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Sep 30 2013

Barton’s Bizarre View of the 2nd Amendment

David Barton has some really bizarre positions on all sorts of issues, but when it comes to the second amendment he takes a position that even the most extreme gun rights activists don’t: That it protects an individual’s right to own not just guns but tanks and fighter jets too.

The belief of the Second Amendment was you as a citizen have a right to defend yourself whether it be against a thug, an aggressor, a crook, or against your government.

Now this is where a lot of liberals go through the roof; are you saying that you think individual citizens have a right to own a machine gun?

Yeah. And an Abrams Tank, and a bazooka, and a F-16 because you’ve got a right to defend yourself with the same size of weapons that might be brought against you … You have a right to fight back with whatever you can get your hands on to defend your life, your property, your possession, your family, your whatever.

That would also included nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, of course. As usual, Barton is far out on the lunatic fringe that he couldn’t see reality from Sarah Palin’s house.

35 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    Once you have eliminated the first half of the Second Amendment (A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state), this position is actually more reasonable than most of what Barton asserts.

  2. 2
    Artor

    As Barton has been fond of claiming, the 1st Amendment only applies to Good Xians™. Can we then declare that the 2nd Amendment only applies to the at least marginally sane? That counts out Barton, and most of Texas.

  3. 3
    colnago80

    I recall back in the Scienceblogs days that there was a thread in which several commenters claimed that the 2nd Amendment also precluded the government from preventing the private ownership of nuclear weapons after I raised the issue.

  4. 4
    some bastard on the internet

    Given the expense just to acquire all those weapons and vehicles (nevermind maintenance), the only ones who could actually get them would be billionares.

    And suddenly, Wall Street has a private army.

  5. 5
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    .. he couldn’t see reality from Sarah Palin’s house.

    In fairness, it probably *would* be hard to see reality from there!

  6. 6
    democommie

    I’m pretty sure that if Davey checks back to the period of the Barbary pirates and the U.S. War with Tripoli that he might have a hard time finding Jefferson’s gummint bein’ okay with unpapered privateers, although they might be considered, “useful idiots” by that same gummint as long as they only messed with the pirates (and the French, English or Spanish–so long as they left no witnesses).

    Call me a pessimist but I don’t think I want to see the result of letting somebody like Freddy Phelps gettin’ hisself someathem 15Mt nukers.

  7. 7
    zippythepinhead

    We will never be truly free until each and every one of us can destroy all life on earth at the push of a button.

  8. 8
    Modusoperandi

    America: Where you can have any or as many guns as you like with as much ammunition and a minimum wait, but it takes ninety days and three meetings for the HOA to official consider and deny you an exemption to paint your door a slightly different shade of white. And don’t get me started on “approved list” Christmas lights!

  9. 9
    eurosid

    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 doesn’t refer to guns. It refers to arms. If you ignore the militia clause – as they do – this is how it reads. I think the militia bit was important, and it’s too bad the phrasing is so poor.

  10. 10
    democommie

    @1:

    But the first half of the 2nd Amendment doesn’t really MEAN anything, don’cha know? It’s just tacked on for, um, I dunno, some stupid reason.

    “Given the expense just to acquire all those weapons and vehicles…”

    Cost of one F-16 is not easy to find. They don’t usually get sold in onesies. The price for 80 of them, sold to the UAE, fairly recently worked out $6.4B, about $80M/per (which price prolly includes spares, some training and the like). If you can afford the plane you will then need to find a runway that is long enough/secure enough to launch and recover said aircraft.

    I’m sure if it was possible, resident fuckwad JD would already be flying one.

  11. 11
    barry21

    I wonder how Barton would feel about his neighbor owning a small nuclear device. If it accidentally detonated, would he say, “welp, freedom isn’t free”?

    If his neighbor were Muslim would he be down with it?

    That said, I wouldn’t mind owning a small fleet of UAVs armed with white phosphorus and cluster bombs. For protection, of course.

