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Jan-20-2010 19:28printcommentsVideo

The Second Amendment Fantasy and How Americans Have Been Taken In

People who advocate for concealed and assault weapons make up an anti-government segment of society.

He has a concealed weapons permit, does that make you feel better?  Courtesy:
He has a concealed weapons permit, does that make you feel better? Courtesy:

(CALGARY, Alberta) - The Second Amendment has evolved into an emotional issue par excellence that has divided American society. But the underlying issues are not about guns but about fear—on two levels.

The first level, which goes back to the beginning, is a fear of government which was legitimate in the 18th century, but hasn’t been applicable since then. A lot of Americans may have missed the news, but King George is dead.

The second level is about fear of other people which can evolve into full blown paranoia, but at its basis is mildly paranoiac itself. Every person walking down the street towards you, may want to do you harm—so have a gun.

Or there is the possibility that someone may break into your home while you are sleeping—so have a gun.

The fear-based possibilities are endless—so have a gun.

I’ve taken the text and the argument below from Garry Wills’ 1999 book A Necessary Evil.

Origin of the NRA and the myth of the Frontier West

In 1871, two Union army veterans, William Conant Church and George C. Wingate, set up the National Rifle Association, to encourage soldiers to improve their marksmanship with the latest expertise about guns. They held shooting contests between the army and the National Guard (established in 1879), awarding prizes and distributing educational material on weapons development. There was a close alliance between the NRA and the National Guard Association. That union was reflected in the declaration of principles enumerated by the National Guardsman of 1877: ‘We believe in rifle practice as an important element of National Guard education.’”1

It’s important to understand that the NRA did not have its origin in any public or citizen participation at all. At the beginning, it was clearly understood that the Second Amendment referred to a defensive militia and was totally unrelated to ordinary citizens having weapons.

The title of the NRA is also important—it was a rifle association. The rifle was the most effective, reliable and used weapon of the time.

In general, the settlement of the West was not a matter of individuals going off into the wilds. The modern frontier was marked by the advance of a technologically more sophisticated culture into a backward one. The technology of the western settlers—in mining and drilling equipment and expertise, railroad expansion, cavalry intelligence and maneuver, coordination of market information by telegraph, and a steady influx of manufactured goods—was at the core of settlement.”2

Although raw settlements did have unstable conditions at the outset, especially when in conflict with Indian, Mexican or renegade groups, there was a massive social effort to quell those conditions as rapidly as possible. That is why Prohibition, gun control and women’s suffrage were pioneered in the West. The most successful settlements were the most regimented (the Mormons were outstanding in this regard). Social institutions—churches, schools, newspapers, libraries, theaters, and ‘opera houses’—were introduced and supported by business interests and communal discipline. The federal government supported the whole enterprise with land grants, subsidies to the railroads, and maintenance of the army’s logistical trains. Fiction is full of violent struggles when tracts of territory were thrown open to settlers making a run to stake their claims. When fifteen thousand people made the run into Oklahoma Territory, on the day when it was declared open in 1889, newspaper stories told of shootings, claim jumping, and bloodshed around Guthrie, the ‘instant town’ where claims were recorded. But no one was killed or even wounded.”2

As W. Eugene Hollon wrote in Frontier Violence: Another Look (1974): “Within thirty-six hours after everyone had arrived at the ‘Magic City’ on the Prairie, this heterogeneous mob had elected a mayor and a council of five members, adopted a city charter, and authorized the collection of a head tax. Within a week, Baptists and Methodists, and Presbyterians were holding church service in tents and planning the construction of permanent church buildings….Six months passed before Oklahoma Territory recorded its first homicide.”3

Much of the violent death rate in the West, as in the rest of the country was caused by the problem of all technologically advanced societies, the industrial accident, whether in mines or in railroad construction and operation. If one wanted to live a really dangerous life, the place to be was not on a cattle town street, facing a bad guy with a gun; it was in a mine, where slides, fires and explosions gave you a fifty-fifty chance of being killed on the job if you stayed at it.”3

As for railroad safety at the time, 433 men died laboring at railroad couplings in 1893—143 more than died on both sides at Little Big Horn, the bloodiest by far of the cavalry's battles with Indians.

The myth of frontier individualism—of the man whose gun made him his own master, free and untrammelled—dies hard. What is excitement for the movies is ideology for the National Rifle Association, which thinks gun control would destroy the spirit that made America great. But the gun did not tame the West. The West had to tame the gun.” 4

The NRA and Second Amendment

Until recently the Second Amendment was a little-visited area of the Constitution. A two thousand-page commentary on the Constitution put out by the Library of Congress in 1973 has copious annotation for most clauses, but less than a page and a half for the Second Amendment. There has been only one significant Second Amendment case decided by the Supreme Court—United States v. Miller in 1939, where the National Firearms Act was upheld against a man who claimed that the amendment allowed him to keep and bear a sawed-off shotgun. The Court declared that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon.

We have seen that there has been a recent spurt of academic interest in the amendment as guaranteeing a right of military revolution. But even before that, the National Rifle Association had launched an ardent campaign to argue that the amendment applies to private ownership of guns. This involved a historic reversal of the NRA’s purpose. The NRA was launched in conjunction with the National Guard, and was devoted to military marksmanship. Now the NRA denounces the National Guard, as not in any case a real militia, and says that the real purpose of the Second Amendment was to guarantee citizens the right to own and use guns. Chronologically, the fearful assertion of a need for self-protection came out of the Cold War, which academic insurrectionism came out of the radical 1960's. The two have latterly joined forces, however, since the idea of a revolutionary purpose appealed to the anti-governmental instincts of those already defending the personal ownership of guns.

The case for Madison’s sponsorship of an amendment devoted to private gun ownership is based on very slim historical materials, which have been spread and distorted in a wondrous way. We saw in Chapter 7 that there was a flood of argument about the militia as the object of a bill of rights—argument to be found in the ratification debates, in the recommendations for a bill of rights sent on to the Congress after ratification, and in the record of the amendment’s passage. Since the amendment did not get rid of the standing army, people to whom the NRA likes to quote, like Patrick Henry, lost interest in the amendment. (If Henry had all along been calling for individual possession, and if that is in fact what the amendment guarantees, then he should have been very happy with it and supportive.)

Against all this material from the debates over militias, the new NRA can muster only one clear reference to private ownership from the ratification debates and only one argument from the drafting of the amendment. Not much there, in either quantity or quality, since each of the two items is questionable.

Take the reference from the ratification debates. At the last minute, before the Pennsylvania convention voted to ratify the Constitution, a delegate named Robert Whitehill filed a list of fifteen changes to be made to the document, reducing it to even less authority than as granted in the Articles of Confederation.

[The Dictionary of American Biography says] In the convention he resorted to every device to delay and defeat ratification. He insisted that there were inadequate safeguards against a tyranny and on the day of ratification attempted, without avail, to have fifteen articles incorporated as a bill of rights.

The items on the list were never discussed in the convention, which went on to approve the Constitution. Five days after that vote, Samuel Bryan, who had not been a delegate in the convention, assembled some quickly obtained and miscellaneous objections to the Constitution—including Whitehill’s list, along with some things that contradicted it—and published them under the misleading title The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention, under which title the NRA defenders cite it. Whitehill deals with guns in three of his fifteen headings. Article 8 begins: ‘The inhabitants of the several states shall have liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times….’ But the passage the NRA people like best is from article 7: ‘That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purposes of killing game…’ (emphasis added). From this we are to conclude that this one man, who could not even get a discussion of his points started in the convention, is explaining to us the meaning of the Second Amendment, drafted by Madison who was in total disagreement with every other thing in Whitehill’s list (which returned total sovereignty to the states and reduced the federal jurisdiction to extra-state relations). This violates the Jeffersonian maxim that we should expound a document’s meaning from those who approve it, not those who disapproved.”5

Yet the NRA “continue[s] to dignify Whitehill’s odd document as the controlling authority over what the Second Amendment means”.

They have even less call to call on the debates in the framing of the Second Amendment. Here they must rely on an argument from omission. While the Senate discussed the phrasing of the proposed amendment, ‘It was moved to insert the words “for the common defense” [after ‘bear arms’], but the motion was not successful’. The record does not say why the motion was rejected, but Stephen Halbrook (often cited by the NRA people) is certain that he knows. For him, ‘common defense’ means ‘for military purposes’, showing that the amendment was meant to include non-military matters (i.e., private use). That is a very circuitous argument from what was not said, and it falls before the simple fact that ‘for the common defense’ had a fixed legal meaning for the drafters. It was used in the Articles of Confederation to mean ‘for the joint action of the states,’ not (as Halbrook would maintain) ‘for any military use at all’. Including the phrase would have given the state militias the power to bear arms only in conjunction with other states—which was clearly not the aim. Again, the little evidence at hand had to be drastically misread to give the NRA folk any pretense that private ownership came up in the drafting process.

There, in all its nakedness, is the historical argument for taking the Second Amendment to refer to private gun possession and use. To supplement its obvious inadequacies, NRA proponents turn to philology, examining the language of the Second Amendment. But if they are inadequate as historians, they are ludicrous as philologists, as one can see from the way they treat the term ‘bear arms’.”6

Desperate for examples of ‘bear arms’ in a non-military sense, the NRA’s representatives resort to metaphorical or extended meanings. They bring up Whitehill’s ‘right to bear arms for the defense of themselves’, downplaying the fact that the sentence continues ‘and their own state and the United States.’ The word ‘bear’ goes with all these objects, by the rhetorical figure called zeugma, even though it may not be proper to each one individually. The same is true of the Pennsylvania constitution’s Declaration, Article XIII: ‘The people have the right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state. Or they mention Tench Coxe’s ‘bear their private arms,’ though we saw in Chapter 17 that he meant ‘private arms’ only used in militia service.

(Zeugma is rhetorical term where the use of a word to modify or govern two or more other words, when it is appropriate to only one of them or is appropriate to each but in a different way, as in: to wage war and peace or: On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold.)

The tactic of the private ownership interpreters is to ransack any document, no matter how distant from the ratification debates, in the hope that someone, somewhere, ever used ‘bear arms’ in a non-military way, as if that would change the overwhelming body of military usage. That body of usage is enough to show that Madison must have meant the term in its normal sense unless he gave an explicit statement otherwise, or put the term in a clearly unmilitary context. Did he do that? Far from it. The context of the amendment as he drafted it is clearly military:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”7

History, philology, and logic furnish no solid basis for thinking the Second Amendment has anything to do with the private ownership of guns. Those who believe there is a natural right to own guns can argue their case on many grounds—natural right, for a start—and the arguments might be sound or strong. It is just not a constitutional right (many of our rights are not constitutional ones). Why, then, does the NRA search so feverishly for a constitutional argument that eludes them? After all, many of the people who are devoted to the Second Amendment (as they construe it) are not such great lovers of other parts of the Constitution (like the Article I guarantees of the right to raise and renew armies or to federalize militias). Some even say, with Charlton Heston, that this one short text is worth all the rest of the document. These are people who generally distrust government. Then why do they need a governmental basis for their activities?

Sanford Levinson gives away the reason when he says that flooding our society with guns is more difficult to defend on other grounds—of prudence, say, or safety, or social amity. But just as the First Amendment forces us to put up with speech that might otherwise be considered destructive or obnoxious, we have to put up with our gun culture because the Constitution tells us to. But it doesn’t.”7

People who advocate for the right to carry weapons—including concealed and assault—make up an anti-government segment of society. As Wills writes:

Real freedom for gun owners is possible...

Some withdrawers from the government think of themselves as forming an alternative society, a one-person or one-sect government in exile—the internal exile of those too good for the gamey doings of power. This kind of purist usually puts great emphasis on individualism. The extreme position would lead to anarchism, but most advocates of purism settle for some form of libertarianism.”8

The contradiction within libertarianism is that it is an anti-social philosophy intent on making it difficult for the majority of Americans to live quietly in a social setting—“in pursuit of happiness". Libertarians and their ilk want to destroy all social meaning that the society at large wants. The spiritual leader of the libertarians should be Henry David Thoreau, who hated not only government, but society at large and withdrew to Walden Pond. He wrote:

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.”9

If gun people and libertarians want to reject the benefits of American society and live freely, independently and unfettered on their own, they should look for caves in Montana and, if they’re full up, Afghanistan probably has vacancies. They’ll definitely need their guns there.

  1. A Necessary Evil, p. 243
  2. ibid., p. 249
  3. ibid., p. 250
  4. ibid., p. 251
  5. ibid., pp. 252ff
  6. ibid., p. 256
  7. ibid., pp. 257f
  8. ibid., p. 261f
  9. Quoted in A Necessary Evil, p. 266

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Hahaha January 1, 2012 10:59 pm (Pacific time)

Anti-gun nuts can suck my ass.I just exercised my first amendment right,try to take my guns and I'll exercise my second amendment right.Liberals don't want law abiding citizens to own weapons for obvious reasons,liberals want total government control of our lives and guns will prevent it when push comes to shove.If you don't want to own a gun,don't.If I saw a known liberal being attacked by armed thugs,I wouldn't bother to pull my gun and help them out,they could just reason with their poor oppressed attacker.

YJ Draiman January 19, 2011 5:31 pm (Pacific time)

We have the Constitutional Right to Bear Arms and Defend Ourselves - 2nd 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.

It is a right not a privilege, just like you have the right to live and breath.

Right to Bear Arms is an unalienable right; it cannot be given to someone by someone else, they already have it at birth, and thus, it cannot be taken away no matter how good the reason seems to be.

"Do not punish or deny the rights of the masses for the sins of the few"

This applies to any and all rights and privileges stated in the Constitution of the United States.

The Second Amendment is one of our most cherished. The right to keep and bear arms is what keeps government subservient to its citizenry. Without the right to bear arms, we would have anarchy in the streets, the criminals would still have guns, and violent crime would escalate.

Thomas Paine:
"Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property."
We plan on exercising these rights to the fullest extent of the Constitutional Law.

Our society today is brainwashed that when some people abuse their constitutional rights we must punish all of society and revoke that right and privilege.

When some one uses a weapon, any weapon, gun, knife, pick, ax, saw, car, etc. they get prosecuted, when convicted, they are sentenced not all the people of the country.

Abuse by some people has been going on since creation and will continue till the end of time. We must control and punish the abusers, not the whole society.

Case and point is the punishment society is taking today due to terrorism. Since governments are helpless to fight and control terrorism they punish the masses in the name of safety and cause extreme economic hardship and the loss of our constitutional liberties.

There are Nations that under their Laws citizens are permitted to posses firearms. Check out some of those countries. Crime rate has not increased. Abuses happen, the abusers are punished and not the rest of society.

It is a known historical fact that the Criminal will always find a way to get a weapon.

Restricting the average citizen from having a weapon to protect himself and his family, leaves the door open to the criminal to violate those citizens, due to the knowledge that the average citizen has no weapon and cannot protect himself and his family.

A weapon is a tool like any other tool and should be used properly.

A knife, pick, ax, saw, car, etc. is also a tool that must be used properly. It is not outlawed, is it?

A car in today's society is an absolute must. Do the citizens of this country know how many people are killed and injured by automobiles every year, it amounts to thousands, which is much less than with guns.

And to those who would say this was but a "temporary violation" for the greater good, Ben Franklin admonishes;


Folks, we live in dangerous times, a government that does not trust its citizens to bear arms, is a government not to be trusted by its citizens.

As the threat to all of our liberties continue basically unabated, remember the words of the great political philosopher Edmund Burke; "The only way for evil men to prosper is for good men to do nothing."

The right to keep and bear arms should be of great importance to all Americans, if we are to remain a free country we MUST NOT let this right be taken from us
Remember, freedom isn't free. God Bless you, and God, please bless the United States of America.

By: YJ Draiman, Northridge, CA

The Supreme Court ruled on the Heller case at the end of its term in June, 2008. The Court, which found for Heller in a close 5-4 decision, wrote that the 2nd Amendment did, in fact, protect an individual right. While the court was careful to note that the case did not call into question any laws that regulate guns, it did state, unequivocally, that Heller and his fellow petitioners had a right to own guns in their home. The Court also ruled that while reasonable regulation may be permitted, the requirement that guns be locked and disassembled was not reasonable.

