The Second Amendment was ratified to preserve slavery

The meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has always been a puzzle. The text reads (my emphasis below):

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.

What is a “well regulated militia”? And why does it say “state” and not “nation”? We as a nation have both puzzled over this for some time and been treated to a great deal of propaganda about those meanings.

Now comes Thom Hartmann, who has done a fascinating piece of research. I believe we have the answer to all those questions. Those answers will surprise you, but they will also make a great deal of sense once you see them. Hartmann’s headline is the same as mine. He writes (again, emphasis mine and some reparagraphing):

The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote [ratifying the Constitution itself].  Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the “slave patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state.  The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.”

It’s the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained when he asks, “Why don’t they just rise up and kill the whites?”  If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: Well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains.

The “well regulated state militias” of that day were busy:

[S]lave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy. By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South.  Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings.  As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.

And that need to maintain slave-hunting state militias was critical to the maintenance of the Southern aristocracy — just as was the creation of the explicitly anti-democratic U.S. Senate, by the way. But back to these militias; Hartmann again:

If the anti-slavery folks in the North had figured out a way to disband – or even move out of the state – those southern militias, the police state of the South would collapse. And, similarly, if the North were to invite into military service the slaves of the South, then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, and the southern economic and social systems, altogether.

These two possibilities worried southerners like James Monroe, George Mason (who owned over 300 slaves) and the southern Christian evangelical, Patrick Henry (who opposed slavery on principle, but also opposed freeing slaves).

Their main concern was that Article 1, Section 8 of the newly-proposed Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, could also allow that federal militia to subsume their state militias and change them from slavery-enforcing institutions into something that could even, one day, free the slaves.

And there you have it. The federal power to raise and supervise its own militia threatened the existence of the state militias, and also gave the federal government a back-door way to free Southern slaves.

The rest of Hartmann’s article details the discussions among the founders about how to guarantee that the Constitution would be ratified, while also guaranteeing that the slave-owning Southern aristocracy could keep their police state (sorry, their “well regulated militias”).

Slave_Market-Atlanta_Georgia_1864

Thus was born the Second Amendment. Like all of the Bill of Rights, each of the first ten amendments was crafted to address a concern. Jefferson believed that a Bill of Rights wasn’t necessary — he thought that enumerating rights would imply that any rights not enumerated didn’t exist, and he strongly believed that all power not expressly given in the main document was reserved, including all rights not expressly taken away. [Update: Perhaps my bad memory that this was Jefferson’s opinion — it was certainly the opinion of the contemporary writer “Brutus,” possibly Robert Yates.]

But others begged to differ, and others won. Thus was born the Bill of Rights, which explicitly declared — at least until the modern era — what the U.S. government could not do. (We freely practice police-state search-and-seizure, restriction of speech to “free speech zones” and other anti-Constitutional atrocities today — I’m looking at you, Mr. Executive Assassination — but it was nice while it lasted.)

Thanks to Thom Hartmann for this fascinating and eye-opening piece.

Why does this matter?

I have a couple of take-aways from this, the last of which I urge gun-violence activists to give serious consideration:

1. I found this historically fascinating, just on its own. I love this kind of find. Like finding out that the explicit goal of the Senate was to frustrate democracy (Madison and Franklin in their discussions and differing views of government-sanctioned property rights).

2. Interpreters of the Second Amendment always say the founders’ intent was to allow people to defend themselves against the government. This research shows that the amendment had no such purpose. In fact, except for Jefferson, our founders — that day’s aristocrats — hated anti-government insurrection (save their own). Intent is not nothing when considering law; it’s not everything, considering that people and their needs change over time;  but it’s not nothing.

3. There’s a huge PR opportunity here. Painting the Second Amendment as a defense of racism & slavery is a nice way to rebrand the NRA types — both the organization itself and its most virulent supporters.

As Color Of Change has shown with its Trayvon-driven anti-ALEC campaign, racism is now a bridge too far for most Americans, and most people and corps will run these days when credibly painted as racist. In other words, people are always talking Second Amendment in terms favorable to the NRA. This is a way to change that discussion.

I guess if there’s an activist bottom line, it’s point number three. Anyone?

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • Vote_them_all_out

    Jefferson was very much a Founding Father he wrote the Dec. of Ind….the thing that started this country. Founding Father means founding of the country not the Const.
    Jefferson was a member of the Cont Congress and although he never fought he did take part in the Revolution. Yes, he was Min. to France during the drafting of the Const but he was asked for his input and was in continual correspondence with the framers of the Constitution. He also argued for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights. I’m sure every historian would agree that he was a Founding Father.

  • Kelly Q.

    Lol. Funny that you consider this a ‘news’ site. lol. More of an echo chamber for other Fellow Travelers.

    A propaganda site maybe. But news? No.

    Your idea is to smear people regardless of facts. Pretty sad when you can’t even advance an agenda on its merits and have to lie. It just means you lost, and looking at the headlines today, it was the Democrats that ensured it.

    P.S. The NRA helped the freed colored peoples protect themselves many many times. Your hand wringing won’t change that fact.

    The 2nd was about slavery? lol. What a clueless bunch you extreme lefty idiots are. Laughable.

    A great Nation does deserve the truth. Not this toilets propaganda.

  • https://twitter.com/TerryOfromCA @TerryOfromCA

    The author of this article is a 100% blithering idiot.

  • soldier

    Total distortion of the truth. Your have some real historical times and
    dates confused. We migrated to the United States to escape oppressive totalitarian government. The
    concept behind the United States is that the centralized federal government has
    limited power over the people (as opposed to the dictatorships from which we came)·
    The Second Amendment states that in order to maintain a free state, the people must
    retain the right to keep and bear arms. The presence of armed citizens is what
    keeps the government “honest”. No government would be foolish enough
    to impose a dictatorship on people who have the ability to resist. The
    Second Amendment does not grant us this right. This right already existed. The
    Second Amendment merely prevents the government from infringing on it. Perhaps if you have been in as many countries as I have and witnessd what happens when people are disarmed under the guise of preventing gun violence only to have the thugs, who have guns by the way, impose their will on the people un-apposed! US Soldier, retired.

  • mike

    the article advocates calling progun people racist to simply intimidate to make it seem like youve won the arguement… playground tactics for playground mentalities.

  • NuBN247

    As Marco Luxe says below, it was the economics of slave labor the brought on the Civil War. And since the South proudly claimed the first shots fired at Ft. Sumter, SC that sort of blows your Northern war of aggression label out of the water. Lastly, the South never fought for “civil rights” but rather the right of the state to own slaves. As far as they were concerned, as the SCOTUS once confirmed, Blacks had no rights that white men were bound to respect. Fortunately, thanks to Lee’s failure, the South lost!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marco-Luxe/100002339370351 Marco Luxe

    Duh, the economics of slave labor. A+ for your ability to compartmentalize.

  • KingCranky

    The easiest way to debunk Hartmann’s arguments-since you haven’t, you’ve just whined that you have-is to show all those 2nd Amendment loving slave owners, or any other Confederate supporters, who armed slaves.

    That’s been the reality you’ve refused to address.

  • TheGunLobby

    So, instead of debunking my debunking, your entire argument in other words is, “No, you didn’t! No, you didn’t! You didn’t didn’t didn’t didn’t!” Good strategy when you have nothing. “Nyuh-uh,” might
    work in kindergarten. But, if you don’t believe I proved him wrong, you could always address MY points. But, then again, you have
    nothing in the original documents to disprove what I said is IN the original meaning.

  • KingCranky

    Still can’t show where the slave holders were arming the slaves themselves, which just bears out Hartmann’s claims.

    If you can prove the opposite of that reality, then your claims will have some merit, but not until then.

  • KingCranky

    “Can’t”, not “won’t”, you’ve debunked none of Hartmann’s arguments, no matter how much you squawk otherwise.

    Perhaps best you take your own advice about not being deliberately obtuse.

