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The anonymous commentators/opinionators over at the Montpelier, VT Times-Argus are ignoring, obfuscating and bloviating in the finest tradition of classical gun-grabbers. The T-A editorial board piece, titled On the altar of guns, features the perennial civilian disarmer’s question: How many lives must be sacrificed on the altar of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States…? Of course, who but the most insanely fascist statist would ask, How many lives must be sacrificed on the altar of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States? Or . . .

How many lives must be sacrificed on the altar of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty?

And is there anyone delusional enough to think that if the Times-Argus’s editorial board had made such a statement about freedom of religion or speech, they wouldn’t find themselves out the door faster than a greased watermelon on an Olympic luge track?

Not only does this overused rhetorical query ignore the fact that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility, it also completely ignores the very concept of defensive gun uses. Much less the fact that at least twice as many lives are saved annually in defensive gun uses as are lost in criminal gun uses.

But wait, they’re not finished with the 2A. In their learned legal opinion, it’s,

… an amendment that appears (although clearly not to all) to connect the citizenry’s right to bear arms to the existence of a “well-regulated militia”?

Actually it’s the “security of the free state” which is connected to the individual right to keep and bear arms. The only connection between the individual right to keep and bear arms and a “well-regulated militia” is in the hopes and dreams of hoplophobes.

At the time the Bill of Rights was written, the grammatical construction used in the Second Amendment (a prefatory or explanatory clause followed by an operative clause) was well understood, if falling out of general use. It has only been in the last century or so (and especially in the last forty to fifty years) that the antis have tried so desperately to convince people that the explanatory portion of the amendment should be read as restricting the operative right.

To discern the real meaning, we need only look back in history. In 1837 the Georgia legislature passed An Act to guard and protect the citizens of this State, against the unwarrantable and too prevalent use of deadly weapons, which outlawed the sale and possession of:

Bowie, or any other kind of knives, manufactured and sold for the purpose of wearing, or carrying the same as arms of offence or defence, pistols, dirks, sword canes, spears, &c., shall also be contemplated in this act, save such pistols as are known and used, as horseman’s pistols, &c.

Now Georgia didn’t have a right to keep and bear arms specified in their constitution, but in the case of Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243 (1846) the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the Federal right to keep and bear arms limited the Georgia legislature as well as Congress:

The language of the second amendment is broad enough to embrace both Federal and State governments–nor is there anything in its terms which restricts its meaning. The preamble which was prefixed to these amendments shows, that they originated in the fear that the powers of the general government were not sufficiently limited.

Thirty years later, in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1876) the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out that like freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, the right to keep and bear arms,

is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.

This statement should put to bed the ongoing belief that the Bill of Rights grants rights; that if it weren’t for the First Amendment we would not have the right to speak, associate and worship as we choose. But this isn’t the case with the antis and especially with the Second Amendment. The antis must believe that the right to keep and bear arms is one which is granted to us by the Bill of Rights, not a pre-existing natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, and civil right which is protected by (not created by) the Bill of Rights.

And why has the concept of a “well-regulated militia” been lost in the national debate raging over gun control? True, the U.S. Supreme Court seems to have overlooked that particular phrasing in the amendment, but that only adds to the mystery (and frustration).

Taking that last point first, I think you can hardly call dedicating the first 22 pages of the 64-page Heller decision “overlooking” anything. Unless, of course, you’re a hard-core gun-grabber who is bound and determined to ignore whatever you need to in order to pretend that you have justification for your firearms limitations and confiscations. As Professor Joe Olsen told Rep. Hausman of the MN Legislature when he absolutely schooled her on the construction of the Second Amendment:

I actually had one of my articles cited in Heller. So I know that Judge Scalia is familiar with my work. … The Supreme Court did two things in the Heller case that are relevant to [this] discussion … One, in Heller the Supreme Court has made very clear that the introductory clause to the Second Amendment is not part of the normative statement. In other words, the introductory clause is not part of the rule of law. The rule of law is that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” [emphasis mine]

And as I pointed out above, the only mystery surrounding the militia clause is how the antis can steadfastly ignore the historical record, the judicial record and common sense in their calls for “reasonable” and “common sense” restrictions on the only right in the entire BoR which specifically states that Congress may not infringe upon it. I’m afraid that my frustration is all to evident, but it’s so frustrating to see people ignore facts, figures, logic and even reality in their quest to disarm us.

