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Rand Paul's Grasp of the Constitution and Its Amendments

48 posts in this topic

19105732_10106355479370292_6325024375615

 

Tweet text: ".@Judgenap: Why do we have a Second Amendment? It's not to shoot deer. It's to shoot the government when it becomes tyrannical!"(6/23/16, 12:48PM).

 

What do you think? Is he right? Is there a right?

 

I'm arguing that not only is he wrong, he's the exact opposite of right. The purpose, rather than to allow us to shoot at the government, is to stop us from shooting at the government.

 

As we know from the Heller decision, "The Amendments prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause.". So, to find the stated purpose, we just need to look at the part of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment is as follows:

 

"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."

 

So, while there may be more purposes for the second amendment, the only one we know incontrovertibly is to secure a free state via a well-functioning militia. But what's a militia? Luckily for us, the Constitution defines it for us.

 

Article 1 Section 8:

"To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;"

 

Article 2 Section 2:

"The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States;"

 

The Constitution also happens to define one and only one crime:

 

Article 3 Section 3:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort"

 

So the militia is a paramilitary force organized by the states and controlled by both the states and by POTUS. It's the equivalent of the National Guard. That alone should be enough to question Paul's narrative, but, luckily for us, Article 1 Section 8 also gives us the purposes of the militia. One of the explicitly stated purposes of the militia is to quell insurrection. So rather than being the people taking up arms against a tyrannical government, the militia the the vehicle through which said tyrannical government wipes out those raising arms against it.

 

That means the stated purpose of the second amendment is to ensure national security by making sure the people who kill those shooting at the government can do so efficiently.

 

Yet Paul wants us to believe that one of the present but not stated purposes is to condone the only crime outlined in the Constitution and whose punishment is ensured by the stated purpose of the amendment.

 

I find that to be highly unlikely.

 

Am I wrong? Is Paul wrong? Are we both wrong?

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I absolutely think he's right. I don't think it ever even crossed the minds of the Founders that anyone would question the use of firearms for hunting. The entire Constitutional point of the "right to bear arms" revolves around the potential need to overthrow a government gone bad. We can debate about whether they meant individual people or state militias (in those days the context of discussion was much more about the relationship between the states and the union). But the reason for the whole discussion was about the maintenance of freedom under dire circumstances.


Keep in mind that these men had just lived through the overthrow of a tyrannical government. It was fresh on their minds.

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Keep in mind that these men had just lived through the overthrow of a tyrannical government. It was fresh on their minds.

How do you square that with the fact that trying to overthrow the government is an instance of the only crime detailed in the Constitution and that making its punishment more efficient is the stated purpose of the amendment in question?

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I absolutely think he's right. I don't think it ever even crossed the minds of the Founders that anyone would question the use of firearms for hunting. The entire Constitutional point of the "right to bear arms" revolves around the potential need to overthrow a government gone bad. We can debate about whether they meant individual people or state militias (in those days the context of discussion was much more about the relationship between the states and the union). But the reason for the whole discussion was about the maintenance of freedom under dire circumstances.

 

Keep in mind that these men had just lived through the overthrow of a tyrannical government. It was fresh on their minds.

A lot of the Bill of Rights was a direct and obvious reaction against things that the British had done in the lead up to the war that the colonies didn't like. Quartered soldiers in the homes of civilians? Make that unconstitutional. Banned colonists from meeting in an attempt to insurrection? Guarantee a right to free assembly. Attempted to seize weapons in order to undercut the stirring rebellion? Guarantee a right to bear arms.

 

There's a tendency to mythologize a lot about America's founding, including the reasoning behind many of the things that went into creating the system of government that we currently have.

 

I'd be interested in doing some research into any primary sources that give more direct insight into what the framers were actually thinking at the time it was passed.

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I think some of the private papers of a lot of those guys are available, though I can't aim you at them. But yeah, I think that given that they'd just had to use the force of arms to get the Brits out of their faces they wanted to make sure that that would be possible in their new society should it become necessary again. However, I'm sure they also wanted to do everything they could to make it not come to that - if it ever does come to that I think they'd regard that as a "failure" of the design.