  • TheGunLobby

    Also, one more thing I almost forgot. Don’t forget that those organizations that weren’t arming slaves didn’t include the Continental Army.
    Additionally, the 1792 Uniform Militia Act specifically excluded non-whites because the 2nd Amendment recognized the rights of the individual to carry arms. The individual states, likewise
    established laws excluding blacks after ratification of the 2nd Amendment; in response to the 2nd Amendment. And Dred Scott affirmed that the 2nd Amendment meant that blacks could keep and bear arms if they were citizens; but held that they were NOT citizens. So, if the 2nd Amendment was designed to keep slavery, it was a poor way of
    doing so; even according to the SC.

  • TheGunLobby

    Why doesn’t Hartmann have to have some real arguments with real
    facts? As I said, I completely debunked his statements by proving
    his basic misunderstanding of “state”. His premise — that the 2nd Amendment protected the states’ powers (not rights. States don’t
    have rights.) because of his lack of knowledge of the common differences the Founders acknowledged through common varieties/uses
    of the word “state” — was dismissed by simply pointing out that he has no understanding of the grammar used in the Bill of Rights. If you don’t understand the basic grammar in use at the time of the writing, you can’t claim what the Founders meant. Now, stop being obtuse. I’ve already debunked it. I’m not going to write it all again because you claim you can’t see it.

  • caphillprof

    Just the ones with the guns.

    Subject: [americablog] Re: The Second Amendment was ratified to preserve slavery

  • Allen Reinertsen

    Gun Rights in America (made simple)

    History (timeline) of the Second Amendment

    http://goodstuffsworld.blogspot.com/2012/12/gun-rights-in-america-made-simple.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=711717333 facebook-711717333

    No…Blacks would later be defined as 3/5ths of a person. Up until the early 20th century, women were second class citizens and blacks were considered even less in many areas. People meant land owning males.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=711717333 facebook-711717333

    If you look at their signs, their grasp of English isn’t the best either…

  • jayarebee

    I think you missed my point, run along now.

  • jayarebee

    Yes, I think we are in agreement. I was interpreting the quote as a negative comment intending to degrade that system.

  • Rapture333

    A tyrannical government, like the one the founding fathers overthrew back in the American revolution? You don’t agree, you think we should be sitting ducks in case another country (like Japan in WWII) tries to attack us? Or if our government goes tyrannical, which really doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination if your paying attention. Shame on you.

  • Rapture333

    Which is exactly why gun control doesn’t work. Gun control laws in those days disarmed the Native Americans and the Africans/African Americans. If they had guns, they could have fought back against their oppression.

  • Rapture333

    The Northern war of aggression, also known as the Civil War, didn’t have to be a physical one… Countries all around the world including those in Europe abolished slavery without combat. Abraham Lincoln by definition was a white supremacist. The Civil War was fought over economics under the banner of civil rights.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.ransom.507 David Ransom

    That means all those opposed to private gun ownership would also have to show up on Saturday with THEIR firearm in possession, since the militia is the whole of the people. If you want to follow current Federal Law, that would mean ALL able bodied 17-45 year olds would have to show up with THEIR firearm.

  • UncleBucky

    Yeah, the 2nd Amendment was ratified to fight against tyranny of the government. Ahhh but perhaps when the slaves were freed, people like Douglass were leaders and other than the slave owners or white supremacists were in power in the government. In fact, (and I am speaking with my irony tags on here) maybe the 2nd Amendment was ratified so that in time, something like a President Obama would never have existed. Maybe some of the founding fathers (crazy uncles, maybe?) could see such a thing in the future, and fought to keep slavery so that it would NEVER HAPPEN. :D:D:D

    And THAT’S WHY teabagguery is frothing and spitting blood…!

  • UncleBucky

    Yeah, like 16 to 19 year olds… Maybe even younger if they can shoot straight, eh?

    No truer statement (KingCranky’s) has been said about teabagguery. :)

  • UncleBucky

    I bet that Scalia believes that women, children, teens, people of color and the poor shouldn’t have free speech.

  • UncleBucky

    Huh?

  • UncleBucky

    Man, that the gun nuts would really leave. Hah, but where would they go? There was a discussion as to where teabagguers, gun nuts and neocons COULD go… First, all they speak is English, and all the English speaking places are light years more socialist than Obama, haha. Second, no place gives them such freedom as you give a nine-year-old when he threatens to break the TV until you can figure out how to commit him. Finally, these mountain men don’t want to leave. Rather they want to resurrect the CSA (The Confederacy), those traitors! ;o)

  • Citizen x

    So if these men could put aside their personal interests and knowingly jeopardize their own future to recognize and protect rights they may not have agreed with . . . . . how is it that this writer would jeopardize all of our protections and rights in perpetuity to impune with innuendo a document more ethical and honest than himself using the failures, short comings, and criminal behavior of dead men.

    AND Seriously Publius the very guy that wrote the federalist papers. The pamphlets that literally that convinced the public a constitutional federal government that wasn’t going to be able to take their weapons or freedom. Wasn’t he one of those racist constitutional framers you denigrate???

    If you don’t like what I said say so I can take it. Prove me wrong or correct my ignorance. Thats what discussions are for.

  • Citizen x

    Racists, racism, and misrepresentation.
    To say there were no raciest at the constitutional congress would be almost as dubious as to say the second amendment was there to protect the perverse institution of slavery. Indeed many of the founding fathers had involvement with slavery or held beliefs that were equally atrocious. However, it is not the short coming opinions or crimes of dead men that the constitution protects us with. Nor does it force us to perpetuate any that its framers may have been guilty of. It is the words they agreed to that recognize rights that existed and exist independently of men, including themselves, and the era, even their own. In spite of the fact some of them, maybe all of them, although that wasn’t the case, were completely unmoved by the plight of others they knowingly created a constitution that would not let society forget these rights nor abusing its members through government. The framers of the constitution did not invent rights they simply demanded they be respected by government. As for their thinking and “racist beliefs” that is a right inherent with our right to believe otherwise. But neither of us have the right to force that opinion on someone else so collectively neither does a government. Some of these beliefs were indeed pushed for by delegates during the writing of the constitution. But, as a constitution is primarily principal there was restraint to include wood be legislation. In addition the debate of slavery was a topic and there were amendments proposed to protect and abolish it but all were rejected. From the debate on the topic the delegates were fully aware that the end to slavery would not be in many of their personal interests. Yet, the FIRST shot of the civil war was not fired at Fort Sumter but in a line of constitution as the FIRST of those pesky rights those racists came up with. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” This was no accident of history. Every single delegate whether racist or abolitionist was fully aware and understood the implications that the line including ALL MEN with no reservation was a war yet to fight and would be the death nail of slavery. They still agreed, they rose above their own interests because of persuasive argument and consented to be bound to an agreement not to their benefit so EVERYONE could have the freedom to judge for themselves. Note they didn’t force everyone to agree. It is documented there was even speculation that within a few years it would lead to civil war, as it eventually did. If they were racist criminals, they died criminals and their crimes died with them. We are still the beneficiaries of the better side of their character in the constitutional protections that are their legacy.

  • Citizen x

    The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve:
    To say there were no raciest at the constitutional congress would be almost as big as dubious as to say the second amendment was there to protect the perverse institution of slavery. Indeed many of the founding fathers had involvement with slavery, however, the reality is these men were dealing with a collection of mini countries that were failing. The very week central government they were running as a confederacy was too weak to stop the infighting. That vulnerability was dangerous and economically devastating. They were trying to establish a federal government that could standardize their money so they could trade with Europe and maintain an army to effectively protect themselves from invasion. The problem was they had just fought a war to remove a too powerful central government and didn’t want to just replace it with another. Thus the constitution was born. The restrictions they placed on government were suppose to keep it from enacting secret legislation in late night sessions without public scrutiny, from confiscating property, from forbidding citizens from disagreeing with the government officials, from taking citizens money for their “good ideas”, from telling people how to think, and from granting special status to government personnel or privileges to one group better than another. All these were nice but what would insure the government didn’t try anyway. The amendments. If the government couldn’t conduct its business in secret and couldn’t render the citizens unable to threaten back they would always think twice before trying something. The idea that no one could exempt himself from rules that apply to everyone else would be a safeguard against the majority, weapons and the press would be there to intimidate the government. They all understood they would still be subjects of King George if they had been successfully deprived of these when the revolution was being contemplated and therefore would be needed to keep future governments from following suit. This concept was so important to the framers several states refused to ratify the constitution UNTILL THE INDIVUALS RIGTH was included. Remember states were counties in their own right they already had army/guards/militias and a separate clause guarantying them the right to keep these. It should also be noted that this makes any weapon authorized law enforcement or military to use in their dealing with people a sub set of the rights that already belonging to the citizenry as individuals. Therefore they are protected from any encumbrance that would place them at a disadvantage like magazine limits or hand grips. The same logic that justifies these government organizations need of these tools is equal justification for law abiding public except, the law abiding public are EXEMPT of any “need” for justification.

