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Reply #112


Response to MadHound (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 03:17 AM

112. "For the Second Amendment" is rather glib, honestly.

It completely ignores several issues regarding the historical context of said amendment and the ways in which society has changed in the past two hundred and twenty years, and allows only a single interpretation: that the Second Amendment represents an absolute individual right to gun ownership. This is problematic because it focuses on "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" to the utter exclusion of "a well-regulated militia".

Historical context: the militia, historically, represents the body of subjects or citizens trained in the use of arms and liable to service if called upon. The militia has its origins far back in English history, with the medieval requirements that all yeomen train with the longbow. More historical context: this was not something required of everyone; a yeoman was a small farmer who had his lands in return for service and allegiance to his feudal lord...usually, the lord of the local manor, who in turn held his estates in return for service and allegiance to a greater lord, usually a baron, who in turn held his for his allegiance to an earl, who held his in return for allegiance to the king. The body of yeomanry trained in the use of arms alleviated the king of the expense of maintaining a standing army, and in the context of feudal society secured the loyalty of the lords and barons who would have in any case been fearful of an overly powerful royal authority.

Fast-forward a few hundred years, to the colonies, where the idea of the militia was based on the history and experience of same in British and specifically English history, and where there was the recent example of the disarming of Scotland and the abolishment, de facto, of Scots militias--the militia under common law, in practise, was raised by order of the Lord Lieutenant of a county; Lords Lieutenant were appointed by the privy council of the realm. The Scottish Privy Council was abolished with the 1707 Act of Union, and a bill for the re-establishment of the militia in Scotland was the last to receive the royal veto, in 1708.

In the context of the constitutional arguments of the early United States, there were two sides: the Federalists, and anti-Federalists. The Second Amendment, by guaranteeing to the several states the right to their respective militias, was a concession to anti-Federalists, fearful of an overly powerful central government in much the same way that those aforementioned medieval barons and earls would have feared a standing army loyal only to the king. Given this historical context, the reasons for the Second Amendment seem generally to be now rendered obsolete; we now have a standing army, the militia as such is now replaced by the National Guard, in its military functions, and by organised police forces, in its peacekeeping functions. Society has changed dramatically in the intervening 220 years and there is no longer any practical reason for a citizen militia, nor is there any practical reason to require every able-bodied man to own a gun and be trained in its use.

Given all of this historical context, I have to say that the presentation of the issue as "being for the Second Amendment" shows a genuine lack of understanding of what the Second Amendment represents (as well as an apparently wilful ignorance of the divergent legal schools of thought on its interpretation as representing an individual vs a collective right, and as representing a right of the people as individuals vs a right of states).

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