Do they really aim to cancel the whole deal?

I wrote recently that under the Second and 14th Amendments, the average citizen must be “allowed” to own, without government license or permission or taxation (the tax having been specifically designed to discourage possession, in the case of the $200 “machine gun tax,” enacted in 1933 when that sum was equivalent to 6,000 to 13,000 of today’s dollars) “every terrible instrument of the soldier.”

One correspondent insists that’s absurd, since “That would mean just anyone would be allowed to own machine guns, mortars, and biological weapons!”

Another ridicules the presumption that a major reason we retain the right to bear arms is because our armed strength will thus strike fear into the heart of any would-be tyrant. This is absurd because our current state of arms-bearing is so pathetic that there’s no way any American community could successfully resist a brigade of regular army troops sent in to impose martial law, argues Correspondent Number Two.

Taken together, these two form a circular argument: If we’re now so inadequately armed as to render laughable the usefulness of our “right to bear arms” as a prophylactic against tyranny, then unless tyranny is the goal, the inescapable conclusion is that we must repeal every existing gun law, further offering surplus mortars and machine guns below cost and otherwise encouraging American “civilians” to stock up on any terrible weapon they can figure out how to import or manufacture.

Instead, the statists act as though the obvious conclusion is that we must give up what few, weak arms we still retain.

A corollary argument asks: “What did the Founding Fathers mean when they penned the Second Amendment? American colonists had flintlocks, not AK 47s and Glocks. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison didn’t have 33 round clips. They had gunpowder, lead, gun flints, bullet molds, powder horns. … They sure couldn’t shoot 20 people in a split second. Colonist had guns mainly to protect themselves from British abuses of power. Do we fear the English today?”

Someone who contends you can kill “20 people in a split second” with a modern weapon has clearly never tried to hold one steady while placing even 10 rounds into a target. On the other hand, the Founding Fathers certainly COULD “shoot 20 people in a split second.” Load a bag of grapeshot into a cannon of 1775 vintage and fire it at a tightly formed company of redcoats at 100 yards, and you have precisely described the likely result. It worked again in 1815 at New Orleans, as well.

Besides, does the First Amendment “freedom of the press” protect only those newspapers that still print on 18th-century hand-cranked presses? Of course not. Does the Constitution allow the Congress to fund only a wind-powered Navy, since steamships were unknown in 1787? Of course not.

The Founders may not have been able to precisely foresee that “fighting terrorism” and the “War on Drugs” would be the excuses of the day, 230 years later, to attempt to abrogate our right to be secure in our homes and persons. But they didn’t need to. The principle outlasts the immediate circumstance.

Or would the gentleman argue it’s OK for someone to break down our doors and ransack our homes without a warrant so long as he’s not wearing a tricorn hat and shoes with big buckles?

I was not the one who decided the great contract of 1787 meant the American people would forever retain the right to possess “every terrible instrument of the soldier.”

Our schoolchildren are taught the Articles of Confederation were inadequate, so the delegates were sent to Philadelphia in 1787 to design a more powerful central state. Not true. One may search the historical record in vain for any evidence of massive riots, starvation or disorder from 1782 to 1786, indicating the Confederation was failing. Instead, the delegates were instructed merely to make some minor improvements.

With Jefferson safely away in Paris, the dominant Hamiltonians came up with a charter for a vastly stronger, expansionist, and tax-hungry central government which shocked many Americans. The anti-federalists, including Patrick Henry, organized. The Hamiltonians were obliged to promise their skeptics a Bill of Rights and to spend considerable time offering assurances.

Peruse pp. 66-69 of Stephen Halbrook’s “That Every Man Be Armed.” Federalist after Federalist vowed their proposed new government could never impose tyranny on these shores “while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights” (Hamilton, Federalist No. 29), that any encroachments on our liberties by the new government “would be opposed (by) a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands” (Madison, Federalist No. 46).

“Who are the militia?” asked Tench Coxe, friend of Madison and prominent Federalist, in the Pennsylvania Gazette of Feb. 20, 1788. “Are they not ourselves. … Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible instrument of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American. … The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

If the armed forces — or the armed and uniformed police SWAT teams who are more likely to break down our doors, these days — have any legitimate power to wield all their terrible weapons, where did they get it? In America, the government has no powers except those delegated to it by the people, and the people can delegate no power they do not have. Thus, if the government has any legitimate power to wield “every terrible instrument of the soldier,” it must follow that we the voters had and retain that same power — the power to arm ourselves as the effective militia which is “necessary to the security of a FREE state.”

Finally, have our correspondents considered the real ramifications of what they propose?

A contract can no longer be held valid if one side unilaterally abrogates its responsibilities under that contract. You cannot tell your landlord you’re going to stop paying rent as agreed, and expect him to continue allowing you to reside in the domicile.

Lysander Spooner, in his brilliant 1867 essay “The Constitution of No Authority,” argues compellingly that even if the document ever did represent a valid contract between consenting parties, it has no force upon those who were not even alive when it was ratified.