Another frustration are the fellow travelers who aren’t really invested in the issue, but just go along with the gun control du jour, whatever the current sound-bite supported malum prohibitum ban-of-the-month is.

As for what happened to the militia, that’s simple. After the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton’s DoJ implemented a CoIntelPro-type program to try to marginalize and ultimately eliminate all the folks who tried to assemble Constitutional militias. The smart ones learned to keep a low profile and the dumb ones learned about our lovely federal prison system.

For an excellent and highly detailed look at how this sort of thing works, check out The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson. For the quick version see here for an interview with the author.

But back to the Times-Argus and their victim disarmament agenda:

Finally, in the wake of so many horrendous killings by individuals armed to the teeth, some Americans — why not all? — finally are standing up to demand that something reasonable be done to modify our gun culture.

Why aren’t all Americans joining the anti-self-defense, anti-gun, anti-rights, anti-social antis? Because some of us are paying attention. Some of us don’t swallow whole the anti-gun agitprop spewed out by groups like the Brady Campaign or the Violence Policy Center. Some of us are familiar with the issues and are familiar with the lies the forces of civilian disarmament use and the truths that support our positions.

As to the larger question, who are these Americans who are finally standing up? (And my interjected question would be – why now?) After all, the homicide rate is as low as it’s been in 100 years, so, why now?


And I must admit I’m curious about how many Americans are standing up. I mean, NRA membership increased enough that even the legacy media noticed. And their fundraising in the 2 months post-Newtown was more than double the average monthly rate from the previous 2 years.

So how many Americans have decided that they’re as mad as hell and aren’t gonna to take it anymore?

According to the Times-Argus that number is…one.

Beginning today, New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, launches a $12 million advertising campaign that he hopes will change the minds of certain United States senators so they’ll now support some form of gun control.

As most of the Armed Intelligentsia know, Mayor Mike is one of the founders of Deceased, uh, Felonious, dang it! I mean Mayors Against All; oops! One last time: He’s a co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (whew!) and, according to

Now well into his final term as New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has a new mission for his post-political life: eradicating gun violence. He’s emerged as a leading donor to pro-gun control causes and candidates.

Unfortunately Forbes got it slightly wrong; he isn’t trying to eradicate gun violence, he is trying to eradicate gun ownership. And he plans on using a fair chunk of his $27 billion personal fortune to do so.

I must say this is the most perfect example of the gun rights vs. anti-gun dynamic. On the pro-civil rights side of the ledger you have large numbers of volunteers working mostly behind the scenes, spending a lot of their weekends at tables in gun shows, collecting dozens (if we’re lucky) of $5 and $10 donations with the occasional big spender dropping a twenty in the basket. A true grass roots movement.

Meanwhile the antis efforts typify an Astroturf® operation with very wealthy foundations and individuals giving large sums to support a professional staff of flacks, hacks and lobbyists. Even the NRA, the acknowledged 800-pound gorilla in the gun rights movement, took twenty months to raise the amount of money that Bloomberg is dropping on a single ad campaign.

The Times-Argus, though, actually tries to blur the line between grass roots and Astroturf®, saying:

“He can’t spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public,” LaPierre said. “They don’t want him in their restaurants, they don’t want him in their homes, they don’t want him telling what food to eat. They sure don’t want him telling what self-defense firearms to own. He can’t buy America.”

But isn’t that exactly what Bloomberg and his loyalists have been doing — and with considerable success — all along with their heavy financial support of politicians? I find it hard to believe that the editorial board of a paper like this can really be that stupid. So, by trying to pass off this bilgewater as Scotch, they must think we are.

