Monday, February 27, 2012

A Restatement of First Principles. Part One: What is the purpose of the armed citizenry?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
This is for those who are a bit unclear about who we are and what we're supposed to be about, at least as the Founders saw it:
We are the armed citizenry of the united States. The Founders expected future generations to be like them, both armed and citizens. These concepts were, to them, inseparable. Only a free man may possess arms that he or she may use for his or her own purposes. Only a citizen, someone constantly participating in the political process and vigilant to threats to liberty, utilizing all non-violent means available can be expected to short-circuit threats to liberty, life and property prior to violence morally justifiable as self-defense.
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." — George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788
In practical terms, the armed citizenry is supposed to:
1. Provide security in life, liberty and property to each citizen in his home from depredation by common criminals;
2. Provide security in life, liberty and property to the community by assisting, when necessary, duly constituted authority in maintaining civil order; and
3. Provide security in life, liberty and property to the states and nation by being the credible countervailing power to would-be tyrannical government.
These three functions are provided for in the concept of a "well-regulated militia," -- which at the time meant well disciplined, well led, well trained, well armed, with weapons of common caliber -- bands of citizen soldiers operating in the common defense of life, liberty and property.
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive." -- Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).
Each task requires the armed citizenry to be "well-regulated," but each requires a different set of rules of engagement, as we style them today.
Tasks One and Two are, largely, non-political. The burglar is not motivated by your politics (or his) but by the prospect of obtaining your property, the rapist by access to your wife or daughter. Likewise, the ordinary urban mob is motivated less by politics and more by culture and the prospect of loot encouraged by a breakdown of normal civil order. They may claim politics as the reason, they may even believe it, and their destruction may have a political outcome, but the urban riot is merely the common burglar writ large. It is a crime of opportunity. They do it because they can.
"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 birthright of an American...[T]he 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." -- Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
Thus, these first two tasks of the armed citizenry are widely recognized as a legitimate exercise of defensive violence. The Founders, indeed, accepted this as they did the air they breathed. It was a given under the English Constitution and the common law that underpinned it. Only today in the minds of collectivists of varying stripes who covet other people's property, liberty and lives is it controversial -- and for the same reason that a burglar bitterly denounces burglar alarms.
Task Three, on the other hand, is entirely political, and thus far more controversial in some uninformed quarters although this was the principal purpose of the Founders in codifying it in the the Second Amendment. In Part Two of this short series, I will discuss what the Founders had in mind, and how today's armed citizenry must adapt their mission statement to new realities that they never foresaw.
"Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it." -- Richard Henry Lee, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.


Anonymous said...

"[N]or does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle..."

Rather than desiring a "select militia" we should promote a "promiscuous" militia. This would have the salubrious effect of putting Hollywood libertines on our side, for a change. ;^)


STS2_Iver said...

Out freakin' standing!!!

Mt Top Patriot said...

Bravo Mr. Mike.

The truth of it is we live under a system of rule and indenture, where we who observe the rule of law, who pay the bills, we who keep by our very own examples of decency and conscience, the entire leviathan together, while all around us this leviathan of treason and tyranny has been completely corrupted from the top down and inside out.
It is we, our faith, belief in something larger, grander, better than ourselves, that which makes us the great society we are, that this is all that stands in the way of the hordes and their elites.

The inherent power of the sovereign contained in this reality is something that must be understood. It must be exemplified and nurtured. Brought to fruition in the cradle of the rule of law, under the God given primal rights, freedoms codified in our founding governing documents.
Understanding the beautiful truth of our legacy of Liberty is the sprout of recourse that grows into the tree of Liberty.

Which in all if you give it a good think, unquestionably leaves it to ourselves to redress the crime of tyranny, and restore Liberty, virtue and principle as the driving force in our lives culture and government.

Yet, it is to ourselves we must look and depend on. Look inward, but look outward also. It is this that we must come to terms with.
And that is as it should be. It is ourselves that got ourselves into this conundrum in the first place. We where not villigent. Obviously. For if we had been on watch, diligent, would not be in the dire straights we find ourselves now. And understanding and accepting this truth is a prerequisite for redress of tyranny. For tyranny established its toehold in this our weakness.
But in all rights it is important to contend that we are guilty of omission, it is the crime of commission of treason, corruption, and the ensuing outgrowth of tyranny of the rule of men that is so odious and so evil.

As John Adams said, “Let us disappoint the men who are raising themselves upon the ruin of this Country.”

And I think that is what Mr. Mike stands for.

The details of tyranny do not matter any longer in the grand scheme of all things Liberty. It is here, it exists in every facet of the sphere of our lives. It is understanding the choices before us. I think many have made the choice of what they will, can, or are doing, on a gut level, an instinctual plane. It is facing these choices, accepting the reality of the evil nature of what we are faced with, and understanding these choices, that is the crux of our Liberty and the restoration of it.

Yes, "When Democracy Becomes Tyranny, I STILL Get To Vote."
Yes, this holds as true as the day Independence from tyranny was declared. It is recourse of last resorts. But no less viable and important as redress via peaceful means. It peaceful means if successful that we must pursue by all means, before the teeth of our Liberty are used.
So thank you Mr. Mike. And thank you to all my fellow Americans who fight the good fight, whomever, wherever you are.
God Bless you all please.

Then if the gloves must come off, if all peaceful forms of redress are exhausted, well as TL Davis so succinctly put it:
"It is not ours to restore the power of the Constitution. It is ours to show them the wrath of America without the protections the Constitution offers them.

Let them restore it to find refuge from us.
– TL Davis

To those who well know who you are who have worked these last 100 years to rob me of my Liberty, to garner power and wealth at my expense and suffering:
Careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

I should also note that this includes anyone not currently incarcerated.

Depriving freemen who have paid the price for their crimes the means of self defense after the fact is just as tyrannical as any other act.

In addition such persons are only temporarily void of normal rights. This is not a permanent post facto thing.

In some extreme circumstances, even many of those incarcerated are liable to service as well

Though not a requirement custom suggests that brave and honorable service in such circumstances should be rewarded by expediting restoration of honorable admission into the community as well. How much or when is subject to judgment but a man willing to risk his life for his fellows is paying for his acts.

Anonymous said...

Federalist Papers #46:

"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it."