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Jan 21 2013

Barton: 2nd Amendment Applies to Any Weapon

As I’ve said many times, I am a supporter of the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. I do think it confers an individual right to bear arms. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be any limitations on that right, just as we have libel, perjury and fraud exceptions to free speech. And it certainly doesn’t mean what David Barton claims it means, which is that an individual can own any weapons that the government has:

The Second Amendment is not to arm you less than it is to arm the government. Because what specifically happened was if the Americans had not been able to go home and grab their guns off the mantel over the fireplace, they could not have taken on the British coming after them.

The British was their government and the Americans had to have equal firepower with whoever was coming after them and that’s why they went to Fort Ticonderoga and got all the British cannons and came back and used those. That was just individual citizens doing that.

So the purpose of the Second Amendment was you have got to be able to defend yourself, your rights, period against anybody and that sometimes means it may be your government coming after you. So if the government has got AR-15s, guess what? The people can have AR-15s … Whatever the government’s got, you’ve got to be able to defend yourself against. So there was no limitation on what you could or couldn’t do with the Second Amendment; it was a self-defense amendment and if everybody is coming at you AR-15s, you don’t defend yourself with BB guns, you get AR-15s.

By this “reasoning,” any individual could own anything from RPGs to tanks to tactical nuclear weapons. That is twilight zone thinking.

71 comments

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  1. 1
    Didaktylos

    He’s confusing the Minutemen with the Minuteman ICBM …

  2. 2
    TGAP Dad

    I want a predator and a supply of Hellfire missiles…

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    When I’m king of the world, citizens will be allowed to own any weapon they like. As long as it’s powered by gravity or a bundle of twisted rope. Metal springs? Nope, you’ll need a permit for that!

  4. 4
    jameshanley

    You can have my ICBM when you pry it from my cold dead bunker.

  5. 5
    borax

    I guess its time to beef up the home security. I’m thinking land mines and anti-tank missiles.

  6. 6
    peterh

    Isn’t Barton the one with an infinite supply of false Jefferson quotes?

  7. 7
    shouldbeworking

    The amendment apples to an individual. Can 1 person drive, load, aim and fire the main weapon on an Abrams tank?

  8. 8
    Shawn Smith

    Hell, why stop at tactical nukes? I say multiple strategic nukes are the only way to be sure, especially if you’re going after places like Cheyenne Mountain or Yamantau. Also, real artillery–preferably batteries that can be lined up wheel to wheel for dozens of miles. Some attack and boomer submarines would sure be nice, too.

  9. 9
    Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    I am a supporter of the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. I do think it confers an individual right to bear arms.

    Re your conclusion that the 2nd Amendment, “confers an individual right to bear arms”; whose argument do you find most persuasive?

    Prior to Heller I hadn’t sought out arguments either way; self-evidently not caring enough about the issue to do the work. I did read Heller where it remains my sole point of reference.

    Both Scalia and Stevens made originalist arguments, which I think is required to take on the assertion the 2nd Amendment conveys an individual right – so bully for them. But I was amazed at how badly crafted Scalia’s argument was in general and how utterly unconvincing it was in defense of your position; I just re-read it given the public debate where it reads even worse now than it did then. (I continue to study critical thinking so that’s more about my develop[ment then constitutionally impactful events since then.)

    Justice Stevens argument was not merely compelling, but convincing though I’m way too uninformed to claim that ends this controversy; in fact that’s my motivation for asking. I want to test your best argument against Steven’s >i>Heller dissent.

    I happen to think the Constitution protects an individual right to own and bear arms. I just don’t find that right in the 2nd Amendment in spite of Steven’s dissent. I instead find this right in the 9th as I do all our actions. But I also acknowledge the existence of certain powers to the government and the competing rights of others that are often more worthy of protection than a person’s right to own or bear arms in certain situations.

    So my framework had me agreeing D.C. didn’t have sufficient powers to prohibit Mr. Heller from owning and bearing arms inside the city limits; but it does recognize that Congress has sufficient powers to pass Sen. Feinstein’s proposals and has a constitutional obligation to do so in order to protect the superior rights of each of us, like the Newton students who were in the building last Dec.

  10. 10
    flex

    The British was their government and the Americans had to have equal firepower with whoever was coming after them….

    Which is why the second amendment was drafted 4 years after the end of the American Revolutionary War, to protect the Americans from their British Government.

  11. 11
    jnorris

    Mr Barton must have forgotten that he says the Constitution was written directly from Bible quotes. Thus the Sacred Second means we can have any weapon used by Jesus.

  12. 12
    montanto

    It’s interesting that whenever they say this they’re perfectly cool with security taking your pocketknife away.

  13. 13
    eric

    The Second Amendment is not to arm you less than it is to arm the government. Because what specifically happened was if the Americans had not been able to go home and grab their guns off the mantel over the fireplace, they could not have taken on the British coming after them.