  • Citizen x

    The second amendment has NOTHING to do with slavery AND the meaning of the second amendment has NEVER been a puzzle. It has only been the victim of people who fail to grasp its importance or other treacherous and deceitful people who through misrepresentation wish to do away with it because it interferes with their agenda. No different than the slave trade did in its time to preserve their agenda. In FACT the very first gun control laws were laws that forbid Negroes from owning, carrying, and or operating firearms. That is racism.

    In the beginning, there were the militias.
    Militia at the time of the revolution were considered any able bodied male of age who could field a military grade weapon not an organized group or branch of government. Groups and government may be comprised of militia or maintain militia(a group of militia) but did not have any exclusive use of the term militia in general.

    There are claims the second amendment restricts this right to organized state militias but these are wrong. The phrase “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” is not a limitation on the right but a well documented writing convention of the time called a preamble that provides some but not necessarily all of the rational used in a following statement. In this case “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. There are numerous examples of the convention in other legal documents of the time and in some state constitutions. Even a closer look at the language of the preamble clearly shows at least some of the intentions of the amendment. As a country is made up of the citizenry and government. The constitutions writers clearly understood their new government, like their old government(King George), could not be trusted and its size would be used to victimize the less powerful. So to protect the citizens and any minority within the citizenry it RESTRICTS THE GOVERNMENT not the citizenry. The “State” used here refers to the GOVERNING ENTITY of the country as a whole inclusive of sub entities (the States). The idea that a government would be a member of a larger government was a new concept called federalism. States were sovereign entities, little countries, a federalist collective is also the “state”. When the individual State governments are distinguished from the federal government, their right to raise an army(guard) and maintain militias of their own is clearly protected in another clause and is not superfluous. Also the term “regulated” at the time meant “disciplined” it distinguishes the intent as not to be construed as license for carelessness or idiocy it also did not have the authoritative oversight connotations it does now.

  • Citizen x

    How is this a discussion when you delete well written comments that refute your opinion? If they are not insulting or profane why do you need to suppress and censor them? If your article stands on its own merits how is there any harm in letting the readers decide for themselves? They can always disagree and many would take the opportunity to comment on the comment .

  • Citizen x

    The second amendment has NOTHING to do with slavery AND the meaning of the second amendment has NEVER been a puzzle. It has only been the victim of people who fail to grasp its importance or other treacherous and deceitful people who through misrepresentation wish to do away with it because it interferes with their agenda. No different than the slave trade did in its time to preserve their agenda. In FACT the very first gun control laws were laws that forbid Negroes from owning, carrying, and or operating firearms. That is racism.

    In the beginning, there were the militias.
    Militia at the time of the revolution were considered any able bodied male of age who could field a military grade weapon not an organized group or branch of government. Groups and government may be comprised of militia or maintain militia(a group of militia) but did not have any exclusive use of the term militia in general.

    There are claims the second amendment restricts this right to organized state militias but these are wrong. The phrase “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” is not a limitation on the right but a well documented writing convention of the time called a preamble that provides some but not necessarily all of the rational used in a following statement. In this case “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. There are numerous examples of the convention in other legal documents of the time and in some state constitutions. Even a closer look at the language of the preamble clearly shows at least some of the intentions of the amendment. As a country is made up of the citizenry and government. The constitutions writers clearly understood their new government, like their old government(King George), could not be trusted and its size would be used to victimize the less powerful. So to the citizens and any minority within the citizenry it RESTRICTS THE GOVERNMENT not the citizenry. The “State” used here refers to the GOVERNING ENTITY of the country as a whole inclusive of sub entities (the States). The idea that a government would be a member of a larger government was a new concept called federalism. States were sovereign entities, little countries, a federalist collective is also the “state”. When the individual State governments are distinguished from the federal government, their right to raise an army(guard) and maintain militias of their own is clearly protected in another clause and is not superfluous. Also the term “regulated” at the time meant “disciplined” it distinguishes the intent as not to be construed as license for carelessness or idiocy it also did not have the authoritative oversight connotations it does now.

    The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve:
    To say there were no raciest at the constitutional congress would be almost as big a lie as to say the second amendment was there to protect the perverse institution of slavery. Indeed many of the founding fathers had involvement with slavery, however, the reality is these men were dealing with a collection of mini countries that were failing. The very week central government they were running as a confederacy was too weak to stop the infighting. That vulnerability was dangerous and economically devastating. They were trying to establish a federal government that could standardize their money so they could trade with Europe and maintain an army to effectively protect themselves from invasion. The problem was they had just fought a war to remove a too powerful central government and didn’t want to just replace it with another. Thus the constitution was born. The restrictions they placed on government were suppose to keep it from enacting secret legislation in late night sessions without public scrutiny, from confiscating property, from forbidding citizens from disagreeing with the government officials, from taking citizens money for their “good ideas”, from telling people how to think, and from granting special status to government personnel or privileges to one group better than another. All these were nice but what would insure the government didn’t try anyway. The amendments. If the government couldn’t conduct its business in secret and couldn’t render the citizens unable to threaten back they would always think twice before trying something. The idea that no one could exempt himself from rules that apply to everyone else would be a safeguard agent the majority, weapons and the press would be there to intimidate the government. They all understood they would still be subjects of King George if they had been successfully deprived of these when the revolution was being contemplated and therefore would be needed to keep future governments from following suit. This concept was so important to the framers several states refused to ratify the constitution UNTILL THE INDIVUALS RIGTH was included. Remember states were counties in their own right they already had army/guards/militias and a separate clause guarantying them the right to keep these. It should also be noted that this makes any weapon authorized law enforcement or military to use in their dealing with people a sub set of the rights that already belonging to the citizenry as individuals. Therefore they are protected from any encumbrance that would place them at a disadvantage like magazine limits or hand grips. The same logic that justifies these government organizations need of these tools is equal justification for law abiding public except, the law abiding public are EXEMPT of any “need” for justification.

    Racists, racism, and misrepresentation.
    To say there were no raciest at the constitutional congress would be almost as big a lie as to say the second amendment was there to protect the perverse institution of slavery. Indeed many of the founding fathers had involvement with slavery or held beliefs that were equally atrocious. However, it is not the short coming opinions or crimes of dead men that the constitution protects us with. Nor does it force us to perpetuate any that its framers may have been guilty of. It is the words they agreed to that recognize rights that existed and exist independently of men, including themselves, and the era, even their own. In spite of the fact some of them, maybe all of them, although that wasn’t the case, were completely unmoved by the plight of others they knowingly created a constitution that would not let society forget these rights nor abusing its members through government. The framers of the constitution did not invent rights they simply demanded they be respected by government. As for their thinking and “racist beliefs” that is a right inherent with our right to believe otherwise. But neither of us have the right to force that opinion on someone else so collectively neither does a government. Some of these beliefs were indeed pushed for by delegates during the writing of the constitution. But, as a constitution is primarily principal there was restraint to include wood be legislation. In addition the debate of slavery was a topic and there were amendments defeated to protect and abolish it in the document. From the debate on the topic the delegates were fully aware that the end to slavery would not be in many of their personal interests. Yet, the first shot of the civil war was not fired at Fort Sumter but in a line of constitution as the FIRST of those pesky rights those resists came up with. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” This was no accident of history. Every single delegate whether racist or abolitionist was fully aware and understood the implications that the line including ALL MEN with no reservation was a war yet to fight and would be the death nail of slavery. They still agreed, they rose above their own interests because of persuasive argument and consented to be bound to an agreement not to their benefit so EVERYONE could have the opportunity to judge for themselves. Note they didn’t force everyone to agree. It is documented there was even speculation that within a few years that it would lead to civil war, as it eventually did. If they were racist criminals, they died criminals and their crimes died with them. We are still the beneficiaries of the better side of their character in the constitutional protections that is their legacy. So if these men could put aside their personal interests and knowingly jeopardize their future to recognize and protect rights they may not have agreed with . . . . . how is it that this reporter would jeopardize all of our protections and rights to protect and further his own agenda against a document more ethical and honest than himself using the failures, short comings, and criminal behavior of dead men.

