What the Constitution Really Says

G'day (and all that other Aussie lingo) from Adelaide!

While I'm here in the opposite hemisphere, The Debate is going to be a little more free form. Today, we have a thought-provoking post from Guest Blogger Jason Scorse, a professor who decided to take a closer look at the document that provides the foundation of our democracy.

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The U.S. Constitution, like the Bible, is oft-quoted but rarely read. I recently decided to reread the document to see what the Founding Fathers had in mind for our government and society in their own words. I discovered some very illuminating things, which are sure to irritate both conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans:

Article. I. Section. 8.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States ...

So what's all this about social programs, entitlements, and the New Deal being unconstitutional? The Constitution clearly and plainly states that the government may tax the citizens for the promotion of the "general welfare." I can't think of things that fit the description of general welfare better than retirement insurance or basic health care. Certainly pork-barrel spending and corporate welfare don't meet this criteria.

The next time a "conservative" tells you that national healthcare would be a socialist abomination and that social security is unconstitutional please tell him to go read Article 1, Section 8 and get back to you.

The First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

When you encounter someone who has the audacity to pronounce that "this is still a Christian nation," please direct him to the First Amendment. Not only did the nation's Founders explicitly state that the government cannot associate itself with any particular religion, but there is not a single reference to God, the church, Jesus, or the Bible anywhere in the entire Constitution.

The Founders were excruciatingly attentive to details (as well they should have been when establishing a new form of government!) and it is clear in their own words that they wanted to Constitution to be an entirely secular document. That some of these men may have been Christians or believed that ultimately the natural right to freedom comes from the Creator is beside the point; when it came time to set forth the principle foundations for the structure of our government religion was left out entirely and its establishment by law strictly forbidden. (Here are some other quotes on religion from the Founding Fathers.)

The Second Amendment
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.

Let me come clean that I hate guns, and just about everything they represent (although I realize their necessity in our imperfect and violent world) so what struck me the most about this amendment were the words "shall not be infringed." This appears pretty unambiguous and made me reconsider my belief that restrictions on gun ownership are constitutional.

So for those who advocate gun control (always at their political peril) here's a suggestion: Why not admit that Americans have a constitutional right to own as much and whatever firearms they want and make a deal with the pro-gun lobby that the focus will be shifted to strictly enforcing heavy punishments for those who abuse those rights?

With rights come responsibilities and the pro-gun folks have always argued that the overwhelming majority of gun owners use their guns responsibly. Fine. But if a minor gets his hands on your gun and accidentally hurts someone, or your use results in the injury or death of an innocent bystander, or someone steals your gun and uses it in a crime then you will be held partially responsible and punished severely. That seems like a reasonable and Constitutional tact to take. And it's also largely what the pro-gun lobby has been advocating, so why not call their bluff?

I recommend that everyone read the Constitution (or reread it); you will find things that surprise you and that contradict stereotypes and misconceptions on both the left and right. And there is nothing like being able to refer to our founding documents to help silence those with unrealistic notions of the principles this country represents.

Jason Scorse received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005. His blog is Voices of Reason and he can be reached at jscorse@yahoo.com.

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(For a Crocodile Hunter update, read on.)

Crocodile Hunter Update: Steve Irwin landed a second job as the star of pre-landing video spots warning visitors of Australia's draconian quarantine laws. Want to nominate someone for the National Quarantine Awards? Just click here.

By Emily Messner |  January 17, 2006; 8:38 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Comments

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Your Second Amendment analysis is just off.

You can see in another thread, "Who You Callin' A Traitor" I think, my take on the second. There are interesting questions, but not the "shall not be infringed" part.

Briefly, I argue there are two quirky bits about the second:
(1) To whom does the right belong (and hence, who can deny it)? Individuals or states? Not clear.
(2) The second is not a "guns" amendment but an "arms" amendment. To protect against federal tyranny. Therefore, shouldn't the populous be able to purchase any arms necessary to defend against the federal government?

Lastly, the idea of severe penalties if someone steals your gun is too attenuated. What if they steal your car and run someone over? Break into your house and make a bomb threat from your phone? Or if someone has their child at your house and they drink down the Drano? All these cases are instances where your property is responsible for damage to society but without specific negligence (you left the keys in your car, the house unlocked, the Drano sitting on the floor) the damage in and of themselves do not warrant penalties against you as an individual.

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 11:02 AM

Let me start off by saying I believe that gun ownership should be allowed. However the NRA, which dons sheeps clothing and pretends to be a "owners lobby", is not an owners lobby at all but is an industry lobby.

There is a difference. Gun owners really could care less about commerce law dealing with the selling of guns across state lines and abroad, but the NRA does because of the industry it really represents. I feel sorry for the poor gun owners who pay the NRA their dues based on the NRA fearmongering "They'lll take your guns away" while using that money to promote the gun industry and its profits.

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 12:24 PM

The Second Amendment exists to ensure protection from the tyranny of the federal government. All governments (left and right, kiddies) have the potential to devolve into tyranny unless checked....its the lure of power.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." - Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: D. | January 17, 2006 12:31 PM

Addendum: Supreme Court precedent on my above points.

(1) None. Although it has been much-discussed in legal circles, the SC has never addressed it.
(2) The closest is U.S. v Miller, a 1939 case where the applicable holding was, "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 12:37 PM

My reading of the second amendment is that gun ownership and possession is tied directly to membership in the militia. The notion is the civilian soldier ready to be called to arms by the state in its defence. To argue otherwise is to assert that the writers of the constitution considered it correct that the citizenry have the right to use armed force against its own government if they disagreed with it. Is that what the gun lobbyists advocate? A militia is an organized, state formed, civilian defence force as Switzerland has now, and was probably the only real option at the time the constitution was written. The nearest US equivalent would be the National Guard. Do guardsmen have the right to keep at home their automatic rifles? I don't think so.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | January 17, 2006 12:40 PM

An interesting question is whether the framers intentionally left the Second Amendment worded so vaguely, open to interpretation as to whether they were referring to the citizen ownership of firearms contingent to their belonging to a citizens militia (and thereby regulated by the State) or were substantially suspicious of the potential abuse of political power to leave gun ownership unfettered in the hands of the individual citizen as a last resort against tyranny.

Posted by: D. | January 17, 2006 12:53 PM

Those pioneers and forefathers did not have automatic weapons and could not imagine them. Let people keep antique guns and ban the rest, no civil society should be carrying guns. The major use of guns have been proven to be used in domestic assault and robbing convenience stores and banks.
Matthew talks about those who kill with a car after stealing it and you being held responsible. A car is designed to drive people from point a to point b. A hand gun is designed to kill humans.
Societal dinasaurs need guns, the old west used guns. Guns should be a thing of the past in a civil society. As a Canadian I never even saw a gun, except twice I had one pulled on me while I travelled in the States. Don't tell me about all these mature people who can handle guns, your statistics speak otherwise. Guns defy logic and the arguments for are silly and transparent, they are an American addiction and hearing people talk about them they sound like addicts trying desperately to come up with a good argument.
I read your news with high school shootings, workplace shootings, your atrocious crime rate that is the highest in the industrialized world and directly related to gun use. Are guns more important than people in the US, it certainly looks that way. The NRA is sending representatives to Canada trying to convince Canadians to go down your road of violence and denial, no thanks we see hear and experience your violence. We prefer peace and our crime rates reflect that. People before guns i s our motto.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 17, 2006 12:57 PM

Well D.,

An argument against your point is that no other amendment from the Bill of Rights contain a preamble. I could copy them all out, but you can also just follow the link at the top of the page and check them out. If anything, the second is more specific than the others.

I've been thinking recently about where the founders put their faith between individuals and states and am not quite sure where that lies. They certainly have a strong trust of states as bodies over them. A bit odd given their libertarian tendencies generally, but it is there.

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 01:03 PM

In a perfect, crime-free society, with all the wants of the citizenry fullfilled, there would be no reason to protect oneself from someone promising to do you harm. Problem is, no such society exists. You are seeing that now in Toronto, an unprecented crime wave between criminal drug gangs that has claimed the lives of innocents. Or in britain, where, despite firearms being banned in (I think) 2002, there is an epidemic of home invasions occuring, by criminals that, surprise surprise, are armed. People have a right to protect themselves. The police react to crimes, rarely prevent them. Is there a need for sensible gun laws? Sure. The fine line is where is the line drawn between completely stripping a person of the right to defend oneself and allowing a "anything goes, fallujah-on-the-mississippi" society to exist.

Posted by: D. | January 17, 2006 01:11 PM

I'm sorry, Speak out, but I think you are flat out wrong. While I contest the right to such things as the right to bear automatic weapons (Theres no purpose I can see in having one other than street warfare), many guns do have uses other than 'shooting' humans. First, there is hunting. Second, defense. Third, target shooting, which is considered an entertaining hobby by many. Just like a car, a gun can be used in both good and bad ways, depending on who is in control.

The idea of spouting statistics in which guns have been used in crime is also one based in fallacy and shock value. Crime will happen regardless of what weapons you can use. Would you propose a ban against knives based off of similar statistics?

Just because some people use things for horrible acts is no reason to make blanket statements about getting rid of things. I'm just curious, but how do the statistics to people killed with guns compare to people killed by drunk drivers yearly? How about cholesterol/weight related issues?

My last arguement is how can you speak out for constitutional rights based off of your last post? Forgive me if I am am wrong, but I seem to recall reading one or two posts by you, Speak Out, regarding the illegal wiretaps. If you believe guns should be banned because the founding fathers could not imagine the concept of automatic weapons, how do you believe they would have ruled on the issue of privacy, based on a world in which terrorists attack our country by flying passenger airliners into buildings? Somehow, I don't forsee them imagining this, either.

Posted by: Freedom | January 17, 2006 01:22 PM

Ho! Hum! Will someone come up with a new aproach Please. The reasons the framers made such a mess of the 2nd was that there was no where else to go in those days, and it all got out of whack when Adams tried to terrorize the public and take away their guns. In those days a goodly portion of survival depended upon dead squirles and possum.

Posted by: Ed | January 17, 2006 01:31 PM

Yendall wrote:
"My reading of the second amendment is that gun ownership and possession is tied directly to membership in the militia."

No, that is not what it says. The 2nd ammendment says that in order for a STATE to maintain a militia the federal government cannot prevent the citizens of a state from keeping and bearing arms. In other words, the federal government is being limited here by preventing the fed from denying a State's citizens the right to keep and bear arms. This provision allows a State to preserve its militia and prevents the federal government from a defacto disbanding of a States militia by outlawing that State's citizens ability to keep and bear arms. This is a right for the States, not the individual citizen, and protected the States right to keep a well armed militia of its own.

Now, there is nothing in the Federal Constitution that I see that says a State cannot outlaw the ownership of arms within the state (say, by deciding not to have a militia) since the 2nd ammendment, part of the Bill of Rights, was only meant to protect the rights of the new States and not to protect individual rights. A State's constitution would be important to read to determine whether arms can be limited by that State within the State.

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 01:32 PM

I am about as liberal as you can get. I believe in the constitution of this country as rabidly as the religeous freaks believe in their various holy books and delusional prophets who presume to know the thoughts of those amorphous dieties. Our founders realised certain truths, and set them down as the law of this land. There is no ambivalence. If anyone has the capacity to invade your space to harm or kill you, you have the stated right to repel that threat by whatever means. I have every right to match anything used to invade my home, and anyone who does invade my home has every right to expect a swift death, or to be otherwise incapacitated

Posted by: crazyoldman | January 17, 2006 01:39 PM

Freedom,

What you said.

I'm sorry Speak Out, but if someone is really serious about civil liberties, they can't just support those civil liberties which they happen to agree. I personally don't think widespread guns is a good thing (handguns or otherwise) but until we have an amendment, I'll defend the right (individual or state) to have one.

And as Freedom said, you can't pull out the, "Framers would not have imagined" card. Because there's a number of situations that would then get pulled into the mix: email, telephone, satellite... all these things "would not have been imagined" by the Framers but we still argue that the protections provided by the Bill of Rights cover these technologies.

And if you don't like my car analogy, then how about chemicals? Someone is studying smallpox and a vial gets swiped and introduced into a city. If they took all the precautions they had (Fort Knox-esque) are they liable? The problem with precedent is once it's on the books, any comparable situation gets caught up in the net. So be careful about ruling by fiat.

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 01:46 PM

heh.

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass."
-Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 02:03 PM

Hmmm, I think this blog was about reading the Constitution and not to pick fights about the 2nd ammendment. Since the 4th ammendment is on many minds these days maybe we should dicuss it and debate whether Bush violated his oath to defend it. It reads:
=========================
4th Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
=========================

To me, listening in on private phone conversations of Americans, without probable cause or a warrant, seems to be what this ammendment was about. Maybe the NRA can bend it a bit to make it look like Bush has all the authority he wants. They're good at that.

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 02:13 PM

Let's go back and think about the times the Constitution was written in. A large percentage of the population was rural. There weren't grocery stores with large refrigerated cases of sterile meat. It still wasn't safe to travel west in a wagon train - we were still at war with the Indians. When a wolf was stealing your chickens or lambs you shot it. When you were hungry you went out and shot some game. I don't think the Founding Fathers intended that people stop hunting for food or defending themselves from rabid animals. I mean, who hasn't seen Old Yeller. Everyone had a shotgun and used it for peaceful purposes.

But I don't think they imagined a Saturday night special, or a machine gun, or cop killer bullets - that is I don't think they imagined private ownership of guns whose sole purpose was to kill other human beings and not to obtain food or protect property. Thus I believe the kinds of guns used in warfare were intended to be regulated to state militia.

To repeat myself for the umpteenth time, since September 11, 2002, nineteen times more American civilians have died from gun homicides than from terrorist homicides. So just how seriously does the President take his statement that his primary responsibility is to protect American life? He would protect more American life by rolling over the second amendment than the fourth.

Posted by: patriot1957 | January 17, 2006 02:21 PM

"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"

I find as I read the above "the people (not the state or federal) to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

However, the states depending on their local constitutions may or may not be bound on infringing the right to bear arms. .