    His entire argument is specious, but taking it seriously for a moment – has this guy been paying attention to the actual wars we’ve been fighting over the several decades? Helloooooo? Anyone in that skull of yours, Barton?If small arms and homemade explosives were not effective for resisting invasion or coups, then the palestinian territories would’ve been at peace since the ’60s. Afghanistan would have been Russian since the 80s, Iraq would be peaceful and happy, etc., etc., etc.,

    You may not be able to conquer an enemy country with small arms and explosives, but for resistance against someone else’s armed force, they seem to work pretty well. If the US military staged a coup, I have no doubt small arms in the hands of most citizens would be tremendously effective at resisting it. No A-10s or tanks necessary.

  14. 14
    John Pieret

    Typically, Barton’s knowledge of the Constitution is less than accurate.

    So the purpose of the Second Amendment was you have got to be able to defend yourself, your rights, period against anybody and that sometimes means it may be your government coming after you.

    Article Three of the Constitution defines “treason” against the United States as “levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The Second Amendment did nothing to amend Article Three and armed insurrection against the government is treason, not a right.

    Of course, individuals have a right to self defense but that does not include shooting government officials acting under the color of the law. If you think the law or its application is invalid, your recourse is through the courts or the legislature, not through wild west style violence.

  15. 15
    caseloweraz

    Barton : “Whatever the government’s got, you’ve got to be able to defend yourself against. So there was no limitation on what you could or couldn’t do with the Second Amendment; it was a self-defense amendment and if everybody is coming at you AR-15s, you don’t defend yourself with BB guns, you get AR-15s.”

    Who could argue with that? Did not President Obama say if it’s a knife fight, you bring a gun?

    I’ve got a brace of W-87s hanging above my mantlepiece right now. The government can have then when it pries them from my cold, dead, irradiated hands.

  16. 16
    Michael Heath

    David Barton:

    So the purpose of the Second Amendment was you have got to be able to defend yourself, your rights, period against anybody and that sometimes means it may be your government coming after you. So if the government has got AR-15s, guess what? The people can have AR-15s … Whatever the government’s got, you’ve got to be able to defend yourself against. So there was no limitation on what you could or couldn’t do with the Second Amendment; it was a self-defense amendment and if everybody is coming at you AR-15s, you don’t defend yourself with BB guns, you get AR-15s.

    Ed responds:

    By this “reasoning,” any individual could own anything from RPGs to tanks to tactical nuclear weapons. That is twilight zone thinking.

    Justice Scalia’s Heller opinion asserted that an intention of the 2nd Amendment framers was to insure individuals’ a better capability to defend themselves against government tyranny; not that you argued otherwise. But given that, I don’t find David Barton’s logic to be, “twilight zone thinking” but instead a logical though ultimately defective conclusion. Barton’s failure is his conclusion’s based on an insufficient set of premises and that Scalia’s opinion exists and holds. Of course other factors must also be considered which Barton idiotically fails to consider – e.g., the rights of others to be secure from yahoos with weapons. But Barton’s argument is defensible to some degree if Justice Scalia provides sufficient evidence the intent of the 2nd Amendment was animated at least partly to maintain stores of arms by individuals to defend against federal tyranny.

    The problem was Scalia failed miserably to validate this premise but still declared he did anyway (see above post about how horrible the opinion was based merely on its qualities as an argument). This is illustrative evidence of how political the court’s conservatives are given the majority signed on to a truly absurd argument.

    About the best Scalia did was find arguments by some anti-federalists prior to the ratification of the Constitution / Bill of Rights. These anti-federalists were motivated by the fear of tyranny to want such a numerated right. But this desire wasn’t presented by Scalia as something that motivated the framers of the Amendment whereas Stevens dissent doesn’t conjure up imaginings of the framers as Scalia does. The dissent instead relies on what the Amendment’s framers actually wrote that animated them to pass the 2nd Amendment; where Stevens has both the original meaning and the original intent on his side – and not Scalia’s.

  17. 17
    scienceavenger

    It sounds like Barton’s argument is being rejected because people don’t like the conclusion. Neither do I, which is why I think the second amendment is an outdated piece of rubbish that’s best done away with. Can someone who thinks the 2nd Amendment is still relevant explain what is wrong with Barton’s argument? I don’t find Eric’s attempt persuasive: the examples he gives seem more examples of making invasions costly, rather than actually resisting them and driving them off. There is no way a small subset of the population (which is what it was in the American Revolution) could hold off a modern army as they often did in 1776. Make the occasional guerilla attack? Sure. Make it politically untenable to remain? Possibly…over time. But stand their ground in the open? No way. Against Kevlar? Heat vision? Drones? It would be a quick and nasty massacre.

  18. 18
    eric

    Heath:

    I don’t find David Barton’s logic to be, “twilight zone thinking” but instead a logical though ultimately defective conclusion.

    No, its not logical at all. As I said above, through many many wars we have learned (or should have learned) the lesson that resisting tyrrany on one’s home ground does not require anywhere near the same firepower as imposing your rule on someone else. There is no rational connection between “need arms to protect against British-style authoritarianism” and “need tanks and submarines and nukes.”