  • Tim Kane

    I wonder if this explains why the South was more successful in the early engagements during the Civil War.

    They were an armed society, forever engaged in constant warfare against a portion of their residents.

    This is why military commissions were so important in the south. Why the tradition allowed for a man who cooks chickens might be called “Colonel”. Have you ever seen Colonel Sander’s depicted in military uniform? Only in the south do such naming conventions occur.

    They had their own Military colleges. Stonewall Jackson attended Virginia Military Institute (VMI).

    They had many more men and officers who had already engaged in military or quasi-military type engagements and violence. Keep in mind, the most successful in the Civil War had experience. Grant, the only successful Union General had participated in combat during the Mexican War.

    After the war, the economy of the South laid in waste, many of the well armed, but poor and unemployed former soldiers, drifted into the Wild West, where the culture of guns, chauvinism and violence proliferated.

    It all makes sense when history is looked at in a sort of mechanistic way.

  • KingCranky

    Your sighing is completely understandable, can’t debunk Hartmann’s arguments, then follow up that inability with laughable spin about printing presses and the first amendment.

    Like I wrote, “can’t”, not “won’t”.

  • Tim Kane

    I believe you have to use a mechanical approach to the study of history – it is a kind of Occam’s Razor applied to History. Nothing takes place in a bottle. Everything influences everything else. There is no logical reason for the creation of the 2nd amendment than for the purposes of suppressing slavery.

    This was a very real threat to Southerners. The Bill of Rights was created in 1789 and ratified in December 1791. In between a massive slave rebellion occurred in the French colony of St. Dominique that resulted in the creation of Haiti and the freeing of all the slaves there. Haiti was the South’s worse nightmare.

    St. Dominque has 1 European to ever African: 40,000 free whites, 450,000 enslaved blacks. Many parts of the south had similar numbers. You can imagine the fear many of the whites in the south had. Without the 2nd Amendment to protect them, there is absolutely no way they would have joined the Union at the time of the creation of the constitution.

    From wikipedia:

    “The white planters who derived their wealth from the sale of sugar knew they were outnumbered by slaves by a factor of more than ten; they lived in fear of slave rebellion. White masters extensively used the threat of physical violence to maintain control and limit this possibility for slave rebellion. When slaves left the plantations or disobeyed their masters, they were subject to whipping, or to more extreme torture such as castration or burning, the punishment being both a personal lesson and a warning for other slaves….

    …The slaves sought revenge on their masters through “pillage, rape, torture, mutilation, and death”…
    Because the plantation owners had long feared such a revolt, they were well armed and prepared to defend themselves. Nonetheless, within weeks, the number of slaves who joined the revolt reached some 100,000. Within the next two months, as the violence escalated, the slaves killed 4,000 whites (10% of the total white population) and burned or destroyed 180 sugar plantations and hundreds of coffee and indigo plantations… “

  • Tim Kane

    Let’s take the NRA position to its logical conclussion

    Each and every citizens should be allowed to keep and hold a nuclear bomb in their basement. If portable ones are available, the right to bear and hold a nuclear bomb should not be abridged. How else can an individual fight the national government when it has a budge of one half a trillion dollars and growing?

    The idea that ownership of guns is to prevent tyranny is just absurd.

    Tyranny can be over thrown in a fortnight thru the use of a general strike. No bodies hurt, no bones broken, no lives lost.

  • Tim Kane

    Actually the Teabagger types are today’s Nazis.

    The original German Workers party prior to Hitler, was set up to be a right wing alternative to communism for the working class. Communism’s strongest appeal was to working class people. But their were plenty of right wing working class people, nationalist mostly, and the party was set up to make a right wing appeal to the same class the Communist were attempting to woo.

    There was and always has been conservative and right wing elite groups. The upper echelon’s of society: the landed aristocracy, the industrialist, the rich, and upper middle class. But by definition, this group cannot, by itself, produce the numbers necessary to create majorities.

    In order to have a majority in parlementary (and other) democracies, you have to pull in working class voters: Low brow conservatives. What the high brow would refer to as “the rabble”.

    Once Hitler attached his political organizational genious to the Nazi party, and once the economic collapse arrived, only the Nazi’s could bring the numbers necessary for right wing government during an economic colamity. It took the votes of other right wing parties to pass the enabling acts, but their would have been no right wing government without the Nazis.

    The alliance of low brow and high brow conservativism is always an uncomfortable one. Low brow are largely manipulated by emotional, inflamatory emotional, politics (stab in the back, welfare queens, etc…). The low brow are fully willing to embrace scorched earth policies if they lose. High brow cannot embrace this last piece of barbarism. They pretty much realize that they will still be high brow even if they lose, where as the low brow have no where to go if they lose, but the toilet. Thus you had high brow Albert Speer refusing to implement Hitler’s scorched earth policies near the end of World War II.

    Today in America,this is the divide in the house of Representatives. Low brow teabaggers are willing to destroy the global economy if they don’t get their way. High brow Republicans are wondering how they can either distance themselves from the teabaggers or some how get them under control. You will recall – the high brow conservatives thought that they could control Hitler, but failed in the attempt. So, more likely, the high brow will end up distancing themselves from the Teabaggers.

  • Tim Kane

    Racial Chauvinism is what the gun nuts are all about.

    The gun-nuts, and I don’t mean all gun owners obviously, just the extremist nuts… are almost all social descendents of southern “white” chauvinism. They are basically the same people, mentality wise, living in different times.

    The accept the civil rights, but the walk around with guns, like its their trump card.

    Every gun nut I ever met was basically of the cast of the racially chauvanistic right wing xenophobe.

    These guys are, mentality speaking, still fighting the civil war and all the attributes that implies, and that’s why they want the guns.

    Normal law abiding gun owners have no problem with reasonable gun regulation.

  • Tim Kane

    First – this interpretation says what I have been saying a long time now: If you buy a gun, you join your state’s militia by default, and as such are subject to regulation – and not just regulation, but “well regulation.”

    The word Regulation is in the amendment. The amendment’s wording necessarily implies that regulation does not infringe upon the right to bear and own arms.

    Second, the right to own and bear arms does not address the right to transfer arms. You have the right to own and bear arms – that means you have the right to buy a weapon, but it doesn’t give you an unregulated right to sell the weapon. Such transactions should be heavily regulated – 30 day waiting periods, strenuous background checks, perhaps coming in to be evaluated to assure you are not a threat to society, and as in Canada, two people must vouch for your character.

    Liability: If you sell a gun without the aformention background checks, you retain legal liability to every crime the person you sold the gun to commits using that gun. That goes for manufacturers, retailers and private gun sales.

    We need a well regulated militia.

  • FLL

    As far as any state opposing the right to bear arms, I’m not claiming that there is any evidence for that because I agree with you on that point. I don’t really think that any of the states opposed the right to bear arms. My only point (and possibly Hartmann’s) is that there was only a positive incentive for the slave states to add an amendment explicitly mentioning the right to bear arms because of the slavery issue. It may not have been the only reason for proposing the Second Amendment, but I think it was certainly part of the mix.

  • TheGunLobby

    Since you can’t show any group in the south giving printing presses
    to slaves, you didn’t debunk that the purpose of the 1st Amendment
    was to preserve slavery. Also, all that religious freedom stuff was just to allow the churches to keep slaves.

