Contemporary Thinkers Comment On “Militia”

Professor Akhil Reed Amar: “The ultimate right to keep and bear arms belongs to the ‘the people,’ not the ‘states.’ As the language of the Tenth Amendment shows, these two of course are not identical and when the Constitution means ‘states,’ it says so. Thus… ‘the people’ at the core of the Second Amendment are the same ‘the people’ at the heart of the Preamble and the First Amendment, namely Citizens…Nowadays, it is quite common to speak loosely of the National Guard as ‘the state militia,’ but…in 1789, when used without any qualifying adjective, ‘the militia’ referred to all Citizens capable of bearing arms. The militia is identical to ‘the people’ in the core sense described above.”

Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm: “The Second Amendment was meant to accomplish two distinct goals…First, it was meant to guarantee the individual’s right to have arms for self-defense and self-preservation. These privately owned arms were meant to serve a larger purpose as well…and it is the coupling of these two objectives that has caused the most confusion. The customary American militia necessitated an armed public…the militia (being) …the body of the people. The argument that today’s National Guardsmen, members of a select militia, would constitute the only persons entitled to keep and bear arms has no historical foundation.”

John F. Kennedy: “By calling attention to ‘a well regulated militia,’ ‘the security of the nation,’ and the right of each citizen ‘to keep and bear arms,’ our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy… The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important.” John F. Kennedy, Junior Senator of MA in a 1959 letter to E.B. Mann [From the 1974 Gun Digest, article titled Gun Laws]

John F. Kennedy: “Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.”

Alan Dershowitz: “Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming it’s not an individual right or that it’s too much of a public safety hazard, don’t see the danger in the big picture. They’re courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don’t like.”

Larry Pratt: “We should be calling up and training citizen militias. Perhaps the idea of using “civilians” violates the unconstitutional notion that security can only be provided by a centralized, professionalized police force. The people cannot be trusted, in this view, to participate in providing their own protection. This notion of a centralized police fits comfortably with the growing acceptance that only the federal government can provide for all of life’s needs – education, old age, unemployment, health, etc. The growing preemption of American life by the federal government has no room for individual responsibility. Rather than encourage the militia, politicians are busily looking for ways to disarm more and more Americans. It is an unconstitutional view. Those that hold it should not be trusted to hold public office.”
Sanford Levinson: “The structure of the Second Amendment within the Bill of Rights proves that the right to bear arms is an individual right, rather than a collective one. The collective rights’ idea that the Second Amendment can only be viewed in terms of state or federal power “ignores the implication that might be drawn from the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments: the citizenry itself can be viewed as an important third component of republican governance as far as it stands ready to defend republican liberty against the depredations of the other two structures, however futile that might appear as a practical matter.” Sanford Levinson, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 YALE L.J. 637, 651 (1989).

Adolf Hitler: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country.” Adolf Hitler, dinner talk on April 11, 1942, quoted in Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-44: His Private Conversations, Second Edition (1973), Pg. 425-426. Translated by Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens.

Sen. Hubert Humphrey: “Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.” Sen. Hubert Humphrey, Know Your Lawmakers, Guns Magazine, Page 4, Feb. 1960.

Randy E. Barnett: “Ask yourself every time you hear a proposal for increased “security”: Would it have in any way have averted the disaster that actually happened? Will it avert a future suicide attack on the public by other new and different means? Any realistic response to what happened and is likely to happen in the future must acknowledge that, when the next moment of truth arrives in whatever form, calling 911 will not work. Training our youth to be helpless in the face of an attack, avoiding violence at all costs will not work. There will always be foreign and domestic wolves to prey on the sheep we raise. And the next attack is unlikely to take the same form as the ones we just experienced. We must adopt measures that promise some relief in circumstances we cannot now imagine.

Here is the cold hard fact of the matter that will be evaded and denied but which must never be forgotten in these discussions: Often — whether on an airplane, subway, cruise ship, or in a high school — only self defense by the “unorganized militia” will be available when domestic or foreign terrorists chose their next moment of murder. And here is the public-policy implication of this fact: It would be better if the militia were more prepared to act when it is needed.” Randy E. Barnett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor at Boston University

James E. Duffy and Alan C. Brantley, M.A.: “Most militia organization members are white males who range in age from the early 20s to the mid-50s. The majority of militia members appear to be attracted to the movement because of gun control issues, as epitomized by the Brady Law, which established a 5-day waiting period prior to the purchase of a handgun, and the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which limited the sale of various assault-style weapons. Many militia members believe that these legislative initiatives represent a government conspiracy to disarm the populace and ultimately abolish the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The federal government’s role in confrontations with the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas, and Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, have further fueled conspiratorial beliefs that the government is becoming more tyrannical and attempting to reverse constitutional guarantees. Militia members generally maintain strong Christian beliefs and justify their actions by claiming to be ardent defenders of the Constitution. They often compare the American Colonial period (1607-1783) to their present existence by relating significant Colonial dates and events to lend historical weight to their own beliefs and actions. Many militias claim to represent the ideological legacy of the founding fathers tracing their core beliefs to select writings and speeches that predate the Revolutionary War. Colonists at that time rebelled against the tyranny of King George III and what they saw as the British government’s practice of oppression and unjust taxation. Various present-day militias pattern their actions on what they believe their ideological ancestors would do if they were alive today.” from FBI publication “Militias: Initiating Contact” by James E. Duffy and Alan C. Brantley, M.A.

