Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Hello, my name is Postmodern Hoplite, and I am a “Second Amendment Absolutist.”
I believe that the right to keep and bear arms recognized in the US Constitution is so broad and expansive that it extends to include tanks, artillery, combat aircraft, and even atomic weapons (at least in principle, if not in fact.)
“What? Are you INSANE? What possible use would a private citizen have for such heavy firepower as that to protect themself or their home from criminals? Yeah, maybe the police aren’t going to get there in time to protect you, (“…a man’s home is his castle, and all that…”) but that’s what handguns and other small arms are for. What legitimate need is there for automatic weapons, armored vehicles, cannon, and close air support?”
Simple: that’s what the Second Amendment (2A) means. It wasn’t included in the Bill of Rights to ensure that private individuals have the means to protect themselves against crime. The Founders knew such a right of individual self-protection was obvious. (Try to stop someone from protecting themself when attacked!) The 2A was included so as to establish unequivocally that the newly-established Federal Government would not have the means to enact a tyranny over the citizenry through the use of military force. Therefore, if the US Army has a particular combat capability that might be turned against the general populace, the people, in the form of the militia, have a right to access it as well, or at least a comparable counter-measure.
”Wait a minute! What about the National Guard? There’s the militia for you; the ‘Guard’ has tanks, ‘n artillery, ‘n stuff like that which is too dangerous for private citizens to have.”
Nope. The National Guard is not a militia, at least not as the Founders understood the term to mean. It is an auxiliary of the Regular army, paid for and wholly controlled by the US Army and the senior leadership hierarchy of the Pentagon. If the separate states were to exert actual, operational, and functional control of their respective National Guard units, the Federal government would cut the 90-95% funding currently provided immediately.
“Yeah, but the legal authority to organize any militia is found at the state level. That has been the way it’s been since the founding, and the way it was in the Colonial period. All of the states, from ‘blue state’ California to ‘red state’ Florida, prohibit any and all wack-job group of civilians from forming paramilitary groups and calling themselves a ‘militia.’”
This is very true; the legal authority for the organization and training of the militia does reside at the state level. However, it can be justly argued that if the state abrogates the duty to organize and train the militia, it does not follow that the right of the people disappears. It only means that the good people of California, or Florida, or any other state have the right to petition their respective state governments to provide for their civil rights (specifically, that of keeping and bearing arms.)
“Yes, but the Founders never anticipated modern automatic weapons, cannons, tanks, and other mechanized equipment. They are all too deadly and complex for simple private citizens to handle.”
Nonsense. The Founders clearly understood that new technologies would emerge that would counteract the dominant military tools and tactics used by the modern Armies of their day. Anyone who doubts this is welcome to examine the development of the Continental Army from 1775 through 1783, and the subsequent Militia Act of 1792. The Founders recognized the significance of rifled firearms (and the tactics necessary to use them effectively) vs. smoothbore muskets (and the body of bayonet tactics demanded by their use.) The point here is not whether or not the myth of victory in the War of Independence due to rifle-armed militiamen fighting like Indians vs. stupid British regulars marching in straight lines is true or not. The point is this; it is indisputable that the Founders recognized that effective resistance to a strong, well-trained, and well-equipped modern army (the British) required an adaptive and flexible response making use of whatever means were available.
Lastly, I acknowledge openly that the logistic demands of purchasing, fueling, maintaining, arming, and training with a highly complex piece of modern military hardware such as an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank are beyond the means of even the wealthiest individual. It’s the same with an A10 Warthog, or any other modern land warfare system. But that doesn’t compromise the right to have such capabilities, any more than the lack of owning the publishing capacity of the New York Times abrogates the right to free speech.
Therefore, I believe it is self-evident that I have the right to belong to a well-regulated militia, an organization whose capacity to meet and defeat whatever threat the standing army of the Federal Government might employ. That is what being “Pro Second Amendment” really means, in absolute terms.Published in