In a practical sense, a working majority of naive American voters, out here in the 50 states, still disagree. To the great benefit of the cynical pigs fattening at the trough in Washington City, we semi-morons operate on the theory the Constitution is still in effect, still limiting the powers of the federal government to the legitimate ones to which our forefathers assented.

(Few in Washington City still believe this. Asked in October 2009 where the Constitution authorizes Congress to order Americans to buy health insurance, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asked, “Are You Serious?” She swore an oath; she should have been impeached.)

But if the central government and its supporters now seek to unilaterally abrogate their promise to our forefathers that “Congress have no power to disarm the militia; their swords, and every other terrible instrument of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American,” then finally they have UNDENIABLY abrogated the contract, and the people are henceforth morally and ethically free — I do not say we are pragmatically free, since we are not, but that we are morally and ethically free — to ignore every enactment, every levy and assessment of that central government as we choose, free of any obligation to make good the debts of a cynical cabal which no longer has any legitimate claim to our loyalty, our support, or our obedience, since they will have abrogated the one central purpose of the state — to protect our RIGHTS.

As they seek to waive and wish aside the parts of the deal they no longer like, have they thought that through?

12 Comments to “Do they really aim to cancel the whole deal?”

  1. Arctic Patriot Says:

    Outstanding. You’ve summed it up nicely. I will link to your post.



  2. Dennis308 Says:

    Excelent Piece ya got here, I’ll be printing this argument and sending to the Liberal Press Corps. See how they like that acient reasoning.



  3. Alan Says:

    “solder”, “solider”? Needs editing.

  4. liberranter Says:

    Brilliantly written, Vin!

  5. Spitnyri Says:

    Correspondent Number Two regarding “Resisting a Brigade”

    This is not necessary.. all that is needed is to kill the ones who sent them.. repeat as needed.

  6. What Is Coming… | Got Liberty? 23 Says:

    […] Do they really aim to cancel the whole deal? [the conclusion]  In a practical sense, a working majority of naive American voters, out here in the 50 states, still disagree. To the great benefit of the cynical pigs fattening at the trough in Washington City, we semi-morons operate on the theory the Constitution is still in effect, still limiting the powers of the federal government to the legitimate ones to which our forefathers assented. […]

  7. Vin's web grunt Says:

    Thanks Alan. Corrections noted and implemented.

    For the record, any grammatical or spelling errors in a Vin column are the fault of me, the web grunt.

  8. David Hamel Says:

    The inalienable right to keep and bear the tools of defense has (and will) always been opposed by would-be tyrants, no matter what the contemporary level of technology.

    “Some attempts having been made by masters of ships bound to North America to take on board flint stones by way of ballast…you are hereby required and directed to instruct the commanders of all His Majesty’s ships and vessels under your command to examine all such ships and vessels as shall arrive in the different ports of North America…and in case they find the ballast or any such part of it to consist of flint stones, to cause such flint stones to be taken out and thrown into deep water (Order from the Admiralty Office to Samuel Graves, Commander in Chief of the British navy in America, September 19, 1775, Admiralty Office Papers, 2/100, f, 129, photocopy State Archives, Raleigh, N.C., original in the British Public Record, London).”

  9. Bill St. Clair Says:

    Which contract was that? The US Constitution? Never signed it. Doesn’t apply to me.

    But good on you for reminding the hoplophobes that 2A really does mean that there may be NO legislation infringing in any way the right of each and every one of us to keep and bear, meaning manufacture, sell, buy, possess, and carry, openly or concealed, always and everywhere, “every terrible instrument of the soldier.”

  10. Burke101 Says:

    The issue here is not so much are the citizens better armed than the government. It is: are the citizens willing to get militant in protests against the state when it violates our rights? Consider the general passivity of Americans towards the TSA porn-scanners at the airport. What if gun owners marched en masse to their airports and refuse to be subjected to such degrading treatment?

    Even better, what if gun owners marched the entire DHS, from Janet Gropitano on down to the lowliest TSA screener through their own porn-scanners, and put the photos on the internet?

    The thing is, unless people want to resist a tyrannical government, who owns what guns is a largely immaterial issue.

  11. Toecutter Says:

    Excellent article and how right you are. Your next to last paragraph is frighteningly accurate and every American should take it to heart. The de facto government is vacant of any legitimacy. I learned over 20 years ago the true enemy of the people is a power foreign to our nation states. The Federal Government. At that time I began ignoring any and all fictitious laws promulgate by said de facto government at any and every opportunity. Non compliance.

    When the British general Gage sent troops for the patriots weapons. He did not send them for the muskets. He sent them for the stores of powder and cannon. The weapons of war. Live free or die.

    Again excellent article it should be on the front page of every paper and news broadcast nation wide.

  12. Clark Says:

    Sorry to be late to the game, but your comment that”One correspondent insists that’s absurd, since ‘That would mean just anyone would be allowed to own machine guns, mortars, and biological weapons!’” highlights the fallacy of that correspondent’s mindset. Unfortunately, even conservatives and libertarians fall victim to it, when they forget that government doesn’t “allow” anything to a free people endowed by their Creator with inalienable Rights. People “allow’ government. Until we start remembering that, we’ll continue to be victims of oppression instead of rulers of our destiny.