The Café Constitution: Firearms

By Diane Alden
web posted March 13, 2000

The Constitution of the United States is not a café where one may pick and choose which parts on the menu one prefers. The Constitution is what it is. These days it is popular to call it a "living" document. Which means it is subject to the whims of political correctness, a judiciary and executive branch overstepping the bounds of separation of powers, goofy world wide trends, and a statist belief that the individual is no longer capable of making decisions without the strong arm of the federal government pointing the way.

The matter of the Second Amendment and its interpretation is a case in point. It is a matter of whether or not the intent of the founders is valid any longer. The question is raised whether or not the people of the United States are about to have part of the Bill of Rights discarded because of political correctness and a perilous desire to leave defense of the self in the hands of government.

The Second Amendment in this day is being reinterpreted because of the rise of the statist mentality in the 20th century, and because a minority of U.S. citizens are criminal or looney and use guns to commit crimes.

The Federalist Papers which describe the evolution of the Constitution by the founders speak to the issues in the Bill of Rights including those raised by today's crop of statists, collectivists, and the left. The intent of the founders is clear. But in regard to the Second Amendment the statists on the left don't care; they no longer consider the Constitution as it was written as relevant to the times.

Nonetheless, the right of self-defense and the ownership of weapons to accomplish that feat go back into ancient history. Much of U.S. law and the Bill of Rights are based on English common law. A great deal of that law may be found in the lawyers bible, the venerable Blackstone's Edition, which dates back to the 1700s. In this bible of law it flat out states that self-defense is a natural right, consequently arms to accomplish that are also a right.

Each and every part of the Bill of Rights depends on the other for legitimacy. The Constitution may be amended but it may not be ignored. The Bill of Rights is not a menu from which we may pick and choose what we wish to swallow at the Café Constitution.

But no matter how many arguments there are about the legitimacy and meaning of the Second Amendment, collectivist-statists come up with a reason why it no longer applies. The integrity of the entire document and its affect on our rights and liberties is called into question. That includes the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of the press, speech and religion. Because if the Second Amendment or the Fourth or any other is made moot for what is perceived as a transitory good of the state, than the whole becomes subject to the same attacks. For the good of the collective liberty is diminished.

Additionally, at the speed which the separation of powers is being demolished, we are rapidly becoming a nation with an executive branch tyranny stamped with the gold seal of approval by an all-powerful and corrupt judiciary.

When viewed from the perspective of "separation of powers" congress has become an expensive and irrelevant vanity. Filled with people who either no longer believe in the Constitution, are ignorant of its meaning, or know full well they are part of the force, which is destroying it. As the Second Amendment in particular, as well as the 4th are under attack from the left, our elected officials dither on about symbols and nanny-state concerns.

The founders understood that even a benevolent government can become corrupted. They were wise enough to realize the tendency of men to wield tyrannical control over other men. That all power is abused when it is not regulated.

They understood that government perpetuates itself by expanding and finds a reason to maintain its power. They understood the temptation, which may confront an amoral or ethically bankrupt populace to exchange liberties for license and to inflict a reign of terror on those perceived as different or enemies of the state. That is the reason the founders gave us the Bill of Rights. That is the reason for the Second Amendment.

The Last Resort

The Jews in World War II learned what happens when a group is demonized by the prevailing culture. For the left to say it couldn't happen in the United States shows an abysmal ignorance of man's ability to shed civilization in very short order.

Activists for the Second Amendment include the National Rifle Association but there are other groups as well. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms understand that Second Amendment guarantees may be all that stands between Americans and the criminal class and the possibility that a tyrannical government can develop in a matter of years. Richard Stevens, a spokesman for the group based in Washington, D.C. says, "gun prohibitionists want to make firearms illegal unless they have a "sporting purpose." The "sporting purpose" idea was part of the Nazi Weapons Law of 1938. JPFO has shown that the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968 imported much of its organization, content, and phrasing, from the Nazi Weapons Law. [Gateway to Tyranny]

Mr. Stevens goes on to say, "The key to genocide, or government mass murder of its citizens, is to first disarm them. No government mass murders have taken place in this century where the people were widely armed. The Founders of this nation, from their own experience, knew that when government goes bad, liberty evaporates and people die ... unless the people are armed."

The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto fought for days against the Nazi's with only a few weapons before they were finally starved out. While Hitler rose to power the Jews and good people of Germany and Europe believed "that it couldn't happen here." But it did happen. They failed to heed the warnings because the economy was in good shape and most of them were prosperous. Yet they failed to pay attention as the demonization of a particular religion and a people took hold. People who were dehumanized and marginalized by an accepted kind of national bigotry. The hard won restraints of civilization disappeared overnight as the Jews, gypsies, Catholics, Christians, homosexuals and Slavs became the target of hatred by the Nazis and fascists.

Tyrannical governments destroy the right to bear arms as a jumping off point for destroying other freedoms. Bancroft's History relates: The common law respects the right of self-defense; yet the Irish Catholics, or popish recusants as they were called, were, by one universal prohibition, forbidden to use or keep any kind of weapons whatsoever, under penalties which the crown could not remit. Any two justices might enter a house and search for arms, or summon any person whomsoever, and tender him an oath, of which the repeated refusal was punishable as treason.