The NRA is the 800-pound political gorilla it is because it provides a (well, almost) single voice for 4.25 million members. Mayor Mike is trying to become an 800-pound gorilla with a monkey suit and a few gold bricks.

Not the same thing at all really.

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I am a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the civil rights (firearms flavor) movement, having not really gotten involved until after I hit 40. I am not really a "gun guy"; I can generally hit what I aim at, but I'm not a competitive shooter. I enjoy the craftsmanship of a fine pistol or rifle, but I am not particularly knowledgeable about firearms in general nor am I a Glock guy, or 1911 guy, I'm just a guy. What I am is passionate about civil rights, especially those of the firearm flavor.


  1. the introductory clause is not part of the rule of law

    This is such a fundamental and well-accepted rule of construction that there isn’t a lot of scholarship about it. Why would there be? It’s as well-settled as the law of gravity.

    If the Second Amendment was about a militia, it would have stated that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to join a militia, shall not be infringed.” Hello, wingnuts — it doesn’t say that.

    • Joe Olsen is wrong, and is taking a page from the Leftists’ playbook with his syntactical weaseling. If he thinks the first part is mere fluff, why the hell did they put it there in the first place?

      I’ll tell you. The first part of the Second Amendment, I call the “Peace Clause,” refers directly to Law in the Constitution proper to which militarist Standing Army advocates scoff and conveniently ignore—a “well-regulated” Swiss model citizen-soldier national defense, so strong a deterrent it has kept the Swiss out of wars for 300 years, even while that tiny nation was surrounded by the Axis Powers.

      The Right’s desultory defense of the complete Second Amendment, and the Constitutional provisions it addresses, has been as erosive to the Second Amendment as the Left’s attacks on the last half of the Second Amendment.

      If every man was a vital part of defending this nation, then any fellow without a battle rifle in his house would be a pariah, if not outright criminal, in his community. But now? The military industrial complex is our Dear Protective Nanny, and all a man has to do is whore for money and pay taxes to be a proper citizen.

      The typical American city male is basically feminized, is disallowed from participation in national defense, and then the feminized Leftists win.

      Did any founder think the skills and mental stance behind the Second Amendment would long endure without widespread participation of males in national defense? It would be an interesting question if we could raise one from the grave. But they’re spinning too fast to even think it.

  2. > Enumerated Rights

    But the rights found “in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights” are far more important than those explicitly enumurated. The 2012 Democratic Party National Platform says so:

    Protecting A Woman’s Right to Choose. The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

    If it’s OK to violate the explicitly enumerated rights of “only” 45 million (or whatever the actual number is) of Americans who own guns, then why should I give a crap about the 50 million women who have had an abortion in the 40 years since Roe v Wade?

  3. “How many lives must be sacrificed on the altar of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty?”-I am STILL trying to wrap my head around this one. I could use some help here guys……

    • Because guilt in criminal matters must be proved by the state beyond a reasonable doubt, it follows that there are probably many who have committed violent crimes that cannot be proved to that standard, and therefore have gotten away with it. Even less can we prove the intention to commit a violent offense to that standard, thus the sacrifice of said lives? Just a guess.

  4. Educated American: I have the facts to prove all your gun control information wrong.

    Gun Grabber: Well we are not gonna let a little thing like logic or facts deter us!

    • That pretty much sums up EVERY anti-gun argument… I’ll ignore your facts/logic/reality and substitute it with my own…

  5. all agreed but judging from whats going on in Maryland and NY, they are going to need another spanking before they get it right (meaning they are not sure what the courts will strike down). Even courts right now are unsure as to how to proceed.

  6. Well, Bloomberg did spend enough of his fortune to buy a third term as mayor of NYC. Perhaps the answer for bad speech is more speech, but holy cow, $27,000,000,000 can buy a loooot of speech.

  7. They need to understand that death is dying a well deserved…death. In short the Jack Kevorkian school of non defense is petering out. What a shame, Randy JK is a great man BTW.