  19. 19
    puppygod

    Um, eric? Homemade explosives aren’t covered by 2nd. As to the firepower: Palestine – Kassams, Grads, mortars and IEDs. Afghanistan – Type 63s, land mines, RPGs and, yes, Stingers, Iraq – again IEDs, RPGs, mortars and various MANPADS. All your examples involved massive amounts of heavy weapons – rockets, missiles, artillery. Last time when firearms were of more than marginal value on actual battlefield was at the times of Brown Bess.

  20. 20
    rabbitscribe

    As anyone with a basic understanding of civics knows, America has three branches of government: the legislative, to make the laws, the exeutive, to enforce the laws, and Davit Barton, to interpret the laws.

  21. 21
    sundoga

    Michael, Barton’s conclusion is insane because it ignores the fact that all of the rights we enjoy must be curtailed in some way so that we can ALL enjoy all of them. There are many such curtailments upon Freedom of Speech – public safety, planning or encouragement of a crime, defamation – all of these are reasonable restriction that does not fundamentally remove or cripple the basic right to which they are applied.
    Absolutism, in almost any case, simply leads to reality failure.

  22. 22
    Argle Bargle

    Eric #13

    I have no doubt small arms in the hands of most citizens would be tremendously effective at resisting it. No A-10s or tanks necessary.

    I have serious doubts about your fantasy. Let’s take a look at what happened in the REAL WORLD (yeah, I know you gunnutz hate reality being used to show your arguments are bullshit, too bad).

    In 1943, several thousand Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto staged an uprising to keep Jews from being shipped to the death camps at Treblinka and Auschwitz. These Jews were armed with rifles, pistols and a few automatic wearpons. A reinforced SS Panzergrenadier brigade (about 2000 soldiers with tanks, APCs and flamethrowers) went into the Ghetto. It’s estimated about 15,000 Jews died, mainly from smoke inhalation or being trapped in burning buildings. Officially the Germans had about 100 casualties (the Polish Underground estimated the number at closer to 300). About 50,000 Jewish survivors were sent to the camps.

    In 1944, the Polish Underground tried another uprising in Warsaw. The Soviet Army stopped short of Warsaw and allowed the Poles and Germans to fight it out. Wikipedia says:

    Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically leveled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city.

    So history tells us when civilians try to take on soldiers, the civilians lose big time.

  23. 23
    Larry

    I guess its time to beef up the home security. I’m thinking land mines and anti-tank missiles.

    Brings a whole, new, subtlety to the phrase: You kids, get off my lawn!

  24. 24
    John Hinkle

    Barton: I want guns. I want corporations free of regulation. I don’t think it’s Christian for the government to help poor people. I want this to be a Christian nation. I don’t think we can control climate change because we can’t destroy what God has created. I’m sure God doesn’t like Obamacare. I want to be a real historian. I want the Bible to hold all the answers.

    Sounds just like a rich guy with or without religion, who’s trying to manipulate people into sending him money.

  25. 25
    marcus

    While I ultimately agree with you about the efficacy of guerrilla resistance, I must say, however, that the mujahideen were getting their proverbial asses kicked until we gave them the stinger missiles. Sometimes the answer is better technology and weaponry.

  26. 26
    d.c.wilson

    Resistance movements cannot defeat a trained military that is equipped with modern weaponry. At best, they can fight a war of attrition. If they are able to stay in for the long haul, they can eventually push the occupiers to the point of exhaustion. When they are succesful, such as in Afghanistan or Vietnam, it’s because the occupiers decided it was no longer worth the effort to keep fighting them.

    So, would a bunch of weekend warriors have the discipline to go without their WWE, American Idol, and Bud Light and stay underground long enough to push the US MIilitary to the point of exhaustion?

    I doubt it.

  27. 27
    kyoseki

    So, would a bunch of weekend warriors have the discipline to go without their WWE, American Idol, and Bud Light and stay underground long enough to push the US MIilitary to the point of exhaustion?

    The thing is, in Afghanistan & Vietnam the occupying army could always leave and return home.

    In the event of a civil war, which is what this ultimately turns into, both sides are fighting for their homeland.

    I own guns, I’m ok with people owning guns, I’m even ok with people owing ridiculous guns as long as they jump through enough hoops, but I’ve never found the idea of an armed insurrection to be particularly plausible and so it’s a ridiculous reason for the ownership of those arms.

  28. 28
    howardhershey

    We, in the U.S., already have people who think they are fighting against a tyrannical regime. There are our domestic terrorists, who are mostly right-wing, often racist, gun-loving people. Recently, in the U.S., this has included the mass killing at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee (Aug. 5), the killing of policemen in PA from a gun nut who thought the government was going to take his guns, the killing of a guard at the Holocaust Museum, the killing of two policemen in New Orleans by a group of ‘sovereign citizens’, a father-son team of ‘sovereign citizens’ killed two policemen in AR and seriously wound two others. When people claim that the reason they want guns is to be able ‘take back’ our democracy from usurpers, they are little different from the above ‘tip-of-the-spear’ fighters against the government. I would be remiss not to include the token ‘black Muslim’ who was killed when the FBI was trying to arrest him on conspiracy and weapons charges. And one can argue that the Tucson shootings were a political as well as a mental-health issue.