Supreme Court affirms fundamental right to bear arms
Tuesday, June 29, 2010;
The Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right, recognized in Heller, to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self defense. Pp. 5–9, 11–19, 19–33.
The Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a long-sought victory for gun rights advocates.
The 5 to 4 decision does not strike down any gun-control laws, nor does it elaborate on what kind of laws would offend the Constitution. One justice predicted that an "avalanche" of lawsuits would be filed across the country asking federal judges to define the boundaries of gun ownership and government regulation.
But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for the court's dominant conservatives, said: "It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty."
The decision extended the court's 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that "the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home." That decision applied only to federal laws and federal enclaves such as Washington; it was the first time the court had said there was an individual right to gun ownership rather than one related to military service.

What a bunch of nonsense. The right to bear arms is the Second Amendment but it was the right to bear muskets and flintlock handguns. Do you seriously believe that if the Founders had known about assault rifles and automatic weapons like the Glock, they would have worded it as they did? As for no governments being allowed to "violate" that right, don't forget that slavery was also allowed by your sacrosanct Constitution and negroes were to be counted as three fifths of a person. The Constitution, I might add, did not come down from Mount Washington on stone tablets. DJ

Publius January 12, 2011 5:28 am (Pacific time)

"People who advocate for concealed and assault weapons make up an anti-government segment of society." Broad, sweeping generalizations of non-existant political extremism make up an anti-cognitive segment of society. I believe my statement is more easily proven than yours.

Mike February 13, 2010 10:41 am (Pacific time)

A parliamentary form of government reminds me of Irving Janis' well received thesis dealing with "Victims of Groupthink." Thankfully our Fouding Fathers had enough foresight to see how this system could stifle free speech and the democratic process. In essence, that is why America became the world power it is, and why we shall remain that way, and that to the extreme displeasure of those who cannot contain their jealousy of us. Cry me a river. The Second Amendment will never be removed, nor will our form of government be altered to resemble something as poorly designed as one finds in the parliamentary format. I suggest a reading of Janis to appreciate just what he meant by being victims of groupthink.

Daniel Johnson February 9, 2010 12:30 pm (Pacific time)

Frazier: British Parliament. Our parliament is similar at times. Because they are televised a lot of the activity is just for show and they go out for a drink after.

Frazier February 9, 2010 9:02 am (Pacific time)

Port Angeles, Clallam County, WA. It was the British Parliment I had been watching.

Frazier February 9, 2010 12:31 am (Pacific time)

It is so bad here even in the local counties that have a home rule charter that allow them to govern themselves have denied the average citizen the right to initiative petition for local change ie. taxes,land use etc. We have no local voice. They go into closed session free from public comment and if we do have an open meeting they control everything including how hot or cold the room is. I have tried to reform it ,but without the right to initiative petition it is next to impossible. Frustrating.

You know where I am, what city or locale are you in?

Frazier February 9, 2010 12:13 am (Pacific time)

I did indeed read Krugman's column. What is striking is that I had watched Parliment earlier today during their budget debate. There was booing and hissing and shouting over the speaker and nothing was being accomplished. It was at a stand still. It was like watching our own legislature only difference was after booing most of them just walked off the floor leaving the speaker with no one to hear him. Nothing was accomplished, it was at a stand still. Both forms of government seem to be able to get little to nothing done. There in lies some of my comparison. I too was hopeful of Obama I am now concerned that they will leave him ineffective. I think we are in serious need of term limits on Representatives and Senators. We need to put an end to the good ol' boys the status quo. I'll scratch your only if you get me what I want sort of government. Lobbyists need to go too. Way too much special interest going on. Reform? YES.

Agreed. Lobbyists are an anti-democratic force in today's politics. There have always been lobbyists, but this may be the first time in history where with the power of immense amounts of money, they are almost a shadow government on their own. What parliament were you referring to or were you just using that as a generic term for the Senate or House? This is my last comment for the night, but if you have more to say, I'll carry on again in the morning. I appreciate your positive involvement.

Frazier February 8, 2010 11:53 pm (Pacific time)

In comparison the British government under Churchill was responsible for the overthrow of the Iranian governing body. Churchill requested the aid of the United States in doing so. This was for control of the oil fields owned by BP. So pointing the finger at the USA for this action is not completely or factually justified. It was at the bequest of the British government for oil. The 1953 Iranian coup d’état deposed the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq.[1][2][3] In a plan called Operation Ajax (less commonly TPAJAX), the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) organized and executed the overthrow of the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mosaddeq, at the request of, and with support from the British government. This enabled Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to become an authoritarian monarch[4], who went on to rule Iran, often violently, for 26 years until he was overthrown in 1979. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Operation Ajax)

A little farther down in the same article it continues: The 1953 coup d'état was the first time the US had openly overthrown an elected, civil government.[58] In the US, Operation Ajax was a success, with "immediate and far-reaching effect. Overnight, the CIA became a central part of the American foreign policy apparatus, and covert action came to be regarded as a cheap and effective way to shape the course of world events"—a coup engineered by the CIA called Operation PBSUCCESS toppling the duly elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, which had nationalised farm land owned by the United Fruit Company, followed the next year.[59]

Sounds like the real issue was the increasing power of the CIA as a secret, unaccountable government force. What president thereafter did not put them to work to effect foreign policy?

Frazier February 8, 2010 10:35 pm (Pacific time)

You are absolutely correct. America is as you say dominant,for now. It is just the latest to be so. You have again managed to skirt the issue of past dominance by other nations. However, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is a wonderful foundation on which to base a government. Of the people,By the people, For the people. The problem is that our own government has forgotten this point, they are supposed to be working for us we are not supposed to be working for them. Democracy. What democracy. Our government has become so capitalistic it has lost sight of almost everything America used to stand for. It has gone so far that even th local authorities are training in urban warfare tactics to use on it's own citizens, should the peasants decide to revolt. Yes some of us here are indeed it touch with the reality of the situation. It is not that America has become ungovernable it is that we lack the effective leadership. Yes you can compare America with other nations that have in the past done the very same things. Great Britian is a shinning example of past global dominance and to deny that is to deny history. Why do you think the American people are so frustrated with our governing bodies over the last 4 decades. Our government is treating us just like it treats third world nations. Our government legislates even morality which they themselves do not follow. They legislate what is in their own best interest and how it will affect their wallets,their social life, their families not what is best for the average American. What would YOU have us do? How would YOU change the way our governing bodies operate? Right now I am so glade to have the 2nd amendment on the side of the common man, even though they are trying to take it away from us. I can see the writing on the wall and I can read between the lines of the lates round of legislation on gun control. I have been on the inside of government and have watched,listened to them and have fought them on issues like taking without compensation their

I sense your frustration but you talk about the government as if it is something "alien" and the same time it is "by the people, of the people". The contradiction is that the American "people" are no longer the government. When did this start? You would probably have a better idea of when the drip, drip of erosion began.

What would I suggest you do? I would suggest that people band together in neighborhoods and begin to take the government back, level by level. Only elect people that have the same vision as you and your people. The immediate problem is the extreme polarization that exists across the country. Whose vision will prevail? Do you want Sarah Palin and the Tea Baggers defining what America is and start molding the nation to that picture? I can't say who on the other side of the political spectrum because they have become so marginalized. I think Obama is a creature of the political system and I no longer see him as someone who can unite the nation. But I could be surprised and I hope that I am. Did you read the Krugman column? That's more the issue than anything else.

Frazier February 8, 2010 10:57 pm (Pacific time)

So what you are really saying is that the American Government is becoming more and more like the British Government and look where that got them.

If you're talking about King George, etc., that was a parliamentary democracy although the franchise was strictly limited. In that sense I suppose a valid comparison can be made. I'm not sure what you mean.

Frazier February 8, 2010 10:55 pm (Pacific time)

I relish the debate. It helps me stay on trac mentally. My Scottish ancestors were exiled from Scotland by the British then they immigrated to Canada (Olds Alberta, Nova Scotia) they immigrated from Canada to America to flee the British then they fought in the Revolutionary War against the British when the British came to the colonies to disarm them. Why do we have the Second Amendment? Hmmmm. Was the war fought over taxation without represetation as we were taught in school? No. It was fought over gun control and the colonists beat back the most powerful nation in the world. For that reason the 2nd amenedment will always be fought over. The right to protect our own freedom.

If you'd like to go offline and have a real debate, I'm always interested. Email me at and I'll reply. Email is much more immediate with no artificial structure. I look forward to hearing from you.

Frazier February 8, 2010 7:39 pm (Pacific time)

I have read Kinzer"s book Overthrow. It had comfirmed everything that I had suspected all along. The United States government has forgotten it's roots and how America came to be. You skirt the fact that Great Britian was the first to colonize the Middle East until they revolted and regained control over their coutry, Much like Colonial America. It has been said that "The sun shall never set on British Possission." No one says that now. My point is that American government has forgotten that colonization in what every form breeds contempt and as I have stated it will ultimately fail. Kinzer merely states what we already know and that is BIG MONEY RULES THE WORLD. It shapes all governments everywhere. The Second Amendment was put in place to alow the common man an avenue in which to protect himself from tyranny, not only from abroad but from within. The very fact that so many of us are armed prevents invasion from outside and holds at bay our own government from subjugating it's own citizens and that is what the Second Amendment is all about like it or not. How do we control Big Business and the corruption it brings to the Nation and the World I wish I had the answer to that one. Kinzer affirmed what most of us already know. "The man with all the gold makes the rules". This seems to be the new golden rule. You have to agree that when any nation reaches out to intervene in any other countries politics for finacial gain it will only bring chaos and resentment however, Rome,Great Britian, Spain,France,Germany,Japan, etc. Have engaged in the same tactics. Why then do you point your finger specifically at the US? Yes the world may breath easier, for awhile, until some other nation attempts to do the same thing. Funny how history keeps repeating it's self. I would like to see an article from you concerning the other countries engaged in the same policies as the US, just to be fair.

To be fair, there is no other nation that comes remotely close to American global dominance. Perhaps China in the next couple of decades.

You talk about the importance of the 2A, etc. but I can't help a bit of sarcasm here. What about the "genius" of the FF? And the cosmic wonderfulness of the Constitution and Bill of Rights? America is in a hoop of poop of its own making. Democracy in action and that's what you get. Read Paul Krugman's column from Feb 7: America has become functionally ungovernable. It's going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever gets better. You can't hold any other countries responsible or even compare them. America is no better and no worse than any other powerful nation and it's only the wilfull blindess of its citizens that keep them from seeing it and continuing to believe 18th century fantasies.

My next article will be a review of Godrey Hodgson's The Myth of American Exceptionalism. I'm reading books that more Americans should be reading but aren't because they have a belief in their own political perfectionism and resent even a whiff of a discouraging word.

Frazier February 8, 2010 3:08 pm (Pacific time)

I believe that the United States should consider the same sort of neutrality as the Swiss. Return to an era of isolationism and let Canada,UK,France take the lead when another country asks for military aid. Which country will be the first to take this lead? So far all involved have been happy to let the US go first then complain if things don't go well. If you think that your country is immune from the terrorist rath, think again. Canada, France and the UK are all considered relevalt targets by the Taliban and al Qeada. You are considered "THE WEST" as well. Remember the UK used to be the heavy hand in the Middle East long before the US and they won their independence from Great Britian the same way the US did. By Force. The British solution of disarm and subjugate has never and will never work. The subjects always revolt.

If the US returned to isolationism I think much of the world would breathe a sigh of relief. You sound as if a lot of the violence in the world has nothing to do with the U.S., missing the fact that much of the world hates American foreign policy, and for good reason. I continue to recommend, but no commenter has taken me up on it: Read Stephen Kinzer's book, Overthrow detailing American aggression over the last century around the world. Read it and weep for the American ideals that your country has lost.

Frazier February 8, 2010 2:46 pm (Pacific time)

I never hear anyone dissenting on Switzerland. They have mandatory service in the military at the age of nineteen. These citizen soldiers then go home with their weapons to defend their country. Is it because they are a neutral country that no one mentions this fact? The Swiss Armed Forces perform the roles of Switzerland's militia and regular army. Under the country's militia system, professional soldiers constitute only about 5 percent of military personnel; the rest are conscript citizens 20 to 34 (in some cases up to 50) years old. Because of a long history of neutrality, the army does not take part in armed conflicts in other countries, but is part of several peacekeeping missions around the world. The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their own personal equipment, including all personal weapons, at home. Compulsory military service concerns all male Swiss citizens, with women serving voluntarily. They usually receive marching orders at the age of 19 for military conscription. About two-thirds of young Swiss men are found suitable for service, while alternative service exists for those found unsuitable.[3] Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in boot camp for a duration from 18 to 21 weeks. Following the end of the Cold War there have been several attempts to curb military activity or even abolish the armed forces altogether (see Group for a Switzerland without an Army). A notable referendum on the subject was held on 26 November 1989 and, although defeated, did see a significant percentage of the voters in favour of such an initiative.[4] However, a similar referendum, called for before, but held shortly after the 9/11 attacks, was defeated by over 77% of voters.[5] The reform "Army XXI" was adopted by popular vote in 2003, it replaced the previous model "Army 95", reducing the effectives from 400,000 to about 200,000 personnel (120,000 active duty and 80,000 reservists.)[6] Military of Switzerland from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's interesting that you select Switzerland. The per capita homicide rate in Switzerland is 2.26, compared to 5.4 in the U.S. The Swiss suicide rate is 17.5 compared to the U.S. at 11.1. Where there are guns, there is death and violence. That's what guns are made for.

Frazier February 8, 2010 10:34 am (Pacific time)

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria-Bonesana, 1764

Frazier February 8, 2010 10:31 am (Pacific time)

An armed man is a citizen,an unarmed man is a subject.

Frazier February 8, 2010 10:20 am (Pacific time)

“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." ~~ George Washington You might not know that the WA State constitution is even more specific about this: SECTION 24 RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men. If you love your country, it is every citizen’s duty to prepare to defend it and fight for it. The Miltia Act of 1792 is "still on the books." In U.S. vs Miller (1939), one of only five true 2A cases heard by the SCOTUS, the Court refers the 1792 Militia Act to define just what "the militia" is. The Court determined the militia to be "all physically capable males.. acting in concert for common defense when called for service.. expected to appear bearing arms, supplied by themselves, of the kind in common use at the time."

Lee February 6, 2010 4:31 pm (Pacific time)

Ok, let me get this straight. You title your article
"The Second Amendment Fantasy and How Americans Have Been Taken In", then someone responds to your article saying:
"It seems strange to me how foreigners are so anxious to disarm us."
Your response to them:
"The real issue is that the US as such a globally dominant power exports violence all over the world. The US is violence personified."
Thank you for defining me. I have been searching for an identity, and you have assigned it to me and every other American (...he said, dripping sarcasm...)
I also see when someone cogently addresses the central idea of your piece, you change the argument and generalize and entire nation of individuals to the same behavior and attitude.
You really expect us to take you seriously?

I really don't care how you take me. If you want to arm yourselves to the teeth and attack other nations for bogus reasons and declare that to be the American ideal, then stay with that one.

Robert McMillon February 1, 2010 5:50 pm (Pacific time)

I do not claim to know the full meaning or even text of the Second Amendment, however I do have a concealed pistol license in my state of Alabama. You must realized that if guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have them. Now for a Personal bit... My house WAS invaded by men with illegal weapons and the fact that I DO sleep with a loaded .45 1911 saved the life of me and my family. It is not paranoia to sleep or even walk around town with a gun. You may choose to be unarmed, that's fine, I'll attend your funeral when you get shot by someone who doesn't care about the law. I HAVE been shot before in civilian life. I have also been robbed, burgled, and according to statistics one out of every four women (if not more!) have been raped. If everyone had a pistol, I personally believe there would be less crime because you would have to catch someone completely unaware. Keep your wits about you, keep your guns loaded, and keep your aim sharp or be prepared to be gunned down by a thug that doesn't care if his guns are illegal or not. They're already breaking the law. You do realize that drug traffickers still manage to get their products into our great nation, do you truly believe that the flow of weapons would stop? Articles like this are how our rights to defend ourselves, speak freely, peacefully assemble and worship who we want to without prejudice get stripped from us. No I don't think my guns will save me from the police force nor our military. However it has saved me from being a corpse in the past, and I will carry a concealed weapon until I die. Having read the previous comments, I have to inform you that it's not hard to have an unreported or unrecorded homicide. No body, no murder. Missing Person at best, and we have quite a few people missing where I am from.