The argument on automatic weapons is interesting but I think a red herring. The framers of the constitution were interested in principles not rule by regulation.

the framers understood that scientific and tecnhology advances would be made (see patents and copyright). In their time, the rifle(orders of magnitude more accurate and expensive) was their WMD, while the musket was the standard weapon.

So if we go back to principles defined by the constitution then the states should regulate automatic weapons.

So people instead of arguing minuate one might think harder about the principles put forward in the constition. I find it very hard to allow for the strong executive (ie king or emperor) branch. But the cheks and balances have been skewed. I do believe that the people will bring the checks and balances between the branches back in line. If not, we will learn the hard way that "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"

End of Rant have a great day

Posted by: Hal Thresher | January 17, 2006 02:42 PM

"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."

The second amendment clearly establishes the right of the people to possess and use weapons, a right which cannot be infringed upon.
The well regulated militia is cited as a reason, but regulation of militias is not actually being established, so militias are not the main purpose of the second amendment; Establishing the right to bear Arms is. To say that the second amendment is specifically about militias is to read it as such "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except for the purposes of regulating a militia for the security of the free State". Instead, the Founding Fathers merely cite well regulated militias as a reason for the importance of such a right. The right to bear arms is established firmly; The mention of militias is an important message from the Founders, but militia regulation is not detailed or granted by the second amendment. Indeed, regulation is a moot point; Regulation or no regulation, the right cannot be infringed upon. Like all rights, it may be judged in each situation and limited in some ways by the courts (i.e. freedom of speech doesn't allow shouting 'Fire!' to falsely incite panic in a crowd), but it cannot be infringed upon.
As for what the Framers 'could not imagine', they imagined plenty. That's why they made the elastic clause to leave room open for new laws and to change old laws. That's why they created the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution according to whatever situations arised in the real world. Part of the reason the Constitution is such a great, history-changing document is because it was designed to apply to all situations, imagined or otherwise.

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 02:46 PM

"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."

The second amendment clearly establishes the right of the people to possess and use weapons, a right which cannot be infringed upon.
The well regulated militia is cited as a reason, but regulation of militias is not actually being established, so militias are not the main purpose of the second amendment; Establishing the right to bear Arms is. To say that the second amendment is specifically about militias is to read it as such "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except for the purposes of regulating a militia for the security of the free State". Instead, the Founding Fathers merely cite well regulated militias as a reason for the importance of such a right. The right to bear arms is established firmly; The mention of militias is an important message from the Founders, but militia regulation is not detailed or granted by the second amendment. Indeed, regulation is a moot point; Regulation or no regulation, the right cannot be infringed upon. Like all rights, it may be judged in each situation and limited in some ways by the courts (i.e. freedom of speech doesn't allow shouting 'Fire!' to falsely incite panic in a crowd), but it cannot be infringed upon.
As for what the Framers 'could not imagine', they imagined plenty. That's why they made the elastic clause to leave room open for new laws and to change old laws. That's why they created the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution according to whatever situations arised in the real world. Part of the reason the Constitution is such a great, history-changing document is because it was designed to apply to all situations, imagined or otherwise.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 02:47 PM

ErrinF,

Your textual analysis has merit. And this is a very open question. But there's at least equal merit to Thresher's earlier interpretation: that this is a right granted subject to each State also granting it to you. If the good State of Virginia decided it had no use for Militias, and therefore banned all guns within its borders, would any individual have a second amendment claim?

Here, as I see them, would be the two primary arguments put forth:
(1) Of course not. Don't be silly. The Bill of Rights are individual liberties... INDIVIDUALS. Therefore, this doesn't belong to the state.
* Rejoinder: Except for the 10th Amendment, of course.

(2) Looking at the 2nd within the context of the Bill of Rights, it is the only amendment with such a preamble. The 1st Amendment does not begin, "In order to guarantee free commerce of ideas..." and the 6th doesn't begin, "To defend against unanswered tyranny of the government..." So was this just flowery language thrown in for the 2nd? Or do the words actually mean something? And, what about its proximity to the 3rd Amendment?

This is an area which I believe reasonable minds can disagree. But it is unquestionably quirky.

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 03:08 PM

The 2nd amendment is not quirky but pretty straight forward. It is a guarantee of the states to maintain militias without the feds limiting the ability of a states people from bearing arms. The militias are the subject as clearly stated, not individual rights to bear arms. The clumsy writing is not mere clumsiness but a way to put the subject clearly at the beginning of the sentence ... the Militias.

You must remember the states had a lot to worry about if they were to loose their militias back then and many were worried about the new federal government, and military. They had just won a war and did not want to be subjugated again.

So, to me, this means the feds cannot control guns, but the states can as Matthew explains. I do not see how any reasonable mind can determine those words to be anything else.

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 03:33 PM

Sorry to obsess about the second amendment, but you got me thinking. In Revolutionary War times, did people bring their own personal weapons to war? In a state militia would the soldier bring his personal arms?

My understanding is that the National Guard is under the control of the governor with some kind of federal control. Clearly, Bush has had authority to send them to Iraq. But I have heard that Blanco reportedly accepted an offer from Bill Richardson to send her more guard right before or after Katrina but that they didn't come because "Washington" didn't approve it until Thursday, and his guard couldn't leave his state without federal approval. Anyone up on the federal and state rules for the guard - I guess our current equivalent of a "state militia"?

Posted by: patriot1957 | January 17, 2006 03:37 PM

Where I get hung up is in the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms" part. I agree with your point that the States were indeed worried about standing armies and a federal government becoming too powerful but then, couldn't they have phrased the amendment to explicity state the right of the states to maintain a well regulated militia without making reference to individual right to bear arms? Again, I feel they may have deliberately mucked up the waters on this one....the right of the state to defend against federal tyranny but also the right of the individual to take up arms against the tyranny of the State? Awkward phrasing, I know :)

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 03:43 PM

Sorry, last post mine

Posted by: D. | January 17, 2006 03:44 PM

I disagree with the merit of the second amendment being about the States. It clearly says the rights of the PEOPLE to bear arms cannot be infringed. Sure, it is noteworthy that the second amendment has a slight preamble whereas other Bill Of Rights amendments do not, but I feel you are making an illogical conclusion when you state that that preamble establishes militia regulation. As I stated before, that preamble establishes nothing but merely cites a reason. Citing the reason could have been a message from the Founding Fathers to how they expected arms laws outside of the second amendment to be governed, but I simply do not see how you claim citing a reason for a right is the same as establishing that reason as law. Indeed, the second amendment legally establishes the right of the people to bear arms as beyond infringement; It establishes nothing concerning regulation of militias beyond that the right to bear arms cannot be infringed. Could it be any clearer? Nothing can be read into the second amendment beyond it's limiting the infringement of the people's right to bear arms. The very wording of the second amendment limits it as such.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 03:49 PM

patriot1957:
I think this link will answer a lot of your questions about the Militias and how they transformed into the Nat. Guard. Its an interesting history and you are esentially right, the militias became the Guard, but not overnight and not without a lot of fed/state fueds over control.
http://www.americanvoice2004.org/askdave/22askdave.html

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 03:52 PM

ErrinF,

I think we disagree with the purpose of the 2nd ammendment but do agree on its result - The feds cannot infringe on people's rights to bear arms.

My reasoning is that the 2nd ammendment says this is to protect the states from the feds regulating their militias away by infringing on a person's right to bear arms. You seem to think its an individual right being stated. Regardless, its clear to both of us that the feds cannot "take your guns".

Now, assuming you agree with the above, do you think a state can regulate guns within its borders, say, by a state legislature enacting laws outlawing the possession or transportation and sale of arms?

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 03:59 PM

The militias are the subject as clearly stated, not individual rights to bear arms.
Posted by: Sully | Jan 17, 2006 3:33:36 PM |

Second Amendment- 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.

Sully, I couldn't disagree more with your reading. Basic grammar tells us that the subject of the sentence is 'the right of the people'. 'The well regulated Militia' may be stated first in the sentence, but it is hardly the subject of it; Rather, it is supportive of the subject of the amendment (the people's right to bear arms).
And, grammar or no, there is a clear statement of a right of the people not being infringed. Whether it is subject, predicate, or whatnot is besides the point, as the sentence that comprises the second amendment clearly establishes a right to bear arms that cannot be infringed.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 04:00 PM

Now, assuming you agree with the above, do you think a state can regulate guns within its borders, say, by a state legislature enacting laws outlawing the possession or transportation and sale of arms?
Posted by: Sully | Jan 17, 2006 3:59:57 PM

As stated, I strongly disagree with your interpretation and feel that you are being grammatically incorrect in the way you assess the subject matter of the second amendment. So, I don't know if I agree with how you framed the 'above' in your post, but I can try to answer your question anyway.
Basically, I feel regulation is fully allowed up to the point of infringement. The world is complex enough wherein you can regulate the right to bear arms without infringing upon it. If gun regulation crosses the line and begins to infringe upon the people's right to bear arms, then that regulation must be deemed unconstitutional and illegal. If regulation is done to a degree where it supports the right to bear arms rather than infringes upon it, then that regulation is fully constitutional and acceptable.
Like all rights, the right to bear arms is subject to a balance of common sense to protect the public good, that common sense being imposed by our judicial system. For instance, freedom of the press does not protect libel, slander, or plagiarism, and freedom of speech does not protect inciting panic with false statements or creating material which is deemed indecent. Therefore, more destructive weapons (such as automatic weapons) can indeed be infringed upon and the people are not viewed as having a right to bear arms capable of such excessive force.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 04:15 PM

ErrinF:

Your grammer would get a failing mark in my daughter's eigth grade English class. You are essentially saying the people who wrote the Constitution used bad grammer of they type my father used to joke about, such as:

"Throw the horse over the fence some hay".

This is bad grammer because it makes the "horse" the subject leading one to wonder why you would throw a horse.

No, the Constitution had a lot of imput and is clearly written. The 2nd ammemdment prevents the feds from interfering with a states right to maintain a militia by regulating arms. The right to maintain a state militia has been honored throughout our history.

Still, the result is the same as you note. The feds cannot take your gun. But it leaves open the question of whether the state can.

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 04:19 PM

Your grammer would get a failing mark in my daughter's eigth grade English class. You are essentially saying the people who wrote the Constitution used bad grammer...
Posted by: Sully | Jan 17, 2006 4:19:38 PM

No, my grammar is correct, and I said nothing about the Founding Father's grammar being wrong, but rather that your interpretation of the second amendment is faulty according to proper grammar. You are still using grammar incorrectly when you cite that the subject of the sentence "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." is the well regulated Militia part. The subject matter is clearly the right to bear arms being established by the amendment; Do yourself a favor and have your daughter take the sentence to her 8th grade English teacher, and have that teacher explain to her and you what the proper subject of the second amendment sentence is.
It is a moot point whether there has been a history of regulated militias in America; The second amendment says NOTHING concerning militias BEYOND that the right of the people to bear arms cannot be infringed upon. Regulation of militias would fall under other articles of the Constitution, NOT the second amendment, though of course such regulation could not conflict with the second amendment. That the Founding Fathers thought well regulated militias were important to a free state is evident; That the second amendment established anything upon the matter beyond no infringement of the people's rights is not evident at all. That's like saying the Declaration Of Independence was about holding truths self-evident when in actuality it was about the self-evident truths. In other words, the reason for a law being established and the actual law that gets established are two seperate things, which is why the second amendment revolves around the concept of the people's right to bear arms, NOT the well regulated militias. In even simpler terms, if the well regulated militia were a chicken and the people's right to bear arms unfringed were the egg it laid, it is the egg that is law, not the chicken. Silly analogy, but the point is is that the second amendment is NOT about regulating militias (it merely cites well regulated militias, never actually discusseds regulation as law), but IS about no infringement upon the people's rights to bear arms. As I stated before, the actual wording of the second amendment would have to be different if it were about establishing the regulation of militias. As it is, the wording only establishes a right that cannot be infringed upon, and merely cites well regulated militias as a reason/message from the Founding Fathers with no establishment of the constitutionality of militia regulation beyond that there may be no infringment of the right to bear arms.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 04:50 PM

One other thing, Sully: The second amendment is part of the 10 amendments that make up what is known as 'The Bill Of Rights'. Note, it is not called 'The Bill Of Regulations'. All the more reason to believe that the core of the second amendment is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed", not "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State". The second amendment's main purpose is obviously to address the people's right to bear arms, not the state's regulation of militias. Again, militia regulation merely gets cited as the reason for the importance of such a right. Indeed, the only conclusion that the second amendment draws from the importance of well regulated militias is that the people's right to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed; Nothing more is stated beyond that conclusion in regards to regulation of state militias and the second amendment.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 05:00 PM

ErrinF,

May I present you with some 1886(!) SC case law (the 2nd doesn't get litigated very often) Presser v. Illinois (in relevant part):

"We think it clear that the sections under consideration, which only forbid bodies of men to associate together as military organizations, or to drill or parade with arms in cities [116 U.S. 252, 265] and towns unless authorized by law, do not infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms. But a conclusive answer to the contention that this amendment prohibits the legislation in question lies in the fact that the amendment is a limitation only upon the power of congress and the national government, and not upon that of the state. It was so held by this court in the case of U. S. v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 , 553, in which the chief justice, in delivering the judgment of the court, said that the right of the people to keep and bear arms 'is not a right granted by the constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed, but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes to what is called in City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. [116 U.S. 252, 102] 139, the 'powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was perhaps more properly called internal police,' 'not surrendered or restrained' by the constitution of the United States.' See, also, Barron v. Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243; Fox v. State, 5 How. 410; Twitchell v. Com., 7 Wall. 321, 327; Jackson v. Wood, 2 Cow. 819;Com. v. Purchase, 2 Pick. 521; U. S. v. Cruikshank, 1 Woods, 308; North Carolina v. Newsom, 5 Ired. 250; Andrews v. State, 3 Heisk. 165; Fife v. State, 31 Ark. 455."

Now, to make things really fun, this case predates the 14th Amendment which is how all the mandates of the Constitution became enforceable against the states (it's called incorporation and is why the 14th is cited so often). However, a case from the 1980s, Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, challenged Presser but the Court of Appeals upheld Presser as good law, ruling that the 2nd was not incorporated, and then the Supreme Court denied review (which has no legal significance either way).