In North America the British threw French-Catholics out of Nova Scotia. British Governor Lawrence said to the them as they were forced to flee: "Guns are no part of your goods," he continued," as by the laws of England all Roman Catholics are restrained from having arms, and are subject to penalties if arms are found in their houses. It is not the language of British subjects to talk of terms with the crown, or capitulate about their fidelity and allegiance. What excuse can you make for treating this government with such indignity as to expound to them the nature of fidelity? Manifest your obedience by immediately taking the oaths of allegiance in the common form before the council."

It was not long ago in America that blacks were forbidden to own firearms. That foreigners, Catholics and Jews and other minorities were considered as un-American. It was not long ago when government committed genocide against the American Indian. It was only yesterday that Ruby Ridge and Waco were front-page headlines.

Yet Bill Clinton and Janet Reno get up and ask for more gun laws while those on the books are not enforced; while the extreme left demands the unconstitutional act of registration which in turn leads to confiscation as it has in Australia. Where Canadians are now required to register their guns and where many formerly commonly used firearms such as shotguns are now illegal.

Have the likes of Bill Clinton, the left and statists of all political persuasions proven so trustworthy that they will resist the temptation to eventually come get guns. Is the government so benevolent it will not use any means at its disposal to control the citizens of the United States in order to maintain and solidify power.

They have taken the guns away from the people of Australia in the last 10 years and it can happen here.

Shall Not Be Infringed

Second 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. The commas separate the thoughts.

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 29 explained:" that an armed citizenry was the best and only real defense against a standing army becoming large and oppressive…The usurpers, clothed with the forms of legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo."

Constitutional law scholars such as Dr. Eugene Volokh of UCLA maintain: "The Second Amendment, like the First, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments, refers to a "right of the people," not a right of the states or a right of the National Guard."

"The First Amendment guarantees the people's right to assemble; the Fourth Amendment protects the people's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; the Ninth Amendment refers to the people's unenumerated rights. These rights are clearly individual -- they protect "the right of the people" by protecting the right of each person. This strongly suggests that the similarly-worded Second Amendment likewise secures an individual right."

Justice Joseph Story described the "right of the citizens to keep and bear arms" as "the palladium of the liberties of a republic. According to Dr. Volokh that is because it is a check against the usurpations and arbitrary power of rulers. It will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. Likewise, he reminds us that in the English bible of constitutional and common law, Blackstone described even the more limited English right as a means "of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression." He maintains that "perhaps the Bill of Rights is more radical -- and more dangerous -- than people might at first believe."

"As in the case of the 5th Amendment, another often unpopular right -- the privilege against self-incrimination, the Court has determined if it be thought that [a right] is outmoded in the conditions of this modern age, then the thing to do is to take it out of the Constitution [by constitutional amendment], not to whittle it down by the subtle encroachments of judicial opinion."

Constitutional rights may be respected, repealed, or modified; but they must never be ignored.

Weapons of Assault

When this nation no longer believes in its basic documents that contain the basis for law and governance, than government begins to lose its legitimacy. Because it is in the precepts contained in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which is the covenant, the agreement between individuals and government, that gives government legitimacy.

Voting for policies or individuals is not what gives government its lawfulness. It is the agreed upon set of ideas and precepts, the long history of common law and societal values, which accomplishes that. Otherwise we become nothing more than a rabble with the right of plebiscite, our individual liberty subject to the whims of tyranny or the rule of the mob. If that is the case those in power can manipulate and pay lip service to that which is nothing more than a collective horde at tax time or during national election mania.

We lose liberty as the rule of law provided in the Constitution is replaced by executive fiat, bureaucratic regulation, a judiciary taking on the duties of congress, and an illegal power wielded by federal military and police forces. This happened at the end of the Roman republic. The result was tyranny for the next 400 years.

Guns of November

Since the collectivists and statists have no faith in the individual or individual responsibility they have little faith in the Bill of Rights.A document that places the individual and certain self-evident truths above the needs of the state no longer seems relevant to them.

Americans must decline to accept this corrupt and illegitimate interpretation of the Bill of Rights. Those who call for a diminution of the Second Amendment are much like the science fiction collectivists known as the "Borg." These beings destroy all individuality and care only that everyone become part of a drone like collective. Their battle cry is, "resistance is futile - you must comply." As they demand obedience and absorption into the collective state.

If citizens are wise they will use the "guns of November" at the ballot box. The right to vote is a powerful weapon -- if used with wisdom. Getting rid of the left, moderates and those on the right who no longer place their faith in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could be the wisest thing we ever do in our lifetime. Demand from the elected a return to the Constitution as conceived by the Founders. Demand a return to the separation of powers by demanding that congress take back the reins from the judiciary and executive who have overstepped their constitutional bounds.

We are at a crossroads in our Constitutional life. Many in this country no longer believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights except as it is used in their drive to form the corporate nanny-state. The road we choose in November, and from now on, will determine whether or not we will maintain our liberties. The other alternative is to blunder into tyranny. As poet T.S. Elliot might describe us at this point in our history, "Not that they die but they die like sheep."

The Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment are not the dessert in the Café Constitution they are the whole enchilada.

Diane Alden is a research analyst and writer for numerous on line publications. She also writes for the western journal, Range Magazine, and does occasional commentaries for Georgia Radio, Inc. Reach her at

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