Friday, January 14, 2011

Rachael Maddow's Faulty Gun-Control Argument


On a recent broadcast, Rachael Maddow said that it's extremist for one to believe that an armed citizenry prevents government tyranny.

I believe that an armed citizenry prevents tyranny, which is exactly why the Founders gave us the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

I suppose the British and their supporters in the colonies thought the Founders were extremists too?

Rachael’s argument that, if the above interpretation of the Second Amendment is correct, then citizens must (should) be allowed to buy any and all types of weaponry, is, I think, a good one (my personal favorite: the reductio ad absurdum) but she starts off with a faulty premise: that US citizens would need to be able to defeat (she says "destroy"), on the battlefield, the US military. This premise is faulty because US citizens don't need to defeat (or destroy) the US military; all we need to do is to make life miserable for the US military, which is what the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, and the Afghanis have done.

(Ever heard the terms "asymmetric warfare" and "insurgency" Rachael? I can remember when the US invaded Iraq and a $12,000,000 Apache helicopter was shot down by an Iraqi insurgent using an AK-47 and 20 cent bullets!)

And, in case Rachael has forgotten, the US did fight a Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought only 15 miles from where I live, and the town that I live in has the distinction of being the only Union town to have been burned by the Confederates (in this case, in retaliation for the Union's earlier decimation of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley).

Thousands of men have already fought and died resisting federal tyranny Rachael, in case you've forgotten. If federal tyranny ever does need to be resisted again it will be resisted by men with arms that have been legally obtained and possessed. We will not need nukes, rocket launchers, and tanks, as you say, to defeat the US military, because we don't need to defeat it; we only need to harass it, continually, until they give up (or should I say: switch sides?).

Perhaps Rachael's real concern should be with those who are in the US military and those who are in our many local, state, and federal police departments? Many of these people take the US Constitution---and the oath they've sworn to defend it---very seriously. And why shouldn't they? After all, these folks are US citizens too. Just like Robert E. Lee was.

Several Quotes taken from the (extremist) Founders concerning an armed citizenry

Thomas Jefferson

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." --Thomas Jefferson, proposed Virginia constitution, June 1776. Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334 (C. J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)

"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 prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Thomas Jefferson, quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in "On Crimes and Punishment", 1764

When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny --Thomas Jefferson

"And what country can preserve it's liberties, if the rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take up arms. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William S. Smith, 1787

"The Constitution of most of our states, and the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves: that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press." Thomas Jefferson, Proposed Virginia Constitution, 1776

Samuel Adams

"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life, secondly to liberty, thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can." --Samuel 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, During the Massachusetts U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams, 1776

Benjamin Franklin

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." --Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the governor, November 11, 1755 <>

Noah Webster

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of 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 bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States." --Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the federal Constitution (1787) in Pamphlets to the Constitution of the United States (P. Ford, 1888).

Tench Coxe

"Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people" --Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, 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 article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." Tench Coxe, in "Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution." Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789

John Adams

"Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at the individual discretion, in private self-defense." John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787-88

Alexander Hamilton

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-8

Richard Henry Lee

"A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." Richard Henry Lee, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights. Additional Letters From the Federal Farmer 53, 1788

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. Every man who is able may have a gun." --Patrick Henry, During Virginia's ratification convention, 1788

James Madison

"The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." James Madison, The Federalist No. 46

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of people, trained in arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country." --James Madison, I Annuals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789)

George Mason

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." --George Mason, during Virginia's ratification convention, 1788

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." --Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War, 1775

George Washington

"A free people ought to be armed. When firearms go, all goes, we need them by the hour. Firearms stand next to importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence." --George Washington, Boston Independence Chronicle, January 14, 1790

"To ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that is good." --George Washington, The Federalist No. 53

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