    Sigh… the state (no, that doesn’t mean “nation”) of critical thinking skills in the world today is depressing.

  • David_Marcus

    I think you and Hartmann make a strong argument that some slaveholders supported the 2nd Amendment in part because it made it easier to supress slave insurrection. But that’s a lot different than saying the 2nd Amendment was ratified to preserve slavery. You offer no evidence that any state even opposed the right to bear arms, or the use of the word state in the draft, which as I pointed out was the very word used by New York and Rhode Island in their demands for a right to bear arms. I think this would be like somebody in 200 years saying the Affordable Care Act was passed to send federal funds to Nebraska, because it might not have passed without the Cornhusker Kickback. They would have much more contemporaneous documentation than Hartmann to support their claim. But it would still be absurd.

  • KingCranky

    Since you can’t show any group arming the slaves in the South, you didn’t debunk Hartmann.

    But keep on trying, you might succeed at something despite your best efforts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.j.hoffman Christopher J Hoffman

    An entirely ridiculous assertion, unfounded, and made up of the whole cloth. Read Heller vs DC, US Supreme Court (2008), wherein an exhaustive historical and linguistic exposition of the basis, intent and various purposes of the second amendment were fully explored by the high court. The absurd idea in this article turns the facts upside down, in that nearly all gun control in this country has racism as its early roots. Gun control as we know it, first appeared after the civil war in an attempt to disarm freedmen who dared exercise their rights to travel, speak, and defend the lives of their families.

  • FLL

    Thank you for your reply. See my separate comment at the top of the thread.

  • FLL

    Downthread, David Marcus posts an informative reply to my comment, and I thought it was better to address it as a separate comment.

    David’s reply is informative. He’s correct that under the original Articles of Confederation, only two thirds of the 13 states needed to ratify the new Constitution for a more powerful federal government. Four slave states (Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware) were among the first nine to ratify the Constitution. Why did they do it? It seems like negations were ongoing throughout 1788 and 1789, which means that those negotiations could have included an agreement to propose the Second Amendment as part of a Bill of Rights in the very next year, 1789 (which did actually happen). Did the four slave states ratify based on that agreement? I don’t know, but it’s a possibility. Hartmann points out that Virginia had not ratified, and the Second Amendment was meant to appease Virginia by allowing state militias to police the slave population.

    The question is, under the Articles of Constitution, were all states obliged to accept the decision to ratify by two thirds of the states—even against their will? Once again, I don’t know, but it would be strange for states that had sovereign authority under the Articles of Constitution to feel that they were obliged to give up that authority by nine other states… against their will. The loose confederation of states was fragile enough as it was. It would seem downright dangerous not to satisfy important states, such as Virginia. In the late 18th century, Virginia indeed represented the majority of plantation owners. Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, etc. didn’t account for the majority of that system until much later. The Founding Fathers may have thought that ignoring the desire of Virginia plantation owners might doom the project of a stronger federal government capable of paying its debts, even though the Articles of the Constitution technically said that only two-thirds of the 13 states (or nine states) was sufficient to ratify the new Constitution. It’s a question that’s certainly open to debate.

  • TheGunLobby

    Don’t be obtuse. I already DID debunk him. It’s not hard to understand when you realize that “State”, “state”, “states” and “States” all meant different things. Also, that “militia” didn’t
    mean what he thinks. Nor did “well regulated”. Try doing a bit of research yourself instead of expecting others to do it for you. He’s the supposed person that did “research”. It’s pure bunk. Yet, you bite because it fits your agenda and pre-conceived notions. Besides, this nonsense has been debunked thousands of times and the debunking info is available thousands of times all over the net.

    Even the nonsense about the NRA being racist is still being spouted; although it’s been debunked thousands of times. It’s not my job to keep telling you hoplophobes the same info over and over, year after year; while you ignore it and move on to another lie.

  • mpeasee

    …the research by Thom Hartman…

  • KingCranky

    “Just claiming something does not make it so”.

    Good to know you’re changing your style now.

    Oh, you’re not.

    Too bad, so sad.

  • KingCranky

    Interesting you can’t, not “won’t” but “can’t”, debunk him.

    Unless, of course, you’re arguing that the South and it’s slave owners actually armed the slaves, or stood aside while other entities did so.

    Good luck.

  • KingCranky

    Yeah, the slave owners were such decent guys, always looking out for the interests of people they owned.

    The South lost, deal with it like an adult.

    And great way to not even try and counter my reply, very well-played indeed.

  • TheGunLobby

    I’ve already resolved the “rebuttal” complaints in a matter of 4 or 5 sentences.

    But, some things are just too stupid to allow for rebutting; because they prove the person making the original premise hasn’t the mental capacity to rise to the occasion of understanding the rebuttal. So, the impulse is to just call them out for the idiocy they represent.

  • David_Marcus

    First of all the Constitution was already ratified by the time the Bill of Rights came up for debate so there was no more question of securing ratification from the 9 out of 13 states needed to make the Constitution operative. Second of all, what evidence is there that the 2nd Amendment was a kickback to slave holding states? If Northern states not only wanted, but demanded a right to bear arms as well, who was conceding anything by allowing it? Is there any example of anyone at all challenging the use of the word “state”? If so, Hartmann does not provide it. In fact he provides no evidence or sources that any communication at all took place between Madison and Mason or Henry about that wording. He just says they convinced him. How? Where is the evidence?

  • FLL

    Did the gun manufacturing lobby send its supporters to this thread en masse today? Close to 100 comments, and counting, mostly from the gun manufacturing lobby, which I think is a completely different interest group than gun owners. “Down votes” with no reply is intellectual cowardice.

  • FLL

    A few insults strung together doesn’t amount to an argument. Try rebutting some of my replies.

  • FLL

    “as equally armed as the government.” So you want to match the government in firepower, eh? Just in case you don’t like the results of the last election? Overthrowing a government elected by your fellow citizens is treason. Shame on you.

  • FLL

    Another straw-man argument. The proposals in front of Congress don’t involve that “civilians should be disarmed,” as you suggest in your comment. They involve banning military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets—all of which are used in warfare.

  • FLL

    The same flawed argument that Spencer60 makes above. The same rebuttal in my reply to his comment applies.

  • FLL

    More unsupported opinion. Try rebutting some of my replies to other comments.

  • FLL

    Militia, meaning “National Guard,” is yet another plausible possibility, in which case the NRA argument still falls to the ground. The Second Amendment doesn’t give individual citizens the right to amass an arsenal of military-style equipment to be used in warfare, only the National Guard of the states.

  • FLL

    The example of the Indians doesn’t detract from the argument about militias and slavery; it only adds weight to that argument. Both cases involve the White majority controlling a racial minority through the use of militias. Your last paragraph is nothing more than an unsupported opinion.

  • FLL

    Your argument itself is flawed. It’s perfectly logical that the Second Amendment was offered to coax the Southern States (specifically Virginia) into ratifying the Constitution. With all states ratifying the Constitution, the 13 Colonies would have remained only a loose federation, not a single country. So the Second Amendment didn’t answer any concerns from New Englanders. So what? It was still necessary to get all of the states on board to form a single country. Think it through again.

  • http://twitter.com/amordecosmos amordecosmos

    Your Thomas Jefferson “quote” is a made-up piece of NRA propaganda. It was never said or written by Jefferson, and never appeared anywhere in any form until 1989. You, sir, are flat-out wrong, refusing to believe research because it goes against your deeply-held-yet-mistaken beliefs, and using pure BS to attempt to justify them. Pfft.

    http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/strongest-reason-people-to-retain-right-to-keep-and-bear-arms-quotation

  • Harmony

    I have a political Facebook debate group with over 500 members and if any of you all are interested. http://www.facebook.com/groups/474061372609906/

  • Harmony

    I have a political Facebook debate group with over 500 members and if any of you all are interested. http://www.facebook.com/groups/474061372609906/

  • spencer60

    Interesting but flawed.

    The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified by all 13 states. Maybe GA wanted to use their militia powers to promote slavery, but how about slave-free New England?

