Federal Judges Rewrite the 2nd Amendment

The most confusing dependent clause in the history of the nation, at least as far as personal liberty goes, is the one that begins the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights. The full text of the amendment reads:

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.

gun-control-cagle-cartoonTo understand what the Founders meant it helps to understand how much the former colonists disliked a standing army. As far as the Continental Congress was concerned the Revolution could be fought and won using an army composed entirely of citizen volunteers organized into local militia companies.

George Washington, the man actually in charge of the fighting, thought this was madness. He and the Congress had a running battle throughout the war over recruiting, equipping and paying a regular army. Washington believed only a professional, disciplined body of troops armed with military weapons could defeat the British.

Militia units simply wouldn’t stand up to line infantry. Civilians in the colonies usually owned rifles, not muskets. This meant a civilian could fire accurately at longer distances than a smooth–bore musket, but his rate of fire was not as rapid as the easier–loading musket.

Rate of fire, however, was secondary to the main problem with civilian arms: The inability to attach a bayonet to the rifle. Regular infantry charged with fixed bayonets and the men with spears always overwhelmed the men with clubs.

Militia members weren’t forbidden to buy muskets with bayonet lugs on the barrel. It was simply a matter of choice. Civilians would rather shoot a deer at 100 yds. and walk up to claim dinner, as opposed to chasing Bambi down and stabbing him with a bayonet.

As the war progressed militia units were used as skirmishers to pepper British troops with long range fire and then retire behind the regulars as the lines closed. So in the end both Washington and Congress were partially correct.

Once the war concluded under the Articles of Confederation the regular army languished, except for a remnant that manned frontier forts. State militias, again composed of volunteers bringing privately own weapons, provided defense against Indian raids and other disorder.

Before the outbreak of the Civil War there was private militia cavalry and even artillery companies operating without government control.

The role of civilian militia volunteers was codified in the Bill of Rights by the 2nd Amendment and the lasting rancor against a large regular army was found in the 3rd Amendment, which prohibited quartering troops in private homes.

The word “militia” in the 2nd Amendment means the “arms” citizens have a “right” to bear are by definition weapons of war. The Constitution doesn’t give us the right to own a BB gun or participate in paintball conflicts.

The Constitution gives us the right to own and bear light infantry weapons.

That fact escapes all leftist judges. They think government grants the right, when the Constitution obviously holds the right exists independently of government, which shall not infringe upon it.

The case that cannot be made by anyone reading the plain language of the amendment and knowing anything of history is that the 2nd Amendment does not cover weapons that are either military in nature or resemble military weapons.

Yet that is exactly what the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals did when it voted 10–to–4 to uphold an unconstitutional Maryland law that bans ownership of “assault weapons and large–capacity magazines.”

Ignoring “militia,” “arms” and “shall not infringe” the court sounded more like Chief Justice Oprah Winfrey when it concluded, “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war.”

Only the justices don’t have to extend anything, the 2nd Amendment already protects “weapons of war.” Their job was to stop an obvious infringement upon that right.

Evidently the justices equate a militia to a sort of colonial bowling league. Just as you wouldn’t want bowlers rolling a cannonball down the lane, you wouldn’t want civilians owning a “military style” rifle. The problem with that reasoning is the militia was designed and expected to function in place of a regular military and to fulfill that role civilians must, by necessity, have weapons of a “military nature.”

Enlightened judges may not like the language of the Constitution. They may think the language is outmoded and superseded by modern life. But it is a violation of their oath of office to re–write the document to their liking or ignore provisions with which they disagree.

The Founders wisely provided a mechanism to amend the Constitution. It involves Congress, the states and voting. It does not include 10 politicians in black robes.

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Why Col. Sanders Is a Better Strategist than Col. Riley

In spite of his superior numbers, Maj. Gen. Jubal Early didn't meet with any more success than Col. Riley.

In spite of his superior numbers, Maj. Gen. Jubal Early didn’t meet with any more success than Col. Riley.

Don’t take your guns to town son,

Leave your guns at home Bill,

Don’t take your guns to town.

Johnny Cash ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town’

 

Marching on Washington, DC to change the government has not met with success. 150 years ago Maj. Gen. Jubal Early traveled up the Shenandoah Valley in an effort to outflank the Union and attack Washington from the North.

He was making excellent progress until he reached Monocacy, MD. There the campaign began to lose momentum under a blizzard of regulation and EPA requests for environmental impact statements. There was also some concern regarding the potential for Chesapeake Bay pollution due to cavalry manure runoff.

