.


So, the original intent of the Second Amendment was to protect the white man from the black man. The political Right has been repeating lies about this Amendment and U.S. history for several decades, but as Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth.”


Few Americans know that there are two opposing views of the Second Amendment: the collective right model and the individual model. They are unaware that the first view prevailed for almost one hundred years, that it was not only widely accepted, it was uncontroversial.


In 1887, U.S. law review articles began to be indexed and cataloged. All law review articles dealing with the Second Amendment endorsed the collective right model. The first law review article asserting an individual’s right to own firearms for self-defense or sport did not appear until 1960. Eleven articles discussing the Second Amendment were published during this 73-year period (1887-1960). All eleven endorsed the collective right model. [4]


Sadly, the collective right model does not support the National rifle Association agenda or the flock of sheep that follow their views.


Citizens don’t have to become constitutional lawyers or scholars on the Second Amendment. However, they do need to take the time to do some basic homework – and not be intimidated by right-wing bullies and their deep-pocketed propaganda campaigns. A small amount of legitimate study and research will reveal the facts as to what is known, what is not known, what is debatable, and what is a misrepresentation or outright lie.


Far too many Americans live in an alternative reality that confuses belief with facts, and are unable to distinguish scholarship from fanciful propaganda and scholars from lobbyists.


America's current crop of right-wing, Second Amendment, lunatic-fringe deniers are working overtime and in overdrive to bring our country full circle – once again advocating the use of firearms to protect themselves from a black man.


Note: The facts debunking the Second Amendment as a God given right have been thoroughly explained in previous papers. [2] [3]









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