    How do you distinguish between a ‘sane’ individual who wants semi-automatic large-capacity weapons to fight tyranny and the ‘insane’ ones that want the guns for the same reason… other than that the sane ones haven’t acted on it yet?

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/terror-from-the-right

  29. 29
    atheist

    Well ICBMs and retro blasters
    I got mobile silos, I got
    I got multiple independent reentry vehicles
    Ya know you can’t stop me
    You can’t stop me
    You can’t stop me
    I got heat-seeking missiles in my garage
    My dad’s bigger than yours
    My garage’s bigger than your garage
    Waiting here in my garage
    I GOT GEAR

  30. 30
    Mobius

    Use of personal nuclear weapons is strictly forbidden inside city limits.

  31. 31
    atheist

    In a strange way, I feel the right wing focus on guns could work well for them politically. Not because guns can defeat the government, and only partially because guns let you terrorize your fellow citizens. Mostly because guns look cool on video. It’s like guns are the right wing costume.

  32. 32
    Dr X

    A bunch of my brain cells died this afternoon as I listened to this lying jackass talk about Jefferson on the lying Janet Parshall show on the lying liars at Moody Bible Radio network. A known fucking liar, and Janet Parshall keeps featuring him to tell lies to their Christian audience.

  33. 33
    Michael Heath

    John Pieret @ 14:

    Article Three of the Constitution defines “treason” against the United States as “levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The Second Amendment did nothing to amend Article Three and armed insurrection against the government is treason, not a right.

    We don’t find all our rights listed in the Constitution, the 9th validates this.

    From a moral perspective, exercising a right which isn’t constitutional isn’t necessarily unethical, evil, or wrong though it may very well be illegal/unconstitutional as you rightly bring out. But that point doesn’t refute advocacy for a numerated, protected, constitutional right to own and bear arms.

    So we need to distinguish the difference between the argued need to protect the right to be capable of armed revolt against our government from the illegality of actually fomenting such. Conflating these two issues removes us from the context within which the framers operated – that being not merely the drafting of the U.S Constitution, but the context that created this opportunity. That context was a successful armed revolt against Great Britain (and the failure of a confederacy which preceded our current government structure).

    Here we need to consider the Declaration of Independence’s ‘just governance’ standard. When it comes to the argument we should have a protected right to threaten revolt against our own government’s tyranny – the DofI is very clear the right to justify armed revolt is not only viable, but sometimes even, “necessary”. However just because the DofI is clear on this principle and many of the champions of the Dof I were also the framers of the Constitution, doesn’t mean the right to bear arms was specifically protected in the Constitution, I don’t think it was, but it does require us to distinguish the difference between the capability of revolt vs. actual revolt.

    Now I’ve yet to see any evidence the 2nd Amendment is at least partly a protection to help create a better capability for the people to revolt against their own government; but that doesn’t mean the argument is invalid. It’s actually a pretty good argument though I don’t advocate for it in this day and age.

    John Pieret @ 14:

    Of course, individuals have a right to self defense but that does not include shooting government officials acting under the color of the law. If you think the law or its application is invalid, your recourse is through the courts or the legislature, not through wild west style violence.

    Again, the DofI is a perfect point of reference that attempts to justify that “wild west style violence” can be a just response to tyranny, even a necessity in some case. Certainly the American revolutionaries committed treason against King George III; but that alone doesn’t answer the question whether their was valid of a right own and bear arms as a check against tyranny from one’s own government or whether the framers could have made it illegal to revolt while protecting the capability to do so – that’s not illogical but in fact consistent with the DofI.

  34. 34
    atheist

    @d.c.wilson – January 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm (UTC -5)

    Resistance movements cannot defeat a trained military that is equipped with modern weaponry. At best, they can fight a war of attrition. If they are able to stay in for the long haul, they can eventually push the occupiers to the point of exhaustion. When they are succesful, such as in Afghanistan or Vietnam

    How is it that you start out saying “resistance movements cannot defeat a trained military..”, and only four sentences later list two resistance movements that did exactly that? Actually, trained militaries with modern weaponry have a worse record against insurgents, especially over the past century or so, than most people seem to realize.

  35. 35
    Michael Heath

    scienceavenger writes:

    . . . I think the second amendment is an outdated piece of rubbish that’s best done away with.

    I agree.

    scienceavenger writes:

    Can someone who thinks the 2nd Amendment is still relevant explain what is wrong with Barton’s argument?

    As I noted earlier, I see two problems with his argument. The first is I find no evidence the drafting of the 2nd Amendment was at least partly motivated to protect the capability of individuals to revolt against a possible tyrannical federal government. That’s contra both Barton’s assertion and Scalia’s in Heller. Where I qualify my conclusion premised solely on the Scalia and Stevens’ opinions in Heller. The second defect is that Barton fails to acknowledge the reality that other rights are involved where the government may have both the power and obligation to defend those rights at the expense of others to own and bear arms.