So... the militia reading is possible. And at least within the confines of Morton Grove, you ain't carrying a handgun. :)

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 05:05 PM

Apologies: Presser came AFTER the 14th. The Court just decided not to incorporate it. Whether or not it would still be incorporated today, not clear.

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2006 05:08 PM

I'd actually agree with Sully on this, ErinnF. While I have as much background in law as the next average person, the sentence structure can be interpreted at least two ways. One is the way you seem to be reading, "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
It could also be taken as, "A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed." If you read into the placement of commas, an important structure to the sentence in question, the placement gives more credence to Militia being the subject and the "right of the people to bear arms" as being a clarifier to the reasoning behind protecting the states right to a militia.

If an individuals right to bear arms was the focus, there would be no need for the comma after "the people's right to bear Arms."

Then again, language is constantly evolving and I could be wrong because I'm interpreting this from current grammar rather than that of our FF.

Posted by: Freedom | January 17, 2006 05:09 PM

Freedom and others, here is Webster's definiton of 'infringe':
infringe
One entry found for infringe.
Main Entry: in·fringe
Pronunciation: in-'frinj
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): in·fringed; in·fring·ing
Etymology: Medieval Latin infringere, from Latin, to break, crush, from in- + frangere to break -- more at BREAK
transitive senses
1 : to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another

So the very definition of infringement implies a law or right. A militia is not a law or right, so it is incorrect to assume that it can be infringed upon. The statement 'A well regulated militia shall not be infringed' is inconclusive and actually offers forth nothing in regards to establishing law. The statement 'The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed' is conclusive and specific, and actually establishes law. And I again put forth that the second amendment is among the Bill Of Rights because it's purpose is to establish the right to keep and bear arms. If it's purpose were regulation of militias, it would appear elsewhere in the Constitution.
While I agree that it is a tricky sentence (especially with the liberal use of commas), I feel that it is subject to only two interpretations: a right one and a wrong one. The right one is that the purpose of the second amendment is to establish a right of the people to keep and bear arms; The wrong one is that the purpose of the second amendment is to regulate militias. Again, basic rules of grammar dictate the rightness or wrongness of an interpretation, and those rules are what I am following in my correct interpretation of the second amendment.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 05:31 PM

Thanks for the case, Matthew. I don't see how it supports the second amendment being about militia regulation rather than the people's right to bear arms, though. In fact, the majority of that opinion reflects upon the infringement of the people's right, NOT on the regulation of militias, and the justice seems to be writing from my perspective in that he places more importance on the people's right than militia regulation. Whatever it mentions about the law being mainly about infringement by Congress is true of most any amendment and does not dilute my interpretation of the second amendment one bit. In fact, the justice seems to be addressing the 10th amendment more than the 2nd when he discusses Congress and the states being seperate in application of the case.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 05:46 PM

Sully, thanks for the link to the Guard

But from reading this link it looks like until about 1900 the militias brought their own guns to the fight - and they were even given surplus guns and training to shoot. And surely rural folk living with bears and wolves and "injuns" had muskets that were a necessary part of frontier life.

So, why were state militias specifically mentioned. Why didn't it just say the federal govt can't disarm the people? It didn't say "Wolves and bears and indians and other creatures of the wild necessitating defense, the right of hte people....." It was specific about state militias.

My take is that the FF weren't thinking about hunting shotguns that rural folk had, but rather guns for killing people/war/insurrection. ANd in case the new federal govt got too big for its britches each state had a right to sustain its own pre-existing militias, which meant the people had to be allowed to keep their war guns since these are the guns they used to fight with.

Carrying that line of thought forward if the militia possesses its own guns and a way to make the armory readily available to soldiers in time of need (e.g the National Guard), it is no longer necessary to arm people with battle type weapons (vs hunting utensils).

This to me means guns suitable only for war and human death (not hunting or other peacable uses) are protected by the second amendment only so far they are needed for military use. ANd since we no longer need to keep military weapons in our house, they are not protected for use outside of an organized state militia. But they are not specifically make illegal either. But if not protected, Constitutional laws could be made to make them illegal.

Posted by: patriot1957 | January 17, 2006 05:48 PM

Again, I would disagree with your assessment on this issue. The use of clarifiers in the sentence could serve to expand the idea of Militia and spell out the intent of the founding fathers. This definition that you have displayed could indicate that infringe applies to rights only so much as they are necessary for a state to have a militia to keep the people protected and free.

It's also interesting to note that semantically, the term 'militia' could have been used simply to address the group of people given the task of protecting the state, and that the right to bear arms refers to them specifically.

To clarify, I believe the intent to be that american citizens have the right to bear arms. I do, however, believe that the act of interpreting this is not as clear or easy as one would think.

Posted by: Freedom | January 17, 2006 05:56 PM

People obviously feel passionate about the second amendment.

If only they felt so passionate about the fourth.

But again, if the President determines that he can override the Bill of Rights to "protect" us in time of "war", what is to stop him from overriding other amendments besides the fourth? Adams tried a "patriot act" that outlawed "insurrectionist" speech.

If Bush succeeds in overriding the fourth, what would stop President Hillary from overriding the second?

Posted by: patriot1957 | January 17, 2006 06:26 PM

From the original body of the Constitution itself.
Article I Section 8
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 II Section 1.
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

In view of these explicit provisions in the Constitution itself it seems to me that it is indeed a vary labored reading of the second amendment to see its purpose as putting into the Constitution the right of a State to do what the Constitution already concedes, in its provisions, that it has. When you couple that against the crystal clear phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed", there is no ambiguity at all ... as was distastefully but honestly concluded in the opening to this thread. We might also note that this precise phrase "the right of the people" was also used in 1st and 4th amendments regarding assembly and unreasonable search.

So Matthew, much as I hate to disagree with you, I'm having a real hard time seeing equal merit in these competing claims.

As to the rejoinder to 1 "the tenth amendment"........ this amendment simply reserves to the states all powers not granted to the United States in the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, or (alternatively) to the people. Whether Virginia chooses to maintain a militia or not is not, it seems to me, relevant. The 2nd amendment does not condition the peoples right to keep and bear arms, it simply supports the reasoning for vesting this right directly in the people and not in the State. You may argue that times have changed and we don't use our personal firearms for combat (in local or in federal service) so we may not reason that way today .... but the remedy for that is an amendment to change the language itself.

Secondly, because this right is explicitly vested in the people by the Constitution itself, I would think that the tenth amendment itself denies to the State any Constitutional authority or power to disable or remove that right.

Item 2 ........Amendments 2-4 would seem to address a balance in national security needs against personal security and liberty. In the context of the times:
#2 guarantees, among other things, that should the State of Virginia choose NOT to have and support a militia, at least one could still be quickly assembled in time of need from a well armed population. On the individual side, it ensures the individual's right to hunt for food, to defend himself from Indian attacks, and so on from any interference from any quarter. Guns were not primarily a sporting item for most of the population in those days.
#3 addresses itself to limiting the arbitrary authority of the military vis a vis private property. At the same time, it asserts the lawful authority of the state in time of war, in time of need.
#4 addresses itself to limiting the arbitrary authority of civil authorities vis a vis private property and ones private person, but once again, conditions this security to the reasonable needs of the state.

This is politics and legislation at its finest. Each of these is an ever so crafty balance between competing interests, the governments vs. the individuals. That is precisely why it has worked so marvelously well for so long. So I just fail to see a need to bleed some special implied significance from the order in which they are enumerated in order to clarify what seems already quite clear enough. Wouldn't the better debate be over what the language should be in a proposed amendment to replace or repeal outright the 2nd amendment?

Posted by: Cayambe | January 17, 2006 06:30 PM

Wouldn't the better debate be over what the language should be in a proposed amendment to replace or repeal outright the 2nd amendment?

Oh lordy you think this board is vitriolic now?

Let's go back to where we started - does the Constitution say the President can use a war that was not declared by Congress, that is against no specific state, and that he admits has no end in sight as an excuse to trample the Fourth Amendment, or any of the other Amendments that get in the way of "protecting the people"?

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 07:02 PM

Freedom, while I agree with your point about the Bill of Rights being about the rights of the states as well as the rights of the people, the second amendment specifically states 'the right of the people' as Cayambe pointed out. You seem to turn a blind eye to the fact that the second amendment specifically grants the right to keep and bear arms to the people, not the militias, not the state. You also don't appear to be taking into account how the second amendment relates to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, which is why militias and the states are mentioned, but only in the context of the people's right to bear arms. I don't see how either can be discounted.
I am not trying to say the mention of well regulated militias and the security of a free state is meaningless. I am saying it is secondary to the subject and intent of the second amendment, which is the right of the people to keep and bear arms, specifically when juxtaposed with Article 1 Section 8. I stated before that there is plenty of room to regulate this right without infringing upon it, and that proper regulation would support this right rather than infringe upon it.
While there's plenty of room to agree to disagree about the oddly phrased second amendment, I still feel it is pretty cut and dry as to what it's intent and subject matter is.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 17, 2006 08:53 PM

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

"When you encounter someone who has the audacity to pronounce that "this is still a Christian nation," please direct him to the First Amendment."

That is a non-sequiter. America IS populated 86%, with people describing themselves as Christian. Slightly over 2% of the population are Jewish, 2% Muslim, slightly less than 2% other religion (Buddhist, Hindu, Chaldean, Zoroastab, wiccan, etc.) Remander atheist to some level, and only a minority of the Jews, Muslims, atheists are "hostile" to Christians. However, a minority entrenched in 3 positions of power (Hollywood, the mass media, the ACLU) DID freely Christian-bash for a decade while leaving other religions alone. 2004 marked the year the Christians began fighting back, and the war on public expression of Christianity and the smear campaign against "ignorant Jesus-lovers" sharply abated.

"Not only did the nation's Founders explicitly state that the government cannot associate itself with any particular religion, but there is not a single reference to God, the church, Jesus, or the Bible anywhere in the entire Constitution."

Just because love of songs, the sport of fishing ARE NOT contained in the paucity of words in the Constitution DOES NOT MEAN Americans are not a nation that likes music, fishing, expressing Christianity. And hold they damn well have a right to.

What is interesting is the not-frequently mentioned debate about:

(1) Eliminating other state-sponsors of religion from doing what Congress and the states and towns are barred from. If the Brits after the War had tried funding the establishment of the Church of England all through the former colonies as a way of influencing the American society - No way would the US people or government would tolerate this....or the Pope in the 19th century pushing massive piles of money into our country to aggressively convert Americans to Catholicism. But now we have the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia actively working to establish the Wahabbi sect of Islam, putting billions in State money to build Mosques, radical Muslim schools, seek inner city and jail conversions, and in licensing all American Muslim military chaplains. In addition, state funds from KSA are being used to establish the intolerant Wahabbi sect in Muslim schools and in funding legal arms so that schools and Hollywood are threatened with lawsuits unless they are Most Positive on The Religion of Peace...
(2) While we focus on "freedom of religion" we fail to acknowledge what we will do with a dangerous religion that the American people determine is existentially incompatable with their culture and civilization. Though we have legally restricted less dangerous religions - no right to ganja for Rastafarians, no right to a covey of wives for Mormons. But we have wiped out dangerous religions elsewhere...it is hard to imagine tolerating the Aztec religion or the Thuggee Cult of Kali - here. And legislated out religious Shinto and certainly would have still de-Nazified if they had adopted pagan religious elements to replace Christianity - as they were beginning to do towards the end. And while we have barred the door to certain radical Muslims who advocate killing any infidel at anytime if they can get away with it, we dodge the truth of that and say it was "based on politics" of the wannabe immigrant or refugee, or visa seeker. We may face a day when we conclude that a radical Islam sect advocating infidel or Jew slaughter here, or a nerve gas seeking death cult like Japans Aum Shinriko (The Supreme Truth) - even if comprised of American citizens, is too dangerous to sanction as a protected religion under the 1st.
(3) Dual loyalty questions. JFK put the Catholic fear to bed, and the Catholics themselves transformed over the recent centuries to a religion that would not propogate by the sword (see Spanish Netherlands & the 30 year War). But we do have some religious people (Jewish Zionists, Christian Zionists) who claim that their religious duty to Israel's welfare trumps any loyalty to America, and certain Muslim-Americans who say their duty to America ends when a Fatwa declares America the enemy of Muslims anywhere on the planet.

Sgt Hasan Akbar, convicted of going on a killing spree against officers of the 101st right before the Iraq War started, wrote this in his diary:

"I will have to decide to kill my Muslim brothers fighting for Saddam Hussein or my battle buddies.I may not have killed any Muslims, but being in the Army is the same thing. I may have to make a choice very soon on who to kill."

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 17, 2006 08:56 PM

Well, the 2nd Amendment position argued by ErrinF shows she isn't a total Lefty. I would also say it is "the right of the people" - an enshrining of an individual liberty, NOT the sole right of paid agents of the government. But like the 4th, there are obvious and statutory exceptions. Modern warfare is lethal enough that arms available to the general public should be limited in lethality - to light, non-automatic firearms plus the usual cutting and blunt force implements. No machine guns, C-4, Manpads, nerve gas, thermonuclear suitcase bombs, anthrax, MK-19 chain gun grenade launchers, etc.

History shows an interesting pattern of gun laws until the Lefties and ACLU got power in the 60s....basically minority suppression, then general suppression of Americans in the non-elites starting in the late 60s.

1. First gun law passed by Congress, in 1792, barred blacks from the militia.

2. A series of laws starting with Louisiana in 1806 barred blacks from firearms ownership in the South. Except for Texas. Slaves were permitted to use their Master's firearms to hunt for food.

3. Chief Justice Taney, writing for the majority, said this about Negro citizenship and the 2nd Amendment in SCOTUS's infamous Dred Scott decision: "[if blacks were] entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, ...it would give persons of the Negro race, who were recognized as citizens in [all of the states] of the union, the right... to keep and bear arms wherever they wanted... inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the state...."

4. After 1870, the Southern states regained the ability to keep arms from negroes and limit their ability to vote. The so-called "Black Codes".