    No, this is simply another attempt to daemonize the Second Amendment by undercutting it’s roots.

    The Second was put in the Constitution because we had just fought a bitter war with a government intent on disarming us as citizens.

    Over the years, the Second was denied to blacks on a routine basis to prevent them from standing up for their other rights. This denial of rights evolved into the ‘gun control’ strategies still in use today.

    Things like ‘may issue’ where a Sheriff or other LEO has to approve all licenses based on their ‘good character’ (i.e. you were white).

    The crusade against ‘Saturday Night Specials’, because these cheaper guns were all the poor could afford to buy. A $100 Smith and Wesson was out of reach for most poor blacks, but a $20 Jennings could protect them from the Klan just as well.

    It’s not the Second Amendment that’s racist, but the roots of gun control itself.

    Trying to imply anything else is simply revisionist and wrong.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    What we need is a militia to defend against WAL*MART.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    We live in a police state now.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    well done

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    pppffffttt

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yep, shades of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputized personal militia of nearly three thousand white bigots that hunt down Latinos in the desert and towns of that State like an Afgan warlord.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    excellent

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    good one!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Great idea

  • TheGunLobby

    Reading Sesame Street would certainly be a step up from reading
    here. But, you keep aspiring. Maybe someday you, too, can join the big kids table.

  • TheGunLobby

    Oh… so, now we need facts. Interesting that Hartmann didn’t.

  • TheGunLobby

    And the hallmark of hoplophobes is distortion and twisting in any way necessary to avoid reality.

    The term “State” meant “nation”
    The term “state” meant any of the individual states
    The term “states” meant plural “states”
    The term “United States” meant the federal government

    But, you so-called “open-minded” and “educated” people don’t know anything about thinking outside your own immediate understanding of words. So, you even think “well-regulated” meant
    “well-restricted”. A hint for you. It didn’t.

  • marglebargle

    I doubt all that many legal gun owners would be against state-sanctioned gun training on at reasonable interval, especially if the state provided the ammunition necessary to do so (ammo can be expensive!). Personally, I think the best gun control measures would be to require proof of proper training, registration of each type of weapon owned (as opposed to registering each weapon), and reasonable mental health background checks, again at decent intervals (say, every five years or so). Not too much else should be required.

  • marglebargle

    If people abandoned ideas and hopes because of the unlikelihood of success, revolutions would never occur, science wouldn’t matter, and technology would be a laugh.

  • marglebargle

    I’ve never heard a legitimate pro-gun speech say anything even remotely close to “The people’s right to bear arms shall not be infringed – but only *white* people! Screw those Muslim-Americans and other minorities!” They *have*, on the other hand, called for cities (even those with high minority populations) to reduce their gun control laws. It’s part of the reason they call out the destructiveness of gun control while pointing to cities like NYC, Philly, Chicago, and Detroit.

  • kurtsteinbach

    Did you know that in some countries, it is illegal to spread lies via the Internet. By the way, did you know that it’s illegal to put anything on the Internet that isn’t true….

  • kurtsteinbach

    We are definitely not as equally armed as the government, and have not been for a long time. If that is the source of your delusion, Surrender Dorothy! Then, maybe you won’t be run over by an M1-Abrams Tank in the dark, misty night, shot down by an F-38, or be blown away by the one of the military’s many UAVs. Not that the military needs to dispatch a drone to kill you, in a few years, you’re state police may do that: http://www.upworthy.com/the-hilarious-flaw-in-a-gun-nuts-logic?g=2&c=ufb6

  • SupportNAACP

    Well the south did attempt to stop the north’s massacre.

  • ProgressiveMovement

    Regardless of the racist duties of the time, militia is equivalent to National Guard. That is why it says states. Both the National Guard and Individual right to maintain arms are protected merely for self defense. Don’t over think think this stuff, instead watch V for Vendetta. And if you think a federal government’s integrity is beyond reproach, you need not do anything but remember Hitler’s reign.

  • Bill from Dover

    Right. I’m sure that the founding fathers had exactly in mind “If ya don’t agree with out opinions, then shoot us!”

    Why would even a gun-nut make this argument? Never mind.

  • KarenJ

    And these morons who think they WILL fight apparently believe their personal arsenals of weapons will stand them in good stead for the duration of their insurrection (if POTUS hasn’t gone all CoC on their asses and confiscated everything).

    They also apparently believe that they will never run out of ammunition or the supply chain for food for their families, fuel, clothing (in case they decide to start their war in winter), or have access to planes or highways to move their “troops” and supplies.

    They don’t apparently understand the part other countries might play, aside from whatever arrangements they’ve made with arms dealers overseas to supply them (ha, embargo, anyone?). Vladimir Putin will be eyeing Alaska with interest, and perhaps Spain and France might want to take back California, Texas, and the Louisiana Purchase.

    The US federal government won’t let it get that far.

  • HolyMoly

    How? By giving them the right to bear arms. In what capacity? In a well-regulated militia. I understand.

    The motives themselves are not always going to be in print.

  • HolyMoly

    History lessons are always good things to have. That is how you would know that Thomas Jefferson was not a Founding Father. He was in Europe at the time of the Constitutional Convention and did not take part in the drafting of the Constitution. Some of his ideas, such as on religious freedom, were introduced by James Madison to be used as a template, but he was not present to schmooze with Wayne LaPierre and discuss guns. That and his input on the writing of the Declaration of Independence making him a founding father (no caps), which is different altogether.

    Mason left out “white and black” in his militia of a future day, which is very instructive as to his feelings on that issue (snark). But in reality, he did own a number of slaves, so his motives are a bit suspect. Like Jefferson, he was somewhat contradictory on the issue of slavery, referring to it as immoral while at the same time owning slaves. His best interests certainly would have been served by a well regulated militia (slave patrols). There’s no way he wanted the “low” and “poor” to be armed for the purpose of protecting themselves from the tyranny of the “high” and “rich” (which would include himself). It would be foolish to believe that any of these men were altruistic saints; they were men motivated by self-interest just as many are today. Human nature has not and will not change.

    But back to what I said in another post on this subject. There were plenty of prominent men at that time who had something to say about virtually every aspect of the Constitution. That doesn’t make what one person or another said to be the motive behind any part of it. Take an example from today: Obama’s removal of DADT and support for gay marriage. His most diehard supporters will believe that he’s a candidate for sainthood, that he did this out of the goodness of his heart….the reality of the matter is that he needed to motivate LGBTs to turn up at the polls. So what one person says, though he may actually believe what he’s saying, it’s equally possible that he’s offering up a more palatable justification than the one he really has in mind.

  • David

    just like quoting scripture out of context, your doing the same with the constitution. Read, than make an effort to understand. it was the responsibility of the government to give the ability to its citizens to ensure a free state, how? By giving them the right to bear arms. Are these danger somehow majacially diminished because we live in modern society? Rather not, they are more so. Why do you not turn your efforts into something productive, like taking care if this problem: it’s the sick evil that is in this world you really need to be focused on, which, btw, is not responsible gun owners who have families of their own to protect.

  • HolyMoly

    And it’s likely that you discussed the Boston Tea Party as a revolt against taxation, which it wasn’t. But that is what you’ll hear in elementary and high schools throughout the nation. It wasn’t even celebrated until many decades later, after the story had been mythologized.

    Many Southern schools still teach the Civil War from the “Northern aggression” perspective. The defenders at the Alamo didn’t fight to the last man (some surrendered, including Davy Crockett). Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone. Yet that’s what is still taught, or at least when I was a kid.

    There are a great many things in history that have been distorted by mythology and are taught as actual fact, and that many of us have grown up believing. It’s often very difficult to let the myths go once they’ve been embedded.

    And with all of this discussion, I never once saw anyone accuse today’s defenders of the 2nd Amendment of favoring slavery. You favor the 2nd Amendment for misconceived notions about what it might actually mean. The same is also true about the mistaken idea that the amendment was put in place to permit the people to overthrow the government. That would be, as you call it, a “ridiculous concept.”