  36. 36
    Michael Heath

    I wrote earlier:

    I don’t find David Barton’s logic to be, “twilight zone thinking” but instead a logical though ultimately defective conclusion.

    eric responds:

    No, its not logical at all. As I said above

    Of course it’s not logical using only your framework. How about taking on my argument with its set of premises and if those are insufficient point that out.

    eric writes:

    As I said above, through many many wars we have learned (or should have learned) the lesson that resisting tyrrany on one’s home ground does not require anywhere near the same firepower as imposing your rule on someone else. There is no rational connection between “need arms to protect against British-style authoritarianism” and “need tanks and submarines and nukes.”

    You extend Barton’s argument beyond the one he makes and therefore not all that relevant. Your strawman is easy to kill, I prefer having killed it on the very terms Barton laid out.

  37. 37
    d.c.wilson

    Atheist:

    I really don’t have any patience for people who only read half my post and the cut off right at the point where it explains exactly what they are pretending not to understand.

  38. 38
    Michael Heath

    sundoga @ 21 to me:

    Michael, Barton’s conclusion is insane because it ignores the fact that all of the rights we enjoy must be curtailed in some way so that we can ALL enjoy all of them. There are many such curtailments upon Freedom of Speech – public safety, planning or encouragement of a crime, defamation – all of these are reasonable restriction that does not fundamentally remove or cripple the basic right to which they are applied.
    Absolutism, in almost any case, simply leads to reality failure.

    Which is exactly why I wrote @ 9:

    I also acknowledge the existence of certain powers to the government and the competing rights of others that are often more worthy of protection than a person’s right to own or bear arms in certain situations.

    And which is exactly why I also wrote @ 16:

    Of course other factors must also be considered which Barton idiotically fails to consider – e.g., the rights of others to be secure from yahoos with weapons.

  39. 39
    vmanis1

    I heard someone (unfortunately, I didn’t catch his name, but he is, apparently an expert on U.S. constitutional law) on CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition yesterday. He was arguing that the 2nd Amendment means almost the exact opposite of what we all think it means, namely something like `We have to be able to regulate our militia well, but given that, the citizens still have the right to bear arms.’ He spent a fair bit of time explaining what the militias of the time actually were required to do; for example, militia members had to present their weapons for inspection periodically and to demonstrate their proficiency in their use. His argument was that if this was the true meaning of the Amendment, then there was a great deal of room for more, rather than less, regulation.

    I’m not competent to evaluate that argument, but I did find it interesting.

    I also heard Sam Harris, the previous day, making the standard libertarian argument for the right to own weapons for self-defence. I found it interesting that he focused only on individual rights, not on any right of people to remain safe. It seems to me that any supposed right to own weapons for self-defence must take into account the U.S. violent death rate compared to those of countries that have similar degrees of firearms ownership but more regulation, e.g., Canada, Finland, and Switzerland, for example. One might still come down on that side of the argument, but one must account for the data.

    Disclaimer: I cordially dislike almost everything Sam Harris has to say on pretty much everything.

  40. 40
    dsmccoy

    So, he’s saying that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to give him the right to prepare for acts of treason.

  41. 41
    jayarrrr

    Barton. Can somebody tell me how to get a job like that making good money writing any damn fool idiotic thing that pops up in my head?

    I get tired of giving it away for free. The damn fool idiotic things, that is…

  42. 42
    atheist

    @d.c.wilson – January 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm (UTC -5)

    Atheist:

    I really don’t have any patience for people who only read half my post and the cut off right at the point where it explains exactly what they are pretending not to understand.

    OK, I was rude and I apologize. I realize you understand the nature of asymmetrical warfare as you showed in your earlier comment.

    Really, my quibble is with what you said is semantic. You said insurgents can’t defeat a modern army, they can just wait out the modern army until this stronger force’s will to fight is sapped. My point here is that for an insurgent force this is actually a win and for the army it is a defeat.

  43. 43
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    So don’t be surprised when people go tooling around as ninjas or late medieval knights in full plate on genetically resurrected warhorses. Because Second Amendment!

  44. 44
    Michael Heath

    vmanis1 writes:

    I also heard Sam Harris, the previous day, making the standard libertarian argument for the right to own weapons for self-defence.

    I’m a fan of Sam Harris. That’s because I don’t know of anyone else on the scene who makes such finely crafted arguments, including his very provocative argument on the utility of profiling. I’ve yet to see anyone turn even that argument from one worthy of consideration to one unworthy of such; including the security expert where there was a written back and forth between the two.

    However his gun right argument doesn’t meet this high standard, there were far too many conveniently framed premises. I find that to be the mark of an advocate and partisan, and not that of a thinker. I couldn’t even finish his article or his FAQ response when he took so much heat.

  45. 45
    Michael Heath

    dsmmcoy writes:

    So, [David Barton's] saying that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to give him the right to prepare for acts of treason.

    Not necessarily to prepare for acts of treason but to be an individual capable of joining a revolt when it comes to firearm capability. Where that view is the current Supreme Court holding given the majority opinion in Heller; so it’s not outlandish though I think that opinion is based on insufficient evidence this was a motivation for the 2nd Amendment.

    I should also point out the court doesn’t claim governments give us our rights as you describe it. Instead the court decides the government’s authority to infringe upon or protect a given right. Barton thinks the court must defend his right to arm himself with an AR-15 for a particular motivation – protection against tyrannical government if it turned tyrannical. Scalia wrote the very opinion that claims this motivation is based on a right the government must protect to some degree given his reading of the 2nd Amendment.

