Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Forget bans; where are my Constitutionally-protected suppressed machine guns?

Written By: Bob - Jan• 12•13
Suppressed M240 machine gun, shamelessly swiped from GunsportPro.

AAC‘s Suppressed 7.62 NATO M240 machine gun, shamelessly swiped from GunsportPro.

Americans have been very poorly served by our educational system. This is evidenced by the fact that allegedly educated men and women in various levels of government seem convinced that the Second Amendment was designed to indulge their occasional pheasant hunt, or outfit their burly armed guards with firearms to keep away the riffraff.

This was not remotely what the Founders intended.

Tenche Cox, Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress, twice explained the purpose of the Second Amendment to his fellow citizens, first writing in The Pennsylvania Gazette, on Feb. 20, 1788.

The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army,  must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people

Coxe was explicit: the Founders held that the militia were the people, and that Congress had no power to disarm the people. Further he defined that the citizens of this Republic should have military arms, as checks and balances against over-reach by both state and local powers.

Almost a year and a half later, Coxe wrote again to more explicitly highlight why Americans should have military arms in their possession as protection against government.

He did so in “Remarks On The First Part Of The Amendments To The Federal Constitution,” in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789.

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 in their right to keep and bear their private arms.

A decade later in 1799, Coxe wrote again in the Philadelphia Aurora as tensions arose between Federalists and Republicans:

Do you wish to preserve your rights? Arm yourselves. Do you desire to secure your dwellings? Arm yourselves. Do you wish your wives and daughters protected? Arm yourselves. Do you wish to be defended against assassins or the Bully Rocks of faction? Arm yourselves. Do you desire to assemble in security to consult for your own good or the good of your country? Arm yourselves. To arms, to arms, and you may then sit down contented, each man under his own vine and his own fig-tree and have no one to make him afraid….If you are desirous to counteract a design pregnant with misery and ruin, then arm yourselves; for in a firm, imposing and dignified attitude, will consist your own security and that of your families. To arms, then to arms.

I must be relying on the words of just one of the Founding Fathers. Certainly the brilliant men who protected the freedom of speech and freedom to assemble didn’t mean for Americans to be armed with military weapons.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson had other ideas.

Jefferson’s Commonplace Book, written between 1774-1776, quoted from criminologist Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 On Crimes and Punishment about an armed citizenry:

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.

“But,” you might argue, “that was Jefferson merely quoting someone else.” Perhaps. What did he say in his own words?

Mr. Jefferson was strongly in favor of citizens being armed at all times, as noted in a letter to Peter Carr in 1785:

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.

In a letter to James Madison, on Dec. 20, 1787, Jefferson said:

What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.

That same year, in a letter to William S. Smith, Jefferson wrote of using these civilian owned arms or contemporary military utility against the government itself:

And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms…. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

“But these were just two of the Founding Fathers arguing that Americans should always be armed with military weapons to keep the state in check,” you might argue. “Their’s is a minority view.”

It’s possible. Let us have more.

What say you, General and President George Washington?

“A free people ought…to be armed….” (George Washington, speech of January 7, 1790 in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790)

What say you, Benjamin Franklin?

“The thoughtful reader may wonder, why wasn’t Jefferson’s proposal of ‘No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms’ adopted by the Virginia legislature? They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.)

And what of you, President John Adams?

“To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.” (John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States, 475 [1787-1788])

“Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would.” (John Adams, Boston Gazette, Sept. 5, 1763, reprinted in The Works of John Adams 438 [Charles F. Adams ed., 1851])

“Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self-defense.” (John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])

And Governor Sam Adams?

“The Constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” (Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87)

“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”  (Samuel Adams, 1780)

And you, Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin?

“The whole of the Bill (of Rights) is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals…. It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.” (Albert Gallatin at the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789)

And you, Vice President Elbridge Gerry?

“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty…. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” (Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment [I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789])

Secretary Alexander Hamilton?