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Although bastardized by contemporary politics, our constitution only granted the right to keep and bear arms to individuals in a well trained malitia in defense and under control of our government. The framers of our constitutions wanted to assure its citizenry of the right and ability to defend our newfound nation and government against its enemies both foreign and domestic. I don't think our founding fathers intended that article as a right of the people to keep and bear arms against our own government. The intent of that article was obviously not to arm potential enemies of our government and that would have included a citizenry who might one day take up arms against it. Regardless of how we may currently interpret the constitution, it's my opinion that no one has a constitutional right to bear arms unless they are part of a militia charged with defending our nation--which excludes reasons for personal defense, personal security, hunting, and collecting.

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Although bastardized by contemporary politics, our constitution only granted the right to keep and bear arms to individuals in a well trained malitia in defense and under control of our government. The framers of our constitutions wanted to assure its citizenry of the right and ability to defend our newfound nation and government against its enemies both foreign and domestic. I don't think our founding fathers intended that article as a right of the people to keep and bear arms against our own government. The intent of that article was obviously not to arm potential enemies of our government and that would have included a citizenry who might one day take up arms against it. Regardless of how we may currently interpret the constitution, it's my opinion that no one has a constitutional right to bear arms unless they are part of a militia charged with defending our nation--which excludes reasons for personal defense, personal security, hunting, and collecting.

Which really need legislating for separately.

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Which really need legislating for separately.

 

There are few things that our citizens love more than their guns and, unfortunately, it's very unlikely they will ever permit any changes, however defined and reasonable, to our current gun laws.

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What does a "free state" mean? Does it mean free from a corrupt government?

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There are few things that our citizens love more than their guns and, unfortunately, it's very unlikely they will ever permit any changes, however defined and reasonable, to our current gun laws.

 

Do you want to know the reason that I'm averse to such "defined and reasonable" changes? There's one reason: I don't trust you to stop. If I really thought we could sit down and make a single, permanent, reasonable compromise about gun control, I'd be totally open to it. But the truth is that as soon as gun control advocates get that in the bag, they will start planning the next step, and then the next step. Maybe that doesn't describe you, but it describes enough of the people in that camp to make it a problem.

 

So, how do you defend against an adversary that will never stop until they've achieved total victory? You do your best not to give them one single inch.

 

I think there are a ton of things that make good sense in terms of placing some limitations on gun ownership. But because of what I just described, I'm really not even interested in sitting down at the negotiating table. I don't think I'd be dealing with people who would negotiate in good faith.

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Do you want to know the reason that I'm averse to such "defined and reasonable" changes? There's one reason: I don't trust you to stop. If I really thought we could sit down and make a single, permanent, reasonable compromise about gun control, I'd be totally open to it. But the truth is that as soon as gun control advocates get that in the bag, they will start planning the next step, and then the next step. Maybe that doesn't describe you, but it describes enough of the people in that camp to make it a problem.

 

So, how do you defend against an adversary that will never stop until they've achieved total victory? You do your best not to give them one single inch.

 

I think there are a ton of things that make good sense in terms of placing some limitations on gun ownership. But because of what I just described, I'm really not even interested in sitting down at the negotiating table. I don't think I'd be dealing with people who would negotiate in good faith.

And what has led you to that conclusion?

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And what has led you to that conclusion?

 

Are you telling me I'm mistaken? If so, what led you to that conclusion?

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Free state means a free state of being. A condition such as enjoyed with Liberty. I am amazed how little most here know about the meaning of the Second Amendment. It is exactly and totally about shooting our own government when such government gets out of control. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. Hunting was a given at the time of writing. The woods and wilderness was your grocery store. The Second Amendment is the absolute right and duty of responsible citizenship to take up arms to defend freedom and liberty. Very basic. Very profound. Very important. Time to strip down and clean my machine gun.

 

All Oregon USA State Laws, US Code Laws And National Firearm Act Laws apply.

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Are you telling me I'm mistaken? If so, what led you to that conclusion?

I'm not making a claim about how things stand one way or the other. I'm asking what led you to the position that you espoused above.