  46. 46
    OldEd

    It strikes me as exceedingly odd that everyone seems to have forgotten Oklahoma City and the Murrah Building, on one hand, and JonesTown on the other…

    Oh, and you can toss in the World Trade Center, if you want to. Both of them…

    Many, many people, killed and not a gun in sight.

  47. 47
    Amphiox

    eric @13;

    Ok. Let’s say you have the evil oppressive government coming after you. You can have in your home a stockpile of however many firearms you want.

    So the government forces come for you. They’ve got tanks, F-22s, drones and so forth.

    They won’t use any of those. They don’t need to.

    Nope. All they’ll do is barricade your house. Cut off your food, your water, your electricity. Cut off your ability to get more ammo. They’ll bring a group of a couple hundred peace officers (don’t even need soldiers for this), enough to outnumber you 10 to 1 or so.

    And you’re done.

    You won’t break that blockade unless your neighbours join and help you. And THAT is the ONLY way anyone resists an oppressive government. They have to have majority local support of at least a small local area. They don’t even need to start out with arms, because once they have that critical local support, and are resolved to begin resistance, they can go out and get the arms they need, and they do not need ANY legal avenues to get arms at all. The vast majority of successful rebellions against tyrannical regimes started with the rebels organizing first, and getting the arms second (often by outright stealing them from government stockpiles)

  48. 48
    wholething

    @eoleen

    Nobody has forgotten those events. We discourage fertilizer bombs, poison Kool-Aid, and plane hijackings. Those events occurred over four decades. How many people died unnecessarily by guns during that time? We’ve had many shootings the past two months but no deliberate jetliner crashes or occupied buildings destroyed.

    Don’t ask people to look away. Now’s the time to discuss the gun nut problem.

  49. 49
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    scienceavenger

    There is no way a small subset of the population (which is what it was in the American Revolution) could hold off a modern army as they often did in 1776.

    Not actually true as such. In the 1770s, the revolutionaries were being trained, armed, and subsidized by France, as with the other successful insurgencies that have been mentioned. The difference between a successful insurgency and a failed insurgency is usually whether an actual government with access to actual military arms (Personal and heavy) is willing to subsidize them or not.

  50. 50
    Christoph Burschka

    So I just went on Amazon, but they don’t carry nuclear missiles or Predator drones yet. What gives?

    Mh, maybe the military can arrange air delivery.

  51. 51
    dingojack

    Said it before, will say it again: The severity/laxity of gun control laws is an extremely weak predictor of the mildness/oppressiveness of a government (over 170 countries. Slight positive slope = 0.0314; correlation = 0.0023). The argument that gun ownership prevents tyranny isn’t supported by the data*.

    Oh and BTW Barton ; ” Because what specifically happened was if the Americans had not been able to go home and grab their guns off the mantel over the fireplace, they could not have taken on the British coming after them”.

    Even if those Americans who did this (about a third of the population, so not so much a popular rebellion as a oligaric one) had fought like wildcats, they still wouldn’t have won. It was the French Navy and soldiers that swung the deal.

    Dingo
    ——–
    * If you think Veitnam and Afganhistan are examples of ‘a popular rising winning against tyranny’ you’re probably not paying enough attention.

  52. 52
    dingojack

    Two minor corrections:
    a) ‘oligarchic”
    b) Source for the data used.
    Dingo

  53. 53
    anubisprime

    Absolutely fucking ridiculous and stinks of dick measuring and phallus waving.

    Let me speak on the behalf of the Brit government here…even though they would employ plausible denial that I do so…(occupational hazard of the double O’s….you get used to it!)

    England has no fucking interest in a country that acts like they are spotty hormone raging juveniles and showing each other theirs behind the bike sheds.
    WE DO NO INTEND TO INVADE THE USA…Not now…not tomorrow…not effing’ ever..

    Really is bloody ridiculous cos we lost interest a couple of centuries ago…did you not get the memo?

    .

  54. 54
    dingojack

    anubisprime – “..did you not get the memo?”

    I believe that Lord Cardigan gave to Raglan who was last seen riding off at speed toward the Russian gun emplacements…..

    :) Dingo

  55. 55
    anubisprime

    dingojack @ 54

    I believe that Lord Cardigan gave to Raglan who was last seen riding off at speed toward the Russian gun emplacements…..

    Bugger!…wot a dick ead’ OK…what the memo said was…(and I paraphrase here)…

    “As of now yous are on ya tod, we we have better things to do then play silly buggers in the boondocks, besides South Africa and India need our full attention but at least they are polite when ambushing out brave boys in Red not like them damn froggies you have decided to hang around with, we had some dealings with them at Agincourt and are not impressed by their attitude…disreputable company gets you disreputable lives…remember that!
    In the meantime no more tea and you can keep ya country muzak…So you can put ya toys away now they are not required any more…in fact it is dangerous to leave them scattered around like that any idiot can pick them up and play cowboys and injuns’ with them!…”

    Or words to that effect!