Lacking a parade permit, his 14,000 men were turned away at Fort Stevens just outside the District’s city limit.

Not only did Early fail to set foot in Washington, his march had no effect on the election that November. Abraham Lincoln was returned to office, the war continued and Early — joined by a few other ‘angry white men’ — fled the country when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the next year at Appomattox.

Now retired Army Col. Harry Riley planned to march on DC last week with a group of what The Washington Times describes as “revolutionary–style patriots.” Riley’s goal, like Jubal Early’s, is to change the government starting with Barack Obama, John Boehner, Eric Holder, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and ‘Shotgun’ Joe Biden.

“We are calling for [their] removal … as a start toward constitutional restoration,” Riley explained. “They have all abandoned the U.S. Constitution, are unworthy to be retained in a position that calls for servant status.”

So far, so good, I’d take a walk, too, if getting rid of even three of the seven named was a possibility. But I’m going to sit this one out. The colonel’s effort is called “Operation American Spring” and Riley describes it as the American answer to the ‘Arab Spring’ in more ways than one.

So far he’s not calling for black flags to be flown, but the colonel does envision somewhere between 10 million and 30 million “mobilized militia members” marching down Pennsylvania Ave over the weekend. Arab Spring marchers were known mostly for their propensity to riot, toss Molotov cocktails and fire the occasional RPG. In addition, under Arab Spring rules government change does not appear to be limited to one per customer. Turnover is more like the management suite at an Obama health exchange.

According the Cheryl Chumley, “Col. Riley said he hopes the event will go forward peaceably, but that so far, peaceful protests haven’t brought citizens much luck. He also said that more than 1 million militia members have already mobilized for the event — and that projections of 10 million to attend aren’t pie in the sky.”

No, I would call that crack in the pipe.

Leaving aside Riley’s wildly delusional crowd estimate, just the mention of the word ‘militia’ is enough to cause Starbucks baristas to start calling in sick. The last thing conservatives need is for even 10 gun–toting militia members to cross the Potomac and enter enemy territory.

One picture of a rifle slung over a ‘militia’ man’s shoulder is all it takes to reinforce every misleading stereotype of 2nd Amendment supporters and conservatives. Even if the group is unarmed, when only a handful joins the colonel in his forlorn hope that too will damage our movement, since lack of numbers is an indication of lack of support.

Riley won’t even be able to claim his hardy band drove the targets out of the capital, since everyone knows the House and Senate leaves on the weekend and Obama plays golf.

It almost makes one wonder if Col. Riley isn’t an agent provocateur planted among conservatives by MSNBC.

The reality of Riley’s Raid was somewhat less impressive. His gathering was described as “tens of people” and fortunately none of them were toting weapons any more dangerous than a lawn chair. And as of the date of publication, the same crowd of pretentious hashtaggers was still in power.

Fortunately, I have a better idea for conservatives interested in changing the government and it doesn’t require extensive hydration or risk arrest. Follow my example and make a contribution to the Dave Brat for Congress campaign.

Brat is challenging Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th district primary. Cantor is a former conservative that went native in record time. As House Majority Leader he’s surrounded by people who actually call him “leader” as they shine his shoes with their tongue, so it’s no wonder the power and position have gone to his head.

He’s managed to make himself disliked by Speaker Boehner and distrusted by conservatives in the House. He’s betrayed conservative principles, backed a budget bill that gutted the sequester and has gone south on amnesty.

The incomparable Ann Coulter has endorsed Brat and the best part is Brat doesn’t have to win — although that would be best — for Cantor and the rest of the leadership squishes to get the message that conservatives are unhappy and ready to take action.

Incumbents are personally offended by primary challenges. Chamber lobbyists tell them what a great job they’re doing and then some yokel announces for his seat. The nerve of some people! So Brat already has Cantor’s attention.

If Brat can get over 40 percent of the vote, then Cantor gets a message even the self–important can’t ignore. Even if Brat doesn’t win, but is still able to raise a significant amount of money, that money talks, or in this case grumbles, and sends another type of message to Cantor.

I felt so good after giving money to Brat that I also donated to Anthony Riedel who is challenging Rob Wittman in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District where I live. After he supported the budget sellout I wasn’t voting for Wittman anyway, so rather than sit the election out, I’ll vote and contribute to Riedel. That sends two messages to Whittman, too.

So here’s my advice: If you want to visit a colonel this weekend, go to KFC. And if you want to change GOP leadership thinking in Washington, contribute to Dave Brat and Anthony Riedel.