“…but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights….” (Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in The Federalist. 29)

“What plan for the regulation of the militia may be pursued by the national government is impossible to be foreseen…The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious if it were capable of being carried into execution… Little more can reasonably be aimed at with the respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped ; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.” (Alexander Hamilton The Federalist, No. 29)

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense….” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers, No. 28)

“No more! you shout, “No more!”

But there are more.

Quite clearly, the Founding Fathers had a unified voice; the Second Amendment was written to codify a pre-existing right to one’s defense, but it went further than that, and explicitly defined the citizenry as a militia that must be armed with arms equal to that of military powers they may encounter.

Nor was the citizenry was armed only against foreign invaders. The Founders were quite explicit that they feared the rise of despotic domestic usurpers of power in the state and federal governments, and they wanted the citizens armed to defeat any domestic army under the control of the tyrants that historically arose to challenge the republican form of government on which this nation is based.

That would seem to put the nation’s first major gun control act on very unstable ground, which the BATFE itself seems to recognize:

While the NFA was enacted by Congress as an exercise of its authority to tax, the NFA had an underlying purpose unrelated to revenue collection. As the legislative history of the law discloses, its underlying purpose was to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms. Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime, particularly the gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered quite severe and adequate to carry out Congress’ purpose to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms. The $200 tax has not changed since 1934.

As structured in 1934, the NFA imposed a duty on persons transferring NFA firearms, as well as mere possessors of unregistered firearms, to register them with the Secretary of the Treasury. If the possessor of an unregistered firearm applied to register the firearm as required by the NFA, the Treasury Department could supply information to State authorities about the registrant’s possession of the firearm. State authorities could then use the information to prosecute the person whose possession violated State laws. For these reasons, the Supreme Court in 1968 held in the Haynes case that a person prosecuted for possessing an unregistered NFA firearm had a valid defense to the prosecution — the registration requirement imposed on the possessor of an unregistered firearm violated the possessor’s privilege from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Haynes decision made the 1934 Act virtually unenforceable.

With NFA ’34 “virtually unenforceable,” the federal government then unwisely attempted to rush in more unconstitutional restrictions in Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968:

Title II amended the NFA to cure the constitutional flaw pointed out in Haynes. First, the requirement for possessors of unregistered firearms to register was removed. Indeed, under the amended law, there is no mechanism for a possessor to register an unregistered NFA firearm already possessed by the person. Second, a provision was added to the law prohibiting the use of any information from an NFA application or registration as evidence against the person in a criminal proceeding with respect to a violation of law occurring prior to or concurrently with the filing of the application or registration. In 1971, the Supreme Court reexamined the NFA in the Freed case and found that the 1968 amendments cured the constitutional defect in the original NFA.

Of course, Freed obviously didn’t remotely cure the “constitutional defects” of the National Firearms Act of 1934. It addressed one minor technical flaw, which utterly ignoring the plain meaning of the Second Amendment as written, explained, and defined by the Founders themselves.

Later gun control bills, from the dishonestly named Firearm Owner’s Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986 to the Clinton-era “assault weapons ban” of the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill, also seem to fall far short of the plain meeting and Founder’s intent.

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.

We—all of us not disqualified for criminal acts—are the militia.

“Well-regulated” meant at the time and for a century afterward referred to something in proper working order and smoothly functioning. It did not, and could not, refer to laws or restriction as obtusely argued by some intellectually stilted souls today. They ignore, to their own error, the all important phrase that none of these laws may supersede, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

It is plainly written in clear English, supported robustly by contemporary accounts, that the Founders meant no free American should restricted the military arms of his kind.

Were they alive today, perhaps Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, etc., might reconsider that perhaps some arms should be restricted. The city-leveling power of bomber fleets and ballistic missiles armed with the power of the atom, capable of eradicating entire populations in a moment, would seem be something no individual or small group should have the power to own and use indiscriminately.

That stated, they would almost certainly agree that handguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, submachine guns, machine guns, hand grenades and grenade launchers, and artillery are precisely the kind of weapons they would want citizens to have.