5. In 1911, the NYC Sullivan Codes were enacted, requiring "permission and permiting" for any citizen to have a handgun - which soon expanded to rifles, then shotgun control in NYC. The stated reason was to prevent "mayhem caused by dissolute negroes and persons of lesser Mediterranean stock". Other "progressive" cities like Boston and Washington DC tried to reduce their (low by present standards) crime by firearms bans. The typical experience was that crime went up after bans.

6. Firearms confiscations in Europe gave America pause on more gun control for 50 years, given the bloody consequences of being unarmed in facing totalitarianism, but by the 60s and 70s, the Left and the ACLU had targeted the law-abiding gunowner for extinction in favor of "Government will keep all Americans safe", with only certain firearms allowed to individuals by "government permission" for a "true need", typically decreed by a "hero, expert cop" and ruling council after an expensive and long-delayed "permit application process" where denial was at the whim of the head cop. (Condi Rice commented on this, saying thank god her Dad was allowed a shotgun in Birmingham as violence hit the city. "Imagine him trying to go to a Bull Connor to approve a permit for him to protect his family.")

7. Author Gary Kleck puts it, "Gun ownership costs more money than simple measures such as locking doors, having neighbors watch one's house, or avoidance behaviors such as not going out at night, but it costs less than buying and maintaining a dog, paying a security guard, or buying a burglar alarm system. Consequently, it is a self-protection measure available to many low-income and most middle class people who cannot afford more expensive alternatives."

8. The hypocrisy of the anti-2nd Amendment crowd is staggering. In many cities, only celebrities, powerbrokers, and people connected to "special relatives of blue brothers entitled to police perks" get gun permits from the "cops in charge". Chuck Schumer, Diane Fienstein, the Sulzburger Family, Howard Stern all have unrestricted gun permits. Along with the "A" list of celebrities and movie bosses. And union bosses. When the political elites don't bother with arming themselves, they create laws saying free armed cops are a perk of high state or Federal office. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode02/usc_sec_02_00001966----000-.html

Cops love it because they get better, long term "access" to powerful politicians who may bestow special favors on them if lobbied right - than any other group. One of the most coveted State positions is to be the cop that chauffers and protects the Gov's people or leaders in the Legislature..When the anti-gun elite is merely rich, they travel with armed or unarmed contingents of bodyguards (Teddy Kennedy's family outside DC, George Clooney, Rosy O'Donnell, George Soros, Jane Fonda, Director of the NYC and Wash, DC ACLU offices, Michael Moore, etc.)

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 17, 2006 11:07 PM

Well its getting late. I must admit I'm surprised. This is about as hot a political topic around yet most of the discussions have not only been civil, many brought out case law and other arguments. I'm impressed! But I think, if nothing else, we all have learned why this topic is such a hot one and not easily settled. And maybe we learned a little bit of history and law in the process. I know I learned a lot about the militias evolving into the Nat. Guard.

I just want to make sure my position is understood. Let me try putting it into bullets (pun intended!):

- The rights of Americans to bear arms may not be infringed (encroach upon) by the federal government since it is a right of a state to maintain a militia, which it could not do if the citizenry could not bear arms due to federal law or regulation.
- States have (had before new agreements consolidated them into the individual Guard units) the right to maintain a militia run by the state. My feeling on this, though I don't feel on solid ground here, is that the state can regulate the arms allowed to its citizenry since they are responsible for maintaining the militia. So, I can see that a state can make laws on gun ownership and use within its borders but the feds cannot make any such laws or regulations that would infringe on the states ability to maintain its militia as they see fit.

Now some have argued that times have changed and have argued about types of weapons. Many of these arguments are good but it does not in my opinion change anything when it comes to the federal government. If an uzi is something that we do not want on the street, then the federal government cannot outlaw it unless the 2nd ammendment is itself ammended. However, since the states run and arm the militias, I can see where they would have the right to restrict arms allowed in the state.

I think one of ErrinF's main points is that since this is in the Bill of Rights then it must mean an individual right. I'm not sure that is a strong argument. If the individual was the intended holder of this right, then I think the grammer would have made that clear as it did with other ammendments such as the 4th.

One thing is for sure, we are not the first to argue this and we are not the first to fail to agree on its meaning in the present day. But as I said before, this has been one of the most cordial bloggings I've written in. If only they were all so cordial when dealing with difficult and passionate political matters. Now lets impeach Bush and Cheney and get out from the mess they have gotten us into :^}

Posted by: Sully | January 17, 2006 11:27 PM

I'm surprised that people didn't jump on the ninth and tenth amendment and what they mean ...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

i read those (noting, not a lawyer) as reserving rights for people unless expressly part of the federal government's domain. hence the right to privacy is implied and exists, though not expressly so.

how to balance between the state and the people though, as the 10th amendment leaves unclear?

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | January 17, 2006 11:29 PM

Chris, Chris, Chris...

What ARE we going to do with you?

"America IS populated 86%, with people describing themselves as Christian."

Describing themselves as Christian? There is no such thing as "a Christian". Some of the rival sects of that religion have been so polarized as to vow the absolute destruction of one another (from the Catholics vs. the Cathars to the IRA/Protestant "Problems" more recently in Ireland). "Christian" can mean anything you want it to.

What if one of these "Christian" sects gets into power? Do you think they'd be tolerant of each other's beliefs? Do you think that a KKK "Christian" believes in his heart that there will be Catholics and black Christians in heaven? (I don't think the term "African American" would apply in heaven, actually, neither would black. I digress). Point is, if any "Christian" government came to power in the U.S. the Constitution would go out the window. The purges and pogroms would begin shortly after. We are not a "Christian" nation, thanks to the foresight and wisdom of the founders.

As for violent religions, an honest and god-fearing Christian would be unwise to throw the first stone. In addition to the sectarian Christian violence pointed out above, our self-described "Christian" nation, is killing each other in the streets in droves. Our prisons are full of murdering Christians. Point is, it ain't all "Peace on earth, good will towards men" with Christians, exceptin' on Christmas (which, from now on will be referred to as "the Holidays").

On the other hand, there are also many non-violent Muslims/Jews (as well as all of the others you describe in your post) in our country. Actually, they are citizens of our country - they are my fellow Americans.

What if, over the next few decades, one of these groups gained a majority of the voting population and took over the government in a legitimate election? (For Ss&Gs, lets say that the accomplished this through reproduction - you know, them goddamned fast-breedin' immigrant types - and converting large numbers of the existing population - a la the Christians taking over Rome). Undoubtedly, this large block of voters would have a huge impact on the traditional power base of the country. Undoubtedly, they would believe, behave, and have different cultural and social values than their eastern non-American counterparts (nothing is impervious to our culture). Even though they were Americans who came to power peacefully and who honored the principles of our Constitution, would you still consider them a "dangerous" religion? Would you launch a holy war against them? Would you be a terrorist?

(Point of fact: The vast majority of the history of Muslim government shows them to be highly tolerant rulers - although the 20th century seems to have bent their noses out of joint).

I would say that if this theoretical U.S. government wanted to institute Sharia (sp?) or use the Talmud as law, or put a copy of the Koran or the Torah in my child's school, or a picture of Mohammed or a Star of David in the courthouse, that they would be a threat to the Republic and the Constitution and would have to be rebelled against. If they didn't seek to mingle their religion and my government, everything would be hunky-dory. Just as I will rebel if those seeking a "Christian" theocracy or any other form of values- or religion-based government in current day America comes to power.

The point is, and in many ways, it's essence of America, that you must turn the tables and look at your fellow citizen's point of view. They have rights. The same rights you have. Just as many, and just as valid. Unless and until a crime has been committed, or the Constitutional integrity of our government is crumbling (right now - but not due to the Muslims), or the Republic is threatened (not right now), there is nothing you can do if your side starts loosing ground. It's a FREE country. If you want to have your religion, then go ahead - just keep that useless crap out of the public square.

As for the Rasta-men, they still smoke their ganja, as do millions of Americans of other denominations (It ain't the religion that's a crime - it's the reefer). And, as for the Mormons - at least they marry the women (and remember - they're "Christians" too). The majority of non-Mormon "Christian" people have had multiple marriages and an even greater number of sex partners (check out the zoological definition of the word polygamy). It seems that as long as the church or the neighbors (or in Bill Clinton's case the Republican congress) doesn't find out about it, it doesn't really matter. I guess it's okay if I live with six women and have children by all of them, as long as I don't marry them. I love our culture!

You wrote: "...Hollywood, the mass media, the ACLU) DID freely Christian-bash for a decade while leaving other religions alone. 2004 marked the year the Christians began fighting back, and the war on public expression of Christianity and the smear campaign against "ignorant Jesus-lovers" sharply abated."

Son, I do believe you have come unhinged. Are you whining because they didn't bash other religions? Did they really "Bash" Christianity? Can you give an example? Was this a largely unnoticed small-in-actual-numbers-but-nonetheless VAST LEFT WING CONSPIRACY? What happened in 2004? Did someone open up a can of ass-whoopin' on them nasty ACLU atheists? Oh yeah, maybe it was when the Alabama Supreme Court let that judge keep the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. Yeah, that's it. That's when the tide turned.

Yeah.

You don't seem to like freedom - or America - very much (perhaps you like yours just fine, you don't seem to like it for everyone). There are options and alternatives. Please consider them.

Posted by: smafdy | January 18, 2006 12:58 AM

Smafdy wrote:
Chris, Chris, Chris...
What ARE we going to do with you?

Pretty good response ..... I would say the best I've seen.

I think what we ought to do is turn him over to you and see if we can't stuff a sock in ErrinF's mouth every time he posts. :o)

Posted by: Cayambe | January 18, 2006 02:30 AM

Cayumbe the cowflop denies there has been a war on Christian religious expression.

You are a loyal tool, Cayumbe, I'll give you that.

As for Smadfy, (fine Dhimmi-speak) - "There is no such thing as "a Christian".

Spoken like a true ACLU secular Jew or a "turn the other cheek" milquetoast licking Islamist boots.

Smadfy - "What if, over the next few decades, one of these groups [Jews or Muslims] gained a majority of the voting population and took over the government in a legitimate election?"

I don't know, what if moon-worshipping child molesters who likes to dress up as clowns gained the majority of the voting population and took over the government in a legitimate election?

Same odds as your other religious minorities have of taking over, outside the Jewish/ACLU legal avenue...

Smafdy - "our government is crumbling (right now - but not due to the Muslims), or the Republic is threatened (not right now), there is nothing you can do if your side starts loosing ground. It's a FREE country."

Oooooo! You sound soooo French! Enjoying the banuiels, and the delight of the pain you deserve from righteous Islamist fists and knives...ohhhhh...what a delicate frisson of Western guilt you must assuage!

"Point of fact: The vast majority of the history of Muslim government shows them to be highly tolerant rulers - although the 20th century seems to have bent their noses out of joint."

Oh yes, highly tolerant of Christians, Zoroastrans, Hindis, Budhhists, Chaldeans, Jews everywhere the "Religion of Peace" went prior to the 20th Century, some 95 million butchered infidels ago!!

Just ensure as you are on your knees servicing your Islamist superior you allow Cayumbe some tongue action so he isn't left out...and crabby at his dhimmi omission...

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 18, 2006 03:01 AM

Chris:

Show me, brother. Show me.

1. "cowflop" - now THAT hurt!

2. "tools" are handy to have around, Thanks, Cayambe. (Insert high-five here).

3. "Christian", define thyself.

4. I seriously doubt you'd ever call me a "milquetoast" if I was standing in front of you. Why? Two reasons:
a) You would hold your tongue because you wouldn't be sure if a big, friendly guy like me wouldn't nail your eye shut (honestly, I'd never do it, but you couldn't tell that by looking at me), and;
b) because tough-talking white supremacists aren't brave enough to state their cases or beliefs in an open, tolerant society. (Meow).

As for the "turn the other cheek", "Jew" comment - it seems that this description puts me on pretty firm moral ground. maybe I'm Jesus come back for my kingdom. Better watch your soul.

5. Moon worhipers dressed like clowns would be okay. Child molesters are criminals. That would NOT be okay. I have plenty of recent experience on what happens when criminals come into power.

6. You need a history lesson. A fellow named Gibbon wrote a book on the history of Rome. You should read it (if you do read it, you'll realize that we are not a "Christian" nation - we are the political and social offspring of the Romans). The Romans never though that a weak, pacificst, poor religious sect derived from the Jews would ever take over their country. But they did!

7. As you know, you don't need the ACLU to take over (if you have a majority).

8. I sound French? Cool! Chicks dig a French accent. I'm not into pain, though. I also have no personal guilt about my culture. Shame, yes. Guilt, no.

9. The history of Islam shows at least as much tolerance as the history of the followers of "The King of Peace". 95 million? Are you sure it wasn't a hunderd kazillion, bazillion?

10. if I'm ever on on my knees, it will only be so that I can look you straight in the eye.

Note: You seem to rely on an analogy for a man being on his knees licking another man (your posts are full of that stuff). Is the real reason you're so mad at everybody that you can't allow yourself to come out of the closet? J. Edgar Hoover had the same problem - but he still did okay. Keep your chin up and be proud of what you TRULY are.

Posted by: smafdy | January 18, 2006 08:18 AM

Well, so much for the conversation being civil....ah well...

Posted by: D. | January 18, 2006 10:02 AM

Two points: First, I agree with the above that the "rights" part of the Second Amendment is in a clause dependent on the "militia" part, which begins the sentence.

Second, how about the Fourth Amendment, currently critical to the Spygate discussion, and with whose language, which, by the way is crystal-clear, fewer Americans are familiar???

Posted by: Jalapeno | January 18, 2006 10:59 AM

ErinnF, again let me state that I believe that the clause pertains to the rights of the individual, if only because the general opinion of the country is and has been that it pertains to the individual.
My only argument is that I do not think it is so clear cut. As Sully says,

"The rights of Americans to bear arms may not be infringed (encroach upon) by the federal government since it is a right of a state to maintain a militia, which it could not do if the citizenry could not bear arms due to federal law or regulation."

Based on sentence structure and the ample use of commas, it is possible to arrive at this belief based on the flexibility of our languages grammar and semantics. I do not ignore the rights of the individual expressed so much as see them as necessary in order to maintain the Militia itself.