  8. How many lives must be sacrificed on the altar of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty?

    Well, since our Attorney General will only stare at his shoes and mumble if somebody asks whether or not it is legal for the US Government to whack US citizents using drone launched missiles without any kind of hearing or due process rights, I would say that ship has sailed.

  9. I simply respond to ANY anti 2A argument by asking the question: “If every aspect of our modern society was judged by the loss of life that might result, then the only answer is to swear off all technology and go back to the stone age.” Another good argument is, “Texting while driving kills, but yet we have laws against texting and driving, we haven’t outlawed every device that is capable of sending a text.”

  10. Let’s try it with another amendment…

    A well-regulated press, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to free speech shall not be infringed.

    Yup, the first clause isn’t part of the rule of law in that one either.

  11. How many people have to die on the altar of the 4th Amendment? Plenty of serial murderers and rapists are free because of the Founders’ antiquated feelings towards privacy.

    How many people have to die at the altar of the 1st Amendment? The U.S. press has killed thousands (e.g., yellow journalism and the Spanish American war, false stories about Korans being defaced, oh almost forgot — its encouragement of mass murderers in waiting through its glorification of spree killers) and historically disputes between different religious groups has killed millions.

    So let’s get rid of our ideas regarding privacy, pick a single religion and abolish all others, and strictly oversee and regulate the press . . . . OR

    Grow up and recognize that freedom isn’t free.

    • How many will die because they were successfully disarmed by this disgusting movement?

      This idea of “even if it only saves one child it will be worth it” ignores the obvious consequence that, by disarming everyone and denying our right to choose the best means to defend ourselves, many thousands more will die than would be saved.

      What folly…

  12. How many must die on the altar of the Second Amendment before people understand that Freedom from Tyranny is not Free, but is bought with the blood of patriots and free men?

  13. There is a procedure for overturning or amending the 2nd or any other amendment to Our Constitution but those who oppose the 2nd amendment know that it will be ever so much easier getting 5 justices on the Supreme Court to rule in their favor rather than 2/3’s of the states.

    Look back and see how often THEY have depended on the few judges to enact THEIR platform goals rather than defending those ideas in front of the voters.

    In fact it has come down to only one Supreme Court Justice. Its Judge Kennedy’s world and we are just small cogs in it.

  14. The grammatical construction of the Second Amendment actually isn’t all that archaic and is seen in fiction and creative writing and journalistic writing…well, everywhere…ALL THE TIME.

    Being powerful research tools, computer and internet access are essential in communication.

    You all can tell me which part of that sentence is merely added explanation and which is the *real* information, without which the rest would mean nothing at all. But journalists, attorneys, judges, and anti-gun people everywhere seem to have lost their ability to understand plain English. It’s just sad.

  15. Convenient that the Times-Argus has no vehicle for readers to respond to this sad, contradictory op-ed piece. Wouldn’t want the dissenting opinions of the masses to get in the way of your (read: Bloomberg’s) “message”, would we?

  16. Beginning today, New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, launches a $12 million advertising campaign that he hopes will change the minds of certain United States senators…

    Notwithstanding the Fifth Amendment’s ‘takings clause’ and the limitations on federal taxing power, it is worth considering the creation of a federal felony crime of Oligarchic Abuse of Democracy. Some say that the guns available to the public are too powerful. I’m more concerned that money piles have become too powerful, both on the left and the right. It’s time to recognize that modern banking systems, communications, and media buying platforms, not to mention Congressperson Renting systems, have become much to easy and capacious, tremendously magnifying the ability to leverage fortunes to hijack democratic process. It’s time we banned High Capacity Vote-Buying Wallets.

  17. Nice work as usual Bruce. I love that homicide/gun control chart but what are the units on the y axis?

    • Homicide rates as reported by the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are measured in instances per 100,000 members of the population. As in the year 2011 the homicide rate in the US was 4.8 homocides per 100,000 members of the population. I have never seen homocide rates reported any other way.

  18. Can I ask where you got the mortality rate table from? I like it, but I’d like it even more if I could vett the source of the table.

    Thanks for the great article.

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