How can we say this with such certainty?

The Founders themselves armed for war with muskets, which at four shots per minute, were the commonly issued assault rifles of their day. Contemporary flintlock rifles, while having more far range in the hands of elite marksman only fired one shot per minute, and some took far longer to load. Hand grenades had been in military use in the United Kingdom as early as the Battle of Holt Bridge in 1643, and had been in widespread use for 100 years. Artillery, from swivel guns to cannon, howitzers, and mortars, were in common use and owed by private citizens and communities.

Warships, the most powerful weapons of the day, were often privately owned; in fact, the eight frigates of the Continental Navy performed pitifully, and were all sunk by 1781. The only real naval success enjoyed by the rebellious Americans were from privateers, who made the best of the 1,697 letters of marque issued by Congress.

And so we can say to you without reservation, that yes, the Founding Fathers would have wanted the American people armed with the best contemporary handguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, submachine guns, machine guns, hand grenades and grenade launchers, and artillery that they could buy, and they would want us well-trained so that we were deadly accurate in their use.

It would seem that the various National Firearms Acts are clearly unconstitutional, as plain as can be an unquestioned violation of the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Does this make you uncomfortable?

Does this outrage you?

Would you like to see this horrible antiquated practice of the support of heavily arming Americans undone?

There is a mechanism for that, and shady backdoor interpretations and usurpations of the citizen’s rights need not rear their ugly heads.

Only through a Constitutional Amendment can a Constitutional Amendment be struck down.

Until the day comes that the American people reject or revise the Second Amendment, “shall not be infringed” is the law of the land.

I want to purchase my suppressed machine guns over the counter at Walmart and Walgreens, and I want them, now.

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31 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Agreed. But here comes the tide of the “reasonable” arguments. “Be reasonable.”.

    I am.

    I am being completely reasonable. I want the ability to not live in fear of my door being kicked in at 3AM by an armed terror squad hyped up and waiting to pull that trigger over a lying CI’s testimony that they got rubber stamped, and didn’t bother to check the record. It happens too much for anyone to not wonder if it will happen to them.

    I want them to think twice before thinking about that action. To treat citizens with respect. To knock on the door in the middle of the afternoon and ask to speak to you with polite and professional manners. To serve a summons and say “Meet me at the station.” It might work more than they think.

    This… absolutism. This “overwhelming force” doctrine doesn’t apply to neighborhoods. It’s a millitary tactic and belongs there.

    The world is not TV. As Herschel Smith says, if you’re the type that wants to stack up, go join up and do it in the sandbox.

    That fear is why this is so necessary. When you begin to have that gnawing feeling that something you say could result in those more powerful than you attempting to crush you and yours. For you to choose between having a roof over your head, to be able to provide for your family, or even to have one at all, and living the life you want to freely. Well, that’s a sort of prison, isn’t it?

    All because vain men want to consolidate their power and their fiefdoms.

    • Poshboy says:

      Well stated. Once law enforcement begins treating all people, regardless of income or race, with respect–and sees that professionalism as an integral part of the job, regardless of how sour society becomes–it will find ordinary citizens treating them the same way.

      Yes, there will be scumbags who don’t care how polite a cop is, but you first have to give the perp the chance to participate in the system before that 3am raid is executed.

    • Doug says:

      Not only are you reasonable, you are “well-regulated.”

  2. RanchHand says:

    Thank you! At last, someone besides me argues this point. I am SO tired of hearing Lefties bleating of “Well the Founders couldn’t have envisioned semi-automatic rifles and they probably meant for us to have ‘muskets’”. Bullshit. In the Founders’ day, flintlock rifles and muskets were the cutting edge weapons of war. They were the scary looking assault rifles of the time.

    I totally agree. The Founders did indeed want ‘we the people’ to be actually capable of scaring a government gone wrong back onto Liberty’s path. No, I don’t need a missile with a W88 warhead, nor should I have one. However, I don’t reckon the Founders would disagree with my having an M-60 and knowing how to use it just in case the Tree of Liberty needed watered.