Chris Ford-
I would be interested to see the statistics you cite on the concept that Christianity was soley targeted by Hollywood etc. If I recall correctly, a course I took on the media a few years ago discussed both the attack on Christians as well as the attack on Jews (stereotypes, as portrayed by those such as woody allen, etc).
I also wouldn't be surprised to see the statistics that you cite. In a society as PC as ours, attacking the minority is often seen as bad. Attacking Christianity would be seen as more PC as there would be no claims of a minority being repressed. I imagine it would also be much easier as the potential targets would be much more available and recognizable as a society. A joke made at the expense of Christians is likely to be more widely understood than a joke about Aztec faiths etc. Not that its right mind you.
/Laughs at jokes about everything and everyone as long as theres no malice.

Posted by: Freedom | January 18, 2006 11:35 AM

My favorite amendment, which gets little attention, is the Ninth:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

James Madison, when he offered up the Ninth Amendment for consideration, stated these words:

"It has been objected also against a bill of rights that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution. " (III Annals of America pp.354-363)

In other words, the Ninth Amendment is a catch all that states that just because a specific right, like the right to privacy, isn't in the Constitution, doesn't mean that that right doesn't exist. In fact, the Ninth Amendment recognizes that certain natural rights are retained by the people and cannot be abridged by any government. The Ninth Amendment protects natural (inalienable) rights, including unwritten natural rights, such as the right to eat, sleep, breathe, make and raise children, etc. Further, the Ninth Amendment covers the inalienable right to liberty, and that is the part of the amendment permits the judiciary to enforce all forms of liberty. The right to liberty includes the right to privacy when that is what liberty requires.

It's most famous interpretation is in Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court struck down Connecticut's ban on the use of contraceptive devices as interfering with liberty of two people to do what they want in the privacy of own bedroom. Griswold and the Ninth Amendment became the part of the bedrock underpinning Roe v. Wade.

So. The right to eat. The right to sleep. The right to breath. The right to procreate. The right to privacy. All are protected by the Constitution, even if there isn't a specific place in it that tells you that you have that right in direct terms.

You give this argument to Robert Bork and he'll flip, saying the Ninth Amendment gives judges the license to fashion any rights they want to. But to ignore the Ninth Amendment, as he advocates, means that the state has the power over the most basic aspects of our lives. The Framers never meant for that to be the case.

Posted by: Sean Flaim | January 18, 2006 11:37 AM

My favorite amendment, which gets little attention, is the Ninth:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

James Madison, when he offered up the Ninth Amendment for consideration, stated these words:

"It has been objected also against a bill of rights that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution. " (III Annals of America pp.354-363)

In other words, the Ninth Amendment is a catch all that states that just because a specific right, like the right to privacy, isn't in the Constitution, doesn't mean that that right doesn't exist. In fact, the Ninth Amendment recognizes that certain natural rights are retained by the people and cannot be abridged by any government. The Ninth Amendment protects natural (inalienable) rights, including unwritten natural rights, such as the right to eat, sleep, breathe, make and raise children, etc. Further, the Ninth Amendment covers the inalienable right to liberty, and that is the part of the amendment permits the judiciary to enforce all forms of liberty. The right to liberty includes the right to privacy when that is what liberty requires.

It's most famous interpretation is in Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court struck down Connecticut's ban on the use of contraceptive devices as interfering with liberty of two people to do what they want in the privacy of own bedroom. Griswold and the Ninth Amendment became the part of the bedrock underpinning Roe v. Wade.

So. The right to eat. The right to sleep. The right to breath. The right to procreate. The right to privacy. All are protected by the Constitution, even if there isn't a specific place in it that tells you that you have that right in direct terms.

You give this argument to Robert Bork and he'll flip, saying the Ninth Amendment gives judges the license to fashion any rights they want to. But to ignore the Ninth Amendment, as he advocates, means that the state has the power over the most basic aspects of our lives. The Framers never meant for that to be the case.

Posted by: Sean Flaim | January 18, 2006 11:38 AM

OK, so why is the second amendment different than the fourth?

After 9-11 Ashcroft forbade investigation of the gun records of the 9-11 terrorists. Apparently two were approved for gun purchases but we couldn't investigate what they bought, where and how and what happened to those firearms. Further, Hezhbollah, the IRA,the Colombians and other terrorists are all known to have come to the US to buy guns legally at gun shows (and then illegally ship them out of the country).

So, if the war on terror gives the president unlimited power to protect us, and if we KNOW that terrorists are getting guns in the US, shouldn't this (or the next) president close this loophole in our protection and override the Second Amendment as well as the fourth as a necessary means of protecting us?

Yes, the question is facetious. But at the same time no, its not. It points to a serious problem in the President's positions. If the president is serious that he must do "everything in his power' to protect us, then he should be protecting us from putting guns in the hands of the terrorists. Otherwise this "selective' choice of spying on conversations while ignoring more imminent threats (like the fact that almost 20 times as many Americans have died from gun homicides than terrorist homicides since 9-11) just smells suspicious.

Posted by: patriot1957 | January 18, 2006 12:03 PM

I too will come clean in saying that I am a Life Member of the NRA.

I only take issue with one aspect of the 2nd Amendment as interpreted by the side that opposes individual ownership. My issue is that the 2nd Amendment is a part of a group of Amendments entitled "The Bill Of Rights". No one I have heard or read has indicated that the 1st, 4th, or any other Amendment are anything but "individual rights", so where does the indication come in that our Founding Fathers would wish that the 2nd Amendment be the unique Amendment that would be collective in nature? Sure the "militia" was made up of the populace and is now liberally interpreted as the National Guard, yet the existence of the National Guard does not change the Constitution, at least under the laws that mandate it's existence. The Nstional Guard may be the direct decendant of the Militis, but that does not change the 2nd Amendment and it's provision that the "Right of the People" will be changed. The Bill of Rights are all individual in nature, and unless you are prepared to accept the idea that your freedom of speech is a collective right reserved to the state, then you should not assume that the 2nd Amendment is any less of an individual protection.

Posted by: Jon Weiss | January 18, 2006 12:09 PM

Yendall wrote:
"My reading of the second amendment is that gun ownership and possession is tied directly to membership in the militia."

No, that is not what it says. The 2nd ammendment says that in order for a STATE to maintain a militia the federal government cannot prevent the citizens of a state from keeping and bearing arms. In other words, the federal government is being limited here by preventing the fed from denying a State's citizens the right to keep and bear arms.

Sorry Sully, your interpretation does't hold water. The "State" reference is obviously to the United States of America otherwise the word would have been pluralised or qualified in some other way. This amendment is hardly about states' rights. Nor is it a licence to take up arms against the state (national or state government).
Eric

Posted by: Eric Yendall | January 18, 2006 12:14 PM

Yendall wrote:
"The "State" reference is obviously to the United States of America otherwise the word would have been pluralised or qualified in some other way."

Since the Militias were maintained and under the control of the individual states, I don't see how you can read the ammendment to refer to a militia as "being necessary to the security of a free State" could refer to the federal government. The word "militia" is singular. It would not have been good kings English to pluralize "state" and it does not say "the" free state, but "a" free state, implying there are many or it is a generalization.

And even if we take you definition it changes little. The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed in any case from the infringement of the federal government. My only issue is whether a State's rights to regulate arms is prevented due to an individual right as some suggest the 2nd amendment should be read. I really don't know though I feel myself leaning toward state's rights to regulate if they wish based on their maintenance of the militias but I conceed that this issue is difficult and subject to much interpretation.

Posted by: Sully | January 18, 2006 12:48 PM

Smafdy wrote:
Chris, Chris, Chris...
What ARE we going to do with you?

Pretty good response ..... I would say the best I've seen.

I think what we ought to do is turn him over to you and see if we can't stuff a sock in ErrinF's mouth every time he posts. :o)
Posted by: Cayambe | Jan 18, 2006 2:30:39 AM

Cayambe, do you care to explain what smafdy and Chris Ford's discussion has to do with me? That seems like an odd attack from you on me when I can't even recall you ever debating against me in the past. If you disagree with something I've posted, argue against it, and spare me the cheap shots.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 18, 2006 01:09 PM

"The rights of Americans to bear arms may not be infringed (encroach upon) by the federal government since it is a right of a state to maintain a militia, which it could not do if the citizenry could not bear arms due to federal law or regulation."
Based on sentence structure and the ample use of commas, it is possible to arrive at this belief based on the flexibility of our languages grammar and semantics. I do not ignore the rights of the individual expressed so much as see them as necessary in order to maintain the Militia itself.
Posted by: Freedom | Jan 18, 2006 11:35:15 AM

I agree with your interpretation. We just differ slightly in our conclusions in that I feel the right to keep and bear arms is seperate from it's militia context, though the desire to maintain a well regulated militia is at the core of it's conception. Once the right to bear arms became the right of the people, it went above and beyond it's militia origin. However, I would agree that the second amendment still functions as a guide to regulating a militia, especially with the way it points out a balance between regulation and infringement.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 18, 2006 01:23 PM

Smafdy, Chris:

Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves. In a few brief minutes, you turned what had been a very intelligent, insightful, and interesting debate into a nasty and malicious exchange for the rest of us to witness.

Chris, you had some interesting points until you degraded the whole thing with your very racist comments.

And Smafdy(what sort of moniker is that?), if you can't put your name on your comments, what are they really worth? Also, just because you're a "big, friendly guy" doesn't mean some mean little wimp can't come along and kick your ass. Be careful who you issue challenges to. You never know who you're dealing with on this medium.

Posted by: Larry | January 18, 2006 01:24 PM

Eric,
When the Costitution was written there were only individual states. This was to be the basic law to limit federal powers (see 10th ammendment. The ammendments modify the Constitution. Therefor the commerce clause dosen't apply to speach, press, religion, guns, etc. The President's war powers are also modified by the ammendments like the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, etc. The 2nd says "the right of the people" These are th same "people" refered to in the 4th, 9th, & 10th. The "malitia"reference guarentees that the "arms" in question should be suitable for malitia use (at least as good as the standing army) see "Miller"
The Bill of Rights was not granted to the People but was an acknowledgement by the framers of Rights that exist. The 9th & 10th refer to other Rights not innumerated

Posted by: willy G | January 18, 2006 01:25 PM

I think one of ErrinF's main points is that since this is in the Bill of Rights then it must mean an individual right. I'm not sure that is a strong argument. If the individual was the intended holder of this right, then I think the grammer would have made that clear as it did with other ammendments such as the 4th. Posted by: Sully | Jan 17, 2006 11:27:36 PM

That would be one of my points, yes, but not really a main one. In itself, that wouldn't be much of an argument, but coupled with the express wording 'right of the people' in the second amendment, it makes sense that the second amendment is about individual rights. I don't think it's to be taken lightly that the Bill Of Rights is first and foremost about the individual rights of the people. In my opinion, the wording of the second amendment is different because the right to bear arms was one that would need to balance regulation and infringement unlike the other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
As for states regulating gun laws, I believe they do so but not to the point where the right to bear arms can be infringed, if only because all state constitutions have their own Bill Of Rights as well. And the federal government can make laws regarding guns (such as the Brady Bill) as long as those laws do not infringe upon an individual's right to bear arms.
Overall, I still feel that the second amendment is not about a state's rights, but rather individual rights. It is very specific that the right to keep and bear arms is the right of the people. Though the states being empowered by the people having this right may indeed be part of the second amendment's purpose, the right is still invested in the people, not the states. The security of the free state depends on the people's uninfringed right to bear arms, according to the wording of the amendment. Therefore, I still strongly feel the second amendment is solely about individual rights.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 18, 2006 01:56 PM

Sometimes there is a cultural difference here, I just can't understand Americans regarding guns and they don't get me, or other Canadians. That is ok that is what for me makes it interesting. I read that when Canada was settled that the main use of guns was for settlers to protect themselves from their own animals.
Canada and America were settled very differently, which speaks to the national characters of our nations now. America was settled by bachelors, usually rowdy men from villages in Europe to whom the villagers wanted to leave. Canada was settled by families from Great Britain and France.
In the US if there was trouble with the natives, the cavalry would ride in, in large numbers and shoot them. In Canada if there were problems with the natives one lone RCMP officer would ride in, without weapons, and discuss the problem until it was resolved. There is no attachment to weapons here and when people speak of that attachment to me, it is as if they were speaking Mandarin. I just don't get it.
Your settlement was very violent for all concerned. Our settlement was quite peaceful in comparison, with groups hammering out there differences. The right to bear arms to me is like saying the right to deep dinasaurs in your yard, irrelevant and quite repulsive.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 18, 2006 02:04 PM

Got to say something about 2nd amendment.
Emily read it right, and quoted the "Shall
not be infringed" part. Five stars to Emily! Post by Matthew is #1. If you have taken resonable precautions to secure your
firearm, why should you pay for someone else commiting a crime?
Sully is full of what lays in a barnyard!
Schumer, Lautenberg, Feinstien, Boxer, Kennedy, the BILLIONAIR mayor of NYC, would
trash your 2nd amendment rights in a heartbeat if they could! And there are would-be gun grabbers at every level of government, so the NRA and it's members must be alert across the board. Don't believe me, look at England, Australia, Canada, and the WORTHLESS U.N.!
"From my cold dead hands"

Posted by: Ralph - Galveston | January 18, 2006 02:08 PM

Speakout - In Canada you were "subjects" of the Crown. Your rights were "given" to you.

In America - we are "citizens" who fought the Crown for our rights.

Makes a world of difference on how our two cultures view things, especially firearms.

Posted by: D. | January 18, 2006 02:37 PM

Smarfdy - "The history of Islam shows at least as much tolerance as the history of the followers of "The King of Peace". 95 million? Are you sure it wasn't a hunderd kazillion, bazillion?"

That 95 million is the midrange in what scholars call the Islamic Democide. Most of it's victims are Hindu, not Christian, but the Zoroastrans, Buddhists, plus Armenian, Greek, N African, Mediterranian Euros, and Levant Christians do add up. As for Christians, their orginal propagation mode was peaceful missionary work. It was only in the elements of Islam picked up in the Crusades and later the Reconquista that Catholics adopted Islamic tactics of proselytization, as the New World soon sadly found out. In reform from the "Black Spanish Legend" and the horror of the 30 Years War, Christianity backed off of emulating the "Muslim Way" of winning hearts and souls, for the most part - well over two hundred years ago. Islam continues its bloody ways. Most recently the East Timor, Egyptian Copts, and Sudan ethnic cleansing Jihads.