Arthur Kellermann, a professor of emergency medicine and public health at Emory University says:

"More than 20 years ago, I conducted a study of firearm-related deaths in homes in Seattle and surrounding King County, Washington. Over the study's seven-year interval, more than half of all fatal shootings in the county took place in the home where the firearm involved was kept. Just nine of those shootings were legally justifiable homicides or acts of self-defense; guns kept in homes were also involved in 12 accidental deaths, 41 criminal homicides and a shocking 333 suicides. A subsequent study conducted in three U.S. cities found that guns kept in the home were 12 times more likely to be involved in the death or injury of a member of the household than in the killing or wounding of a bad guy in self-defense".

armed_2_the_teeth January 31, 2010 4:37 am (Pacific time)

to put it simply "I got guns cuz they got guns"

Dallas January 28, 2010 8:28 am (Pacific time)

Canada, like her big brother, the United States of America, have always had people and various organizations (see below) that have been focused on gun confiscation. Their methodology for pursuing that goal is varied, but the final result, confiscation, remains the one and only objective. They're like small children, thinking that they have come up with novel ways of deception, but the adults have always remained far ahead of them. In a word to describe their behavior and mindset: narcissistic. "CONFISCATION IN CANADA by Neal Knox The Toronto mayor says Canada's "reasonable" gun laws, and the newest law that all firearms in the country be registered, aren't enough. He wants handguns totally banned in his city. In scripture according to Knox, found in the first book of Gun Week, 1966, "The only purpose of gun registration is gun confiscation."

Percy January 27, 2010 7:25 am (Pacific time)

Long ago while an undergrad, I had this English Professor who had us write two critiques for all literature reviews we made. For example when reviewing a poem or short story from the 16th century I would make a contemporary analysis, then for the other I would research the author and the time period he/she was from. The latter analysis took quite a bit of time, but it showed me how easy it was to error in applying contemporary values/standards to the past. It appears the author of this article is doing the same thing when evaluating the founders of this magnificent country. Cultures evolve, some people simply do not understand that significance. Well, off to the range.

You've pointed out the real problem. American culture has not evolved. Amazing new technology and military might, but same old beliefs.

Freddy January 26, 2010 9:43 pm (Pacific time)

I wish to add to my previous comment: Why do you fall back upon personal attacks? Is it because you lack data to back up your statements? When have we ridiculed you for your religion? The founding fathers were Christian. America was founded as a Christian nation, with the belief that all men are created equal, endowed with unalienable rights from their Creator. Call me delusional, but at least I'm happy.

All men created equal? And what of the slaves? America itself was founded on a delusion.

Rick January 26, 2010 11:20 am (Pacific time)

I also, after having read the posts before, come to the following conslucions: 1. Many anti-Second Amendment have not understanding of the amndment, nor the reasons put forth by the founding fathers for the amendment. 2. Many who accuse the US of being a "rogue" nation, do not explain what would now exist if the US had not taken much of the action it took. I appreciate those who did provide a possible alternative, although I believe wrong.

What would exist if the US had not taken the action it has? Well, for starters, the Panama Canal would belong to Panama; Iraq would not be broken; dozens of other nations would not have been invaded (see Steven Kinzer's book Overthrow for detailed coverage); millions in Chile and Argentina would not have died, been disappeared or tortured if the US (through the CIA) had not overthrown the democratically elected government of Salvadore Allende. I'm surprised the US hasn't invaded Venezuela. The American people are willing to help others in distress, like in Haiti, but your government's foreign policy has amply earned the US the title of Rogue Nation. If I were an American, I wouldn't be proud of my nation's role in the world over the last century or so and particularly under the last eight years of Bush who the American people elected in your so-called democracy. Our democracy, too, is screwed up, but at least we don't make other nations pay for our failings.

Jacon Silverman January 26, 2010 8:03 am (Pacific time)

After reading the below posts it's obvious that there are two opposing viewpoints, but there is just one conclusion, and that has been legally rendered.

Wiley Ecks January 25, 2010 7:17 pm (Pacific time)

Dang, I just noticed the dateline on this article. Calgary, Alberta? Good Lord Almighty, another Canadian trying to tell us how to live.

Wiley Ecks January 25, 2010 7:15 pm (Pacific time)

"Every person walking down the street towards you, may want to do you harm—so have a gun." It isn't every person who wants to do me harm but all it takes is one person. Just like I wear a seat belt because I may be in an accident, I like to be prepared for that one person who wants to do me harm.

I have my own theory, but none of you gun-nuts has satisfactorily answered the question: Why is America the only developed nation in the world where people feel that they need to arm themselves against their fellow citizens?

Al Marnelli January 25, 2010 6:24 pm (Pacific time)

DJ I am all those, Italian-Irish. In fact most of us here in America are doing pretty well even with the horrible policies that have come out of DC of late. My children are all doing well as are their children. We pay our taxes, do not break the laws and we help all those that we can. It's a good life DJ. We all worked hard to get to this point and have become somewhat savy in learning how to maintain a good lifestyle. My health is good, though I carry around some shrapnel in my neck from Vietnam that is impacting my cervical spine (C-4 area) and may have to have neck surgery, but my youngest sister's husband is a neck surgeon, and he is one of the best around. So not too worried, but am doing other conservative treatments to avoid surgery. Most of us around where I live have medical insurance (85% of Americans are happy with their healthcare), we all own firearms. Some are hunters and target shooters, but all of us recognize the need to have firearms for self-defense. We also know how to use those firearms. I do not forsee a need for my Second Amendment right to be used against a government tyranny. I do expect that in the future there will be some massive uprisings and law enforcement will be overwhelmed at first. We have been balkanizing for decades now, and it appears that it is getting worse. The massive unemployment coupled with the huge school drop-out rate is creating a dangerous riot situation in our urban areas. As you know a good summer in Paris is when they burn less than 50,000 cars. We are developing conditions similar to what Paris has.

And you're proud of that? Your comment that "most of us here in America are doing pretty well" is belied by fact that tens of millions of Americans are in very bad shape indeed and overall, most American's attitude, like yours, is "I've got mine, you get your own." I can see why you believe you need guns. You're lucky, it's true, but there is a storm coming and I wonder if your luck is going to hold out.

Tim King: DJ, this little piece of crap just tried a verbal attack on Dr. Leveque that I will never forget.  Hey Al, you little piece of work, get the Hell out of here and don't ever come back.  If I see this name or trace it to the IP it is gone down the toilet, banned... done.

Lex Luthor January 25, 2010 6:06 pm (Pacific time)

Trying to understand the point of the article, which I think the author was trying to make, was that the 2nd A does NOT protect the right of self defense, am I wrong on that ? One thing that is crystal clear to me, is that the concern around the time of the writing of the amendment, was that of government running rough shod over citizens. The author however has mistakenly said that it applied back then, but it does not apply now. I am sorry, but the 2nd amendment exists to protect the citizenry from government gone awry. And that is the sole reason for that amendment, and since it was simply a given that one would have a gun in his home's possession or his person back then, the attitudes at the time didn't require much further explanation, there was simply no reason to enumerate much on the subject, it was simply a given that you had a right to own a gun. We had just beaten the King who wanted to tax us with representation for gods sake, a gun was a necessity against government. Over time this has been lost in the translation. Just as Art 1. Sect. 9 prohibits "capitations", ( a tax on what you do for a living), yes thats right, what you do for a living is forbidden by law from being taxed, you read that right, but just as that has been lost in translation, so has the intent and meaning of the 2nd A. It is very clear that one posseses the very basic human right of self defense. That is so basic that to assume otherwise is actually not sane.

Self-defense is not a "right" it's an instinctual human reaction to a threat--real or imagined. People even duck when a snowball is hurled at them. But guns? What many Americans don't seem to understand (at least the gun-nuts don't) is that the guns in the 2A were meant for a militia to defend the country--not for any person (sane or not) to own and be able to brandish at will, Saturday-night-specials, assault weapons, AK47s, etc. American culture worships violence which is why it is the most violent of the developed nations of the world. If you believe for a second that the Founding Fathers would approve of what America has become, then I question your grip on reality.

Al Marnelli January 25, 2010 3:07 pm (Pacific time)

Greg, good essays. America will thrive and prosper because of what the Founding Fathers created. We are so very lucky to live here.

I'm assuming that you're white and financially comfortable (for now).

Daniel Johnson January 25, 2010 12:14 pm (Pacific time)

One response to all—past, present and future:

Here is a quote from American philosopher Allan Bloom's book The Closing of the American Mind.

He says: “The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.”

Here's a quote from American philosopher Lewis Mumford from his book The Pentagon of Power: The myth of the machine: “If the history of the human race teaches any plain lessons, this is one of them: Man cannot be trusted with absolutes.” (his italics)

This is the pathology of American culture described in two quotes. First, there are the people (in this case the pro-gun, Second Amendment people) who are in a mental box and don't know, and are unable to understand, that there are other, legitimate, points of view. What keeps them in this mental straitjacket is their belief in absolutes, of which there are none.

If you believe there are absolutes and you can prove it, you'll be more famous than Einstein who proved there aren't. Good luck.

Jim Macklin January 25, 2010 7:36 am (Pacific time)

Until the end of the 19th Century, the US Army was a small force and most of the military power was in the State Militia. The Spanish-American War exposed a weakness in the ability to deploy troops. The Congress created the National Guard as a subset of the Army. In 1871, the NRA was organized to train the average citizen in the big northern cities how to shoot like a swamp rat. The NRA was not interested or worried about "gun control" untiluntil after the 1968 Gun Control Act became law. THe NRA is what it is today because of the gun ban movement.

Greg January 24, 2010 4:12 pm (Pacific time)

Obviously, the polemics of Mr. Wills, the outrageous nature of his claims, wherein he posits that he is wiser and in possession of knowledge beyond that of the founding fathers or our country, the body of constitutional scholars and historians in our nation, and knowledge beyond the jurisprudence of our judiciary would be laughable, if people didn’t take him seriously. But allow Mr. Wills to speak for himself in regards to his temperament and objectivity as he describes gun owners who believe they have a right or duty to defend themselves or their loved ones: "the sordid race of gunsels" , "gun fetishists", "traitors, enemies of their own patriae." [Garry Wills, "Gun Rules...or Worldwide Gun Control?" Phil. Inq., May 17, 1981, page 8E; Garry Wills, "John Lennon's War," Chi. Sun-Times, Dec. 12, 1980.] He believes as he wrote in 1981, "Every civilized society must disarm its citizens against each other" Mr. Wills’ patrician pretensions place him in the fine linage of General Thomas Gage who tried to disarm the colonists at Lexington and Concord. But fear not the Tory scorn of Mr. Wills as his was the same attitude that decried our founding fathers such as Washington, Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson - those traitors of their own patriae - those sordid revolutionary gunsels. No we are not “stupid dupes” of a Second amendment fantasy popularized by the “evil” NRA. No, it was our forefathers that stood at Lexington green and at Yorktown that won our nations freedom, and we will never forget. Wills and the title of this article are extremely insulting and condescending.

What no one has answered is: What pathology exists in American history and society that it is the only developed nation in the world where the citizens are encouraged to be at war with one another? I think it's the rich just getting richer through the age old strategy of divide and conquer. Think about it.

And as for the FFs setting up a democracy--that was the farthest thing from their minds. That's why the polity did not include slaves, women or men who did not own property. "We the people" meant, from the FF point of view, "people like us"--the propertied aristocracy. Something else to think about.

Jarhead1982 January 24, 2010 10:25 am (Pacific time)

It is simply amazing, a media outlet such as Salem, bristling with numerous staff members who are former Marines (see contact info below). Daniel, I would imagine you have had many discussions with your co-workers on the subject of gun control eh? What are their feelings? In those discussions, do you normally not answer direct questions, avoid the facts, and not use all the data to formulate an opinion just as you have done in the article and the blog? Did you read everything and by not responding to the facts presented admit they exist, or do you still refuse to admit that as any true trained activist does so as not have to admit its relevance or detraction of your position? Yet here ya went and wrote this article, me think you do protest too much. Then ya censor portions of the blog, a supposed bastion of free speach, yet did I use profanity, no. Then the sarcasm was too much, but your a news person, they are supposed to have thick skins by trade as you lamely attempted to use sarcasm in your replies, lol! Still looking for answers to ALL the questions and data forwarded to you to assist in filling out the details of reality. See I never stated violence doesnt occur, or that a few normally law abiding commit a crime. You however by your inferences classify ALL who own a firearm as a criminal. I acknowledge there is a risk, but when I detailed that risk in real numbers, you didnt post it. Real numbers based on government data, and not some special interest group. Nor apparently have ever had need for such a use, I have. As a result, I prevented a 6'3" 300+ lb violent criminal from breaking into the house where normally my 5'1" 100lb mother was alone. Of course you can guarantee that the burglar, who we found out later had a violent assault record, wouldnt have harmed my mother in any fashion right? No, having defended myself 4 times in my life, never being involved in a criminal act, never having to fire a shot because I was prepared you still deign to believe the second amendment is a fantasy. Fact is because I believe in that fantasy, reality is that 14 different people were not harmed over the span of 30 years and 4 different encounters, 4 family, and 10 criminals whom I didnt have to shoot because they realized that I was prepared, and serious. I am just an average citizen, my story is not unique, nor a one time occurrence, unless you can prove otherwise. Oh P.S. I dont play fair, dont post this to the blog, and I e-mail all your co-workers with this blog entry, just I am building a database to identify all gun free zones, and people in the US. Welcome to reality Daniel.Tim King Vice-President/Executive Editor Email: Alan Ned Sabrosky World Affairs Email: Bob O’Dowd Environmental and Military Reporter Email: Gordon Duff Military Reporter Email: Roger Butow's 'Odd Man Out' Email: Phil Northcutt Veterans Issues Reporter Email: Jerry West Writer Email: Chuck Vietnam Correspondent Email:

I'm in Canada so I have never met or talked to the other writers. Makes me wonder what you're doing. If the anti-gun people are such an impotent lot, why are you wasting your time? You could be out on the street flashing your gun, so others would see what a "man" you are.

Fred Johnson January 24, 2010 9:58 am (Pacific time)

Not sure what history Gary Wills is referencing; for example militia members of the colonial and Federalist periods were required to provide their own arms; that the States also maintained stores of arms, powder, shot and equipment does not change the fact that the British action at Lexington and Concord was designed to disarm the colonists – severally and individually. With an overt goal of seizing the cannon, powder and stores maintained in the village of Concord, General Gage’s troops were also to disarm and disperse any militia encountered en route– which involves the unconstitutional seizing of individual weapons (in that it violated the “traditional and ancient rights of the free (non-indebted) English". He would do well to read David Hackett Fischer’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” or “The Minutemen and Their World” by Robert A. Gross and Alan M. Taylor – he might find it illuminating. According to my understanding the Constitution ALWAYS comes first! The Constitution IS LAW! Article VI, paragraph two: “This Constitution…shall be the supreme Law of the Land." The Bill of Rights is not a list of DOs but a list of DO NOTs! The Bill of Rights, especially, is under attack from legislative and bureaucratic angles, including organizations like the Violence Policy Institute, Brady and others, who have never been able to provide any evidence that could stand up to opposing arguments. They have pursued an emotional debate, not a factual one, and it is the latter format that always is the last one left standing in the "legal arena." It’s about time more Americans are standing up to say: we’re not going to violate the Constitution. Period. And quite often, it’s just one small spark that starts a forest fire. I’m glad to see the U.S. Constitution sparking great interest. There is a preponderance of evidence that the "legal intent" by the authors and ratifiers of the Second Amendment were for individual firearm ownership and that is how it has been interpreteted by the ultimate final decision-makers, the top Constitutional scholars of America. There may be future debate, but it has been decided for now, and from a political perspective, unlikely congress will ever attempt to override that final decision any time soon.