  56. 56
    dingojack

    “….besides South Africa and India need our full attention but at least they are polite when ambushing out brave boys in Red….”

    I think the English were outsourcing security on the subcontinent to the Worshipful East India Company at the time (now there’s a reputable company with whom Dick Cheney would have been proud to do business!)

    “….not like them damn froggies you have decided to hang around with….”

    You do realise who the English allies were during the Crimean War, right?* ;)

    Dingo
    ——–
    * I believe one of them said “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre, c’est de la folie”. If that helps

  57. 57
    anubisprime

    dingojack @ 56

    I think the English were outsourcing security on the subcontinent to the Worshipful East India Company at the time

    Yep…the English government have a strong tradition of out sourcing to private companies…maybe it has to do with various members of the cabinet having …shall we say financial…interests in such companies.

    You do realise who the English allies were during the Crimean War, right?* ;)

    It was against our better judgement I am afraid…the Ottoman empire was involved as well…a triad of no certain stability as it happened!

    Ended up with the Brits doing the donkey work..as usual… and culminated in the debacle that was Balaclava…which although the Frogs were there it was the Brit cavalry that got into all sorts of bother charging the Russkie guns!
    Which, as you pointed out, involved that bugger Raglan as well!

    “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre, c’est de la folie”

    Indeed and then some…;-)

  58. 58
    dingojack

    Much to chagrin of the English the French, irritatingly, kept winning their bits (mainly though actually fighting the enemy, as opposed to charging in recklessly and hoping for the best).

    During the charge, apparently George Paget rode in brandishing an unlit cheroot, another officer rode in armed with an umbrella. No wonder the Russians suspected they were drunk.

    :) Dingo

  59. 59
    dingojack

    I think Paget was planning to yell out “У тебя есть спички?” or, at a pinch, “Avez-vous une allumette?” To be the very epitome of the cool-headed English officer.
    Fat-heads
    Dingo

  60. 60
    anubisprime

    Apparently…if you are interested Dingojack…this is a recording made by the bugler at the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1890.

    The bugle charge

  61. 61
    eric

    Puppygod @19:

    All your examples involved massive amounts of heavy weapons – rockets, missiles, artillery

    Fair enough. Very well, I’ll revise. Even if Barton’s justification was right, Heath is wrong in saying it is “logical” that it leads to the right of individuals to have tanks, have A-10s, have subs, have nukes. At most it would logically lead to individuals having RPGs, MANPADs, etc. But that is not what Barton is arguing (for that point, see next response)

    Is that better?

    Heath @36:

    You extend Barton’s argument beyond the one he makes and therefore not all that relevant.

    Actual Barton:

    Whatever the government’s got, you’ve got to be able to defend yourself against. So there was no limitation on what you could or couldn’t do with the Second Amendment

    So no, I’m not “extending” anything. Barton is plainly saying any weapon and no limitation, and you’re wrong if you think this is logical. No strawmen here, except possibly one by you if you are meaning to imply that Barton doesn’t actually mean ‘no limitation’ when he says ‘no limitation.’

    Amphiox @47:

    You won’t break that blockade unless your neighbours join and help you. And THAT is the ONLY way anyone resists an oppressive government.

    Yes, I agree. I’m not saying an individual can win a force-on-force conflict with the USG without tanks nukes, etc – they probably can’t win with those things. I’m talking about whether a population can resist a military coup or foreign force without tanks, nukes, subs, etc. And obviously they can, because the history of military conflict since about the late ’60′s shows several examples of exactly that – large populations of much poorer armed locals effectively resisting attempts at pacification/rule by smaller, high-tech forces.

    I’m fine revising my original statement based on puppygod’s point, but will maintain that Barton’s arguement applied to air force, armor, navies, nukes and the like is just ridiculous, irrational, and not logical at all.

  62. 62
    dingojack

    anubisprime – you can almost hear the shout going out along the lines: “Walk.. trot…. gallop”.
    Strange and sad at the same time.
    Dingo

  63. 63
    Raging Bee

    Do these slimeballs actually believe that human traffickers and other criminal gangs have a legal right to arm themselves to overpower law-enforcement?

    Do they believe that ethnic/tribalistic groups like the KKK and the Black Panthers have a legal right to arm themselves to massacre and terrorize other ethnic groups with no constraint from any law-enforcement authorities?

    Bexause that’s exactly what the gun nuts’ deranged “legal arguments” lead to, whether they understand it or not. And if that’s really what they want, they should all move to Somlia, and ten tell us how much freer and safer they are there.

    Because what specifically happened was if the Americans had not been able to go home and grab their guns off the mantel over the fireplace, they could not have taken on the British coming after them.

    The “Americans” took on the British as a fucking army, not as a bunch of individuals spontaneously grabbing hunting rifiles off the mantlepieces of their log-cabins.

    Seriously, folks. when was the last time an “armed citizenry” actually protected, rather than undermined, anyone’s basic rights? Since MLK Day was yesterday, this seems like a good time to remember that slavery was abolished by an ARMY, public schools were integrated by FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT, and the rest of the important victories won by the Civil Rights movement were won by PEACEFUL COLLECTIVE PROTEST. (Oh wait, the “armed citizenry” did play a part — remember the KKK?)

