Friday, March 30, 2007

Just who are "The People" anyway?

From Front Page Magazine:

To put it in the barest terms: The misinterpretation of the Second Amendment rests on the semantic misconceptions 1) that the stated "Militia" is purely a government body, and 2) that "the people" refers – not to U.S. citizens, "the people" of this country (as it does everywhere else in the Bill of Rights) - but to that body. Robert J. Cottrol offers one of the best responses to these fallacies:

Little in the way of historical evidence or even the rulings of the Supreme Court supports the view that the framers of the Second Amendment simply meant to protect state militias without also securing the right of the people at large to have arms. Certainly an organization like the modern [i.e., established-in-1903] National Guard, whose members are recruited, trained, paid, armed and otherwise equipped and deployed around the world by the federal government, is not the militia-of-the-whole envisioned by [James] Madison.... It is instead a super-select militia. To claim, as some have, that the Second Amendment was meant to protect a body like the National Guard, is to severely misread the historical record in ways so fundamental as to warrant almost instant dismissal.

But an even better one comes from Madison himself, who, in a discussion of "the militia," spoke of "the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation" - and contrasted that with "the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe," whose "governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." If "the people" denotes merely government soldiers, what does any of this mean? Similarly, Hamilton, in an explicit consideration of armed resistance, projected that "the people," if "their rights are invaded by either" the state governments or the "General Government," could ally with one against the other. Again, what does that mean if "the people" - or the only "Militia" - is just a state army? Lexicographer Noah Webster, in his 1787 "An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution," wrote:

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.

And as the Federal Farmer concluded: "A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves...."

The rest of the essay is worth a look.

Its good to see another of the big conservative internet sites addressing the Second Amendment.