Right now, Indians are attempting to document numbers of Hindis and Buddhists killed on the Subcontinent since the Muslim Jihad arrived there - for a Hindu Holocaust Museum.

And you did not address my original point, which was if the 1st Amendement prohibits state sponsorship of religion directed at the American masses, what shall we do when a foreign state (KSA) has put tens of billions of petrodollars into sponsorship of propagating the intolerant Wahabbist Faith here over the last 25 years? And more billions in Europe, Indonesia, Pakistan? Is the 1st Amendment be to tool to stop State sponsorship of Islam here? The courts have said the bar on state funds favoring a particular religion goes past Congress to include state and local gov't. Does it include the Muslim countries? I think it should and we should stop it tomorrow - for defending our nation from foreign subversion.

Freedom -

I would steer you to the writings of certain critics of the film industry - Ebert, Medved, Prelusky - who say an anti-Christian, anti-white male bias rages in Hollywood. While PC gives minorities and The Religion of Peace a pass on villainy.

Approved villains and expected plots are:

1. Hypocritical evangelist Christians who are shown to be venal and bigoted in the end.
2. Cops. Who are always setting up innocent minorities for crimes they never committed.
3. Rich white males who are always proved to be the Evil Conspirators Behind Everything. Especially if they are tied into an evil corporate cabal. If they have any identifiable religion, it is Christian.
4. Most crime is of course depicted as done by young white men. When a black or hispanic is involved, PC says it must be as part of a predominantly white gang or directed from above by Mr. Big - who will invariably be a white, corporate male type. If the criminal MUST be minority, the moral scales of Hollywood say he must be arrested or neutralized by a "good" minority..
5. It is OK to write a script or a thriller book saying some nefarious terror plot by Muslims is defeated by a team of patriotic Americans. That is easy to fix. Hollywood just substitutes in the old standby "Nazis/Neo-Nazis/Evil Corporation/Tim McVeigh-type" in to avoid offending Saudi-hired lawyers representing The Religion of Peace, and the heroes become a multi-culti team led by a trendy "kick-ass" ex-model who now says she is a serious "actor".
6. If you must show a historical film of Jews or Christians fighting Muslims, since actual history is harder for Hollywood to spin , show the Muslims as sympathetic and morally superior if possible. Lie a lot on the margins of actual events to show the Munich terrorists were loving family men, and puff up Saladin so much that a Brit critic called "Kingdom of Heaven" Osama bin Laden's version of history and sunk the film.
7. If you have a hit TV series, make the smartest and most heroic figure an ex-Iraqi Republican Guard super soldier. If you have a show about woman, make sure the one that openly displays a crucifix is the ultimate bitch.
8. If you must show a film where, for commercal success you have to show American soldiers as good and sympathetic as opposed to the torturing, sadistic monsters they actually are - at least show all their political and military superiors as utter fools - anyone above the rank of the grizzled "sarge". If a director doesn't "get" the rules and portrays an American commissioned officer sympathetically, deep six awards - pick a frothy comedy about Shakespeare in Love...Unless next time the officer is black, a woman, or gay and spends a good deal of the movie saving the stupid fearful Christian white men under them. That is OK in Hollywood. Extra points if you cast a sniper or assassin (Barry Pepper, Samuel Jackson) that quotes Bible as they whack people..
9. Point out the Ned Flanders exception on the Simpsons. Originally intended to ridicule Evangelicals, the producers kept Ned & family as "nice if a little clueless" as the Simpson seasons moved on and viewers said they liked Ned.
10. Moments of Truth. Oy!!! So much money those crazy Christians spent on "The Passion." OK, feed the Christians what they want for awhile. If this works, we can take profits from "Narnia" or some angel flick and make more gay and Muslim promoting movies later!

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 18, 2006 03:16 PM

Chris Ford-

I wouldn't worry too much about the movies. If you hate them so much don't watch them (they cost so much already)

But, irregardless, if anti-white/christian and pro-Muslim movies are doing so well, they are doing so well to an audience of Americans who are, as you pointed out, overwhelmingly Christian and white. The bottom line is the name of the game and, apparently, this bottom line is better served by societal self loathing.

Some of the stereotypes you mention are easier to spot than others, but so what? Evil white men... people like that sort of thing. It's entertaining. If people did not like it those movies wouldn't sell. Frankly, there's a lot of historical precedent for making the villain an evil white man. You already know that, though.

What you can do, though, is watch Training Day over and over again. That's a White Cop issuing moral authority over a racist black cop. Good stuff. It also suggests that the only available jobs for Hispanics and Blacks in the inner city are as hitmen, which is true right? And that movie won awards! And people watched it!

I am interested to hear which intriguing movies I have not seen recently because of Saudi Arabian lawyers (or were they Jewish and in the ACLU?). Fill me in?

There are plenty of movies you can watch that I'm sure don't villanize people who probably more closely resemble your father than Ahmed. For the same reasons I don't watch Iranian propaganda, you shouldn't watch (apparently) Jewish/Islamic/Homosexual propaganda Hollywood films.

Birth of a Nation DVD is out so you can plug it in and watch it on repeat (DISCLAIMER: no gay cowboys in this movie!). Golly it sure is too bad Hollywood isn't more like it was in 1915.

Posted by: Will | January 18, 2006 03:44 PM

Ralph-Galveston and Jon Weiss

Can you share your opinion of the President's claim that he has the wartime authority to override the Bill of Rights ?

Does it alter your opinion that that he has started with the Fourth Amendment instead of the second?

Does it alter your opinion that if unchecked, the power to override the Bill of Rights would pass to the next President too, say, President Schumer?

I don't mean for my questions to be facetious. I am fascinated that there is so little outcry about the President assuming power to override the bill of Rights, and I wonder why the NRA and Second Amendment advocates aren't being more vocal about this. Because even though the NRA can buy elections, they can't absolutely guarantee the next president (who inherits the "special war" powers Bush has assumed) will be someone they can control. And the Supreme Court can be at times unpredictable (like the idiotic eminent domain decision recently). So I would think the gun advocates would be foaming at the mouth, yet the silence is deafening.

Posted by: patriot1957 | January 18, 2006 03:46 PM

SpeakoutforanEffeterCanada -

"Canada and America were settled very differently, which speaks to the national characters of our nations now. America was settled by bachelors, usually rowdy men from villages in Europe to whom the villagers wanted to leave. Canada was settled by families from Great Britain and France."

Those Americans would be the same sort of "European undesirables" as went to Australia? And the families settling Canada were headed by men named Dirk and Jacques who were lumberjacks but who liked to wear women's clothes?

"In the US if there was trouble with the natives, the cavalry would ride in, in large numbers and shoot them. In Canada if there were problems with the natives one lone RCMP officer would ride in, without weapons, and discuss the problem until it was resolved."

Which glosses over the Metis Wars, the British tactic of encouraging warfare between tribes, and the "polite genocide" practiced by Canadians of assimilation and then letting the wonders of TB, smallpox, and rampant subsidized alcoholism do their magic. Population crashes of aboriginals in Canada were just as bad as any in America. It was just a more "pleasant and polite" path to civilization to have some part assimilated tribes go into drunken obvivion from cheap Hudson's Bay trade booze, than have pitched battles. When possible, Canadian tribes were driven into unsettled parts of the USA where they became America's problem later. (Like the Sioux)

" There is no attachment to weapons here and when people speak of that attachment to me, it is as if they were speaking Mandarin. I just don't get it."

I don't think you ever will, as you are a Trudeau-feminized member of the liberal party. The historical fact that Canada is the only nation to militarily defeat Americans in a campaign (America's 1812 invasions) and were among the greatest soldiers of WWI and WWII (where at the end, in June 1945, Canada had the 4th largest military in the world behind the Soviets, Brits, and USA). And as Michael Moore pointed out, surprised, Canada has lots of guns...so do the Finns and Swedes...and Swiss...and Israelis... The guns are lagely in safe hands. What Canada lacked until reently were violence-prone minorities - now crime is skyrocketing in multi-culti Toronto like it is in formerly peaceful British, Swedish, and French cities. Also, Canada culturally avoided the Southern American "honor culture" where slights suffered by whites and blacks were expected to be settled personally, rather than by the state.

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 18, 2006 04:09 PM

1. John Adams jailed a congressman for criticizing his "continual grasp for power."
2. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and had the army arrest up to 38,000 civilians suspected of undermining the Union cause.
3. Woodrow Wilson imprisoned Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs for opposing U.S. entry into World War I.
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt consigned 120,000 Japanese Americans to detention camps
5. Nixon used the IRS and the FBI to spy on and harass opponents.

Bush? Authorized with the full knowledge of congressional leaders)post 9-11 wiretaps on Adbul al-Carbomber and his calls to friends and family in far away Waziristan.

Slippery slope towards fascist dictatorship? Can't say I'm buying that one, sorry.

Posted by: D. | January 18, 2006 04:23 PM

Some interesting thoughts by Professor Scorse, but there are both macro and micro substantive points he neglects to consider.

First, even though the founders may have drafted a secular document, that is by no means proof that we are not a Christian nation, as Professor Scorse asserts. He would be well served to consider the oft-discussed distinction between a "nation" and a "state." The Constitution provides a governing structure for the state, but arguably does not dictate the demographic social makeup of the nation. In his defense, I cannot imagine the distinction between the concepts being the gravamen for those calling America a Christian nation. Of course, I could be wrong. . .

Second, as a general rule, it's intellectually unsatisfactory for Professor Scorse to use his hybrid-textualism method of interpretation. Meaning that one cannot assert that the founders would have wanted the federal government to provide medical insurance for its citizens because they wrote that the federal government should promote the general welfare. Argue that the Constitution is a living document, if you wish, but one simply cannot imply that the founders would have endorsed a particular policy just because a particular (and newly redefined) word like "welfare" was used.

But an interesting read nonetheless. . .

Posted by: Pepin | January 18, 2006 04:29 PM

Errin,
Now, now .... ease up and relax. It wasn't meant as either a "cheap shot" or an "attack"; the little smiley face was deliberately meant to take any sting out of it. Certainly there is no post of yours in this thread with which I or anyone else might take exception. But certainly you must admit that you have not been shy in responding in kind to Chris's posts in past threads, even spontaneously launching attacks on him occasionally. From my point of view, dare I say, the blogs point of view, this is unfortunate as it requires of us to skip through the trash in search of your arguments of merit .... which I do. I do the same with Chris because embedded in his trash are sometimes arguments of some merit. Sometimes he even posts with no trash whatsoever.

Smafdy is a gift from heaven. As you can see he has had the desired effect of isolating the trash into trash posts, which we can skip or read and laugh at as we choose. I read them as I find much humor in seeing the skill and rich language of two such gifted trashmen, and I mean nothing desparaging in that either. They are both very good at it. Frankly, I don't think the rest of us are in the same league. Leave it to the Professionals as they say.

Meanwhile ...... Sean Flaim, you make a really good point with the 9th amendment, a profound one actually. It has never made sense to me how opposition to Roe can be seen as a "conservative" position and support of Roe a "liberal" position. To the extent that a conservative views the Constitution as outlining both the structure and limits of government vis a vis the "people" and a liberal views the Constitution as outlining both the structure and responsibilities of government vis a vis the "people", I see these two Roe positions usually assigned to the wrong labels. As a self-confessed conservative I very much support the courts construction under Roe and have a difficult time understanding how Bork can be seen as conservative. But this is the power of marketing isn't it. Labels and what is associated with them are infinitely malleable.

In some ways this is reflected in the debate over the second where people who just don't agree that the people should have the right to bear arms search endlessly for some technical defect in the grammar, the punctuation, the choice of words, association with other amendments, whatever, to escape from or otherwise disable the clarity of the simple phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear arms".

It was good of you to post Madison's words as well. You cannot read them without some awe at the quality and breadth and depth of thought these people brought to bear on what they were doing in constructing this government, this nation. One must see that there was nothing whatsoever "careless" in the drafting of this document and there was nothing careless in the debates over it. One must recognize that differing points of view were all considered to a depth we rarely reach today. All of this without the benefit of computers and years of law school. It is really quite an amazing project they did.

Posted by: Cayambe | January 18, 2006 04:30 PM

errinf

Actually, it looked like Caymbe was saying that you let Ford push your buttons, and I'm glad that really was it as I like your and Caymbe's posts and would hate to see you seriously quarrel :(

I had an uncle we all called "Uncle Archie" (I know, I'm dating myself)who spouted the kind of paranoid racist nonsense like we get from the likes of Ford. Holiday dinners always turned into his rants that made us roll our eyes and giggle. It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized that my other uncles were deliberately winding him up to erupt, after which they sat back and watched for the entertainment value. Personally, I never found it all that entertaining.

If you find Ford entertaining then by all means wind him up. But don't confuse entertainment with someone who wishes to engage in a logical, two sided debate.

Posted by: | January 18, 2006 05:16 PM

Bottom line is that I'm not involved with any discussion between smafdy and Chris Ford. To suddenly interrupt a perfectly fine debate to cite some sort of past greivance you have with me is uncalled for, Cayambe. If you haven't noticed, we are in agreeance on this second amendment debate and I am not conducting myself in a way that deserves 'putting a sock in it'. It seems I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't with you if you are going to disregard the current debate to dwell on past debates where I may have been abrasive with Chris Ford.
I'll admit that I've pushed Chris Ford's buttons in the past, but I don't think it's been without merit. You are of course entitled to your opinion. I just think the timing of your critique was a little awkward. You won't hear me calling you 'cowflop' or any of that nonsense.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 18, 2006 06:29 PM

crazyoldman:
"I am about as liberal as you can get. I believe in the constitution of this country as rabidly as the religeous freaks believe in their various holy books and delusional prophets who presume to know the thoughts of those amorphous dieties. Our founders realised certain truths, and set them down as the law of this land. There is no ambivalence. If anyone has the capacity to invade your space to harm or kill you, you have the stated right to repel that threat by whatever means. I have every right to match anything used to invade my home, and anyone who does invade my home has every right to expect a swift death, or to be otherwise incapacitated."