Are You Smarter Than a Supreme Court Judge?

Stevens' idea for amending the Constitution is a loser, too.

Stevens’ idea for amending the Constitution is a loser, too.

April was not a good month for Americans that still believe the Supreme Court is a font of legal wisdom. Former Justice John Paul Stevens authored an Op–Ed in the WaPost proving you can be ignorant of history, blinded by ideology and confused regarding the plain meaning of words and still get to wear the black robe.

Stevens’ essay was titled ‘The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment.’

And no, Stevens’ five words weren’t “you can’t have a gun,” but that’s a good guess.

He began his effort in problem–solving by using the left’s favorite technique: Use distorted statistics to shock the public and advance a disingenuous argument: “Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents.”

That’s a big number. Almost as big as the total number of Americans killed each year in car crashes. What Stevens purposely leaves out is the fact that 19,392 — or six in ten — of those deaths were suicide!

Once the suicide is removed from the total, it become obvious that riding in a car driven by a cell phone–wielding woman is much more dangerous than living in Virginia where people are allowed to carry guns openly. And cell phones aren’t protected by the Constitution.

What Stevens should be calling for is federal suicide control. If Congress would stop listening to the mortuary lobby and pass an effective law banning suicide — or at least get the ball rolling by creating suicide–free zones (this alone would speed up Metro travel in DC) — we could eliminate almost two–thirds of the gun deaths overnight.

The rest of the country could experience the safety and tranquility that residents of Detroit and Chicago currently enjoy in their gun–free cities. Once suicide is outlawed only criminals will kill themselves, surely a win–win.

But suicide doesn’t generate much news coverage so publicity–seekers aren’t interested in this sensible step to prevent unnecessary death.

Stevens contends the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment was ‘settled,’ much like global warming science, until the NRA went rogue. “For more than 200 years… federal judges uniformly understood that the right…was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms.”

That’s accurate without being truthful, since for two centuries neither states nor the federal government were trying to ban types of weapons, restrict the sale of weapons or impose ownership restrictions. So who would file a suit to stop an infringement that didn’t exist?

As for not imposing a limit on state or local governments, Stevens proves his knowledge of the Constitution is limited. If what he wrote is true then the Bill of Rights wouldn’t prevent states and cities from limiting speech, searching without a warrant and shutting down the newspaper if it criticized Barack Obama.

Stevens then lurches from urging judges to butt out because, “Public policies concerning gun control should be decided by the voters’ elected representatives, not by federal judges.” To complaining that those same legislators aren’t doing enough to seize weapons from the law abiding in the wake of Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.

Before gracing us with his five–word prescription for domestic gun bliss, Stevens’ last contribution is to completely misrepresent the Bill of Rights and specifically the 2nd Amendment. He claims the amendment “was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated.” This is ludicrous on its face. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect individual rights and without those 10 amendments the Constitution would not have passed.

The obvious plain language of the 2nd protects an individual right to own weapons, but that’s evidently too subtle for a retired Supreme Court justice.

Then Stevens graces us with his solution: His amended amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

If anything those five words would initiate an explosion of litigation.

In Athens a citizen was subject to military service until age 60. I figure I can pull a trigger until well into my 90’s. Sixteen–year–olds often served in militias, too, so many underage restrictions go by the board, thanks to Stevens.

As a serving militia member I will need my weapons at hand in case of a sudden call out. That makes militia members immune to any restrictions on carrying a firearm. I can carry in schools, courtrooms, national parks, football stadiums and even Toby Keith’s.

Stevens evidently believes the same legislators who aren’t passing the gun laws he wants are suddenly going to come down hard on militias. Historically militias were locally based and locally run without interference or control from the state government.

Each militia decided what weapons to carry, uniforms to wear, method of selecting officers and how often to meet. With Judge Stevens help you can think of the new militia as the Shriners with sidearms.

And as for what weapons to carry, let’s look at the world’s best–known militia the Taliban. The Talibs have RPGs, fully automatic rifles, grenades, heavy machine guns and donkeys. Everything the well–equipped American militia member could want, except for the donkey.

Stevens’ ‘solution’ removes age restrictions, expands the scope of weapons allowed for personal ownership and eliminates most geographic restrictions on where weapons can be carried. It’s the exact opposite of what Stevens wants, but not an unusual outcome for leftist social engineering.

If it weren’t for those boring monthly militia meetings, I would support him 100 percent.