  • David_Marcus

    Rhode Island and New York also demanded a right to bear arms when they ratified the US Constitution, and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts obth enshrined the right in their Constitutions prior to the US bill of rights, none of that had anything to do with slavery. This is all lazy historical bunk at best, pure propoganda at worst. http://www.spotlightright.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-2nd-amendment-was-not-ratified-to.html

  • Naja pallida

    And those things may have made sense in a time when the hand-held firearm was the primary means of attack for all armies, or maybe after the zombie apocalypse… but in an age where the government can roll tanks down your street, or send helicopters over your neighborhood, or not even send any human beings at all… just obliterate you from a mile away with artillery, or 25,000 feet in the air with a drone, exactly how are you going to defend yourself from your “oppressive” government with your handgun? We’ve seen first hand just in the last few years what oppressive governments are capable of doing to their people, whether those people are armed or not. The regimes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were not brought down by individuals breaking out their gun collection, or even floods of guns that came in from neighboring countries to help. The regime of Syria won’t be either. You might feel more free with a gun in your hand, but that doesn’t really make it so.

  • HolyMoly

    Except that Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a Founding Father (with caps, meaning present at the Constitutional Convention and taking part in the drafting of the Constitution) He was in Europe at the time of the Constitutional Convention, and therefore did not take part in its drafting. He was a founding father (without caps, meaning that some of his ideas and actions contributed to creating the U.S., such as with his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the Declaration of Independence). If a Google search turns up Jefferson as a Founding Father, it goes to show you that not everything you read online is true…like, for example, that the Sandy Hook massacre never occurred, though you’ll find tons of Google entries that says so.

    A lot of people of that time had varying opinions about virtually every sentence in the Constitution. That doesn’t mean that every writing ever laid out on paper by any one of the luminaries of that era became the Gospel Truth, nor does it mean that the true meaning or intent of any part of the Constitution relies solely on the writings of one person for or another against.

  • http://www.zito.biz/fuckyou Andrew Stergiou

    When I tell Americans to go screw themselves saying that because I think so little of their integrity and rhetoric, in being understood in what includes all major political factions I am sure that both conservatives liberals libertarians greens socialist nationalists labor and what ever faction you can think of would not like to think that statement of mine pertains to their ignorant meaningless lives: but simply they are all wrong as America has developed the most ignorant meaningless public rhetorical discourses in the world.

    In the case at hand in 1750 I am reassured by this article’s rhetoric that New England absolutely no influence in constitutional issues though the wild west frontier then was western Pennsylvania Ohio Northern New York, and dueling was a common occurrence roundabout New York City so no New Englander Yankee or Easterner had any inclination towards owning and using firearms and weapons.

    All of which in the anti-NRA anti-2nd amendment debate liberals can not explain why police should have all sorts of firearms and civilians should be disarmed as today they are they ones with slave patrols and unarmed civilian populations which opportunists like Andrew Cuomo and the narrow minded psuedo-liberals dupes of neo-conservatism by “chance” all but forget to mention because they as I said have no integrity. As most American dialogue is without integrity nor honor.

  • Litterbox

    what research?

  • http://twitter.com/SethDowd asher
  • Litterbox

    Exactly. Not only is the concept parroted by GP sheer lunacy, nowhere in my schooling or training did we ever once discuss this ridiculous concept. Leave it to the anti-gun people to embrace something like this and try to paint all people who support the 2nd Amendment with the same horrible slavery brush.

  • Litterbox

    LOL…Harmann is the one that needs to provide facts. Just claiming something does not make it so. Additionally, Im pretty sure USSC would have had something to say on this issue. This post we are responding to is why this site is going down the toilet. John is an Attorney…I wonder what he would have to say about what he learned regarding the 2nd Amendment. I have doubts though that he could be objective if he chose to answer.

  • Litterbox

    Then neither is the assinine assumption that the 2nd Amendment was intended to protect slave states. BTW, instead of blah blah blah, the author gave you the source of each statement. Maybe you should look it up?

  • http://twitter.com/facereplacer facereplacer

    This is flat out wrong. What absolute lies. All you need to do is google “what the founding fathers said about guns” and read quotes and you can discern immediately that they believe the people should be as equally armed as the government to be able to stave of tyranny of governments that the founders realized always grow and become corrupt. “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. Shame on you, Thom Hartman.

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    This is exactly what I’ve been saying for a long, long time, too! Buy an assault weapon and be ready to report for inspection and training at your nearest National Guard post within 30 days.

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    Blah, blah, blah. Were Jefferson and Mason specifically addressing the merits of the Second Amendment in these quotes? Were they offering justifications for the amendment above and beyond protection of Southern state militias from federal encroachment? If these quotes are not part of the actual contemporaneous Second Amendment debate then they are not valid rebuttals to Hartmann’s position.

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    Are you that Shaftoe guy that left all those incoherent, rambling, fact-free “rebuttals” to Hartmann’s post in the comments?

  • Mike

    May be you need some History lessons:

    “… God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all,
    and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in
    proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain
    quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the
    public liberty…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers
    are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
    resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the
    facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or
    two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of
    patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

    Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)

    “When
    the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British
    Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to
    disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them;
    but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink
    gradually…I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people,
    except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the
    future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the
    future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and
    poor…”

    George Mason, Virginia Constitution Convention

    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 to prevent
    homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an
    armed man.
    Jefferson’s “CommonplaceBook,” 1774_1776, quoting from “On Crimes and Punishment”, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “However, there was a profound mistrust of standing regular armies in the new nation” Like the one that murdered students at Kent State?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    We are grateful that you don’t too.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Sorry about that, but you can improve your IQ with some effort and better research. Start with Sesame Street. They use large numbers, colorful letters and simple words. However, You are good to go on ‘Wow’. Muppets like that word.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    No it doesn’t. Do some homework. Women weren’t ‘people’ until 1920.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    According to Scalia, the conservative definition of ‘people’ is corporations.

  • KingCranky

    Wow, way to use no actual facts of any type to debunk Hartmann.

  • KingCranky

    That’s exactly why armed civilians carry weapons in public they’re hoping to kill and avoid any legal ramifications, especially if their judgement kills an innocent victim.

  • KingCranky

    But, typical teabaggers that they are, they want others to do the actual fighting, they’re not willing to physically risk themselves in the least.

  • KingCranky

    No state which issues concealed-carry permits requires any intensive combat training to go with the permit.

    Paper targets in well lit conditions don’t shoot back.

    And no rifle on the now-expired assault-weapons ban list has been used by armed civilians to stop any public massacre, only carry them out.

    Always worth pointing out those irritating realities to the gun-fetishists.

  • HolyMoly

    Yes, having the ability to organize a militia for protection from foreign invasion is quite useful, as the War of 1812 demonstrated. That doesn’t necessarily mean that that was the motive behind the 2nd Amendment. Or perhaps that it had a dual purpose, each dealing with the threat coming from men of color (slaves and Native Americans). Either way, the “well regulated militia” point stands. I like the argument that we need to start regulating, i.e., requiring monthly musters, training, etc.

    An added point: We needed a militia to defend against Indian attacks, so the argument goes. But who exactly was it that was defending and who attacking? I seem to remember that they were here first, constantly being pushed off of their land to make room for us. So “why would anyone need a gun,” with respect to the Native American argument, takes on a different angle, being that we “needed” them to take by force what wasn’t ours and to keep it, rather than to defend.

  • HolyMoly

    A good point, and at least one facet of their position. You never see the pro-gun-violence people advocating for making arms more readily available to minorities living in inner cities. You know, to protect themselves against the criminal element among them. You never see the pro-gun-violence people advocating the arming of Muslim-Americans, many of whom have been the target of persecution merely because of which holy book they choose to read. That’d go over like a lead balloon, wouldn’t it? Today it’s all about WHO can own the guns (predominantly whites) and WHOSE interests it protects (aristocrats…today, gun manufacturers) just as it was when the amendment was written.

  • MyrddinWilt

    There are two issues here, one is why the states might have a militia and second why the right to establish a militia is codified in the constitution.