I'm with you crazyoldman. I live in DC, one of the most dangerous places in the country, but yet these idiots in control here will not allow me to keep my rifle assembled (i.e., useful) within my home.

Posted by: | January 18, 2006 07:20 PM

Make that Northeast DC!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | January 18, 2006 07:22 PM

johnnyg,

Get out of NE DC! Geeeez what are you thinkin? No rifle, assembled or not, is gonna make you safe there.

Posted by: Sully | January 18, 2006 11:53 PM

I mean c'mon there is not even a war going on.....we haven't been attacked by the Iraqi's why aren't we invading Saudi Arabia, they attacked us.....because we invited them to....so what?

There is no direct connection between 9/11 and Iraq. We have no legal right to be there...we haven't been attacked by them....


LISTEN CLOSELY: WAR implies two countries fighting, one attacks another....if you want to say we attacked and started a sort of a war.....or imperialist occupation I would agree.....use the dictionary, get your facts straight....

The only reason you think you're in a "war" is because your government has given you a media blitz that uses the W word every thirty seconds in order to get....

1. WAR POWERS....which meanss that it can use one man to change everything.

2. because if you have a "war" you can get reelected because no one runs against a "war" president......

3. re: the patriot act, IF I told you that I was going to create a new act called the straight-man-act....listen carefully now, and that "act" required you to have a*** sex with a man if you were a man....would you be a straight man if you did that? Apply the same principle to the "patriot" act......it destroys the Bill of Rights and makes it sound patriotic, especially to someone that has an IQ on the low side of 100.....your average US vs Them citizen....

your president has manipulated the mentally challenged.....which is not a good idea, as he are one.

oh well, sit on your behinds and make up some more intelligent things to think about while the obvious ones go completely by you.....ta

Why are we in Iraq?

We have been told by our countries leaders, democratic and republicans to fight terrorists, however there'e probably over a million mexicans coming over the border every year.....why haven't any terrorist come in with them, because they don't have brown skins and dark hair? Catch a clue.....how many thousands of asians or bosnians, or russians claiming to be italian do you meet? I meet quite a few....think a little, it's okay....stretch.

the affluent are your leaders, not concerned citizens, primarily we are there to control an area that is important because of it's economic impact, not on us but on europe, using our military to make sure that the economy remains stable for europe.....all of our alaskan oil goes to primarily to japan....drilling in alaska would benefit the Japanese not the us, and we were getting the bulk of our oil consumed here from venezuela....the middle eastern oil goes to europe.....


so why are we there? because george bush has buddies that need his help, and if you're president, you get to spend that capital any way you want to right? Who else do you know that can snort coke, be a draft dodger, alky, and failure as a businessman, c student and still get to be president....could you? why not? because you don't have the connections....you use connections you pay for them with favors....get it?

they need someone that will do what his daddy tells him to, without question or conscience.....doesn't make him a bad guy, but it does make him a very predictable tool....

Posted by: what are you talking about? | January 19, 2006 12:23 AM

Errin,
"You won't hear me calling you 'cowflop' or any of that nonsense".... No, that was Chris's mistake; he should have used the term "dogflop" in order to be factually accurate, but he did have the right idea.


Pepin,
Unfortunately, I didn't have the benefit of your post as I was addressing Sean Flaim's and I see in both an attempt to view the Constitution with some coherence, as the good Professor does.

I think your semantical quibble with nation vs. state is well taken; there is a definite distinction of meaning between the two and I must admit to carelessly blurring it on occasion myself. Still, the frequent context in which the phrase "Christian nation" is used has to do with the exclusion of religion from the secular state or the protection of religion by the secular state or the recognition of religion by the secular state. Most of the conflict these days revolves around recognition of it in some form or other by the state, prayers in schools, holiday greeting (this years hot button), public displays on public property (sculptures in court houses, 10 Commandments), curricula in schools (Intelligent Design), and so on. Beyond that, each religion is always seeking to have their particular values or standards established as law. The Catholic Church would surely like to see abortion made unlawful for example, though many Catholics might not; so too with gay marriage, whether a Catholic marriage or not. Given a chance, no religion seems immune from seizing an opportunity to spread its influence by means of state power, either by association, by endorsement, or by direct participation in the state. So on those matters upon which all Christians can unite, such a school prayer or the 10 Commandments, the fact that we are, by a large majority, Christians, becomes justification for edging prayer into the activity structure of public schools and putting Christian religious displays into public buildings or parks on Christian holidays; after all, it is said, we are a Christian nation and the majority should rule.

It is pretty clear that the fellows who created these united states, overwhelmingly Christians of one kind or another, were still quite clear about the essential need to keep religion out of the state and the state out of religion. This was more than just an intellectual conclusion. It was a conclusion derived from their experience of history. I am personally persuaded that this is one conclusion just as important today as it was then. A reading of Chris's rants will explain why. He does in fact read his history, and you will find in his rants ample references to the actual violent excesses of a wide variety of religions, cultures, and races. Also you will find the kind of rhetoric and logic used to drive those excesses. When states become joined with these things, this is the kind of thing that happens.

Religion, culture, and race are often used indiscriminately and interchangeably. When some one speaks of a Jewish lawyer I have no idea what he means. Is he telling me what religion this fellow practices or what race he belongs to? Beats me. Is an "Islamoid" someone who practices the religion of Islam, a Muslim, or is it someone from the "Arab" race? Beats me. By multi-culturalism do you mean a mixture of racial cultures, aesthetic cultures, religious cultures, geographic cultures, western cultures, eastern cultures, what? Or perhaps by that term you mean a certain implied attitude? Most of us should still be able to agree it is very unwise to get the State involved in these matters, in these ever so malleable, often meaningless, and deliberately vague terms. It's bad enough that individuals and even institutions do.

"Argue that the Constitution is a living document, if you wish, but one simply cannot imply that the founders would have endorsed a particular policy just because a particular (and newly redefined) word like "welfare" was used."

I don't think he was implying that the founders would have endorsed the policy, but rather that the policy lies within the scope that the Constitution provides in this Article, this Section. Where I would take issue with him is where he decides that pork barrel spending and corporate welfare does NOT lie within the scope of this same text. Whether some particular thing is coherent with the term "General Welfare" seems largely a matter for Congress to decide. I suppose something absolutely and ridiculously outrageous could make it to the courts, but there have been so many that haven't that I doubt many ever will. I think his main point here is that the Constitution does give the state broad latitude to do things through the legislature. What they do with it is subject to the political process (elections), the check of executive authority, and the rest of the Constitution (SCOTUS). This, and the really twisted out of whack commerce clause, gives practical power to a liberal attitude, the bill of rights and the balance of powers gives practical power to a conservative attitude. At least that is one way of looking at it.

I think it is specious to speculate on what the founders would have thought of something like nationalized health care or what is pejoratively called corporate welfare. The focus of their thought was on the political behavior of human beings and groups and how to structure a state, recognizing that behavior, which would not, could not, imperil the freedoms they had acquired individually and as a people, but still do those things that only a government could do. The Constitutions is the skeleton of that structure and it has proved to be amazingly stable. As much as technology, economics, war, and circumstances have changed and go on changing, our political behavior as humans does not change much at all. Consequently, the structure they so brilliantly and carefully conceived and the reasoning behind it is as relevant today as it was then and in much the same terms. Should the founders be able to see it in the flesh today, I would expect they would judge it in those same terms, and not by the presence or absence of particular programs.

Posted by: Cayambe | January 19, 2006 01:41 AM

I think that the essential point has been missed. The framers of the Constitution recognized a fundamental principal of establishing legitimate government: the government is the recognized power that controls the use of force, violence. This is partly, or mostly, what defines a nation. However, the framers also were attempting to establish a republic with democratic principals. If the power was being taken from the monarchy and given to the people (narrowly defined at the time of the Constitutions authoring, but more broadly defined today) then, the people needed to control the use of force. The second ammendment masterfully acheives this intent.

Because the definition of what a person is has been expanded by law, interpretations of law by the Supreme Court, and by social chage, more people now then in the 1780's have the right to keep and bear arms. Which pretty much puts to rest the "well they didn't envision automatic weapons" argument. They also didn't envision women, people who were kept as slaves, and non property owners to be counted as people.

If we are to remain a republic with democratic institutions, then we must continue to take responsibility for the use of force. We have the right to keep and bear arms. If that right comes at some cost, then so be it. If we are concerned about the misuse of force, arms, then we must work to stop the misuse, not by using the force of the state to remove those weapons, but by working tirelessly to educate and uplift.

Posted by: Victor | January 19, 2006 02:01 AM

In this theological discussion about the 2nd amendment, would it not be useful to remind yourselves that God didn't write the US Constitution - a bunch of politicians did.

Maybe they were smart politicians, but they knew nothing about the 21st century.

Whether or not you have gun control laws is your business, not Jefferson's or Franklin's or Hancock's. Stop using dead people as a crutch. Make up your own mind.

By the way, D - you're way out of line on the British situation. There have been increasingly tough anti-gun laaws here since 1910 - mostly through public clamour.

That story about 'an epidemic of armed home invasions' is tosh - an oft-repeated NRA lie.

There are gun crime problems here - but they're mostly gang-on-gang - in specific areas.

Posted by: strum | January 19, 2006 06:53 AM

The gun problems Canada is experiencing are also gang on gang problems.
I personally am not responding to Chris Ford, when he starts out responding to me with a put down, then he doesn't deserve a response. Adult to adult discussion should stay that way, animosity because someone's opinion differs from your own belongs in the world of children.I sympathize with Errin here. I find Chris Ford irritating in his unresolved anger issues transparently masked as political opinion. I agree with one poster here who said he should have been hugged more as a child.
D. Canada developed late, there was no choice. We had immense geography and a tiny population density so we were more dependant on our economic links to Europe.Canada developed by compromise, not by conflict,"Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" was part of your framework for us,"Peace Order and Good Government" was ours.
Canada was slow to cut our ties to Great Britain. We started out as two distinct societies, English and French. From the beginning we had to forge a national unity and multicultural identity. The US being a major slave owning society and post slave owning society, a significant part of it's population was considered-and legislated as inferior. Your institutionalized superiority/inferiority division between your black and white population, regardless of individual characters flies in the face of your Constitutional preamble that all men are created equal. Considering some people are better than others has become part of the US character.
To say our rights were given to us is simplistic. We didn't fight for our rights, we discussed them and over time we evolved as a nation and a distinct nation. We take the time to resolve difference and build relationships, we don't go for the gun first.
In the end, Canadians, are very different. We would never wave a flag, we would be embarrased and see it more like propaganda than patriotism. We think of hand guns as antisocial and criminal and unnecessary in a just society. We question our government more, but also feel heard at the same time. We believe in peacekeeping not war making as a solution. We love and respect our immigrants, we don't see them as a social problem.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 19, 2006 10:02 AM

Lessee,

All in all, I find Cayambe's textual argument on the 2nd Amendment being an individual liberty an eloquent winner. As I said above, arms still can be regulated (and banned) by states as the 2nd Amendment has never been incorporated to the states via the 14th. (Long story short, the Bill of Rights are enforcements against the FEDERAL government. Once the 14th Amendment was passed, the SC began enforcing some, but not all, of the first 10 Amendments against the states. The 2nd has never been so incorporated). Although I didn't fuel this debate out of mean spirit; I just think the other two Con. points mentioned by Scorse are more or less self-evident and not really worth discussing. The particular percentage or prevalence of any religion or belief set is irrelevant with regard to the Constitution. The Constitution was authored to protect against oppression, which is particularly pernicious with unpopular beliefs. In short, the Constitution protects AGAINST democracy. (Or, if you prefer, ensures a super-majority process vis-a-vis new and alteration of old amendments). So it matters not one whit what altar the Founders prayed at or how many Americans currently believe a particular thing. It is not the role of this government to endorse via legislation or more subtle entanglement any religion or belief. Put in brief, the Constitution is not a popularity contest.

And SpeakOut, I still return to the point of either you are for or against defending Constitutional liberties within the United States. Whether or not you believe any particular liberties are good ideas or not is a separate question. And you can disclaim the 2nd Amendment as retrogressive and barbaric as you like, but for me it is still part of our Constitutional framework. And until that fact is changed, I will argue in favor of its defense.

Posted by: Matthew | January 19, 2006 11:30 AM

Even the title of this group....

debate.

there is a winner and a loser in every debate, isn't there.....


if you're a country do you want to be a winner or a loser....

if debate is the tool most often used in any discussion between leaders what do we get as partof any interaction.....gauranteed...

winners and losers


to avoid being a loser all you have to do is deny the truth....


dialogue REQUIRES that each party police themselves and veracity is determined by their ability to reach an agreed upon solution.....with the solution being most important from the start....


you're moronic to assume that a president that rules by "appealing to emotion" is capable of leading you....

1st 2nd 3rd 8th who cares.....interpretation is everything....your lack of willingness to examine what is going on because it isn't politically correct or what you like to do would garner you the IsraeliPalistineian Award for non-conclusion based upon not wanting to see the other sides point....


remove yourselves from the list of the self-important and actually discusssss as if you had a choice in your lives rather than playing some electronic version of a game that you know called looking-smart....


jesus effing christ

Posted by: I'm very impressed with your rhetoric.....go out and play kids but don't go outside the back yard... | January 19, 2006 12:21 PM

SpeakOut-

"We would never wave a flag, we would be embarrased and see it more like propaganda than patriotism."

Actually, according to Canadian law, Canadians traveling overseas must carry with them, at all times, a Canadian Flag.

I kid, but I spent Canada Day a few years ago in Madrid with a group of about 20 internationals, 5-7 from Canada, and to a man/woman they all had Canadian flags in their backpacks. And they waved them.

Posted by: Will | January 19, 2006 12:58 PM

they don't want to be mistaken for Amerikans dimwit....


what a clueless finger pinter.....chill moron.

Posted by: yah know, maybe....given the current clime in the whirld..... | January 19, 2006 01:00 PM

I'd like to live in a democracy....

maybe youcould help by stopping becoming the cowardly lion...


if you only had a cluuuuuueeeeeeeeeee!