    • Chris Watson says:

      I suspect, during 2AA, it wouldn’t be hard to get one – particularly if the National Guard units join the Honey Badgers.

    • Al Reasin says:

      As to those who would say that modern weapons are not recognized by the Constitution, the SCOTUS recognized in the Heller decision that just as television journalism is protected by the 1st Amendment, while only print journalism was known by the Founders, so are modern weapons protected by the 2nd.

  3. David says:

    Thank you for articulating exactly what I have always felt.

  4. blehtastic says:

    Considering current technology, the 2nd amendment, properly interpreted, means that I should be able to buy, at the very least, an automatic, belt fed, 40MM grenade launcher. I’m not too angry about suppressors, as they rely on subsonic ammo, which is sub-par, to be truly effective, but I am pretty pissed that I can’t buy 20MM automatic rifles with explosive rounds and any sort of 40MM grenades that I desire, by the pallet if I can afford it.

  5. LordChamp says:

    So the challenge, IF we avoid conflict right now and push them back hard enough, would be to keep pushing by finding some representatives to introduce and support the rescinding of all gun laws starting with NFA. Yes, I know finding some with enough backbone is a dream BUT if we can become strong enough and loud enough, it could happen.

    To me the line is drawn and we know for sure where we will not allow things to go. Now we need to start pushing that line back and do it VERY hard to gain back the ground we’ve given up.

  6. Viktor says:

    “I want to purchase my suppressed machine guns over the counter at Walmart and Walgreens, and I want them, now.”

    NOW YOU’RE SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE!

  7. A says:

    Bob,

    Thank you for your astute reading, study and presentation of the facts that many of us have not pursued. I appreciate it. This ‘history’ is very much part of the Rights afforded to us and which clearly has been forgotten or never known by many – including myself. We must arm ourselves also with the Constitutional Law, the Intent of the Founding Fathers, and the spirit of the agreement. The forces we face today have made the US a place where you need a law degree just to understand how to buy a BBQ grill. I also agree that in this time we need to be pushing back against the current gun control regime in place. Lastly, I would ask that all readers make a small donation as I know the time and effort you are expanding takes you away from the paying labor which supports you. I will make a small donation NOW.

  8. Poshboy says:

    Another outstanding article, Mr. Owens! You wrote exactly what I have been arguing for years. You write extremely well and have some absolutely fascinating posts–thanks for your time to keep this blog going. I have bookmarked it and visit it often; hope you get some ad revenue for it soon.

    As for finding a willing Member of Congress to drop legislation that isn’t reactionary to the Left’s disgusting agenda and starts to repeal this unconstitutional nonsense, there used to be a “Class III Caucus” in the House. It may still be on the Hill, fwiw. Those coalition Members would be the first to lobby, if you live in their district.

    As for finding that upper limit to the 2A, in my book it goes all the way to at least 155mm howitzers. You need combat support sections to assist a militia unit (equivalent to an infantry company today). The 2A certainly includes machine guns and a slew of military destructive devices.

    So, what really is the upper equipment limit to the 2A?

    Interesting enough, the Constitution does establish an upper limit, with respect to at least individual States. Art. 1, Sec. 10: “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace…”

    So as I read the nation’s supreme law, at least everything below a ship of the line–or a modern-day aircraft carrier–is Constitutionally protected for private citizens.

    If the future weapons control battles in Congress are only comprised of speeches decrying the civilian possession of former Soviet-bloc frigates and the like–or how many surplus B-52F bombers one can own–I can handle that level of discourse.

