Last Updated:November 20 @ 12:10 pm

Real 'radicals' of the gun debate

By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)

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. -- Second Amendment

Joseph Story was a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1811 to 1845. He was the youngest associate justice, named to the bench at the age of 32 by President James Madison, a fella who knew a thing or two about the Constitution as its "father."

And it was in 1833 that Mr. Justice Story published what's still considered to be the seminal scholarly work on our national charter, "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States." One of the most quoted passages from the book pertains to the Second Amendment:

"The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any person," he wrote. "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation of and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

Seldom quoted but just as important is another passage:

"Among the American people ... there is certainly no small danger that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights."

Chillingly prescient, is it not?

Now, gun-grabbers will be quick to argue that Story is being selectively quoted to make a point not of his original intent. After all, Story's quotations indeed are in reference to a "well regulated militia."

But contrary to popular misinterpretation, that Second Amendment phrase is not a reference to a government-sanctioned and -regulated federal army or even the states' national guard.

"The overriding purpose of the Framers in guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms was a check on the standing army, which the Constitution gave the Congress the power to 'raise and support,'" reminds Second Amendment scholar Daniel J. Schultz in "The e_SSRqLectric Law Library."

Or as Mr. Schultz adds, quoting Noah Webster from a pamphlet urging ratification of the Bill of Rights:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe." So, too, this sentiment was voiced by Mr. Madison's close ally, Tench Coxe of Pennsylvania, Schultz writes.

"Thus, the well regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state was a militia that might someday fight against a standing army raised and supported by a tyrannical national government," says Schultz.

The generally recognized definition of "well regulated" in the Framing era, by the way, was that of the citizenry organizing its own efforts. "The militia" of the same era was "the whole people" or "the whole body of the people."

The Framers said what they meant and meant what they said.

Thus, today's gun debate is the ultimate perversion. A federal government with massive firepower seeks to further limit the constitutional right of the law-abiding people to keep and bear even the most modest arms by comparison. And, in the process, it denigrates not only the Bill of Rights, not only the people but America itself.

Who are the real "radicals," again? And who's the greater threat to these united states?

---

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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8 Comments

  1. bulletfish2013Comment by bulletfish2013
    March 4, 2013 @ 10:04 am

    This is the very Government the framers included the 2nd amendment for. These are the very people that will control us, if we let them.
    We are on the road to Communism! If you don’t think so,do even a small amount of research.

    But they HAVE to take our guns, our God and our families. Once these three are gone, they will have won. We can’t let that happen.
    We must re-wake the sleeping Giant and spread the word to all good Christian men and women to help understand what is at stake for our children, grand children and great grand children.

    PRAY FOR YOUR COUNTRY, TAKE A STAND! VOTE!

    http://www.morningstartv.com/oak-initiative/marxism-america

    Judge Jeanine Pirro on Gun Control
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/2138468100001/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=0sujnvIV4g4

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    • anothersonofgodComment by anothersonofgod
      March 4, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

      Tell me there isn’t a God! If not a God, then who told the wise men who organized our country 250 years ago that, “A Child will Be Born in a land Far to the East, and he will be Called “The Elected One” and he will come in a time of indifference and Make a Difference, a time of disgust, and He will Be a Gusto! And He will Master disgust, transform Into Contempt; and thus undermine all the protection Your National Bill of Rights.”

      On the other hand, some of us are rational and actually have eyes in our head. Humans can figure these things out; Like all “Creatures of Opportunity” if not Obama, it would be some other Liberal Godless God.
      It isn’t Obama per se that is dismantling America; If he had never been born, there would be another liberal standing in his place.
      The problem is Liberals, proving they are not fit to lead free countries. Look about you, at all your liberal friends. THAT is the problem.

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  2. anothersonofgodComment by anothersonofgod
    March 4, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

    Politicians, media school grads, and liberals of all colors use obscure language and a twist of clever phrases to weasel from obligation, responsibility and culpability.
    I will give the Liberals this, They are very clever.
    But they can only win if wise men let them, today.

    But they may, they may win; look at other countries and you will see. Liberals have been winning since the War of 1812.

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  3. Pingback: The Real Radicals Of The Gun Debate

  4. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    March 4, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    ” … And, in the process, it denigrates not only the Bill of Rights, not only the people but America itself. … ”

    It is the INTENT of Obama, and his supporters, to denigrate America through any means available.

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    • bulletfish2013Comment by bulletfish2013
      March 4, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

      Right you are vietnamvet
      everyone must watch this to help understand the big picture!

      http://vimeo.com/52009124

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  5. rustypatComment by rustypat
    March 4, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    The matter is quite simple that a grade school English teacher could clearly point it out.

    A well regulated Militia … is NOT complete sentence structure.
    being necessary to the security of a free State … is NOT complete sentence structure.
    the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed … IS COMPLETE SENTENCE STRUCTURE.

    Those portions of the Second Amendment that are not complete sentence structure are not able to stand alone as a complete sentence and thus are relegated to being the prefatory or amplifying explanatory elements to that which is complete sentence structure.

    It could be restructured to read (it) shall not be infringed. The (it) is “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, since a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State.

    The context being, if it is necessary for the State to have a Militia, the people shall have the right to bear Arms … remembering that the Bill of Rights is set to oppose the Constitutition from providing tyrannical powers as means of establishing a balance of power between the Federal Government, State Government and individual rights.

    Furthermore, those who are suggesting that the Second Amendment is referring only to the establishment of the militia, have failed to retain the context of the Bill of Rights as being the intentional offset to the powers established to the Federal Government by the Constitution.

    From “plain English” to understanding the context of the Bill of Rights relative to the Constitution … all those really smart people who debate this are grossly failing to know how to simply read the English language.

    It is incredibly simple and written in plain English … you just have to know how to read a sentence that uses commas.

    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.

    Obama-Nation is an Abomination.
    http://www.openbible.info/topics/abomination

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    • DudleyComment by Dudley
      March 4, 2013 @ 11:24 am

      Well said. Only politicians and lawyers work to distort the plain meaning of the Constitution.

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  6. rzraickComment by rzraick
    March 4, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    The attack on the Constitution by the liberals has been accelarated in recent years. We were a country based of the freedom of individuals, and a very small government, who’s main purpose was to protect those freedoms. Well only an idiot would see us today and think that we still are a freedom loving nation.

    Every ammendment in the Bill of Rights has been attacked (with the exception of the 3rd Ammendment which is of little consequence today) But the other nine limitations on government have been completely gutted, and with them so has gone all our freedom, to be replace with a corrupt treasonous government which has brought us to the mess we are in today.

    It is a mess on every level of government. There is no way to fix it other than the remedies ststed by the founders.

    The government must be stopped. It must be replaced. There must come a revolution. Not a happy thing but necessary.

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