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I have too much to do this weekend to start digging for citations, but the whole evolution of politics that I've observed in my lifetime has been more and more away from "good faith willingness to compromise" and more and more toward "we are right and will prevail." On both sides - not claiming either side is innocent in the situation. It's just the general nature of political debate in our era. Neither the rabid right nor the rabid left really comes forth with a spirit of peaceful coexistence.

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Am I wrong? Is Paul wrong? Are we both wrong?

 

Imagine you are in the middle of I century AD, in Roman Empire,

are you supporting Caligula.. ? Or are you against him.. ?

Are you supporting Nero.. ? Or are you against him.. ?

 

For me you are supporter of either Caligula and Nero.. Supporter of whatever government you live in..

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Do you want to know the reason that I'm averse to such "defined and reasonable" changes? There's one reason: I don't trust you to stop. If I really thought we could sit down and make a single, permanent, reasonable compromise about gun control, I'd be totally open to it. But the truth is that as soon as gun control advocates get that in the bag, they will start planning the next step, and then the next step. Maybe that doesn't describe you, but it describes enough of the people in that camp to make it a problem.

 

So, how do you defend against an adversary that will never stop until they've achieved total victory? You do your best not to give them one single inch.

 

I think there are a ton of things that make good sense in terms of placing some limitations on gun ownership. But because of what I just described, I'm really not even interested in sitting down at the negotiating table. I don't think I'd be dealing with people who would negotiate in good faith.

 

If we followed the letter of the constitution, you wouldn't be allowed to own a gun unless you had standing in a state militia...but that's not our nation's reality or policies. So what would be fair and reasonable to me would be to not make adversarial assumptions about the other side for fear I might be asked to give up more than I'm willing. Just get to the table and talk, which is what I'd say to those clutching their violent and dangerous play things as though giving inch will actually makes them less safe and secure, which I believe it will not. Giving an inch doesn't amount to a denial of ownership. All of the legislative efforts I've seen have not and does not amount to such a denial. The efforts I've seen seem to suggest that gun owners can keep their guns, just keep them safely out of the hands of lunatics, babies, criminals, and those who might use them illicitly.

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I want to start by saying something I've noticed about myself. Maybe this isn't relevant to you at all, but it's a personal thing I do. There will be times when someone challenges me on a firmly held belief. Something I know to be true. And I will find myself inexplicably at a loss for articulable specifics as to why this obviously true thing is so.

 

When that happens, I generally notice myself challenging the other person on why it is they seemingly don't agree with something so obvious. This is a bad habit, and often I will catch myself doing it as I'm in the middle of it, but I do it anyway. And generally that's how I then leave things.

 

But after the conversation, I make it a point to go back and take a closer look at that particular belief because there's a gap that's been exposed. Either I had very good reasons for holding that position and have forgotten them or grown a little fuzzy on the details, or else I've been putting more weight on that particular belief that it deserves without having given it a proper examination.

 

And so I go back and look, not for sources to back up my position, because that's fairly easy to do for any position under sun given five minutes and an Internet connection, but for the reasons why I picked up that belief in the first place. Where, exactly, did it come from?

 

 

On this particular issue, I will say the following: The United States, for the last 15-20 years, has been on a near continuous march of deregulation of guns, this despite some of the worst gun related tragedies in our history as a nation taking place during that time period. I say this not as a comment on what I think should be happening or why, but rather as a comment on state of political environment of the US as pertains to gun control.

 

I personally believe we would be well served by some responsible regulations surrounding the sale and possession of firearms, but I am not by any means supportive of general bans, even, frankly, on many things that bans are often talked about as part of gun control regulations.

 

I have family on both "sides" of the issue living in different places around the country. The thing I always find most striking when discussing the issue with any of them individually, is how close together many their answers are as to what their ideal situation would be in terms of gun control laws.

 

I know vanishingly few people who actively want to see a total gun ban in this country, and know similarly few people who prefer a complete lack of any regulations around the use of firearms. Some of the suggestions I've heard from opposite ends are near identical.

 

And yet most of them are sure that "compromise" to get things to that point is completely impossible.