Greg January 23, 2010 8:24 pm (Pacific time)

But people say, guns don’t help you to do that, a criminal will just take it away and use it on you or it will lead to a tragic accident; and you can have all the guns you want but lightly armed citizens cannot stand against a modern military to overthrow tyranny. In regards to the first two points it has been clearly demonstrated by year after year of data as contained in the FBI Uniform Crime Report - that individuals who defend themselves with a gun are less likely to be seriously injured or killed than individuals who use any other form of resistance and those who do not resist and also that the crime is less likely to be completed - which is especially significant in crimes like rape. Additionally firearm accidents have continued to decrease to all time lows, and again research by respected criminologists like Gary Kleck indicate that the victims of fatal firearm accidents are overwhelmingly represented by those individuals who have a history of violence, alcoholism or drug addiction - in other words people who are already typically prohibited from owning firearms. As to the ability to resist a modern military with tanks, planes, missiles, nukes, smart bombs, etc…God forbid it would ever come to that but consider that amongst the citizens alone fully 80 million own an estimated 300,000,000 million firearms - more arms and ammunition by far than any military in the world. Consider that such a horrific war would be fought inside the militaries line of supply and in the midst of their homes and the businesses and facilities that produce their war material. Consider that those on active duty would be tasked with not going abroad to fight an enemy in a foreign land but they would be fighting and killing their own countrymen and women - in some cases their own families. How effective are smart bombs and nukes and planes when they are targeting your own cities, your own civilians, your own families, and you own highways and industry. Seems that traditional military power would be severely constricted and even if it were not - how effective has the United States military been in ending the war in Afghanistan - seems like it continues - when it presents a far simpler problem for the military than a domestic conflict would. What would all those highly trained recently returned veterans do? Would every member of the active duty military comply with orders in such a situation? Oh, it would be a terrible horrific thing, but would a US government that engaged in such a war long survive? I don’t think anyone really knows and I don’t think any sane person would desire to find out - but that is the point in a way isn’t it - it is a deterrent to have an armed citizenry so that government feels obligated in the end to listen to the people. I will leave you with one quote from one of the founding fathers of our country which I believe is apropos to the idea of the right and the duty to bear arms in order to defend one’s life and liberty. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” - Samuel Adams

Greg January 23, 2010 8:23 pm (Pacific time)

But, what I would like to communicate to you and your readers is the basis of the concepts of liberty and freedom on our country. That basis is expressed in the foundational document of our nation the Declaration of Independence which states the proposition that we have certain inalienable rights or rights that cannot rightfully be taken or given away, since those rights also entail specific individual responsibilities. The Declaration therefore posits that rights and liberty are not given or created by government, but exist prior to government and that the primary role of government is to protect the free exercise of those rights and that when any government becomes destructive of those ends that it is not only the people’s right but it is their duty to throw off that government and to create a new government that is supportive of liberty. That concept was crucial to the founding fathers and led then to try to establish a constitutional republic, meaning a government of limited powers, constrained to only those powers specifically delineated in the Constitution with, as stated in the Ninth Amendment, the rest of the rights and powers to be reserved to the people and the individual states respectively. Among those rights is the right to life, a right that is meaningless without the right to defend it, as well as a right to liberty which again is meaningless without a right to defend it. Ultimately the right to life and the right to defend that life, just like the right to liberty and the right to defend it, cannot be given over to government. And our courts have recognized this in numerous court cases that have held that the government has no responsibility to protect or defend an individuals life. I don’t know about you, but as an individual it is my responsibility to defend my life, as a husband and father it is my responsibility to defend my family. As a citizen of the United States it is my responsibility to defend my country - again here the courts and law have defined essentially that all those citizens who are not members of the organized militia - the armed services and the national guard - are members of the unorganized militia. The Second amendment was written to protect in law those rights and responsibilities

Greg January 23, 2010 8:22 pm (Pacific time)

Odd to find a review and article on Garry Wills book published in 1999 reviewed and cited as an important look at the second amendment. Perhaps your readers should know that Wills is completely out of the accepted scholarship and jurisprudence on the Second Amendment, not even those scholars and gun control advocates who disputed an individual rights view of the second amendment agreed with him. His use of the work of Michael Bellesiles which has been thoroughly discredited is also an indication of the lack of quality in this book. As a reference to you and your readers I would suggest the following links: Which provides links to the documentation that destroyed Bellesiles work and career. Which points out the basic illogic of Wills work on the Second Amendment and Which provides links to a vast amount of Second Amendment Scholarship, and which has links to a history of Second Amendment Jurisprudence, including the recent Heller decision of the United States Supreme Court - wherein all nine Justices agreed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. The 5 - 4 split was over the application of that individual right to the specifics of the case. That being said as briefly as I could I would like to address the fundamental issues that seem to come through in you posts. As far as our violent country goes, that problem that exists is not guns. If it is then it is odd that as gun ownership and right to carry laws have increased in our country that violent crime and murder have decreased. It is also odd during that same period that even accidental firearm deaths have declined. If guns are the problem why is that the case. I would also note that comparing raw rates of violent crime between countries is fraught with difficulties. For one such example see the study referenced here: , which shows a comparison of homicide rates between the cities of Vancouver, Canada and Seattle, US - what is interesting about this study is that when ethnicity is taken into account the homicide rate is lower in Seattle. Would I use this to claim that Caucasian men in Canada are more homicidal than Caucasian men in the United States, no because there are too many variables that could confound the data. Neither should one in good conscious claim that guns are the reason that there are more homicides in the United States than Canada.

Irv January 23, 2010 6:13 pm (Pacific time)

"He has a concealed weapons permit, does that make you feel better?" YES! Why, yes, it most certainly does!

Irv January 23, 2010 6:11 pm (Pacific time)

The word "Militia" was clearly understood by those who wrote the 2nd. amendment. It came from England (look it up in a dictionary from that time period) and meant at the time the same thing it means today, except to those who try to warp words to fit their irrational fantasies, "All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 40". The remainder of the 2nd. just says what those men should do - maintain a weapon and ammunition in good order, ready to use.

tommy January 23, 2010 6:01 pm (Pacific time)

China, North Korea, USSR, Libya, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy) prefer their victims (e.g., the serfs, peasants, you, and me) to be disarmed. 2nd – The roots of gun-control in the USA (and elsewhere) are extremely racist. Did the ANTI-SELF-DEFENSE LOBBY tell you...

"ANTI-SELF-DEFENSE LOBBY" is one of those loaded terms that is supposed to make sense but actually doesn't.

Carolyn Ellis January 23, 2010 12:52 pm (Pacific time)

To the poster Daniel: Though your below comment was off topic it does relate to another upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment expected soon. In my opinion, the Supreme Court Protected Us On Thursday. Do you want government regulating what movies can be shown to the public? Do you want the government determining what movies can be advertised? Or what books can be sold? Well, the Obama administration actually argued for these regulations before the Supreme Court in defending campaign finance regulations. Actually, they went even further and said that such regulations were essential to limiting how much money is spent on political campaigns. Fortunately, the Supreme Court disagreed. On Thursday, in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court struck down a law that had been used to stop the advertising or showing of "Hillary: The Movie" during the 2008 presidential campaign. No one doubts that the movie was critical of Hillary Clinton and that its release was timed precisely to hurt her presidential campaign. What the court couldn't abide was letting the government decide when a movie crossed the line and became too political. The ruling eliminates bans that corporations and unions have faced in trying to influence elections 30 days before a primary election or nominating convention, or within 60 days before a general election. Campaign finance laws aim to restrict how much money can be spent on campaigns, but, just as Justice Antonin Scalia warned in 2003, “expenditures” can take an essentially unlimited number of forms. "If history teaches us anything, [it] is that when you plug one means of expression, the money will go to whatever means of expression are left," Scalia warned during oral arguments when the McCain-Feingold law was first heard before the court in 2003. There will be much pro and con analysis regarding this decision in the coming days, weeks, months, even years, but it is about freedom, regardless of any interpretation. Why allow only those who own the media to control information, right or wrong, truth or propaganda?

Greg January 23, 2010 11:11 am (Pacific time)

Keep your postings under 5-600 words

Daniel January 23, 2010 9:44 am (Pacific time)

The highest court in the land just made the rich more powerfull , giving more rights to companies than the average person . A big loss of freedom , will we see the media hype a big protest or let it slide . The major media looks out mostly for its own self interest , from all the harmful crap they push to the phoney money making stories . Its all about the bottom line from the right to the left . The powers that be use people like Tim Mcvey or the 911 highjackers to TAKE your FREEDOM not give you more . We can see most people will give up their freedom for the false feeling of security . If you think your gun protects you from the police state we live in your dead wrong .

Carolyn Ellis January 23, 2010 9:39 am (Pacific time)

If the recent work of gun control advocates (and that of many federal courts) is any guide, there has not been a rise in the level of professional discourse on their side. It appears that many of these scholars are not only allowing their work to be influenced by their strong feelings about the utility of gun control and guns in general, but also are not interested in seriously engaging the constitutional arguments put forth by Second Amendment scholars. Worse still is the blurring of the lines between popular and professional discourse on the part of gun control advocates. It is one thing to write an opinion piece expressing, well, one's opinion on the constitutionality of gun control; it is quite another to present the same argument festooned with a few citations and call it "scholarship." Serious Second Amendment scholars easily provide evidence that the Founding Fathers clearly were referencing the individuals right to private arms while those non-scholars with a gun-control agenda can only use misdirection in this matter, which when debated on it's merits will fail, regardless of the oohs and awwws by whoever publishes the misdirection.

What the FFs said at various times is not really relevant. The important thing is what actually got into the documents like the Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc., because those are the legal foundation for the nation itself. But you make some good points, Carolyn. At the beginning of my article I pointed out that the 2A has become an emotional issue which, I think, if more a factor in "debates" than facts.

Jarhead1982 January 23, 2010 9:01 am (Pacific time)

What is the average response time for a call for police, best is 4 minutes, most 15-20 minutes average, prove otherwise. Wow, are you going to ask the armed attacker to politely wait until the police arrive? We will wait for your shattering expose on how to change US Supreme Court precedent and the new taxation needed to fund a police force in sufficient numbers to protect every single individual. There have been 10 different times the US Supreme court ruled that the government is not liable for the protection of the individual citizen in the US. Yet here you go again demanding that they are the only ones authorized and capable of doing so. There are a few incidents of concealed carry license holders used as justification that all concealed carry license holders are a risk. Lets apply Lynn’s theory to the only ones she wants authorized. These are just from the last couple of days, but the pattern is consistent, police committing all sorts of criminal acts as they are empowered by the badge and above the law. Making mistakes shooting the wrong person, making mistakes and not following standard safety procedures resulting in their own needless deaths. Based on Lynn position in your blog, these are the only qualified. Jeff states that a few bad apples for civilians demands that none have the authority to carry a firearm, so to then Lynn and any other anti must demand police no longer have the authority to carry a weapon as the evidence proves, that because of these few NO POLICE are qualified or to be trusted! Shall we talk about the effect we have on a bordering country? A Comparison of Violent and Firearm Crime Rates in the Canadian Prairie Provinces and Four U.S. Border States, 1961-2003, Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament, March 7, 2005. “Comparing average crime rates for 2003 in the three prairie provinces and in the four bordering states as presented in the report for those crimes that are similarly defined and measured in both countries, we found that, in total, both violent and property crime rates were two thirds higher in the Canadian prairie provinces than in the four border states. Average crime rates were higher in the Canadian Prairies for all crimes with comparable definitions and statistics in the U.S.A.: Homicide – 1.1x higher; Aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and attempted murder – 1.5 x higher; Robbery – 2.1x higher; Breaking and Entering – 2.3x higher; and Motor Vehicle Theft – 3.2x higher.” Yeah, not much effect, yet a few people expect us to believe there is any difference in results at the Mexican border either, ROTFLMFAO. Oh so much more facts, not from the NRA or the Brady Center either.

Jarhead1982 January 23, 2010 9:00 am (Pacific time)

Keep your postings under 5-600 words

Jarhead1982 January 23, 2010 8:57 am (Pacific time)

ROTFLMFAO You are hilarious Daniel. You fail to go to the what is defined in those categories to prove your point, thereby going on an assumption, not the facts. Below are the details of what is included in the "SUMMARY" that is presented in the database. By the way, I dont see a similar detailed categorization of the Canadian data, and based on the numbers and types of offenses listed in the US data, guess you Cannucks need to expand YOUR data to include all the violent crimes eh? As I said before, want another data beating? CHAPTER II—CLASSIFYING OFFENSES CRIMINAL HOMICIDE (1) Criminal Homicide—Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter (1a) Justifiable Homicide Criminal Homicide—Manslaughter by Negligence (1b) FORCIBLE RAPE (2) Forcible Rape—Rape by Force (2a) Forcible Rape—Attempts to Commit Forcible Rape (2b) ROBBERY (3) Robbery—Firearm (3a) Robbery—Knife or Cutting Instrument (3b) Robbery—Other Dangerous Weapon (3c) Robbery—Strong-arm—Hands, Fists, Feet, Etc. (3d) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (4) Aggravated Assault—Firearm (4a) Aggravated Assault—Knife or Cutting Instrument (4b) Aggravated Assault—Other Dangerous Weapon (4c) Aggravated Assault—Hands, Fists, Feet, Etc.—Aggravated Injury (4d) Other Assaults—Simple, Not Aggravated (4e) Aids to Classifying Assaults BURGLARY—BREAKING OR ENTERING (5) Hotel Rule Burglary—Forcible Entry (5a) Burglary—Unlawful Entry—No Force (5b) Burglary—Attempted Forcible Entry (5c)

Boston January 23, 2010 8:39 am (Pacific time)

I think gun ownership in this day and age is perfectly legitimate and necessary. During the Rodney King Riots in LA, police officers simply ran away. During Hurricane Katrina, the over half of the New Orleans Police Department fled. Fear of the Government? Perfectly legitimate: the New Orleans Government ILLEGALLY rounded up guns from homeowners who stayed in the city through out the duration of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. They imported Police Officers from other states to carry out the door to door confiscations. So much for the idea of trusting Police forces to protect us during emergencies and NOT to violate our Civil Liberties. My Second Grade Teacher was interned as a young girl with her family in Manzanar during WWII. Their crime? They were Japanese Americans, because of this they were striped of their rights. As for Personal Protection..all I can say is that during 1991 my Father's fiance was murdered with a 10 inch Chef knife in his home by an intruder. Cathy was stabbed multiple times, both of her breasts were cut off. According to the Medical Examiner, she died slowly. If she had a gun, and a dog..maybe she could have protected herself. Finally as a Jew I will NEVER trust any government outside of Israel to insure my own protection. I will keep my guns: thank you very much.

Jarhead1982 January 23, 2010 8:33 am (Pacific time)

At more than 2000 words, your comment is too long to post. Make them shorter and you don't appear to be "protesting too much".

Jarhead1982 January 23, 2010 8:12 am (Pacific time)

Hey Daniel, here is the data links below for the US violent crime reported and then the three countries, Australia, Canda, and England who banned firearms in 1997. Now look at the 1997 numbers, then compare those to today. Make sure you tabulate ALL the categories as those other countries databases tend not to count some violent crimes in their totals. Did you also know that England has a tendency to only count cases solved, thereby artificially deflating their numbers os as not to scare off the tourists? In summary, England has gone from 445k violent crimes reported in 1997 to 1.4 mill in 2008, Australia has increased 30%, Canada stayed the same, yet at over 2 times the violent crime rate of the US. Australia about the same rate as Canada, England almost 5 times the rate of the US. Those three experiements in gun control havent had less murders or gun crimes. They have in fact always had a lower incidence of firearms related murders and deaths so the pathetic attempt by you to use that as a point is irrelevant.Yet the data from the GOVERNMENT proves that there is no causality as you infer, that gun control reduces violent crime. Case in point, in 2008, the FBI UCR database identified approx 381,000 violent crimes involved with a firearm, out of 1.36 million reported. Gun banners claim that gun control will eliminate violence, yet never account for that other 1 million reported and 4.8 million unreported violent crimes. Oh thats right, eliminating guns is a magical cure, how silly of me! Nor does it address the 75% of violent crimes not reported. By the way, your country did a similar study, same results. victimization reports 2008 How is it then that our crime rates fall, and yours do not? How is it that bans and gun control dont work, repeatedly yet you claim they do. I have many more pages of facts if you care to continue with the data and logic beating. United States Britain Australia Canada

I've been down this road before where some commenters have tried to "prove" that the rate of violent crime in Canada is higher than than the U.S. It's just not so although many Americans, like yourself, continue to believe it. To a certain extent it's like comparing apples and oranges. Canada classifies homicides, attempted murder, all assaults, all sexual offences, abduction and robbery as violent crime. The U.S. counts five categories of crime as violent crimes: murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. If both countries counted the same events as crimes, then you could do a direct comparison.