  12. 12
    barry21

    @ Democommie – The reason they aren’t sold as onesies is that the General Dynamics/Lockheed marketing dept. obviously doesn’t understand the Second Amendment. Maybe David can explain it to them, gently glossing over the definition of “arms” in his analysis.

  13. 13
    arno

    To me that actually sounds like a very sensible interpretation of the second amendment — certainly more sensible than the one that it outlaws regulation of gun-ownership. That said, the second amendment doesn’t seem to make much sense in today’s world, so maybe you should just get rid of it?

  14. 14
    Raging Bee

    Once you have eliminated the first half of the Second Amendment…

    That’s exactly what the NRA does, right on the wall of their HQ lobby. It’s the most easily-memorized sentence in the entire Constitution, and the gun nuts almost always leave off the first half of it when they quote it. It’s a pretty quick and easy indicator of how unhinged and dishonest they are.

  15. 15
    addiepray

    So if my neighbor Abdullah, a very nice man and an American citizen, had a nuclear weapon, Barton would be defending his right to possess it? Seriously? I can’t even imagine Barton defending the hypothetical.

  16. 16
    Trebuchet

    When I’m King Of The World, citizens will be free to own any weapon they like. As long as it’s powered by gravity or twisted bundles of rope.

  17. 17
    patrickashton

    I may be out on a limb here, but I don’t think the 2nd amendment extends to the delivery systems that go with some modern ammuntitions. Owning a 50 caliber machine gun is one thing, but mounting wings and a turbine engine on it are beyond the original meaning of the text.

  18. 18
    kyoseki

    AFAIK, ownership of all of those – tanks, fighter jets & bazookas – is perfectly legal under Federal law.

    There’s a few states that ban them, but there’s no law saying you can’t own any of them if you file the right paperwork, the only thing stopping people is the expense.

  19. 19
    kyoseki

    (there may, however, be issues getting the manufacturers to sell you one, particularly if the electronics are subject to national security restrictions)

  20. 20
    Randomfactor

    I think the second amendment writers intended that the allowed armament be sufficient to overcome the slave revolt. Anything else isn’t regulated well enough.

  21. 21
    caseloweraz

    Barton’s contention is logical, in a very narrow sense. Where it falls apart is in failing to recognize that the government has not just superior weapons, but superior weapons in great quantity. As a military man whose name I cannot recall once astutely observed, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

    So even if Barton got his wish and owned an Abrams tank, say, or an F-16 (with runway) for the purpose of resisting a potential American tyranny, it would avail him nothing. The government forces would simply swamp his one weapon.

    He might argue that there would be a host of “patriots” armed similarly. True, if he could get an F-16, other private citizens could also. But now we have the problem of coordination. I don’t think there would be any among these “patriots.” The outcome would be essentially the same.

  22. 22
    kyoseki

    The entire US military is based around conventional warfare, the idea of completely and utterly destroying any weaponry that presents a target and they are very very good at it.

    Jets or tanks are nothing more than giant bullseyes screaming “I AM HERE!”

    The life expectancy of any heavy military equipment in private hands should there ever be an outbreak of hostilities would be measured in seconds.

  23. 23
    Chiroptera

    He might argue that there would be a host of “patriots” armed similarly. True, if he could get an F-16, other private citizens could also. But now we have the problem of coordination.

    The other problem is how big would this “host” be? Compared to the entire US military? If we include the cost not only to buy the tank or fighter, to keep it maintained, to arm it and maintain the arms, to take off work so one can make sure one is well-trained…I suspect that not many people total would own such a weapon system and be able to utilize it effectively. It may as well just be a single person.

  24. 24
    kyoseki

    Chiroptera

    to take off work so one can make sure one is well-trained

    Training? How DARE you enact obstacles to our owning weapons ;)

    The hardcore 2nd amendment types really do have a problem with mandatory training for firearms because they see it as an undue restriction – apparently people are just magically expected to know how to shoot safely and proficiently.

    … which raises the question, if you bolt a gun onto a jet, does it then qualify as a weapon and so get exempted from any training restrictions?