    So…enjoy the fuel and ammo bills on that ex-Czech Army T-72 MBT, gentlemen! Maintenance alone on that beast will eat up your family’s food budget for a year. You’ll soon wish you only had a M16A2 rifle to clean. (grin)

  9. Chris Watson says:

    Alan Gura comment’s on machine guns during the Heller case:

    “…I am NOT going to be able to tell the court, look, you cannot regulate guns. You can regulate my political speech and my abortion and contraception and how I use my property but GUNS, which KILL people and especially children and which many respectable people sneer at — oh no, GUNS, those are ABSOLUTELY protected and cannot be regulated — well, I’m a nut. My definition of “reasonable” is very different than Sarah Brady’s. But if I tell the court there cannot be rules at all, that’s nut territory. Now, do I *have* to make this concession? Yes. Because if I don’t, I’m a nut. And lose credibility. Am I going to agree with every justice in every future case about what’s reasonable? Who cares? We’re in this case. We don’t get the right if we tell them they can never be reasonable about it.

    And when they look me in the face and ask, machine guns, yes or no, I can’t be wishy washy and equivocal or… no credibility, on anything. It’s not some talking head show where I can be Clintonian about it and talk about the meaning of “is.” This is the Supreme Court and they’re telling me, here’s your chance to get my vote. There is one correct answer that wins the case and secures the Second Amendment. And everything else is the wrong answer that makes them run for the hills and I get the men with the butterfly nets after me.”

    Effectively, he punted on the issue for someone else to carry forward. Unfortunately, in this climate it will be a long, hard row to hoe if not impossible to achieve.

  10. Steve S. says:

    Thanks for the compilation of the Founders’ writings. This article will be a great reference for me.

    Another Constitutional point that I have used is the express power of Congress to “issue Letters of Marquis and Reprisal”. As you pointed out, the early sea-borne defense of the US was in private hands. Those privateers owned the most lethal weapons and delivery systems of the time and age. Far from limiting the firepower capacity of the citizenry, Congress was specifically empowered to call upon and utilize them.

    You argue that some arms should be restricted, and I have to agree, but only on the basis that with rights comes responsibility. I can easily see private ownership of a fighter jet, but I would not care to see private ownership of nuclear weapons. Yet, with the increasing privatization of the Space Programs, privately owned missiles is surely in the offing. It cannot be a big step from there to privately owned intercontinental weapons delivery systems. At the very least, there is a level where ownership might not be outright prohibited, but cause would have to be shown for that ownership. Even the Founders agreed that not all men will act responsibly. This is a discussion that has yet to begin.

  11. Phil says:

    Where has the NRA been on the NFA all this time? They are sellouts only interested in compromise. Just like the GOP.

  12. Sam says:

    “Quite clearly, the Founding Fathers had a unified voice;”

    Quite clearly, they did not.
    While all of those quotes refer to the concept of an armed populace and militia, they do so across a wide range of principles.
    The passages by John Adams make it clear that the militia is to act in accordance with the laws of the land, and not according to personal whim. Just because a person feels the government is being “oppressive” is not license for individual rebellion.
    Conversely, taken in full, the passages from Thomas Jefferson call for complete and absolute revolution every twenty years or so, with bloodshed and destruction to sweep away the previous order, and replace it with whatever new ideas can gain the most popular support.
    Elbridge Gerry spoke specifically of the militia as opposed to a standing army. Having a standing army now, are we hopelessly doomed?
    Tenche Coxe spoke of being armed in the face of mere political faction. Contrast that with Hamilton in the opening paragraph in The Federalist #1:
    “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”
    It would seem Hamilton thought there was a better way than that relied upon by Coxe and Jefferson.
    And might I note that your severe redaction of Hamilton’s comments on the militia from The Federalist #29 utterly loses the intent of his passages. Instead let us take these selections:
    “To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.”
    “But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia. The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit them for service in case of need.”
    Good heavens! Was Hamilton suggesting something rather like the National Guard, stating clearly that the remainder of the population simply did not qualify as “well-regulated militia”, in direct opposition to your asserted conclusion? Why I do believe so.

    Now does any of this mean the 2nd Amendment has not been outrageously transgressed upon?
    Certainly not. Never mind your suppressed machine guns, you cannot even walk around with a sword these days!