 

I'm put in mind of two people at opposite ends of a rope in a game of tug of war. Interview them individually, and they'll both say that they'd personally really rather be standing closer to the middle, but if they don't pull from all the way on the end, the other person will just drag the rope farther in the opposite direction.

 

To circle back around, it really does make me wonder where, exactly, this frankly very widespread meme came from that a person should absolutely not, under any circumstances, even talk to the other side about this issue because they can't be trusted to come to any agreement.

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Imagine you are in the middle of I century AD, in Roman Empire,

are you supporting Caligula.. ? Or are you against him.. ?

Are you supporting Nero.. ? Or are you against him.. ?

 

For me you are supporter of either Caligula and Nero.. Supporter of whatever government you live in..

 

What makes you think that?

I am amazed how little most here know about the meaning of the Second Amendment. It is exactly and totally about shooting our own government when such government gets out of control.

 

 

Why do you think that? Again, shooting at the government is the only crime detailed in the Constitution and the stated purpose of the second amendment is to make the prosecution of the crime run smoothly.

 

How do you get that a purpose of the amendment is to condone said crime?

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I think some of the private papers of a lot of those guys are available, though I can't aim you at them.

The Federalist papers. Specifically written to support ideas adopted into the Constitution.

 

19105732_10106355479370292_6325024375615

 

Tweet text: ".@Judgenap: Why do we have a Second Amendment? It's not to shoot deer. It's to shoot the government when it becomes tyrannical!"(6/23/16, 12:48PM).

 

What do you think? Is he right? Is there a right?

 

I'm arguing that not only is he wrong, he's the exact opposite of right. The purpose, rather than to allow us to shoot at the government, is to stop us from shooting at the government.

 

As we know from the Heller decision, "The Amendments prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause.". So, to find the stated purpose, we just need to look at the part of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment is as follows:

 

"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."

 

So, while there may be more purposes for the second amendment, the only one we know incontrovertibly is to secure a free state via a well-functioning militia. But what's a militia? Luckily for us, the Constitution defines it for us.

 

Article 1 Section 8:

"To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;"

 

Article 2 Section 2:

"The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States;"

 

The Constitution also happens to define one and only one crime:

 

Article 3 Section 3:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort"

 

So the militia is a paramilitary force organized by the states and controlled by both the states and by POTUS. It's the equivalent of the National Guard. That alone should be enough to question Paul's narrative, but, luckily for us, Article 1 Section 8 also gives us the purposes of the militia. One of the explicitly stated purposes of the militia is to quell insurrection. So rather than being the people taking up arms against a tyrannical government, the militia the the vehicle through which said tyrannical government wipes out those raising arms against it.

 

That means the stated purpose of the second amendment is to ensure national security by making sure the people who kill those shooting at the government can do so efficiently.

 

Yet Paul wants us to believe that one of the present but not stated purposes is to condone the only crime outlined in the Constitution and whose punishment is ensured by the stated purpose of the amendment.

 

I find that to be highly unlikely.

 

Am I wrong? Is Paul wrong? Are we both wrong?

 

In Federalist #46 Madison argues (and also Hamilton in #29) that if the federal government overstepped its bounds, the states would rise up and stop it, and the militias belong to the states first. The president calling them up would do no good, as the states are already in opposition to the federal government. (and that's sort of what happened in the 1860s). It would not be the people in rebellion — an insurrection, but the states. So you're both right, in a sense.

 

"ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause."[/size]

 

Ultimately, though, Madison's overall argument fails in today's atmosphere.

 

The idea was based on a federal government unable to support a large standing army — 1% of the population (or ~4% of people able to bear arms, presumably only counting physically fit men aged ~15-45), and that army being of the sort with which they were familiar: muzzle-loading rifles of limited accuracy. For an agricultural society that's probably correct. But it's now outdated; a modern society can field a very effective army with a smaller proportion of the population .

 

Also, states are not as powerful in relation to the federal government as originally desired at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, nor do residents exhibit the same loyalty to and identity with the state as they did — we're much more mobile these days. Much less likely for the average citizen to be born, live and die in a ~20 mile range as happened 200-250 years ago.