Al Marnelli January 23, 2010 7:43 am (Pacific time)

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell .
DJ do you recall that Al Gore insisted in the second presidential debate that all handguns must be "licensed" by the government, which he insisted is not "registration." When asked who would administer this massive paper shuffling, Gore answered that he would assign it to the States. (Never mind that in Printz v. U.S. [1997] the Supreme Court invalidated the Brady Act’s command that the States perform background checks.)
Meanwhile, Clinton’s Solicitor General Seth Waxman during that time wrote in a letter "there is no personal constitutional right, under the Second Amendment, to own or to use a gun."

Deconstruction of the Second Amendment got an ideological boost by publication of Michael A. Bellesiles’s book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (Knopf, 2000). Gun prohibitionists were touting the Emory University historian as their great hope to defeat what is now the Standard Model of the Second Amendment, under which (surprise) "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" means just what it says.

While Bellesiles’s book is long and tedious, its premises are simple. Few Americans at the time of the Founding owned or cared about firearms. The proof, he mistakenly asserts, is that only 14 percent of deceased persons had firearms listed in the inventories of their estates. He claimed that the "checked" inventories in Thomas Jefferson’s three estates, not a single firearm was listed. It just happens that he owned dozens of guns during his life; a pair of his pocket pistols are on display at Monticello.

Curiously, Bellesiles asserts that "there were more guns per capita among the Indians than among the whites." He does not tell us which Indian probate records he checked.

In a theory of technological determinism reminiscent of Marx, we are told that today’s "gun culture" is the product of the massive production of arms in the Civil War, combined with "a conviction, supported by the government, that the individual ownership of guns served some larger social purpose." The "gun culture" cannot be traced to the period of the Revolution and the adoption of the Constitution.

The late Charlton Heston and his NRA buddies were/are deluded by the myth of the Minuteman, who was more farce than reality. Bellesiles’s proof that American militiamen could not shoot straight: at Lexington and Concord 3,763 Minutemen shot only 273 Redcoats (never mind that these trained soldiers hit just 95 Americans). That’s pretty good marksmanship for shooting flintlocks in anger. U.S. forces in Vietnam fired 50,000 rounds for each enemy casualty.

Bellesiles contorts and stretches hundreds of years of American history to make two basic points: plenty of precedent exists for gun control, and there is no such thing as a personal right to keep and bear arms. Colonial governments "ma[de] all guns into the property of the state, subject to storage in central storehouses." Yet Bellesiles cites no evidence that this fantasy of today’s pacifists and police states ever existed.

To be sure, colonial authorities sought to disarm blacks and Indians, and at times otherwise restricted the right to arms. But that does not mean that republican-minded colonists had no concept of the right. John Peter Zenger’s prosecution for seditious libel does not negate the American tradition of free speech. Instead, it is proven by his acquittal.

The supposed lack of firearms ownership, according to Gary Wills and others who wrote raving reviews of the book, somehow impeaches any value to the Second Amendment. Bellesiles could just as well have found that decedents had few books in their inventories as a basis to doubt the validity of the First Amendment. Today’s "free-speech culture" could join the "gun culture" as a historical fraud.

Bellesiles avoids any meaningful discussion of key episodes that illustrate the historical importance and extent of firearms ownership. For instance, just after Lexington and Concord, General Gage promised the citizens of Boston that they could leave the occupied city if they surrendered their arms to their selectmen. Citizens turned in 1,778 firearms and 634 pistols. The Declaration of Causes of Taking Up Arms, adopted by the Continental Congress in 1775, complained that "the said inhabitants having deposited their arms with their own magistrates," thereafter "the governor ordered the arms deposited as aforesaid, that they might be preserved for the owners, to be seized by a body of soldiers."

Gage’s "gun turn-in" was no more successful than those of today. He proclaimed that, despite repeated assurances that Bostonians had relinquished their firearms, he "had full proof that many had been perfidious in this respect, and have secreted great numbers." This time he really meant it: "all persons in whose possession any firearms may hereafter be found, will be deemed enemies to his majesty’s government."

The Second Amendment, Bellesiles asserts, "indicates that the state and federal governments continued the legal British tradition of controlling the supply of and access to firearms." The states had "gun regulations" just like "every European country." To the contrary, as Madison stated in The Federalist No. 46, it is "the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation," and further: "Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, . . . the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

The Anti-Federalists did not seek the "enhancement of individual rights," claims Bellesiles, oblivious to the fact that the Bill of Rights they caused to be adopted protects individual rights exclusively, other than the reservation of powers to the States in the Tenth Amendment. He quotes Patrick Henry in the Virginia convention, but fails to report that Henry also impressed upon his colleagues: "The great object is, that every man be armed."

Ten days after Madison introduced the Bill of Rights in Congress, Tench Coxe published an analysis which stated in part (also provided in a below post, and a very important quote to reflect on): "As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, . . . the people are confirmed . . . in their right to keep and bear their private arms." This was widely reprinted without contradiction and received Madison’s blessing. Bellesiles consigns this to the Orwellian Memory Hole and asserts that "the idea of a privately owned gun was treated as unusual."

One gets the uneasy feeling that Arming America is a crypto-intellectual equivalent of Al Gore’s claim of "no controlling legal authority." This 600-page book denies the existence of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" without even once analyzing those words or the Framers’ explanations. Since it's publication many other anti-2nd Amendment proponents frequently site this book as a source. Now that is how mythmaking is really done!

douglas benson January 23, 2010 6:44 am (Pacific time)

I made thier list a long time ago .Thank god for free speach .As you can see I have made no threats just discussed the realities . You cant lock us all up there are so many people who share my point of view that chasing down law abiding citizens that speak there mind is an exercise in futillity .If you like reading books try reading the unconventional warfare devices and techniques printed by the department of the army and then tell me again about how our pop guns are no match for the goverment . The same books that have been given to the terrorists we now face along with training when they worked for us against the commies . Which is why I say there are no dedicated terrorists here or there would be many more attacks here in america .As long as democracy rules there is no need for violence and I take heart that it still works .The current move to legalize cannabis and new ways to control drug abuse is a good example that our system is not totally broken ,our vote does still mean something and we need to use it to regain control .This they fear much more than any weapon . Violence should be avoided at allmost any cost but some things we the people will not stand for .

Robert January 22, 2010 9:46 pm (Pacific time)

I saw you mentioned the Mormons in your article. That is why Prohibition, gun control and women’s suffrage were pioneered in the West. The most successful settlements were the most regimented (the Mormons were outstanding in this regard). Social institutions—churches, schools, newspapers, libraries, theaters, and ‘opera houses’ Did you also realize they had to defend themselves from an attack from the US army? If they didn't have a way to protect themselves we wouldn't have any of them here today.

Josh A. January 21, 2010 9:15 pm (Pacific time)

I believe you should be able to have a gun if you want to. Anywhere, even. Please do not believe that it's making you safer, though. It's only making you more likely to get into a violent altercation. And god forbid you break the law or get mistaken for someone who did, cause the cops will shoot you pretty quick. Also who are these dimwits in America who believe just because they can carry a gun into Chuck-E-Cheese (where a kid can be a kid, or get shot), that they are making sure tyrants don't get elected? Were you people in a coma for the last 20 years? All we have had is a Bush or a Clinton. I call that a dictatorship. I call that tyranny. Coke or Pepsi? Red or Blue? Guess what, either way your gonna drink the same 12 ounces of caramel colored crap. If you want to try some mountain dew, just to see if it's better... Sorry pal, we only have a 2 party system these days. So pack your guns, But don't let it lull you into thinking it makes you safer. Only in very rare and specific situations will you ever be safer with a gun.

Jeffery V January 22, 2010 3:32 pm (Pacific time)


douglas benson January 22, 2010 4:32 pm (Pacific time)

I dont believe in fairy tales or happy endings .No the hero triumphs and lives happily ever after garbage .Freedom fighters fight and die ,rot in prison ect. that is the real world .Still those that hold freedom dear will fight .

AmerLastStand January 22, 2010 3:01 pm (Pacific time)

The right that protects ALL OTHERS. It is really that simple. And no I will not go into a Montana cave or Afghanistan. You are going to have to deal with us "Gun Lovers" for the Rest of Your Life. It is funny that we don't want to strip you of your 1st amendment Right because the few abuse it, but you are more than willing to attack the 2nd because of criminals that pay no attention to ANY LAWS.

Hank Ruark January 22, 2010 2:31 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al: Your lengthy analysis re Wills removes his 2nd Amendment points --only ONE part of his whole book of other linked parts-- from comprehensive surround he supplies, while substituting your own and other views on what happened in complex early history for detailed analysis by trained researched experts --from whom Wills extracts "the rest of the story" you seem to miss entirely. AGAIN,HAVE you READ WILLS ?? Until, unless you have, you remain simply UNinformed on his point-on-2nd, as related to other SEVEN "myths" laid out to build main point. "...Wills illustrates the peculiarly American penchant for fighting our own government--both from left and right-- as he distinquishes bewteen resistance to legitimate government and disobedience to unjust laws." For whatever psychological reasons surely involved you seem unable to understand the 2nd is NOT entire theme, nor even main one, of Wills book. Your misapprehension of his purpose and obvious distrust of his professional integrity in turn disrupt and demount your own effort --you fire at the wrong target with thus-futile ammunition no matter how strong the powder. When YOU win your Pulitzer, return with reworked ammo,sir.

RDB January 22, 2010 2:00 pm (Pacific time) I happened to come across this article today that does an excellent job detailing how one pistol can, and has been used against an army. To long to post the complete article as comments, but worth your time if you think surrender is your only option.

SSmitty13 January 22, 2010 1:02 pm (Pacific time)

In the basic argument you say our country no longer has to worry about a king in England because we are a democracy. In this democracy we recently elected a president who ran on a pledge to get us out of WAR. Our gov. will not listen to the will of the people - at least the majority. What options do the citizens of the USA have in stopping our occupations and wars into other countries? As a citizen of this country we are complicit in attrocities! Police protect polititions with arms - you tell me the rest.

Charles from North Carolina January 22, 2010 12:50 pm (Pacific time)

Hey Canada you can go to hell for all I care. You have your laws and your health care system. You can keep both of them. You come down to the Carolina's let me know I provide an ass kicking party for you.

Thirdpower January 22, 2010 12:14 pm (Pacific time)

"The Court declared that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon." This is the author's first distortion. The exact phrasing is "in the absence of any evidence..." due to the fact that there was NO defense argument made as the court gave the defense only a short time to do so. This is typical of the types of publishing done by those who support gun control.

Me too January 22, 2010 10:21 am (Pacific time)

"Thank you for your constructive comments, Steve. I wasn't doing a survey article, but was only reviewing Wills book, an historian I respect and because he's won a Pulitzer Prize, I believe his work to be solid and well researched." So Wills is as good as Yassir Arafat, and maybe earned his prize as much as obama in winning a Nobel Prize - interesting. I'm sure you don't think that thing is tainted.

keith January 22, 2010 10:00 am (Pacific time)

What part of people don't you understand?

Jarhead1982 January 22, 2010 9:53 am (Pacific time)

So Daniel, there has never been a succesful revolution where the little guy with just a rifle and determination beat the technologically supperior foe? Do they all succeed, no, but any government in the world recognizes that a near 25% success rate can not be ignored. Do your research, you will see, or is Vietnam forgetable? Have the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan still fighting after 9 plus years against a technological foe, so many examples. Of course Daniel you cant ignore the facts that anyone with military experience would consider. Start with how to control the borders and travel. Next the reluctance to use over whelming firepower as collateral damage to noncombatants only engenders support for the rebels. Saw aneat little technological gadget called boomerrang, a sound lidtening device that will instantaneously direct the listener to the position of an unsee shooter. They claim to use it in Iraq and such, but jus looking at it, such a technological wonder device is no doubt being used to protect the president, but as displayed, it has an inherent weakness. It can be defeated by having multiple shots fired simultaneously with only one being the real shooter. So which direction does this new wonder tool point the good guys to go when there are a dozen choices? Today, there are only 3 million US police and military spread throughout the world. We should assume that all will be recalled immeadiately right regardless of our interests overseas? Speaking of interests, maybe Daniel should really think about what would happen if the LARGEST supplier of help, desired or undesired were pulled from the world in one fell swoop. Care to even do a reasonable study of the effects on the WORLD ECONOMY if such a destabilization would occur? Or would those OTHER nations like Canada then step into the vacated spots, assuming those costs and responsibilities? Maybe we should do that and just say to hell with the rest of the world as there wouldnt be ANY repercussions to ANYONES economy, would there? We would do better int he US what without sending all those trillions of dollars overseas to a bunch of ungrateful people right? Lest we forget there are 100 million gun owners in the US. We also see that 100% of the military would follow an illegal order and fire on the US Citizenry, lol, you know this how? What about those 35 million retired or former military and police? Guess they automatically became dumb once they left their government positions eh? 100 million targets eh, yet there are only how many politicians in Washington D.C., somewhat less than a 1,000. So again, explain why a man with a rifle is not a concern to the government? Last but not least, how much would such an action by the government cost?

Bruce January 22, 2010 9:39 am (Pacific time)

When two men broke into my house in the middle of the night five years ago, I didn't realize that I was being a paranoid fear monger when I grabbed my shotgun. i just thought I was protecting my family from a genuine threat. You need to go to court for a few weeks and explain to all the victims of violent crime that they are just paranoid creeps and buying into a false notion of western settlement. That'll straighten 'em out!

Jarhead1982 January 22, 2010 9:28 am (Pacific time)

Here ya go Daniel, maybe you can forward this to Mr Wills since he didn’t seem to consider ALL the facts. Such a demonstration of responsible research by Mr Wills eh?. One must look back to the English Bill of Rights 1689,, the Virginia Bill of Rights,, the congressional writings 1774-1789, , the drafts of what became the second amendment, Karpeles Museum, California,, and John Locke’s Treatises All of these writings and formative works were BEFORE the dates of the research you have provided. Nor does it mention the myriad of supporting court cases, many prior to the 1870’s, that were used as specific review and determination of the individual right as defined in the Heller vs. Washington D.C. case in 2008 . Of course in the reading of Mr. Wills work and the author, we still fail to see any, much less irrefutable evidence to validate why, the founding fathers would write only ONE right, in ALL the US Constitution or BOR as a collective right, and all the others as an individual right? To date, no one on the collective side of this issue has ever dared to answer this question. Do you accept this challenge now Daniel or Mr. Wills? Failure to do so will by perception engender support to only further strengthen the individual right!

Bill January 22, 2010 9:11 am (Pacific time)

You claim our homicide rate is triple yours, leaving out the fact that our population is almost ten times yours. Sounds like Canada is the country with the bigger homicide problem. You also claim an armed populace is no match against the armed State. You might want to tell that to the Vietnamese and the Afghans. You claim Wills has won a Pulitzer, so did Al Gore and Obama, the prize has been rendered meaningless. Wills has been debunked by several eminent scholars, a quick reading of the Federalist Papers would have told you the same thing. Your, and Wills, argument is completely without merit. A fabrication made for the sole reason of promoting a slave society, of which you apparently approve. I do not "live in fear" nor am I paranoid. I am satified in the knowledge that should some criminal decide to attack me or my family, I am capable of defending their very lives. You are not and would be forced to surrender your posessions, your manhood and your very life if this should happen to you. And, you are perfectly happy with this scenario, sad.

If your reading of Wills is as deficient as your reading of my article, it's no surprise you don't understand. On homicide rates, I specifically said per capita: Canada 1.83/100,000, U.S. 5.8/100,000. You also could use a little psychological grounding. A person who is paranoid would never acknowlege it, because as far as they are concerned, they are the ones with normal outlook.