    It does however mean that a “well-regulated militia” does mean something considerably more than a bunch of conspiracy theorists running around the woods in fatigues, planning what to do when the UN black helicopters show up; so much more as to in fact involve rules established by Congress.
    Equally it means that anyone, partaking of the full drill or not, must have access to arms suitable for both individual self-defense and village or town/county/state sanctioned and directed resistance against usurpation and tyranny.

    Relying on late-Jeffersonian Anarchism to support the unalienable right to be armed in a lawful society is not a good plan.

  13. Cole says:

    Agreed. And the cut off line if pretty far off. Why not allow tanks, helicopters, fighter jets, and so on? f I trust my neighbor with a gun I should trust him with a tank. Especially if I can have a tank too. The cost of all these items is what will make them prohibitive in the marketplace. Not any laws of man. But if we saw more machine guns, mortars, and flamethrowers? Not too shabby. I think a legitimate cut off line are weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear, biological, chemical. Short of that? The government shouldn’t be limiting our ability to make war. Why would we let our future enemy dictate our list of weaponry? Great post Bob.

  14. iconoclast says:

    I must disagree, Bob.

    Just as the 1st Amendment has implicit limitations–incitement to riot is not protected speech–the 2nd Amendment has limitations as well. USA has chosen to draw that line at automatic weapons, indirect fire, and explosives for individual citizens. Is it an arbitrary line? Yes it is. Does it make sense to common citizens? I believe such an interpretation does to the vast majority of informed citizens.

    • cloaked in mystery says:

      It is easier for a private citizen to legally obtain explosives than to obtain a legal post 86 machine gun.

      In fact one must have approved buisiness purposes for an SOT or it is grounds for tax fraud charges.

      Yet if i can comply with storage requirements and obtain the permit, i can buy all the C4 and detcord i want.

  15. Phil says:

    Dear iconoclast,

    There are limits on the first amendment as used to cause hard to others. Yet the power of speech is still there. There are laws against the USE of speech, but you still have your speech.

    My ownership of a fully automatic firearm doesn’t directly or indirectly impede on anyone else’s freedom or liberty, yet are restricted against the 2nd amendment. They made the item illegal, so prohibit its use. This is NOT the same as you surmise in your comment.

    • chowthen says:

      Very well said. They can restrict your use of speech but you have your ability to speak and make speeches as well as say whatever you want in private including incitement of riots. The same should be said with automatic weapon. We should have the ability to own and keep them but limit where we can carry and use it in public places.

    • iconoclast says:

      Great example of the dangers of arguing by analogy, btw. And thank you for a civil response.

      I wanted to focus more on the implicit limitations than on justifying those limitations through a specific analogy. I believe that the implicit limitations of the 2nd Amendment do justify some limitations in law. We tend to agree with that here–everyone agrees that allowing people to own nuclear weapons is beyond the scope of our 2nd Amendment. Currently a number of our fellow citizens believe that even a semi-automatic weapon (pistol or rifle) is beyond the scope of the 2nd Amendment. A smaller number believes in banning all private ownership but let’s posit for the sake of argument that they are as nuts as people who believe in private ownership of a WMD).

      So how do we rationally draw the line? By trying to define the social good for drawing any line. For me, the social good is a combination of having an easily explainable bright, clear line (no full auto, crew-served weapons, etc.) and maximizing the general social good (defense against tyranny big or small, self-defense). I just come down where the line is currently drawn. I don’t see a huge social value in allowing what ends up being private armies equipped with weapons equal to what our National Guard possesses. In fighting tyranny, small and large, I don’t see us fighting fixed battles against regular military because, if for no other reason, like the colonists, we would lose such fixed battles horribly.

      I do see fighting against tyranny and civil disorder with semi-automatic small arms as well as the moral pressure that hundreds of thousands of countrymen can bring to a confrontation just by the force of their numbers and their stubborn refusal to submit. Civil disobedience on that scale is very difficult to defeat (though Eisenhower and Patten did it with the Bonus Army). Taken to the extreme and it is much more effective than a war..in my humble opinion.