Gary Hart: “A permanent standing military seeks causes for its continued existence and resources to maintain itself. A citizen army–an army of the people–participates in the debate as to why it exists, what threat it must repel, and how and where it may be used. For a democratic republic, there is a world of difference between these two institutions.” – Sen. Gary Hart

Robert A. Heinlein: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Philip Gold: “To the Founders, as to most of the world today, there was no clear break between individual self-defense, defense of family and community, and war. That’s why they cherished the militia, with its multiple and overlapping law enforcement and military duties. That’s also why they enshrined the individual’s, not the state’s, right to bear arms. War might be an occasional thing, but the citizen’s obligation to protect and defend was constant.”

Governor and General Joe Foss: A questioner mentioned the “well regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment, and asked if it did not imply that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” comes with some responsibility to serve the country.

Foss replied, “No, sir, you’re dead wrong on that baby! There’s one thing about it, when it comes to the founding fathers of the country: if you read that about the militia, the way it was spelled out in the definition of it at the time it was put there, the Second Amendment was sold as everyone could have firearms or guns in their home, because they’d just gone through a deal with their good friends across the pond that wanted to disarm everyone. So they were never going to get caught in that situation again. And today people try to come along and say ‘If you belong to the National Guard, why then fine and dandy.’ But everyone cannot belong to the National Guard.”

Kenneth C. Maue: “First of all, no where in the Constitution does it say that the militia is the National Guard. This is proven when taking into consideration that the Constitution was written in the 1700s, and the National Guard was not created until January 21, 1903, under the name of its founder, “The Dick Act.” On January 3, 1916, president Wilson usurped (Usurped”: to make claim to something you have lawful right to) the powers of the People as a “Militia” under U.S. Code, Title 32. Under Title 32, the National Guard is Federally funded through the U.S. Treasury, and the commanding officer of the National Guard is the president. Not as a president, but as the senior officer, in accordance with Title 32 USC 104(c)(d)(e)(f). Such a position makes the National Guard the president’s own private army! U.S. Code, Title 32, completely alters the definition of the militia, its services, who controls it and what it is. Title 32 violates every article and section of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment!” – Kenneth C. Maue, “What is the Militia?”

Paul Hager: “One of the arguments that had been made against gun control was that an armed citizenry was the final bulwark against tyranny. My response had been that untrained, lightly-armed non-soldiers couldn’t prevail against a modern army. I had concluded that the qualitative difference in firepower was such that all of the previous rules of guerilla war no longer applied. Both Vietnam and Afghanistan demonstrated that wasn’t true. Repelling an armed invasion is not something that American citizens are likely to face, but the possibility of a despotic government coming to power is not wholly unthinkable. One of the sequellae of Vietnam was the rise of the Khmer Rouge and slaughter of perhaps a million Cambodian citizens. Those citizens, like the Jews in Germany or the Armenians in Turkey, were unarmed and thus utterly and completely defenseless against police and paramilitary. An armed minority was able to kill and terrorize unarmed victims with total impunity.” – Paul Hagar, “Why I Carry”

Jeff Cooper: “It is interesting to hear certain kinds of people insist that the citizen cannot fight the government. This would have been news to the men of Lexington and Concord, as well as the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The citizen most certainly can fight the government, and usually wins when he tries. Organized national armies are useful primarily for fighting against other organized national armies. When they try to fight against the people, they find themselves at a very serious disadvantage. If you will just look around at the state of the world today, you will see that the guerillero has the upper hand. Irregulars usually defeat regulars, providing they have the will. Such fighting is horrible to contemplate, but will continue to dominate brute strength”. – Jeff Cooper, Commentaries, October 1993

Jeff Cooper: “All the people constitute the militia — according to the Founding Fathers. Therefore every able-bodied man has a duty under the Constitution to become part of the “well-regulated” militia, specifically to understand and perform well with the individual weapon currently issued to the regular establishment. . . . Thus one who has not qualified himself with the M-16 may not be considered to be a responsible citizen.”

Stephen P. Holbrook: “In recent years, it has been suggested that the Second Amendment protects the “collective” right of “the people” to keep and bear arms… The phrase “the people” meant the same thing in the Second Amendment as it did in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments – that is, each and every free person. A select militia defined as only the privileged class entitled to keep and bear arms was considered an anathema to a free society, in the same way that Americans denounced select spokesmen approved by the government as the only class entitled to the freedom of the press.” – Stephen P. Holbrook, “That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right”, University of New Mexico Press, 1984, pp.83-84.

Edward Abbey: “The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government – and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws.” – Edward Abbey, “The Right to Arms” [New York, 1979]

Albert Einstein: “The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.” – Albert Einstein

Mahatma Ghandi: “Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” – Mahatma Ghandi, (An Autobiography or The Story Of My Experiments With Truth, by M.K. Gandhi, p.238)

Heinrich Himmler: “Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA – ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the state.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt : “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”

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