  25. 25
    d.c.wilson

    I can just imagine a bunch of libertarian “patriots” trying to coordinate themselves to fly their F-14s in formation. They’d probably collide with each other so much the government wouldn’t have too lift a finger to take them out.

  26. 26
    eric

    Here’s an amusing 2nd amendment factoid: I believe the background checks required for most gun sales are done by “nonessential” government personnel. IOW, when the government gets shut down, these checks won’t get done and gun sales will be stopped (outside of exceptions…like I guess gun shows? I’m not sure).

    I’m surprised the Senate Dems don’t have a PR field day with it – “oh noes, the GOP is trying to stop you from being able to buy a gun!”

    Heh.

  27. 27
    kyoseki

    Well clearly that was Obama’s plan all along! ;)

  28. 28
    lpetrich

    Let’s see what the US Constitution has to say about rebellion.

    Article 1, Section 8 states that Congress’s powers include:

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    The next section states:

    The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

    Not exactly an endorsement of rebellion. Also, it seems like the Second Amendment was about buying one’s weapons and practicing with them, so one can be a good vigilante or a good soldier for the US government.

  29. 29
    matty1

    Also, it seems like the Second Amendment was about buying one’s weapons and practicing with them, so one can be a good vigilante or a good soldier for the US government.

    Exactly, my understanding is that ‘well regulated’ meant disciplined and trained, the main point was that the militia should bring their own guns when called up and know how to use them and to fight as a unit.

  30. 30
    Cynickal

    Woot! I’m getting me a A-10 Warthog!
    ‘Merika!
    PEW! PEW! PEW!

  31. 31
    marcus

    “You have a right to fight back with whatever you can get your hands on to defend your life, … your whatever..”
    They can have my whatever when they pry it from my hot, icky fingers!!11!1!

  32. 32
    exdrone

    Barton:

    Yeah. And … a F-16 because you’ve got a right to defend yourself with the same size of weapons that might be brought against you

    Because in 1996, you could buy a Harrier jet for 7,000,000 Pepsi Points.

  33. 33
    dan4

    “Bear” (as in “right to bear arms”) means to”carry.” I want to see Barton try to carry an Abrams tank. He’ll probably need a dolly or something.

  34. 34
    democommie

    “He might argue that there would be a host of “patriots” armed similarly. True, if he could get an F-16, other private citizens could also. But now we have the problem of coordination. I don’t think there would be any among these “patriots.” The outcome would be essentially the same.

    Didn’t our armed forces spend some time recently in a country that had a fuckton of conventional weapons and a fairly large (if largely unmotivated) army? A country that was pretty much reduced to rubble? Now, guerilla warfare and the internecine strife that has gone on since Saddam’s ouster IS very difficult to contain or control. Otoh, these simpletons who align with people like Barton think that it will be over in a matter of days after the Joint Chiefs shoot the Black-in-chief and throw in with them against the lefties.

    Perhaps they would benefit by studying the recent events in Egypt where the military watched the country falling apart and said, “Fuck it. Call in the dogs and fire on the crowds.

    The feds may not be able to keep you from buying a military weapon/weapons system (such as a howitzer, battle tank, aircraft carrier and the like, but unless you’re already planning on breaking various federal laws by transferring it illegally after the sale, they pretty much know where to find it or where to find the owner.

  35. 35
    howardhershey

    If the founder’s had really meant for the “militia” phrase to be meaningless, than the Constitution would never have been ratified by the slave-owning states. Virginia (home of many a ‘founder’) and South Carolina already had race-based gun bans at the time of the founding. Moreover, a year after ratifying the 2nd Amendment (1791), the U.S. government *specifically* excluded blacks from the militias that were the only ‘army’ the U.S. had. In Maryland, Catholics were also excluded from joining the militias. By the time of the civil war, and even after, all the former Confederate States had laws prohibiting or making it more difficult for [former] slaves and free blacks from gun ownership.
    Just in case you wonder, this is information from the following site, which is not anti-NRA.

    http://www.old-yankee.com/rkba/racial_laws.html

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