Li Chao January 22, 2010 9:02 am (Pacific time)

You are right about one thing at least. Most of the external threats to America are brought about by the foriegn policy of our government. I think a good case can be made that most of the violence in America is brought about by the domestic policies of the government, like the war on drugs. The problem is not an armed citizenry, its an armed and out of control government. It would be unwise, however, to dismiss the power of armed citizens merely because a majority of us have not yet reached the point where we are willing to take up arms to reign in that government. To paraphrase Malcolm Reynolds, if we start fighting a war, I guarantee you'll see something new. As to "rights", they don't exist as anything other than memetic constructs. The idea of "natural law" is pretty well demolished by Robert Anton Wilson (counterculture psycholgist and founder of the Guns and Dope Party) in he book "Natural Law; or; Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy". There exists no thing, no object called a right that we can point to in the natural world. No "right" to life, free speech, self-defense, anything. What we call the "right to bear arms", in more operational language, should be looked at as a game rule for this social experiment we call "America". The same is true for the supposed "authority" of the "government". These things only exist, even as memetic constructs, because we agree to play by those rules set up by the founders. ( note: St. George was the name given to him by Mr. and Mrs. Tucker, sorry if the lack of cannonization disappoints you even more) Some of us, seeing the end result of other games (called "Turkey", "Germany" etc) where certain players (Armenians, Jews, etc) allowed the right to bear arms game rule to be revoked, have vowed not to make the same mistake. In our country, the game rules (the Constitution) and the commentaries on the game rules (writings of the founders) seem fairly clear that the right to bear arms game rule applies to citizens, not just the militia or government (see Eric Q's list of quotes). The thing about your argument i find most confusing is that you seem to be claiming that its paranoid to be concerned about threats posed by other people or the government, and that we should 'stop being afraid' and give up our guns; followed by an admission that America has a high rate of violent crime and elects wannabe tyrants like bush and obama. Sounds like those of us who are armed have reason to keep our guns.

Daniel January 22, 2010 8:57 am (Pacific time)

Doug Benson I would not be suprised if the government is looking into your statements about violence against it . You maybe be getting a visit soon .Do you really think your posts are not checked by big brother ! Its easy for them to hack and get info on who you are and where you live ! I am sure you made the list with your threats of violence against them ! They do have laws on the books about threats of violence .

Daniel January 22, 2010 8:43 am (Pacific time)

Those who think that owning a gun gives them power against the government are living in the 1800's . In the real world of today it only makes you a target of the government . Just look at the history of the black panthers in the 60's and 70's if you think otherwise !

Al Marnelli January 22, 2010 8:00 am (Pacific time)

DJ, you have generated some excellent debate with some very interesting comments by numerous posters. Mr. Will's has provided considerable misinterpretations (see below), and his opinion on the Second Amendment is a minority one. In regards to the "people" taking up arms in response to a government intent on taking away our constitutional rights, I suggest to you that " WE The People" who would be involved in stopping that action are also found within our military ranks (along with law enforcement/security personnel) with access to both intelligence and other defensive assets. What many citizens are worried about in this possibility of government tyranny, is the "creeping incrementalism" that a growing/expanding goverment does to individual freedoms. I doubt we would see an immediate hostile situation for that would be a highly complex operation to pursue, so stopping the expanding goverment is what we are starting to see taking place in recent elections since last November.

Something in the Second Amendment seems to cause otherwise careful scholars to engage in oversimplification, distortion, and caricature. DJ, in my opinion, Gary Will's thesis is that the framers of the Second Amendment did not intend to create a right to own arms so as to resist federal tyranny. To reach that conclusion, he selectively uses evidence and misrepresents the present state of Second Amendment scholarship.

The historical events leading up to the Second Amendment are not a matter of controversy. In 1776, the American colonies made a revolution against the British imperial government. Shortly thereafter, the colonies created a weak federal government under the Articles of Confederation. Dissatisfied with its impotence, the framers of the Constitution created a stronger federal government in 1787. Among the national government's new powers was the authority to organize, arm, and discipline the state militias. Concerned about the possibility for tyranny in these new powers, the state legislatures urged Congress to adopt a Bill of Rights so as to curb federal overreaching. Among the new limits on government was the Second Amendment.

While the importance of these events is not in question, their constitutional significance is the subject of great disagreement. Wills argues that James Madison—the sponsor of the Bill of Rights—was an ardent nationalist and did not really want a Bill of Rights. To placate the state legislatures, he introduced the Second Amendment, but he had cleverly worded that amendment so that it would legally be meaningless. Before the amendment, the federal government had broad power over the state militias; after the amendment, it had the same power. The provision, in Madison's mind, was only a rhetorical gesture to the worrywarts in the state legislatures. Frankly, I cannot believe that Wills really means that we should interpret the Constitution in this way. According to his view, we should ignore the intent of those many state legislators who wanted an amendment and instead heed only the intent of one opportunistic politician who did not want it. But that tactic would allow representatives—with a nod and a wink to their colleagues—to fob off the public with meaningless, cannily worded amendments.

Once we look beyond Madison's own discomfort with the Bill of Rights, we find that its proponents meant for someone—the exact identity of that someone is harder to determine—to have a right to arms so as to resist federal tyranny. In proposing the Second Amendment, the state legislatures' worry was that the federal government might disarm or fail to arm the state militias, so as to destroy their ability to resist federal tyranny. Wills argues that the state debates over the ratification of the Constitution are irrelevant to the Bill of Rights, which was adopted later. In fact, however, the states proposed the Bill of Rights at the same time that they ratified the Constitution, precisely because of their lingering disquiet over the wisdom of a strong central government. The origin of the Bill of Rights thus lies in the ratification struggle.

At a minimum, then, the amendment extends some sort of protection for the state militias so that they can protect the people from federal tyranny. The amendment might mean more than that; some have argued that it is a protection for the individual ownership of arms. With Wills, I believe that these arguments are on shaky ground. But the amendment plainly means something, and Wills reaches the contrary conclusion only by selective use of the evidence. His other recourse is to leave the historical evidence altogether and argue, on abstract principles, that a legal order cannot protect a legal right to overthrow that very legal order. But that way of putting the matter confuses the legal order with a particular set of office-holders. If government authorities have abandoned the Constitution, then the people armed may become the true defenders of the legal order. Only if we assume that the government will always hew to the constitution may we assume that a revolt against government is a revolt against the constitution. The framers were plainly not prepared to make that assumption.

This distortion is part of Wills's general misrepresentation of the state of debate on the Second Amendment. In Wills's account, every scholar in the 2nd Amendment field argues that the amendment guarantees a private right to arms is wrong. In fact, a group of writers believes that the amendment protects only the right of the states to raise and arm militias—now manifest in the National Guard system. The proponents of this view include advocates for Handgun Control, Inc., Brady people, and other like-minded groups, and yet they give the amendment more meaning than Wills does. In fact, Wills is alone in reducing the provision to a nullity.

In other words, the field of debate is rich in controversy and disagreement. Wills, however, flattens the picture: previous writers have offered one and only one view. Dominated by an "inner circle" of five, they have attempted to deceive the American people, but Garry Wills has arrived in time to expose this nefarious conspiracy and save the citizenry from its plots?! In this rendition, it is perfectly understandable that Wills is alone in his view that the amendment means nothing, because the other writers have conspired to suppress the truth. This kind of caricature is more than tiresome; it makes intelligent, subtle and responsible debate in this field almost impossible, yet Wills is only mimicking a viciousness evident in the field before he arrived. Before Wills's article, many hoped that a major intellect from outside the field might help to curb these vices; Wills certainly had the stature and the ability to initiate such a transformation. Instead, the field's vices seem to have infected him. His later work on the other subjects might return to his usual high standards, but one's understanding of the Second Amendment will be no greater as a result of his writings on this amendment.

douglas benson January 22, 2010 7:10 am (Pacific time)

Erik Q just blew your argument away Dan .Sure on a purelly intellectual level we have no need for weapons democracy should suffice . Dont think the people can use thier arms to fight goverment forces think again its called terrorism . Rights are not given they are taken ,and we are the last developed country to have the abillity to take back our country by force . Kind of hard to run for office when you must hide in a bunker . We have plenty of weapons and bullets for each and every goverment official who dares to try to take them . When the goverment fears the people there is freedom .

At least one other poster thinks that rights are "God given". Your view?

Erik Quackenbush January 22, 2010 5:51 am (Pacific time)

George Washington: "A free people ought to be armed." (Jan 14 1790, Boston Independent Chronicle.) Thomas Jefferson: "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." (T. Jefferson papers, 334, C.J. Boyd, Ed. 1950) James Madison: "Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with arms." (Federalist Paper #46) John Adams: "Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self defense." (A defense of the Constitution of the US) George Mason: "To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them." (3 Elliot, Debates at 380) Thomas Jefferson: "The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," 1774-1776, quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in Chapter 40 of "On Crimes and Punishment", 1764. Patrick Henry: "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined...The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun." Thomas Paine: "...arms...discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. ...Horrid mischief would ensue were (the law-abiding) deprived the use of them." St. George Tucker: “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty… The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” How's that for founding father's quotes?

I'm duly impressed. "St. George Tucker?" Only one of the founding fathers is a saint? Now I'm disappointed.

Robert January 22, 2010 5:35 am (Pacific time)

"Just to help you out with a bit of history, King George was not a dictator. He was, for the time, a legitimate monarch and had to answer to Parliament. In your list of dictators, I notice you left out George W. Bush or did you just forget?"Please explain how George W. Bush, who was duly elected, subjected to checks and balances by both the Legislative and Judicial branches of the US government, and left when his term of office was over, qualifies as a dictator. "Beheading was never a form of execution in Great Britain." Thomas More? John Fisher? Anne Boleyn? Catherine Howard? The penalty for treason in Great Britain was hanging, drawing, and quartering, part of which included beheading, the heads usually going to decorate London Bridge after being parboiled and tarred.

You're right about the beheading. It was just never a common method of execution, like in France with the guillotine.

On Bush: Could anyone, but a de facto dicator have started the war in Iraq and passed the Patriot Act which effectively took away most of your rights?

Dennis January 22, 2010 4:45 am (Pacific time)

You are right ,the United States is a violent society,so for your protection I feal we should close our borders and let ths rest of the world sort out it's owne problems.

With no US meddling in their internal affairs, I think a lot of other people/countries of the world would not only be relieved, but in a better position to sort out their own problems. Iraq can do this but the results wouldn't necessarily be what the US wants.

D. W. Hudson January 22, 2010 4:29 am (Pacific time)

So, Daniel, you think that since the 18th century there is no reason for American citizens to fear the U.S. government? Or other homo sapiens? Wow. I forsee a Darwin award in your future.

American's fear of others is something they have brought on themselves through their own arrogance and willful blindness. I talked to a young man the evening of 9/11 who worked nights and had slept all day. The first news of the WTC came from me. His response? "It's about time somebody kicked their ass!" Direct quote. Americans have delusions about themselves that are difficult to not only dispel, but for them to even understand. They give aid to countries like Haiti after an earthquake and see themselves as global angels." I rememember my traveling days and I think it's still true--Americans put Canadian flags and decals on their luggage and backpacks. I wonder why?

Leif Rakur January 21, 2010 11:25 pm (Pacific time)

Which Founder, if any, ever referred to the Second Amendment as a provision having to do with anything other than militia service? Please cite.

B L January 21, 2010 7:05 pm (Pacific time)

The author of the article is wrong, and has distorted the certain facts, while claiming the pro-gun is the one doing the distorting. The American Constitution got it right so long ago. These are the rights of "the People". Those who say otherwise are fabricate arguments to justify themselves. The right of self defense is a basic human right. Taking away effective means of defense of self, family, and community creates slaves from free people. And you would never argue that slavery is not wrong.

If people belong to a "community", how can they be "free"? Please explain.

JB January 21, 2010 9:39 pm (Pacific time)

The Second Amendment along with the rest of the Bill of rights was accepted in 1791. The NRA wasn't even established untill 1871 so how do you figure that the NRA has manufactured our "false" right to keep and bear arms? Why don't you right a story of how Canada has exploited it's native people and clubs baby seals to death. Even America loves seals.

Until the NRA started to distort history, primarily after WW2, there were no such "rights" for individuals, as Wills demonstrated.

Scott January 21, 2010 9:37 pm (Pacific time)

Wow!! I'm just now reading some of the comments and your replies. I guess liberals in Canada are just as petty and bitter as they are in America. And by the rights are GOD GIVEN they weren't manufactured from anywhere. Talk about pompous!!

"GOD GIVEN" rights? Were these "rights" given to everyone in the world, or just Americans? Are they engraved on stone tablets and stored somewhere for the American people to see? What about the "rights" of American atheists? Or do they not have such rights because they don't have your delusionary beliefs?

Anonymous January 21, 2010 5:55 pm (Pacific time)

"If you read Wills' research in my article, you'd understand that your "right" is a false right manufactured by the NRA at the behest of the gun manufacturers who make money every time one American shoots another." So the Founding Fathers were NRA members?!? How aboot that, eh?

Roberta X January 21, 2010 5:21 pm (Pacific time)

Like the late Greg Curnoe, you're only xenophobic about one nation, and that's the United States. Good for you. If we're so violent (and I'm armed to the teeth -- I own guns, train with them and carry one every day and I'm just an average spinster), why do you abuse our culture and customs with such impunity? I guess we're not quite the monsters you'd hoped. As for the Second Amndment, it gave me no right, merely told the Feds "hands off." They don't always listen. Canada exists by an historical and geographic fluke; her subjects tease their powerful neighbor, certain of our goodwill. Yet 90 percent of you still choose to live within a hundred miles of our shared border; so much for your loathing. Canada -- and the entire Commonwealth -- continues to exist only because the United States has bailed them out any time they're got in hot water. Between times, we're sneered at as violent, rude savages -- but oh, how you cry for us when your back is against the wall!

steve January 21, 2010 5:04 pm (Pacific time)

while i respect your opinion,article, and the research will did to have his opinion and some relevant replys you posted... i notice many of your replys are not actually replys at all. "Bruce's post, Frank's,Molon Labe's, The Ducks etc." any way, there is alot to go over just as "Sailorcurt" said, to much to go over at once. in the eyes of many and my self, this is just another anti American protest. it may have more bells and whistles as far as politically correct words and come off as a fact based article, etc. but in reality it is just another way to express hate and disagreement to our way of life. you might as well try to burn our flag. though i know this is not how you meant it, but to many Americans this is how its perceived, as an attack on our rights and way of life. we are a very proud people and if you expected praise for the article many will not give it,due to reasons i explained ( what did you expect honestly) its a touchy subject. lately we have been defending our selves alot as to are current actions in the world, so undrstand how the average american will feel once read the article.... this article or book could be written about any article in the constitution saying how this or that is bad for American citizens or the world for that matter example..." some rap music is extremely offensive to some and is said to cause violence just through lyrics" but all in all its a first amendment right "freedom of speech.". so the first amendment must be bad for us to etc... the fact of the matter is if the 2nd amendment was abolished we would be worse off. lets face it, there are people out there who want to do nothing but take whats not theirs or do harm to you and your family. i dont care where in the world you go. these bad people exist. you myself and any law abiding person should have the right to protect there loved ones and themselves from these kinds of people. its just the way life is. it cannot be avoided, to deny it is pure lunacy. these "bad people" will arm them selves and do bad things whether the law wants it or not. and America and its people realize that. that's why the 2nd amendment exists and is still successfully exercised today on a daily bases.... sorry if in the eyes of some that was not completely in reference to the article. as for wills quote referring to "anti-government segment of society" i strongly disagree. i feel here he is purely stereotyping firearms owners. sure there are some who even i consider to be a little extreme with how they exercise there rights. but there is extremes of any type of people, from vegetarians who talk to trees.... Canadians who made Canada the number one pot smokers in the world. ... goes hand on hand.i defend our constitutional rights so proudly because of our tough history in acquiring these freedoms, and because right now, our country's tough times with conflicts with in our govt, overseas, job losses, and amongst each other, it is whats left of the peoples rights. and to disagree about its origin and meaning is automatically confrontational.but hey thats the beauty of it all, i can like something and its your right to disagree with it. but to do a fair article i would recommend reviewing both sides of the story. and not limiting your self solely off of one mans opinion.

Thank you for your constructive comments, Steve. I wasn't doing a survey article, but was only reviewing Wills book, an historian I respect and because he's won a Pulitzer Prize, I believe his work to be solid and well researched.

Aznchick January 21, 2010 3:40 pm (Pacific time)

This hit piece reminds me of one I read in a Charleston, WV paper. Try as you might, Rasmussen, Gallup and all the rest show the country is not interested in what you have to sell. But continue if it makes you feel better. Thankfully, neither the congress or President Obama will be taking the steps you or the bunch want.

BuckeyeTom January 21, 2010 3:38 pm (Pacific time)

I agree with you 100 percent. I hate America !

