JANUARY 19, 2013 1:06PM

You want some Founding Fathers literalism? Okay...

Rate: 2 Flag



The NRA website has a page devoted to the history and meaning of the Second Amendment.  The articles go into great detail on the thinking that went into its creation, and the meaning of almost every word in the amendment.


The NRA claims that, “To understand the true meaning of the Second Amendment, it is important to understand the men who wrote and ratified it, and the issues they faced in creating the Constitution.”

To this end, the article goes into depth on the definitions of “right,” “militia,” “well regulated militia,” keep and bear…,”

Everything goes back to what the Founding Fathers understood, what they intended, what they actually might have meant, and why they thought the way they did.

Rightwing 'religious' commitment to the Founders can become so extreme that it leads to intellectual blackouts such as Michele Bachmann’s claim that the founding fathers abolished slavery, or Sarah Palin’s insistence that the purpose of Paul Revere’s ride was to warn the British. (See "When Pretty is Pretty Awful")

It is this devotion these ‘prophets’ that best describes the NRA vision of the second amendment.

But when it comes to the NRA second amendment literalism, they make one exception.

The word “arms” as understood by the NRA bears no relationship to what arms were when the amendment was written or ratified.

There is no way the Founding Fathers could have imagined the rapidly expanding gulf between weapons designed for military applications and fog3weapons appropriate to civilian life.

To them, the same musket used for defending one’s country is the same one used to kill a turkey for tonight’s dinner.

Not anymore. Today, semi-automatic and automatic weapons having no reasonable civilian use are sweeping the nation. When it comes to hunting, home protection, and target shooting, these attack weapons are probably are a worse option than almost any other firearm.

While the NRA cites how rarely these guns are used in violent crime, they sidestep the grim reality that one shooter with such a weapon can murder, and has murdered as many people in one incident as it would take several assailants with handguns.

Are such accessible military weapons what the authors of the second amendment intended?NRA TODAY

Since the NRA has committed itself to a literal interpretation of the second amendment, and what each word meant to the authors, the NRA should be held to that standard in the context of what the founding fathers understood to be “arms.”

As such, let us embrace the entire second amendment precisely as it was understood at the time.  This would not include any understanding of “arms” beyond that of the American Revolution. saratoga

Therefore, I propose that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but only those arms of the era. If an American wants to keep and bear a smooth-bore single-shot flintlock muzzleloader, a Brown Bess (a popular long land musket), a Kentucky long rifle, or even some 18th century mortars or Howitzers, he’s got this patriot’s support.

This might all seem sophomoric.  However, is it any sillier than chaining a 21st century debate on guns in America to an 18th century understanding of the human condition and the role guns play in our lives?

If the NRA must play the "Founding Fathers Edition" “What What Would Jesus JesusNRADo?” why aren't the NRA nabobs  asking what the Founding Fathers would do about a nation in which nearly five thousand Americans have been shot thus far this year.  That's about a sixth of Philadelphia's population at the time the amendment was ratified.

It's still January. 

Would they do something about it? Or would the nation's founders behave like the NRA's marrionettes in Congress today, taking money from gun makers to do nothing while fellow citizens are being shot to death on a daily basis? Of course the founders would take action. 

What they would do?  Nobody will never know, or even make an educated guess. Less apparent is the freedom this endows us.

Once the nation realizes how futile it is to try to answer such questions about the Founding Fathers, America can move beyond the NRA’s unbridled insistence on retrofitting a simplistic18th century solution to a complex 21st century problem.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
you kinda missed the point entirely: the ff were not concerned about pot-hunting, they were specifically concerned with allowing the people of the usa to own the means of resisting a government grown oppressive. military weapons are precisely appropriate.

since the government of the usa has recently begun degrading the protections of jury trial, right to trial of peers, habeas corpus, and now claims the right to kill citizens who say painful things about american policy, the necessity for resistance is beginning to appear. no doubt the government welcomes 'progressive' cries for disarming the populace.

fortunately, it won't be very successful.

come back when you have learned some history, have the habit of being well-informed, and can at least simulate logical discourse.
The only “cries for disarming the populace” I know of are those found in countless ‘cries about cries for disarming the populace.’

Never mind how far-fetched the idea of disarming Americans is. Never mind that no serious gun control advocate has mentioned such a fantasy.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Politics is the art of the possible.” In light of that, which is more likely -

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the DC. Vs. Heller case, establishing an individual right to own a gun, is constitutional per the Second Amendment. The majority opinion, written by Justice Scalia, built on the an inalienable right of self defense.

On the other hand, one legal nabob noted at the time, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is NOT unlimited. It is NOT a right to keep and carry ANY weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

The quote isn’t from some left-wing gun control type. It is in the Heller ruling, in the majority opinion. The ‘nabob’ was Antonin Scalia.

When Justice Scalia wrote those words, he declared in no uncertain terms that gun control and gun prohibition are not the same. This is a good thing because it helps vaccinate serious discourse against an epidemic of hyperbolic and dishonest “cries for disarming the populace.”