Posted by: I'd be proud not to be seen supporting the current regime of the affluent too.... | January 19, 2006 01:05 PM

It was actually just a joke, I wasn't trying to deny anything that Speakout said.

I know Canadians who ARE proud of being Canadian and who do wave flags. My family has shared a boat in British Columbia with family friends (Canadians) for nearly 2 decades now. When we would visit, two flags would wave from the back: the Canadian flag and the Texas state flag.

Just because you think American patriotism is self-absorbed nonsense doesn't mean you have to deny your own nationality. There's nothing wrong with being proud of Canada.

Posted by: Will | January 19, 2006 01:14 PM

impressed - maybe you should look through the prior threads of this discusssion where Bush's "right" to supercede the fourth amendment has been discussed as nausem, as has the fascist operations of this current administration and their use of fearmongering.

Actually, the opinions expressed here have crystallized pretty well on the prior threads. As predicted, some seem to have bought the fearmongering hook line and sinker and believe better safe than sorry, and haven't looked past the fear to see the fascism. Like D, who seems to believe everything the right tells him no matter how illogical. Some truly don't believe that the fascists could seize control of the US govt the way they did in Germany and Italy and Burma and Chile and Spain etc, (it could never happen here). They are depending on their right to bear arms as insurance. They would apparently bail out of the slippery slope when it gets to amendment 2 . Some are deeply concerned by the parallels between the neocons/BA and fascists and believe it could indeed happen here, and are routinely painted as histrionic. And then there's Chris Ford, who most of the time I can't make heads or tails out of his rants except that he seems to think a fascist government would be good for us.

In my heart of hearts I think people
will wake up and smell the coffee about the way they've been played like a violin by this administration into thinking the most important things facing this nation are gay marriage and evolution and fear of Osama instead of fear of them

Posted by: | January 19, 2006 01:16 PM

see you.

Posted by: its important to discern the difference between truth and a suppressed emotion. | January 19, 2006 01:22 PM

oligarchy, plutocracy, aristocracy....it's really about control by a class having garnered the inside rail in 1776....a certain amount of power was needed to legitimize and finance as well as maintain foreign connections....

those forces were not necessarily in favor of a democracy....

with the labor market looking better outside of the country, the citizens of the us-ed are left to do service sector jobs....outside of washington dc I talked to a career counselor at a major midwestern college a couple of years ago, and was told that she had students that were breaking down in tears because they couldn't find jobs....

applying for jobs in the software market made you one of several hundred applicants per position a couple of months ago....

blue-collar jobs used to create the middle class that wasn't college educated.....healthcare and retirment were part of that group.....factory jobs changed us from an agrarian economy to a pretechnical economy, with WWII farmboys got the opportunity to go to school alongside of the landed.....

middle class is imperative to maintaining a democracy.........PERIOD.

there really isn't such a class anymore, it's been replaced by service sector and temp jobs....with no overtime, no benefits and no vacation.....any backtalk, no job.......this isn't the America of 30 years ago....this is bordering on a nightmare for anyone that watched people own a home and support a family by being a milkman.

and this group of politicians is fast forwarding that ecosystem destruction....of humanity.

Posted by: It's not really fascism perse, it's control.... | January 19, 2006 09:05 PM

Will, Being proud of Canada is not as simple as waving a flag and I hate to see a love of one's country being taken to the base level of waving a flag. Right now the Canadian Olympic team is getting ready for the Olympic and no one wants to carry the flag at this event. They can't convince them to, I am not sure how they will deal with this. Maybe have a bureaucrat run alongside carrying a flag for them.
This does not mean they do not love Canada, but it is a very common Canadian opinion that we do not want to be forced to look patriotic. We know in our heart we love Canada but we should not have to prove it to anyone but ourselves. It has been said many times that when Americans wave their flag they look like a bunch of trained monkeys. I can see and some American friends have told me that they feel that if they do not wave the flag the crowd will turn on them. One friend said that everyone on his block in the US had a flag but him, his neighbours made his life miserable until he put one up.
I am a B.C.er, born and bred, and they are the biggest non flag wavers in the country.Question Authority is the mantra of B.C.er's and the flag represents a demand by government to show loyalty. We don't show our loyalty on demand.
Samuel Johnson said,"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." That speaks to the Canadian belief than anything I have heard. When the federal government tried to give flags away very few people were interested, and they still sit in boxes somewhere.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 20, 2006 08:15 AM

Re: Canadians waving flags in Europe, yes I know that happens because of the attitude in Europe that is viruntly anti-US.We wear flags to separate ourselves from Americans who a so hated do the war mongering your government is hated for. I even had someone spit on me when they assumed I was American. Wearing a Canadian flag is for survival.
I ran into several Americans on a recent trip to Europe who were wearing Canadian flags for that reason. Europeans can't tell the difference in accents and sometimes just assume. When I ran into one woman who said she was Canadian I recognized a New York accent, I asked her where she was from. She said she was from the Midwest (we don't use that term in Canada). I asked where in the Midwest, and her eyes looked like a deer caught in the headlights. She couldn't name one Canadian city. I did't bust her, but I have to say if Americans are going to pretend they are Canadian, look like a map before you go.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 20, 2006 08:27 AM

Repair of sentence 2. We wear flags to separate ourselves from Americans who are so hated due to the War mongering your government is hated for.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 20, 2006 08:30 AM

Re: Like D, who seems to believe everything the right tells him no matter how illogical.

Not sure how you came to that conclusion, but at least have the decency to assign a name to your comments so I can address you directly.

Posted by: D. | January 20, 2006 10:24 AM

Speakout-

Then we are just going to have to agree to disagree, because what you've said from your personal experience is opposite from mine.

I have spent more time in British Columbia than any other province in Canada. If you added up all the time I've spent in Powell River (near Vancouver), it would be well over a year (I went there every summer for most of my life). I do not doubt that you have spent more time in BC than me, but I've seen Canadian flags in British Columbia my entire life. I recognize that Canadians probably don't wave flags like Americans, but that doesn't mean Canadians categorically refuse to wave flags.

I have never felt pressured in the United States to wave a flag. I don't know where your friend is from, but I live in Texas. This is Bush country. I lived in WEST Texas for 4 years, which is about as conservative a place in the entire USA and not once did I raise a flag or put one up on my property. Nor was I ostracized for this.

I've been to Europe on 3 occasions and, though I've never brought along an American or Texas flag, I've proudly told everyone and anyone interested in where I'm from who I am and what part of the world I hail from. And no, I have never been spit on. Is it possible someone spit on you, not because they thought you were an american, but because you were rude to them?

American self-loathing, pretending to be a Canadian, is the worst kind of cowardice as far as I'm concerned. But this garbage about Canadians needing flags to protect themselves from the evil, mean Europeans who would spit on Americans if they had the chance is just a load of shit. I spent months in close quarters with young, aggressive, strongly opinionated Europeans who had very negative attitudes about Americans. But they aren't savages. They don't just spit on total strangers because they are from "Bush's homestate".

I like reading your posts, Speakout, but when you make claims that are contrary to my actual personal experience, I have a hard time not calling you out.

One of the reasons Americans are so "hated" the world over is because they have a stereotype of intolerance and over-aggressiveness... sounds like the type of person who would spit on a total stranger.

Posted by: Will | January 20, 2006 11:26 AM

I had been having a similar thought about the Welfare clause every time I would hear about the rulings against environmental legislation on the basis of the limitatons of the Commerce clause.

Write your Senators and Conresspeople and friend-of-the-court-briefers: All new social and environmental legislation needs to cite the Welfare clause, and all defenses of existing legislation that may be attacked on the basis of the Commerce clause need to include references to the Welfare clause!

Posted by: Matt Filler | January 20, 2006 12:57 PM

I have been spit on twice in my life, once in Amsterdam by a MiddleEastern man who thought I was American which was recently. The first time was in the US by a mentally ill man in San Francisco who was released as many others were due to Reagans cutbacks. That is my experience. I have also twice had a gun pulled on me, once in San Francisco and again in Chicago.
When I speak of the Canadian distaste for flag waving I could not possibly speak for everyone. There is no issue that everyone agrees on.
If you look you can find the newest non flag waving problem with our Olympians who refuse to carry the flag in the Olympics which has been on the news the last two days.
The carrying of the flag on luggage etc. is definately my experience. I just turned to the three Canadians sitting near me and asked their opinion. They agreed after a little rant about flag waving which took about 20 minutes of my time.
To spend so much time in BC you have good taste. The state my friend who spoke about feeling pressured to put up a flag was Ohio. So we cannot possibly make this issue an either or, it is a common Canadian opinion which has been uppermost in my mind because the Olympians refusal has made everyone talk about it.
I am in Toronto right now and I am finding a similar opinion. What can I say?

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 20, 2006 02:41 PM

Understood.

Posted by: Will | January 20, 2006 04:36 PM

Good points!

How about adding (I don't think you mentioned this) that the President's oath of office does NOT end with "so help me god." I have repeatedly seen this on right wing blogs. "So help me God" is frequently added by the oath taker but it is not in our constitution. And in fact the Constitution specifically says that no religious test shall be required to serve in office.

Posted by: Duncan | January 21, 2006 12:28 AM

Good points!

How about adding (I don't think you mentioned this) that the President's oath of office does NOT end with "so help me God." I have repeatedly seen this on right wing blogs. "So help me God" is frequently added by the oath taker but it is not in our constitution. And in fact the Constitution specifically says that no religious test shall be required to serve in office.

Posted by: Duncan | January 21, 2006 12:30 AM

which means the gov. should stay out of peoples freedom from religion. if in my office i wish to have a cross paperweight on my desk my son made me . then they don't have the right to tell me to remove it . its my office...

Posted by: bennett keith | January 24, 2006 12:25 PM

To understand the second amendment, it's necessary to know a little pre-revolution history. According to Theodore Draper, it was not until 1756 that regular troops were sent to the colonies. Before 1756, only "four understaffed companies" were stationed in New York. The colonies protected themselves with militia and laws specified the obligation to keep muskets and ammunition in good order.

The turning points were the Supremacy of Parliament Act, whereby the British parliament transfered to itself all rights of the Crown over the colonies, and the Seven Years' War, which brought with it the policy of stationing a regular army in the colonies, financed by a tax upon the colonists.

The second amendment was aimed to prevent the future establishment of such a standing army financed by taxation. The reference to "well regulated militia" envisaged state militias similar to those that had existed in the colonies, enrolling by law all adult males for part-time service.

In today's terms, the second amendment seems to prescribe state militias that enrol the whole population for service in times of threat, militias independent of any federal government control. By implication, it assumes no regular national army and perhaps no National Guard.

The Second Amendment now seems as quaint as an amendment that would have given the right to keep horses, if exercised today by someone living on the 20th floor of an apartment block.

Interpreting the amendment depends on the meaning of the words, "militia", "people", and "bear", as in "bear arms".

Which is why there is a Supreme Court to decide what the constitution means for modern times, a role that is inherently political.

Posted by: Frederick Colbourne | January 25, 2006 04:04 AM

First the 2nd amendment establishes a context of a well regulated militia to allow for regulation of some aspect of guns so that anarchy and chaos can be avoided if necessary. The amendment then states that the right to KEEP and BEAR (that is ownership and carrying) arms shall not be infringed. People should be allowed to own guns, but the amendment should be interpreted to allow some regulations related to obtaining and using arms (i.e. permits, licensing, automatic weapons, consideration of criminal records)I think uses could be considered rapid firing of guns or causation of large levels of destruction such as explosions through use of weaponry. I suppose I'm interpreting the amendment loosely, but I think its justified by the change in technology since the time it was written and the fact of the awkward wording which I believe is due to the founders wanting to create a strong right to gun ownership with a vague basis for regulation that could cover whatever the future might bring.

Posted by: DK | January 25, 2006 04:28 AM

ALPHA-OMEGA POINTS

The preamble, not just Art 1 Sec 8, refers to "general welfare."

The Ratification, Article VII, references the "Year of our Lord..."

Inasmuch as there was no Lord Chamberlain or Lord High Executioner explicitly named in the Constitution, it is likely to have been a, gasp, GOD, reference - even though the framers, whose deliberations and subsequent references are equal in importance to an understanding of the intent of the literal document, were largely deists.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 7, 2006 12:04 PM

I took my flag down on the third anniversary after September 11. I slowly figured out that our leadership was not serious about getting Osama.

Posted by: On the plantation | February 7, 2006 12:06 PM

That most contentious part of the Constitution, the first ten parenthetical Articles commonly known as "The Bill of Rights" were not adopted until 4 years later.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 7, 2006 12:12 PM

I am also of the opinion, that Article (II), coming a scant 16 years after the colonists wrote "Experience has shown that mankind will suffer while evils are sufferable - then right them..." was a reminder of the right to "keep and bear arms" to right the evils, as they did,"...by throwing off such Government, abolish it and institute new Government."

It is clear to me that the Declaration of Independence foreshadowed the 2nd Amendment and serves as a precautionary tale to those who govern, that the "revolt" or American Revolution, as demonstrated by the Civil War or "War Between the States," was intrinsic to the formation of a democratic republic and not to be denied by curtailing "the right of the people to keep and bear arms," in the form of, "A well regulated militia."

Thus, an armed citizenry may be called up by a legitimate government. (A1 S8) "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions."

Insurrectionists: take heed, a well regulated militia clearly modifies and limits the right to bear arms to the purposes enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution. And, of course, to hunting, target practice, turkey shoots - but not to armed robbery, threat (by definition a terrorist act), or disposing of a spouse.

Posted by: Shiloh | February 7, 2006 12:50 PM

Despite the best efforts of the framers of the Constitution it is still a fallable document that cannot and does not cover all its bases so to speak in outlining what rights United States citizens are entitled to. The second amendment is a perfect example of this. Arguments could be made based on different readings of one line of text till the cows come home. It reminds me of reading the Torah in many ways. This document was created by men who despite their masterful control and understanding of language could not predict all eventualities and should be subject to review and not just partisan "interpretation."

Posted by: Rev. Wess Blotto | February 7, 2006 02:58 PM

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