I don't hate America, just a lot of the things its leaders do in the name of its citizens. Iraq is the pre-eminent example but that's all I'll say about it.

anonomous January 21, 2010 3:23 pm (Pacific time)

I like how the first picture in the article depicts a guy with an evil grin sticking a gun in your face. If he has a permit, hes not going to be sticking it in your face for laughs. And if he doesn't have a permit, that's not going to do anything to prevent him from getting a gun or from sticking it in your face.

happycynic January 21, 2010 2:21 pm (Pacific time)

The historical "argument" presented in this book is one-sided, and deliberately ignores most of the history and context of the Second Amendment. The simple fact is that the Founders loved the idea of armed citizens. The Federalist Papers, and personal writings of Founders such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington all express their fervent desire that the population remain armed, and that it is their right to do so. The Founders express contempt at European governments who ban or prohibit the citizens from being armed. The Founders enshrined this right not only in the federal constitution, but in most state constitutions as well. The fact that the federal constitution opted for language which was a compromise between the Virginia RKBA and the Pennsylvania RKBA can be read as a rejection of a private right only if you ignore everything else the Founders said on the issue.

Leif Rakurt January 21, 2010 1:22 pm (Pacific time)

The real objective of the Second Amendment was the “security of a free state,” not the security of private self-defense, hunting, or insurrection, about which the amendment is entirely silent. Now gun interests have successfully remodeled the Second Amendment into a marketing slogan. Firearms flood the nation. Around 30,000 Americans die each year of gunfire. Several times that number are injured. We need to do more to keep firearms out of the hands of thugs, scofflaws, the mentally unbalanced, and unsupervised children. And we need to provide more law enforcement. Our state legislatures, elected by the people, should act on those needs. Our Constitution’s preamble holds forth the promise of “domestic tranquility.” Cutting back on gunfire deaths and injuries would help fulfill that promise. And it certainly would not violate the Second Amendment.

republic4u January 21, 2010 12:29 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel, thank you for having the guts to defend your opinion, and I find that urban attitudes are often at conflict with rural ones. The closer we live to one another, the more rights we sacrifice. The continued reproductive rates of humans unchecked will soon put those willing to sacrifice their freedom face-to-face with those of us who are not. God help you - We are armed!

Sailorcurt January 21, 2010 12:25 pm (Pacific time)

QUOTE: You say it would take you as long an article to correct me. Write it up and send it in. END QUOTE That's cute. Ignoring my point about the Heller decision doesn't magically make it go away. I don't need to write a rebuttal. Justice Scalia already did that for me. And his opinion (supported by 4 other justices...heck, for that matter, even the DISSENTING justices conceded that the 2nd Amendment protects and individual right) actually counts for something in American Law, versus the subjective opinion and conclusions of a historian...or Canadian "journalist".

Nothing cute about it. It's not my job to research American issues like the Heller decision. That's why I suggested you write it up, to defend your position.

tonyspdx January 21, 2010 11:18 am (Pacific time)

I am very happy you live in Canada. Please stay there.

John January 21, 2010 11:00 am (Pacific time)

The U.S. vs Miller wasn't, and isn't, much of a case to parade around as an example of the law at work. Why? It wasn't a fair hearing with both sides presenting. "Neither the defendants nor their legal counsel appeared at the U.S. Supreme Court. A lack of financial support and procedural irregularities prohibited the legal counsel from traveling. [2] Miller was found shot to death in April, before the decision was rendered" Jeez, do you see Americans telling Canadians how to live and take care of their country's business? Of course not. We have better things to do than meddle where we aren't wanted.

You need to read a bit of documented history, John. The U.S. has been meddling where it isn't wanted for the last century or more. Read Steven Kinzer's book Overthrow : America's century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq. When it comes right down to it, America has been a rogue nation since at least the 1960s.

John D January 21, 2010 10:56 am (Pacific time)

Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth. George Washington, Seems it was deemed important well before the NRA came along. But you are entitled to your opininon

Al Marnelli January 21, 2010 10:08 am (Pacific time)

DJ, from Tench Coxe at the time of the Second Amendment debate: "As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article [i.e., the Second Amendment] in their right to keep and bear their private arms." This statement (which James Madison endorsed) seems rather inconsistent with Mr. Wills's view of the Second Amendment, yet he fails to discuss it. American political thought, including its constitutional dimension, must be read against the background of our origin, both actual and mythic, in the armed popular overthrow of a well-established government that was, nonetheless, deemed corrupt and illegitimate. And the 1787 Constitution was, as Madison emphasized, only an "experiment," one that could conceivably emulate the British constitution by allowing the descent into intolerable corruption.
American thought is significantly anti-statist, and "We the People" retain what might be deemed an "inalienable right" to judge our agents who fill governmental positions. The first alternative open to us if we fear that our agents are becoming corrupt is to write angry letters to the editor, march in demonstrations, and, of course, throw the rascals out in free elections. But what if all of these fail? Unless one believes that such failure is literally unthinkable, there must remain the possibility of a Lockean "appeal to heaven," including armed revolt against the government The Second Amendment is most plausibly read as acknowledging the right of otherwise peaceable and law-abiding American citizens "to keep and bear arms" against the dreaded possibility that they will find it necessary to join with other citizens in making the Lockean appeal against an overweening national government. I believe that most ordinary Americans in 1791 were likely to agree with George Mason, a Virginia delegate to Philadelphia who refused to sign the Constitution because it lacked sufficient protection of popular rights: "Who are the Militia? They consist now of the whole people." To be sure, as Wills suggests, the 1787 notion of "the whole people" was egregiously less inclusive than our own. That, however, is true in regard to far more than the right to bear arms, and one wonders if Wills generally embraces a constitutional hermeneutic of "original intent" that would limit constitutional meaning to the most crabbed interpretation possible. One is curious, for example, about Wills's readings of the Commerce Clause or of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Are you familiar with these amendments DJ?.

As far as the efficacy of an armed population is concerned, one of the earlier posters pointed out that a bunch of people running around with pop-guns are no match for the armed state you face.

Mark January 21, 2010 9:48 am (Pacific time)

An interesting article. Skewed to be sure, but interesting. Sadly, commentary on this topic is almost always biased, and this article does not deviate from that norm, regardless of who your sources are. Unfortunately, for some that would hope this train of thought might propel legislation that would eventually overturn or reinterpret the Second Amendment, the political pendulum shifts both directions down here in this violent country of ours. While the Brady people likely salivated on 11/5/08 about the possibilities that our most recent national election had afforded them, the various polls, no matter who conducts them, indicate that the vast majority of Americans are content to leave well enough alone with the Second Amendment, as is, and as currently interpreted by most. Yes, there will be more articles hoping to dissect what was really meant at the time of inception, and occasional legislation proposed to put personal limitations in place. However, irrespective of Wills argument, your own commentary and opinions, or most anything else, your neighbors to the South will continue to be able to freely walk into a gun shop and purchase items that make you wring your hands and shake your head in disbelief. I'll be sure to forward this article to my relatives in Newfoundland as I'm sure they will see the light in using a bow and arrow for that annual moose instead of those nasty guns they have hanging on the wall. Oh, wait, isn't NFLD part of Canada?!

The official name of the province is now Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hank Ruark January 21, 2010 9:37 am (Pacific time)

Friend Al M. You wrote: "Have you explored scholars that hold opposing views of Wills?" Thus inevitable query to you: Have YOU read Wills ? His section on the 2nd is ONLY one part of SEVEN sense-eroding American myths explored in depth and detail, to reach serious and certainly relevant conclusions concerning our current debacle and direction for democracy. Book available since 1999, by Pulizer-winner, extremely well demonstrated for its deep redevelopment of 2nd here by DJ,deserves D-I-Y attention from any serious American truly concerned in impacts of changing guns-and-violence atmosphere here.

Rick January 21, 2010 9:14 am (Pacific time)

Daniel, you think like the elite you are, i.e., smarter, more intelligent, and better informed than the unwashed masses. If you are familiar with Google, you can find out that the militia is all able bodied citizens of a state. Both North and South used their militias to fight the war. In his popular edition of Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1803), St. George Tucker (see also), a lawyer, Revolutionary War militia officer, legal scholar, and later a U.S. District Court judge (appointed by James Madison in 1813), wrote of the Second Amendment: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government" ( If you guys willingly gave up your freedom, then so be it. but we will not!Rick--

Your homicide rate is triple ours. Some freedom.

Turk Turon January 21, 2010 8:59 am (Pacific time)

I have read your article carefully and I must respectfully disagree. The Second Amendment protects (does not create) the right of law-abiding American adults to possess ordinary rifles, pistols and shotguns in their own homes for any lawful purpose. This right is not connected to any membership in a militia. Nor is it preconditioned on any eligibility for, or even the existence of, a militia. Your article goes on at some length about the purpose of the founding of the NRA, but this is really irrelevant to the purpose of the Second Amendment. It is something of a “straw man” argument to suppose that if one can prove that the NRA was not founded to encourage civilian marksmanship, that this somehow weakens the Second Amendment protection of civilians to keep and bear arms. When the 2A was still being debated in the U.S. Senate, it was then known as Article Two of the Bill of Rights. In the Senate, a motion was made to add the phrase, “for the common defense”. If adopted, this arguably would have limited the 2A to a militia context, but the proposal was defeated by a voice vote in the Senate, was never brought up in the Senate-House conference committee, and the Second Amendment was passed by Congress, signed by the President and ratified by the States without any such restriction. You quote Garry Wills on this as saying, “The record does not say why the motion was rejected...” but surely the fact that it was rejected is far more important than why it was rejected. You implied that the Miller case upheld a conviction. This is not true. Read the decision. Mr. Miller had already won his appeal and had been released from custody. It was the government which appealed. You stated, “The Court declared that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon.” This is demonstrably false; read the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower court for a hearing as to whether the gun in question, a sawed-off shotgun, was “useful in a militia context”. That's it. The SCOTUS never said that the gun did not have a military purpose; Justice McReynolds, who wrote the decision, said that there was “no evidence”, and sent the case back to the lower court to hold evidentiary proceedings to provide that evidence. And that's where the Miller case ended. McReynold's decision never mentioned the defendant's membership in a militia, eligibility for membership, or even the existence of a militia; he was only interested in the gun. And the very fact that the 1939 SCOTUS agreed to hear the case at all is a strong indication that they considered it an individual right. If the 2A applied only to militias, or to states, then Mr. Miller would have lacked “standing”. The Miller decision is often called “confusing” or “vague” or “cryptic”, and both sides in the American debate on gun-control have cited it as supporting their views. For example, opponents of gun control have interpreted the Miller decision as protecting the right of Americans civilians to own military weapons without limit, but not hunting or target-shooting weapons. That's a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but it is even more of a stretch to claim, as gun-control advocates do, that the Miller case upheld a conviction; that is simply false. The best reading on the legal history of the 2A can be found in the decisions in the Heller case, in the Parker case that preceded it, and in the Emerson case in the Fifth Circuit. The references and footnotes are particularly valuable. Even the dissent in the Heller case contains the astonishing admission that the four dissenting Justices recognized that the 2A protected an individual right. It is right there in the second sentence of the dissent. The nation's preeminent scholar on the Constitution, Harvard professor Lawrence Tribe, having studied the issue in exhaustive detail, agrees that the 2A protects an individual right which cannot be infringed without an unusually strong justification, such as a criminal conviction or a history of mental illness, etc. and the Heller decision follows this reasoning. As to the “revolutionary purpose” of the Second Amendment, this has been favorably cited by two liberal icons of the 20th century: Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy. But my favorite quote in this area is from Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit: “The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do,” Judge Kozinski noted. “But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

Ian January 21, 2010 8:58 am (Pacific time)

"He has a concealed weapons permit, does that make you feel better? Courtesy:" Yes, it does. I have one as well. There are bad people in the world. Doesn't matter where you are, there are bad people. The second amendment is very clear and was created so as to ensure all the other amendments could be protected and defended should the need arise. What you call fear we call being ready. Some facts you seem to over look are: 1.Our crime rates have been diminishing over the years as private owner ship of firearms has been increasing. - Corroborated by statistical crime information from the FBI and death statistics from the CDC. 2.Every mass shooting that has occurred in the last 10 years has happened in “gun free zones” places where it was made illegal for citizens to exercise their basic RIGHT to self defense. The police generally waited in each case until such time as the shooter did themselves in (after racking up their count) . - Do the research yourself, you will see this is a true statement 3.England which has a total ban on firearms has been experiencing a massive increase in violent crime. And now they are looking at banning knives. And yet murder is still occurring at an alarming rate in an unarmed nation and it's growing. 4.In every state / city in the US that has right to carry or shall issue, violent crime has dropped significantlyand the “wild west” shootouts predicted have not come to pass. - corroborated again by FBI crime statistical data. The bottom line is you're not an American so while you are entitled to you opinion you lack our cultural background to fully understand what it means to be American. And if you don't like guns then stay in Canada, please. – This is a table showing the decline across the board in all violent crime. Compare that with the increase of private gun ownership and CCW... you and your supporting arguments fail.

BlackPR January 21, 2010 8:49 am (Pacific time)

I'm curious as to why some people want Gun Control, to save the lives of 40,000 people a year in the US who are killed by gun violence or accidents, while they simultaneously overlook the fact that guns are used more than 1,500,000 times a year in self defense -- the vast majority of the time without firing a shot (Source: US Dept of Justice "Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms"). This would seem to undermine your previous argument about it "being unreasonable to assume" that one might need a gun, where it's reasonable to assume you MIGHT need seat belts or smoke detectors. In fact, 412,500 houses burned down in 2006 -- If you compare that to the 1.5 million defensive uses with a Gun, you can see it's far more likely that you will need a gun than a smoke detector. However, I encourage you to continue moving forward. Saving 40,000 people per year at the potential expense of 1.5 million surely makes sense.

If your numbers are accurate, your conclusion is valid. But here in Canada, the UK, Japan and other developed nations, a smoke detector is more valuable.

Jeff January 21, 2010 8:41 am (Pacific time)

"Why? Because my MISinformed opinions as an outsider are welcomed by many Americans THAT ARE TOO LAZY TOO SEEK THE TRUTH AND THINK THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD CONTROL EVERY ASPECT OF THEIR LIVES" fixed it for you... "I can see things about America as a Canadian that many Americans miss." Please give examples of what we Americans miss. You would probably take me out of that group if you had known I own over 25 rifles and 15 handguns, which I carry at least one every day, with an excess of 15k rounds to feed said firearms.why is it that the 2nd Amendment is the only one anyone ever complains about? how about getting rid of the 1st amendment, since that was put in the Bill of Rights because King George kept people from saying anything they wanted. If King George or his cronies didn't like what you were saying, they locked you in their dungeons or even had you beheaded for crimes against the crown. Since King George is dead, why do we still need it?

Beheading was never a form of execution in Great Britain.

Al Marnelli January 21, 2010 8:38 am (Pacific time)

DJ you presented pretty much the same old anti-2nd Amendment arguments that have never gained legal traction towards changing how the 2nd Amendment is interpreted. The recent Heller Decision, and my prediction that the upcoming Supreme Court ruling, dealing with Chicago's misguided politicos, expected in the spring, will continue to interpret that the 2nd Amendment is for private/individual firearm ownership. Otherwise you have presented some opinions but no pursuasive argument based on facts. The NRA and other organizations that opine for the 2nd Amendment interpretation as an individual right have developed considerable legal documentation supporting that legal conclusion. Subsequently we have opinions trumped by legal rulings, and the latter is what matters. This of course may change in the future, but unlikely that will happen for quite some time, if ever. Of course how is one going to confiscate over 100 million guns? By the way if the government takes on that improbable task, it will prove the premise on why we need the 2nd Amendment, which we "legally" see as a natural right. If you would like to address gun crime statistics as you briefly did with the poster Molon Labbe, then that would bring considerable enlightenment to this discussion. You wrote below to Vic: "It's reasonable to assume that one day we'll need a spare tire but it's not reasonable to assume that one day you'll need your gun." Do you know how many millions of potential serious crimes have been minimized/prevented by lawful gunowners over the years? As per past governments confiscating weapons, there have been acts of mass murder by goverments of people who they took arms from, and those who did not have firearms. In fact the highest gun crime murder rates on the planet are in nations where gun ownership is illegal, far above the American rate. Then there are also those countries with legal gun ownership that have extremely low gun homicide rates compared to say Canada. Have you explored scholars that hold opposing views of Wills? What is the status of gun ownership in Canada? Thanks for your views, and I'm so glad we have the "rights" available here in America to carry on robust debates. Many places in the world don't allow that, and many of those countries also frown on individual gun ownership.