If we followed the letter of the constitution, you wouldn't be allowed to own a gun unless you had standing in a state militia

I disagree. The Constitution names the militia as a reason for the right to bear arms, but it's not phrased to be exclusive. If they intended a requirement for some formal membership they could have written it that way, and didn't. Well-regulated meant (at least in part) that there was a chain of command, which was put in place by the states.

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Oh, well, I meant actual private papers. Like letters published posthumously. The FP sort of went without saying.


I agree with you on all points, swansont, including the "non militia only" meaning of the second amendment. I really think a popular or state uprising would have to be VERY thoroughgoing to have much of a chance against the standing army, as well-equipped as it is these days. I think success would require that many members of that army also be motivated to revolt, so you wound up with massive refusal to fight on behalf of the national army, and whole army units switching sides, and so on.

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I disagree. The Constitution names the militia as a reason for the right to bear arms, but it's not phrased to be exclusive. If they intended a requirement for some formal membership they could have written it that way, and didn't. Well-regulated meant (at least in part) that there was a chain of command, which was put in place by the states.

 

 

I think the distinction between our views is that you interpret this reference in our Constitution as a reason for the right; whereas, I interpret it as the only reason because it is in fact the only reason the Constitution provides. Even If we accept the militia reference as just a reason, the only inference we may take is that our Constitution's framers did not perceive there to be any other legitimate reason for the protection of that right. Therefore, those who cite the Constitution to legitimize their gun possess should adhere to the only reason for that legitimacy the Constitution provides.

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I think the distinction between our views is that you interpret this reference in our Constitution as a reason for the right; whereas, I interpret it as the only reason because it is in fact the only reason the Constitution provides. Even If we accept the militia reference as just a reason, the only inference we may take is that our Constitution's framers did not perceive there to be any other legitimate reason for the protection of that right. Therefore, those who cite the Constitution to legitimize their gun possess should adhere to the only reason for that legitimacy the Constitution provides.

 

You interpret it in the way that suits your politics as opposed to the way it is written.

One of the ways you use a semicolon is as follows:

 

Use a semicolon between items in a list or series if any of the items contain commas.

1) The part about the people keeping and bearing arms
2) The part about militais
Items. On. A. List. Separate items.

Someone earlier mentioned "what the Founders really thought" as a topic of research. If you really think that the Founders had it in mind that individual citizens wouldn't be allowed to own guns, then I don't think you have a very sound understanding of the culture of the 1700's.

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Posted (edited)

 

You interpret it in the way that suits your politics as opposed to the way it is written.

One of the ways you use a semicolon is as follows:

 

Use a semicolon between items in a list or series if any of the items contain commas.

1) The part about the people keeping and bearing arms
2) The part about militais
Items. On. A. List. Separate items.

 

Obviously, you've interpreted my comment "in the way that suits your politics as opposed to the way it is written." If our Constitution provides no other reason legitimizing the right to keep and bear arms other than a well trained state militia, then my comments are indeed according to the Constitution. If you can cite other reasons specifically written into the Constitution, I invite you to post them here.

 

Use a semicolon between items in a list or series if any of the items contain commas.

1) The part about the people keeping and bearing arms
2) The part about militais
Items. On. A. List. Separate items.

 

 

Proper definition of semicolon is as follows:

 

The punctuation mark ( ; ) is used to indicate a major division in a sentence where a more distinct separation is felt between clauses or items on a list than is indicated by a comma, as between the two clauses of a compound sentence.

 

​I believe my use was proper.

 

Someone earlier mentioned "what the Founders really thought" as a topic of research. If you really think that the Founders had it in mind that individual citizens wouldn't be allowed to own guns, then I don't think you have a very sound understanding of the culture of the 1700's.

 

 

It's impossible to know the mind of our Founders except for what is written and what is written in the Constitution likely express that mind. If there is more, it was well within their purview to amend the Constitution.

Edited by DrmDoc
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You interpret it in the way that suits your politics as opposed to the way it is written.

"Hi" said Kettle.

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