Some people have guns they should not have. Some people should not own guns. Some otherwise law-abiding gun owners, by taking little or no measures to properly secure their guns, contribute to the more than 600,000 firearms stolen each year.

Each gun-owning American of good will should ask himself the following questions:

“Am I better off or worse off if we can legally prevent any American who should not have one to get one?”

“Since when it comes to self-defense, hunting and target shooting, assault weapons rank among the worst. Considering an assault weapon’s strengths [Most of them have to do with assault], do I need one? And if I determine I do need one, might I have problems bigger than any gun can solve?”

“Do I want my guns to be stolen?”

Here's a proposition: I never mentioned or even considered such nonsense... and I promise to never consider or mention it again.

However, if anyone else evokes it, I will find the individual, steal his guns, his computer, and his Ronald Reagan pajamas.

And just when he thinks he'll be able to compensate for the loss, I'll return and steal his Viagra.
First, let me congratulate you on a wonderful piece. From long observation I think this gun control fight is staged to distract the people from disastrous legislation that will diminish social programs. R
Great piece- just like listening to a dog try to do algebra. Wonderfully opinionated for someone who self admittedly and prima fascia doesn't know a damn thing about what he is talking about.

As Al points out, the FF modelled their notion of “militia” on the Swiss- every citizen a soldier, armed with contemporary military weaponry - right up until the civil war, town or county or “estate” militias would form, keep and practice with their own artillery pieces. As the FF envisioned it, modern militia companies would fall in with “their own county” tank corps and F-16's. ( as essentially do the Swiss to this day) “Gun Control” was first propounded in New York in 1845 as a way of keeping Italians and Irish from defending themselves from “Native” ( Mostly English) Americans, and after the civil war as a way of keeping freed slaves from defending themselves from the KKK,

Also, if you're going to lecture me about Automatic and Semi-Automatic, learn the difference. Automatic weapons ( ones that “spray” bullets, more than one to a trigger pull) have been so heavily regulated since 1934 that you essentially must give the BATF the authority to break in and search your house at will. SEMI AUTOMATICS ( scary looking ) by definition are NOT “Assault Rifles”- Assault Rifles are by definition capable of full auto fire

As it turns out, semi auto high capacity weapons ( Pistols- Scary Rifles) are IDEAL for home/self defense. Why do you think cops carry them? 10 rounds are not enough if the guy attacking you is still breathing. Since you admit you have no experience in such areas, why should I take your mental bullshit in place of my experience about how difficult it might be to hit an aggressor in any situation. ( Have you ever even played Paintball?)

It's all academic any way. The government may only rule by the consent of the governed. A hell of a lot of people won't consent to such nonsense as “The Never Let A Crisis Go to Waster” in chief proposes as a way to draw attention away from his steady destruction of the economy. It would be interesting to know how he stacks up as a serial murderer- he isn't limited to 30 rd clips or Automatic weapons, he simply calls in a missile strike when he wants to murder an American Citizen and any wives children or other innocents who happen to be in the area. The image of him on stage as a “protector of Children” makes me want to vomit.

That said, anyone who wants to own any of the weapons he might succeed in having banned will simply buy one the same place they buy cocaine and marijuana.

But, the cork in the bottle is that the constitution was not written as a list of privileges granted by a generous sovereign to lowly subjects. It was written by Free Men, with unalienable RIGHTs- The Constitution is merely a delegation of authority to act on the behalf of the people as a whole in certain very limited and enumerated duties. It is simply a limited “Power of Attorney”, the authority is delegated with specific limits, the 2nd amendment being one of them. That delegation is revocable at any time, as is any delegation of authority, and the delegate may not delegate the power given to another ( Delegate non delegendus). For the president to take the Arrogant Imperial and high handed power plays he has is exactly like someone you once gave power of attorney to transfer a car title trying to use that power of attorney to close out your bank account and sell your house.

I revoke my power of attorney- I revoke my consent to be governed.

So, in the same manner that a woman always has the right to say no, to refuse physical intimacy, even to her spouse, how much more so may a Free Citizen, a quantum of Free Will, refuse consent to be governed by a government that claims to govern by consent? To claim that my consent is somehow not mine to give is roughly the same as the elders of a village deciding that one of the virgins of a tribe must have sex with them, because her consent is theirs to give because they “represent her”.

Be clear. You will need FORCE to govern without consent. INDIVIDUAL consent.

This means that when YOU attempt to force your fears and beliefs upon me and determine what I may do or own by some sheep like herding of power politics into “Legislation” you are of exactly the same Moral character as the village elders who “know what is best” for the virgin- A Rapist

As is Obama

By the way, where do you want your body shipped after you come to rob me?
"When it comes to hunting, home protection, and target shooting, these attack weapons are probably are a worse option than almost any other firearm."

Worse in what way?