Al: Wills' argument is based on facts which I have enumerated in my article. Those are the researched opinions that count. You write: "Do you know how many millions of potential serious crimes have been minimized/prevented by lawful gunowners over the years?" That speaks to the fundamental difference between Canada and the U.S. We are not a violently inclined society so people don't need guns to prevent "potential serious crimes" We've been through this with previous articles, but there is no doubt that Canada's overall rate of violent crime in Canada is significantly lower per capita than the U.S.--our homicides are one third yours. People talk about the Canadian Gun Registry fiasco. And that it was. It was something that was vociferously opposed by the rural community and applauded overall by city dwellers. Here in Alberta, the government said they wouldn't enforce the Registry. That's because the political power here in Alberta still largely resides (very disproportionately) in rural Alberta. If the government wants to get re-elected, it has to pander to the rural vote. Pandering is one thing we have in common with the U.S.

Joe January 21, 2010 8:26 am (Pacific time)

I did like the article. I am hopeful that by the time you graduate high school, you be able to write a opinion piece that has multiple sources and demonstrates that you know the importantance of primary sources.

It is a review of Wills' book, no other sources are required. If you didn't see part 1 it's at

Sean January 21, 2010 8:20 am (Pacific time)

Look I don't want to waste time trying to explain this to you, it seems pointless. You treat the 2nd amendment as if it should still be interpreted like this was the 18th century. You journalists would find to the death to prove that the 1st amendment has evolved to encompass internet, radio, cell phones, and tv as outlets for free speech but you seem to think that the 2nd amendment is static. You cannot have it both ways, if you want the 1st amendment to apply to new technologies and be re-interpreted as time goes on then you should also let the 2nd do the same.

I agree with Wills that the Second Amendment is a manufactured right. As such, there is nothing to evolve. Read Wills' comments about Whitehill and Madison and if you can refute Wills' statements, then more power to you.

Jason January 21, 2010 8:03 am (Pacific time)

I'm sorry Mr. Johnson, but your article is just full of anti-gun opinions that includes both your own and Will's as well. All of which are wrong. You are quite welcome to your own opinion of thinking we are just "gun-nuts" though, we won't take offense. Also, you posted that Canada has a statistically lower murder rate than US, yet I have to wonder how much of the crime that goes on in Canada goes unreported and unrecorded. I anxiously await a pompous reply like you've given to every other person who has has argued against your opinions.

Pretty difficult to have unreported and unrecorded homicides. Pompous enough for you?

Daniel January 21, 2010 7:57 am (Pacific time)

Some put their faith into God some into the gun . I have no problem with those who want a gun for home protection , but you better know how to use it . To think you can protect yourself from the police state we live in with a gun is a joke . Look at David Koresh or the black panthers in the 60s , it just makes you a TARGET ! If you walk around with a large side arm at chuck e cheeses and some nuts wants to shoot the place up , guess who he will shoot first . Just point your weapon at the police from your front porch and see how long your standing ! During the flood in N.O. the police were taking out anyone they saw with a gun , it makes you a TARGET . Hate to tell everyone the police and the army have you outgunned , big time . Your gluck and ar15 dont mean crap to America's police state , you are in total illusion if you think they do .

Jeff January 21, 2010 7:52 am (Pacific time)

"The real issue is that the US as such a globally dominant power exports violence all over the world. That's what so many people in other nations object to. The US is violence personified" I agree with you on this and if I had it my way, the USA would stay out of every other countries troubles, we would sit back and let these people kill each other. But as you know like I do, the USA would be hated anyway because we didn't help. Your a Canadian, you have no say when it comes to a US citizen rights, so why waste your time writing about them.

Why? Because my informed opinions as an outsider are welcomed by many Americans. I can see things about America as a Canadian that many Americans miss. Knowledge is power for those who seek knowledge. I disagree with you saying that Americans would be hated anyway. It's just that America has been such a bully for such a long time that it will take a while before trust and goodwill can be found. I know from personal experience that there are many--tens of millions--of fine Americans. They are the ones I try to encourage. They have a tough enough battle as it is in trying to create a better, more humane society. Even though I have no say in citizen's rights, I know those fine Americans (and it sounds like you're in that group) appreciate any support they can find.

Joe January 21, 2010 7:48 am (Pacific time)

Very nice Daniel, do you read any other books on your Holiday break?

Joe: unless you're being sarcastic, it sounds like you like the article.

Bob January 21, 2010 7:39 am (Pacific time)

Scared of Americans with guns? The solution is simple.Stay in Canada.

That's my intention.

Roy January 21, 2010 7:36 am (Pacific time)

Your claim to Ernest Sharp that, "Bellesiles has been discredited, it doesn't affect the argument that Wills makes about the origins of the Second Amendment mythology", is laughable at best....Willis bases his arguments on the works of Bellesiles, who based his arguments on lies and fabrications...Of course it affects Wills` conclusions....In the Supreme Court United States vs Miller, the court did not uphold the National Firearms Act...The Supreme Court send the case back to the lower court for clarification on the sawed-off shotgun ruling, but Miller was dead by that time, so the issue was dropped....As to your claim that,""your right" is a false right manufactured by the NRA"...I suggest that you take a philosophy course to understand the meaning of the term "right"...

Really, Roy. There is considerable disagreement about what is meant precisely by the term rights. It has been used by different groups and thinkers for different purposes, with different and sometimes opposing definitions, and the precise definition of the concept, beyond having something to do with normative rules of some sort or another, is controversial. I checked Britannica and got 10 pages of various articles about rights. has 62 definitions although maybe a third are not relevant. Looks like you're the one who needs a philosophy refresher.

Ernest Sharp January 21, 2010 6:38 am (Pacific time)

I have read Mr Wills' book. He uses Michael Bellesiles' research as a source. Mr Bellesiles has since been discredited as a fraud. I take any book that relies on his research with a very large grain of salt.

Thanks for your constructive input. If Bellesiles has been discredited, it doesn't affect the argument that Wills makes about the origins of the Second Amendment mythology. Having the read the book yourself, did you find any flaws in Wills' argument about Whitehill's role?

skippydog January 21, 2010 6:37 am (Pacific time)

Your basic premise seems to be that governments and other people should always be trusted. If this is your starting point then it's no wonder you question the validity of the right to own and carry guns.

I suppose it's my upbringing as a Canadian but I believe it is more life-affirming to believe in other people, knowing full well that it is not always true. To believe the opposite is, to me, to live a life of fear and insecurity.

In Canada, "peace, order and good government" is often used to describe the principles upon which our Confederation took place in 1867. It originally appeared in the British North America Act, 1867. Specifically, the phrase appears in section 91 of the Act, which is part of the block of sections that divide legislative powers between the federal and provincial levels of government. In section 91, the phrase describes the legal grounds upon which the federal government is constitutionally permitted to pass laws that intrude on the legislative purview of the provinces.

Vic January 21, 2010 6:12 am (Pacific time)

"The first level, which goes back to the beginning, is a fear of government which was legitimate in the 18th century, but hasn’t been applicable since then. A lot of Americans may have missed the news, but King George is dead." A lot of Canadians may have missed the news, but American govt is less trustworthy now than at any other time in history, and is responsible for more death, maiming and destruction than ever before. And "Duck" has a good point, wich you immediately you wear seat belts? Do you have insurance? Do you have asprin in your medicine cabinet even when you do not have a headache? Do you brush your teeth only when you get a tootache? Do you have a spare tire in your car...even when one of your tires isnt flat? I understand that you are tying to be provocative, but you come across as arrogant and smug...I hope I never get to the place where I think that I know everything and anyone who disagrees with me is a fool...because then I will be the fool.

Vic: my comment to Duck is not about being arrogant and smug. He's attempting to make an argument by comparing apples and oranges, so to speak. It's reasonable to assume that one day we'll need a spare tire but it's not reasonable to assume that one day you'll need your gun. And as far as insurance is concerned: I read a book years ago by a man who exposed the whole insurance industry as largely (although not entirely) as a scam. If I can remember the title or author, I can track it down again. If I can find it, you can be sure there'll be another article coming out of that. I hope in my response to you, Vic, that I'm coming across as reasonable. If you don't think so, I know you'll let me know.

Out of the blue the guy's name came to me and I looked up the book. It's Invisible Bankers: Everything the Insurance Industry Never Wanted You to Know by Andrew Tobias. I'll be tracking that down as soon as I can.

Sailorcurt January 21, 2010 5:37 am (Pacific time)

Although your historical context is pretty accurate, it is the interpretation and conclusions that you draw from the history that makes your article inaccurate. It would take me as long an article to fisk the entire thing. For a very concise rebuttal that has the advantage of actually having legal weight in describing American Constitutional law, I recommend a through reading of the Heller decision. The NRA did not dictate the meaning of the Second Amendment when it was formed (almost one hundred years after the penning of that amendment), nor does it now. What the NRA bases it's interpretation upon is wholly irrelevant as those determinations are made by the legislature and the courts. Basically, as with any other partisan argument, you list things that seem to support your contention while completely ignoring anything that would tend to disprove it, assert opinion and conjecture as if they were fact and assign emotional states and thoughts to people based completely upon suspicion, stereotypes and innuendo without one shred of credible evidence to support it.In a nutshell, your entire argument is nothing more than propaganda. But, hey...thanks for playing. Better luck next time.

Well, Sailorcurt, today is your lucky day. You say it would take you as long an article to correct me. Write it up and send it in. I can guarantee it will be published, provided it's not libelous or just a screed. And, more important, if your piece is factual, it won't be censored. BTW, your criticism of the argument is not about me, but about the research and writing done by Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian.

I look forward to your submission. And you don't send it to me and I don't have anything to do with it. Send it to the editor, Tim King at When I say I can guarantee its publication but I don't have anything to do with it, I am not contradicting myself. I just know that Tim King is always looking for opposing articles to balance the site as much as possible.

DDS -- NRA Life Member January 21, 2010 5:26 am (Pacific time)

"The first level, which goes back to the beginning, is a fear of government which was legitimate in the 18th century, but hasn’t been applicable since then. A lot of Americans may have missed the news, but King George is dead." So you contention is that George III was the last of the dictators and since his death there hasn't been any reason for anyone to fear their government? Could you bear with me while I throw aout a few names? Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Fidel and Raul Castro. I'm sure others could add to the list. The purpose of the Secon Amendment is to insure, for all time, that no one like any of these guys EVER comes to power in the USA.

Just to help you out with a bit of history, King George was not a dictator. He was, for the time, a legitimate monarch and had to answer to Parliament. In your list of dictators, I notice you left out George W. Bush or did you just forget?

Mark January 21, 2010 5:17 am (Pacific time)

Since you seem to be content to hurl invective underneath every comment, I will just say this: Can you enlighten me and the other commenters here any time anywhere in the history of the world that a society which used to have free and easy access to personal weapons that enhanced their citizen's safety and security by restricting access to these same weapons? IOW, can you prove that which you think is only correct and proper has ever had the end result you think it will, anywhere in history?

We're only talking about one society--American society today. You're one of the many who don't even think to deal with the facts of the argument which makes me think you haven't even read it, or at best, skimmed it because you already know that the Second Amendment is true, so why bother exploring its background and genesis.

Jturtle January 21, 2010 5:12 am (Pacific time)

The 2nd Amendment is a protection against tyrannical government. That includes present and future tyrannical government. It doesn't have a whole lot to do with King George, he was just the catalyst. That's where you derail you're entire argument, right there in the second paragraph.

One thing is coming across very clearly. None of the commenters attempts to even address Wills' research re Whitehill and Halbrook. But, hey, I understand that you have your guns and you don't want facts to get in the way.

The Duck January 21, 2010 5:00 am (Pacific time)

While we are at it we should dump health insurance, spare tires, smoke detectors, all symbols of paranoia

I see you've already dumped common sense. Not a good sign.

zac January 21, 2010 4:36 am (Pacific time)

I,m so glad you care about me enough to make decisions for me, i guess I,ll throw my guns away, whats your phone number so when sombody breaks in I can call you to talk them down, you dumb sheep, I see it must be nice to only post comment you see fit, you should run for office.

I'm glad you're across the border and can only call me names (a real sign of maturity). Otherwise I expect you'd probably shoot me to teach me a lesson. LOL

cowboy357 January 21, 2010 3:23 am (Pacific time)

It seems strange to me how foreigners are so anxious to disarm us. I don't see the same concern over deviant moral values or drug abuse, which claim many more lives than the highly published nut jobs who go on a rage. Where's the call to outlaw crack cocaine, oh wait that already is but everywhere available. But hey the Canadian gun registry was such a whopping success I guess they must know what's best. I think England used donated American arms to avoid becoming a Volkswagen factory. And what about France, oh but nobody cares about them anyway...

The real issue is that the US as such a globally dominant power exports violence all over the world. That's what so many people in other nations object to. The US is violence personified.

Molon Labe January 21, 2010 2:27 am (Pacific time)

Throughout time governments have disarmed the people in order to gain more control over, and dependence from, the people. I would not call the recognition of this fact a fear - just preparedness. I do not fear the man standing in line next to me at any given store but if he should pull out a weapon and attack his ex-wife I know that as a competitive shooter I have the skills and ability to save a life. I, for one, quite like society. My kids and I go to Chuck E. Cheese, and I carry a gun, and to the movies, where I carry a gun, and on road trips, where I carry a gun. It is just that I do not wish to be forced to rely on society should something go wrong. Take the current situation in Haiti for example. I have food stores, such as M.R.Es and canned goods to tide us over, and a two week supply of water on hand as well. I do not eat that sort of thing everyday but I can if I must. The same goes for being armed. So if some psycho breaks into your home looking to kill you and your family, what defense will you offer? a locked door that separates you from your children? Do you even have a phone near by? What is the average response time for the police (or what ever you have) in your area? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? It could well be the rest of your life...Prepare for the very worst life has to throw at you and the go with the flow. No need to take it to the extreme but be prepared to survive should the systems in place, water, gas and government, breakdown temporarily.

To this Canadian (and lots of others), you're a scary guy. Too many like you on the other side of the border. Even many other Americans call guys like you "gun nuts" and it's not a compliment. Is it a coincidence that we have a far lower homicide rate? Canada, 1.83/100,000, US 5.8/100,000 more than three times greater. D'ya think?

Frank January 20, 2010 10:15 pm (Pacific time)

I beg to differ on the first issue as to the fear thing. I am and a lot of people I know are afraid of the government. Both republican and democrat run. Without the right of the citizens to own guns there is nothing to stop a tyrannical government.

Really? You should alert all the other developed nations of the world. They don't know how close to tyranny they are.

JB January 20, 2010 9:55 pm (Pacific time)

Mr Johnson, Canada didn't have to fight for it's freedom from the United Kingdom like America and some other countries like Ireland had to. You guys just rolled over and took it and were happy to be a commonwealth and a second rate country. So you will have to excuse me for wanting to keep my right to keep and bear arms.

If you read Wills' research in my article, you'd understand that your "right" is a false right manufactured by the NRA at the behest of the gun manufacturers who make money every time one American shoots another.

Bruce Thomas January 20, 2010 9:27 pm (Pacific time)

Having skimmed this item, I'm obliged to make just a few comments: There is no doubt the Second Amendment outlines an individual right to bear arms. The Supreme Court has said so quite recently and there are, assertions in this article notwithstanding, numerous contemporary writings by many of the founding fathers that set that issue beyond argument. Then there are a few uncomfortable facts to mention: the first shots fired in the American Revolution were fired because the British intended to disarm Americans in Lexington and Concord and the Americans were having no part of it. Finally, it is naive to believe that a disarmed population is, in the present enlightened day, safe from depredations by a rogue government. Consider Germany in the 1930, the Soviet Union through most of the 20th century or Pol Pot's regime in very recent times. The issue, in America, is simple: if you don't care to own a personal weapon you aren't obligated to do so. However, you may not infringe on my right to do so.

You'll have to do more than skim if you want to understand Wills' argument.

Frank January 20, 2010 8:51 pm (Pacific time)

Sorry, Frank, but if you didn't finish the article, you're in no position to comment.

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