    There were many reasons for having a militia at the time, not least the fact that a standing army is very expensive and the US could not afford one. Britain had a militia in addition to a very large standing army.

    The point made in the article is that there was no need to codify the right of the states to establish a militia for the purpose of fighting the Indian wars or invading Canada or Mexico or any other purpose that the Federal government was likely to approve of. The only type of militia that there was any real prospect of the Federal government trying to disarm was the slave patrol.

  • MyrddinWilt

    That is pretty much the same thing as the slavery.

    When the colonists first landed they took native Americans as slaves. They only turned to negro slaves after they had managed to wipe out most of the natives with smallpox and the rest had become heavily armed.

    The history of the US is far less glorious than the hero worship of ‘the founders’ would have it.

    The fact is that there was a handful of people with real vision and insight among a bunch of people who were considered to be corrupt evil bastards by the standards of their own time let alone ours. When the right is talking about the founders intent it usually turns out to be one of the many compromises the men of vision had to make to keep the evil bastards on board.

    I really don’t think that Ben Franklin or Jefferson would support the NRA interpretation.

  • MyrddinWilt

    A lot of gun nuts would be leaving the country because we were shipping them off to Afghanistan

    People who want to play soldiers with real guns should be made to become soldiers for real.

  • GaiusPublius

    The Senate was designed as an offset to the democracy represented by the House. The big landowners wanted to make sure the landless didn’t pass property laws unfavorable to the aristocrats of the day. Madison was explicit about this, both in his speeches and his writing.

    For comparison, see Franklin’s views on property. It was quite a discussion in the day:

    http://www.americablog.com/2012/07/property-rights-are-not-inherent-but.html

    Whatever you think about the idea of protecting property from democracy, the statement is factually correct. “explicitly undemocratic U.S. Senate” is undeniable historically.

    GP

  • nicho

    No it doesn’t. At that time, women were still considered property of their husbands. People of color had no rights at all. And white men who owned no property were considered trash.

  • nicho

    Yes, and you would know about idiocy and shoddy research. Hallmark of the gun nuts.

  • dula

    The Teabagger types are hoping to start another civil war. That’s why they need their guns.

  • TheGunLobby

    Wow. The idiocy that shoddy research and a low IQ will spawn for the Internet to embrace.

  • jayarebee

    With this quote, “just as was the creation of the explicitly anti-democratic U.S. Senate,” I have to take the whole thing with a grain of salt. Perhaps the reason that they formed an “explicitly anti-democratic U.S. Senate” is because we are a republic, said the guy who is glad he doesn’t live in the Democracy of New York/Califonia.

  • Fifi

    So, in other words, the 2nd Amendment is made moot, null and void by the 13th and 14th Amendments. Sure, it’s still on the book but it has no purpose left.

  • Drew2u

    And just like regulations on speech, you can’t fire in a crowded movie theater.

  • ComradeRutherford

    And today’s gun nuts use the same excuse: they want to be allowed to kill black people at will and without punishment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001426939279 Carl Kerstann

    Really? So when they passed the first amendment they didn’t mean women, people of color or men who didn’t own property? The term “the people” means exactly the same thing everywhere it appears in the constitution.

  • http://twitter.com/arleeda Dawn Vincent

    You’d like to think that the far right would be chagrined to learn this, but I predict that they will either deny it OR even worse, embrace it as a good thing and go back to arming state militias!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sharon.D.Boyd Sharon Boyd

    This article is half-right. Militias were used for quelling slave rebellions and potential rebellions in the South. They were also used for protection against uprisings by the Seminole tribes in Florida, and against uprisings in Indiana (to give just two examples). However, there was a profound mistrust of standing regular armies in the new nation. The plan was to augment the regular forces in the event of war by militia forces. This was done multiple times from the founding of the nation through at least the Spanish-American War in 1898. Read the wiki article on Militias, – especially enlightening is the composition of southern militias in the reconstruction period. To paint militias as essentially pro-slavery local forces of oppression is a half-truth and gross oversimplification. At any rate, post-Heller, the whole militia angle is a bit off as a gun control justification.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001426939279 Carl Kerstann

    Being part of a militia would require owning a firearm, I would imagine some training and a willingness to serve if called upon, that’s all. Most likely it would include the participation of all able body people, is that something you personally would like to participate in?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001426939279 Carl Kerstann

    While the fact that it was used to enable slavery is reprehensible, the usefulness of the 2nd amendment to allow states organize militias in a time of need is sound. You can’t organize a militia quickly if the population is unarmed. Why would you need to organize a state militia? I don’t have the foresight to know but thankfully the founding fathers did. If you want to try and paint a group a reprehensible how about this,”

    Died:
    September 7, 1876. Sioux Native American tribal leader and warrior
    ….. They gave up their guns, and the whites killed them all.
    Ohcumgache (Little Wolf) …”
    When someone asks “why would anyone need a gun” I know they don’t know anything about history.

  • samizdat

    How odd, Disqus cut off the “t” in samizdat.

  • Alison

    Not far from Michael Moore’s point in Bowling for Columbine.

    It makes complete sense of the contemporary demographics of gun culture, too.

  • samizda

    Hmmm, it would appear that your interpretation of the Second Amendment has failed us, as it seems that the ability to speak one’s mind in our Nation has been severely curtailed over the last one hundred years. (See Palmer raids, drug wars, “free-speech zones”, pepper spraying of and arrests of protestors/demonstrators, etc., etc., etc. I could come up with at least a dozen more off of the top of my head, but what’s the point? You’re an ignorant tool, who has the rather delusional idea that your small arsenal will be some kind of mighty bulwark against gubmint tyranny. Forgive me if I laugh in your face.)

  • HolyMoly

    To put Point #2 another way, there’s no way the government was saying, “Yeah, you can overthrow us anytime you believe we’re being tyrannical.” First of all, no government will EVER believe they’re doing anything wrong, so they’re not going to step aside anytime we wish (aside from elections), and they’re certainly not going to allow us the means to remove them violently (via a “right to bear arms” amendment). Take as an example the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington himself (a Founder) led that army. The government’s interpretation in that case, so soon after the ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, was NOT that you can take up arms willy-nilly every time you think the government has overreached its authority.

    Second, if this was the case, there would be no need for Article 3, Section 3, of the Constitution regarding treason. The Southern states seceded and took up arms against a government with which they disagreed, to which the government answered with a resounding “no.” Confederates were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States following the war in order to be pardoned from any and all charges of treason. If they were supposedly allowed to bear arms to protect against a “tyrannical” federal government, this would not have been an issue.

    And third, as I’ve stated before in an earlier post, one man’s tyranny is another man’s just law. We can’t have a few nuts pop up with arms every few years or so just because they don’t like Law X (like, let’s say, integration). The 2nd Amendment as interpreted by the NRA types would make this quite a regular occurrence, and there’s no way the Founders wished to allow a perpetual state of anarchy, especially when considering that the Constitution was carefully crafted first and foremost to protect the interests of the aristocratic class, which in their time included the slaveholders of the South.

  • mpeasee

    Thanks…great piece…will be sharing the research.

  • nicho

    Bullets are speech? Yikes!

  • Mike Meyer

    EXACTLY!!!

  • Mike Meyer

    Yes, but what about The Indians? INTENT is one thing but ACTUAL HISTORY SHOWS the guns were used and are STILL used to control what was once The Red Man’s land. Is it that The Native Americans aren’t a large enough VOTING BLOCK for them to almost NEVER to be mentioned? An oppressed people brought to the brink of near complete genocide by WHITE&BLACK with GUNS, and yet????

    I personally view The 2nd Amendment as the enforcement of The 1st Amendment. That WE ALL maintain the right to speak OUR minds.

  • caphillprof

    I’ve been saying for a long, long time, that the way to defeat the NRA is to actively implement that militia provision in the second amendment. Bearing arms is clearly tied to militia participation which would include, e.g., Saturday mustering in the court house square, arms inspections, drill, education, training, etc. A lot of the gun nuts would leave the country.

  • nicho

    It’s also important to remember what the Founders meant by “people.” They didn’t mean women, people of color, or men who didn’t own property.

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