      So that is where I am coming from. I know Bob will disagree and, were he so to choose, could totally destroy my argument. But destroying my weak debating skills means mostly that I am a weak debater, not that my fuzzy opinion is so incorrect.

      I am solidly against national registration, universal background checks, bans on magazine sizes, and bans on so-called assault weapons (even the ones with bayonet lugs). I believe that if Congress were to pass such a national ban it would be fundamentally unConstitutional regardless of what the SCOTUS states and national civil disobedience should result from such a tyrannical law. I am just unwilling to extend that passion to the ownership of grenade launchers, full-auto weapons, etc., etc.

      ok, the range is now hot. open fire.

      • Viktor says:

        Iconoclast,
        Where you draw the “line” is arbitrary. As is everyone else’s “line” unless there is a clear, explicable rationale for drawing said “line” in one place and not another.

        WMD are a line in and of themselves. They are characterized and addressed differently than conventional weapons even among modern nation-states. I don’t even know why that line was drawn (perhaps the indiscriminate nature of their effects), but drawing the line there — right there and no lower — might at least present some degree of consistency in how different weapons are treated.

        If you, or anyone else, want a line drawn somewhere well below the destructive power of WMD, then some logical premise for drawing that line in a particular place MUST be provided; or it’s just an arbitrary distinction founded upon nothing more than an emotion-based opinion.

        Personally, I suspect that maybe there is a line somewhere along the continuum between one’s fists and a nuclear warhead. However, I have no idea where that line would be, or how to justify one line over another.

        There may well be a logical argument for a particular bright line to be drawn; but I’ve never heard one presented …. only PRESUMED.

    • Rob Crawford says:

      Phil — gun control is to the 2nd Amendment what “prior restraint” is to the 1st.

  16. SDN says:

    Sam, up until the Civil War, officers in the militia were not appointed by Congress. They were chosen by the troops they commanded. For you to claim that the Founders intended their defense against tyrannical national government to be a national government organization indicates that either you think they lacked elementary logic, or that you do.

  17. Northern Paladin says:

    Actually, you can get a fully automatic machine-gun, legally. You’ll have to obtain a “class 3 license” for it but unless you’ve been a naughty boy, that shouldn’t present a problem. Of course, fully automatic weapons are very expensive. And realistically, the purpose of an automatic weapon is “suppressing fire”, not “killing people”. That is, if you need to defend your home or engage targets directly, you want a good rifle. If you want to convince a couple dozen people to keep their heads down, you want a machine gun. Even the military stopped making standard rifles feature a “full auto” selection because it didn’t make sense.

    But anyway, the thing to do would be to apply for a license, get denied and then sue and take it up to the supreme court. As far as I know, this hasn’t happened because you probably won’t get denied. If you have $10,000 + burning a hole in your pocket and want to get a machine gun, you probably can. The courts have upheld “a licensing process” provided that the licensing process is “shall issue” in nature, and not overly restrictive on who can obtain one.

    • Viktor says:

      Thanks for the info Paladin; but doesn’t it seem odd that a machine gun should cost $10k?

      I did a quick google search and found this:

      http://www.autoweapons.com/pagelinks/buyandsell.html

      It has some relevant facts; but the one that caught my eye was the last one:

      “No new machine guns can be made, as per the 1986 ban. We have to keep trading the ones already out there.”

      That’s hardly the type of freedom to purchase and own something that Bob is talking about. You can hardly have the right to own a thing when the right to manufacture it has been taken away. The 1986 ban is as unconstitutional as a ban on semi-auto would be. As unconstitutional as confiscation.

  18. Rob Crawford says:

    The Franklin quote — at least the second half — was quite popular with the left in the years 2001-2009. Can’t imagine what changed that it’s suddenly fell out of their repertoire.