  64. 64
    anubisprime

    dingojack @ 62

    Yeah…I also seem to feel and sense the ghosts of that particular moment in time…hear the thunder of the horses hooves and the shear hell of the acrid smoke that tears the eyes the concussion as the cannons opened on them from three sides, the confusion the screams the blood and the noise, the sound of the hot shot slicing through the air!
    It is all there in that bugle call…almost poignant and yes…sad!

    I suspect any war in those days was as such…the American Civil war was along those lines also in many battles,
    But this battle was somehow different in that the utter banality and the personal politics involved…the misinterpretation and vague orders at the start and the subsequent war of words in the British press as Raglan blamed Lucan and visa versa and Nolan…was he trying to stop the charge having realised the folly?

    It is really fascinating from this distance in time…but very sad…it also changed military History somewhat!

    A roll call of the Light Brigade of the British cavalry at the battle of Balaclava consisting of…

    The 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, under the command of Major General the Earl of Cardigan.
    .

    Together with the Heavy Brigade comprising the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and the Scots Greys, commanded by Major General James Yorke Scarlett, himself a past Commanding Officer of the 5th Dragoon Guards, the two units were the main British cavalry force at the battle. Overall command of the cavalry resided with Lieutenant General the Earl of Lucan.
    Cardigan and Lucan were brothers-in-law who disliked each other intensely..(wikki)

  65. 65
    Raging Bee

    PS: I remember our buddy Lance using Syria as an example of an armed citizenry overthrowing tyranny. To which I would offer lots of counterexamples of tyranny being overthrown by peaceful protest: the Phillippines, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, and…wait for it…the big bad USSR. And, more recently, Egypt and Tunisia.

    Funny how today’s reich-wingers seem to have totally erased all of those important struggles from their memories. That sort of willful amnesia speaks volumes about their credibility.

  66. 66
    elpayaso

    (Oh wait, the “armed citizenry” did play a part — remember the KKK?)

    remember MLK?

    just think about all the crap the right wingers have tried to put into his mouth since one of their own silenced the troublesome things he actually had to say……….

  67. 67
    democommie

    Would that the British had learned a lesson about mass charges and bad intel at Balaklava. It might have prevented/lessened the carnage at Gallipolli or The Battle of the Somme.

  68. 68
    Michael Heath

    eric writes:

    Heath is wrong in saying it is “logical” that it leads to the right of individuals to have tanks, have A-10s, have subs, have nukes.

    I not only didn’t say anything such thing, I falsified your characterization @ 18 that Barton even stated it with my comment @ 36 which I repeat here:

    You [eric] extend Barton’s argument beyond the one he makes and therefore [it's] not all that relevant. Your strawman is easy to kill, I prefer having killed it [Barton's actual argument, not the imagined strawman eric conjures up] on the very terms Barton laid out.

    I.e., Barton never argued we should legalize nukes, et. al.

    It’s pretty sad that we increasingly see people making worse arguments in this venue than David Barton.

  69. 69
    dingojack

    Michael – so Barton didn’t say:
    ‘So if the government has got AR-15s, guess what? The people can have AR-15s … Whatever the government’s got, you’ve got to be able to defend yourself against”?
    Oh wait now – he did.

    The US government has 2150 active and 5550 inactive nuclear warheads* therefore…..

    Dingo
    ——–
    * Federation of American Scientists: Status of World Nuclear Forces”. Fas.org. http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html.

  70. 70
    bradleybetts

    This is one thing that’s always confused me about the controversy surrounding the second amendment. It says you have the right to bear arms as a private citizen. Fine, I get that. It does not specify what arms. So technically it would be perfectly reasonable from a legal standpoint for the Government to place restrictions on private citizens so they are not able to carry anything more deadly than a 3″ knife. And yet some people have got it into their heads that they have a constitutional right to own assault rifles? How? Are they complete idiots?

  71. 71
    caseloweraz

    Were the absurd situation I described above real — I had nuclear warheads hanging above my mantle — two things would happen.

    1) A small but deadly force would surround my home, probably in the dead of night (think: Zero Dark Thirty), and take them back.

    2) If I were there, I would be taken prisoner and later arraigned on a variety of charges. I don’t know off the top of my head what laws prohibit the possession by civilians of nuclear weapons, but I’m sure there are some.

    In the event I had fortified the place, no doubt it would be hit by an air strike first.

    No matter what weapons I had, there is no chance I could prevail against the government.

    That said, a foreign power occupying this country would have to hold it. Millions of citizens in possession of small arms and stocks of ammo, and the ability to improvise explosives and other means of sabotage, would make that very costly.

    If our own government were overthrown in a coup, it’s unlikely the entire military would go along (think: Seven Days in May) and those units opposed would join the civilian resistance. (In making this argument, I assume the original government was legitimate and not corrupt. A coup against a corrupt government is another thing entirely.)

    Nothing guarantees the resistance would succeed. Similarly, there is no guarantee that it would fail.

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