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Mark Pitcavage @egavactip
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1. This is a lengthy thread and may not be interesting except to those wishing to explore the ancient history of the 2nd Amendment.

The article below is a good article that accurately describes the evolution

"How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment"…
2. of the NRA as well as the relatively recent right-wing revisionism of 2nd-rate legal writers to change the age-old interpretation of the 2nd amendment. But the author writes, re the wording in the 2nd amendment regarding "keep and bear arms," that "We don’t really know what he
3. meant by it." Well, this last part is not really true. For those willing to delve into the history of the 1780s, the reason why the 2nd amendment exists is clear--it exists for a very specific, narrow reason, one that is embarrassing to the 2nd amendment revisionists. I should
4. note that, while for many years I have focused my research on right-wing extremism, such as militia groups, I am actually one of the few people in the country well-versed in the history of the *actual* militia as well, having written an 800+ page dissertation on the subject in
5. the 1990s, every word of it golden, I promise you. America came out of the Revolutionary War with a militia controversy on its hands. While many sang the praises of the militia, proclaiming it a force that could not only protect the country from danger but could also be a
6. bulwark of liberty, those who had seen the militia in action--people such as Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, to name a couple--looked at it with disdain. They supported a standing army but, realizing that the country would only stand for a small one, supported as
7. well measures to greatly improve the efficacy of the militia. In 1783, Hamilton sought suggestions on how to do this, receiving proposals from Washington, Timothy Pickering, and others, with Washington's suggestions being a condensation of ideas from Israel Putnam, Baron von
8. Steuben, Henry Knox and others. They all proposed more national control over the state militias, with some even suggesting dividing the militia into different classes, with a portion of the militia receiving much more training and attention, to improve its ability. Many of
9. these ideas were behind some of the proposals made vis a vis the militia during the Constitutional convention. Some failed, such as the idea that Congress should appoint militia generals, but others succeeded, and the final draft of the Constitution gave to Congress the power
10. to organize, arm and discipline the militia, reserving to the states the power to train and officer it. This, combined with powers given to the federal government to call out the militia, was a major increase in national power over state militias--and naturally became the
11. subject of debate during the ratification process. Anti-federalists felt that the Constitution gave the federal government an inordinate amount of control over the militia. Three specific concerns were raised most often: 1) concern over the power to call up the militia, which
12. anti-federalists believed could be abused in a number of different ways; 2) objections regarding the neglect of the right of conscience (i.e., exempting conscientious objectors); and 3) objections to giving the federal government the power to provide for arming the militia.
13. Anti-federalists feared that, with this power, Congress might deliberately choose *not* to arm the militia, or to deny the states the ability to arm their own militia, or might only allow a "select" militia to be armed (one that could be made into a tool of the federal
14. government. As Patrick Henry, an anti-federalist, proclaimed, "Of what service would militia be to you, when most probably you will not have a single musket in the State; for as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not furnish them." Essayist Aristocrotis
15. spoke similarly, saying that Congress would arm only part of the militia, a part it could control, while "the rest of the militia they would deny arms." Martin Luther observed that the militia "may be rendered utterly useless and insignificant, when it suits the ambitious
16. purposes of government," thanks to Congress's power to organie and arm the militia. Federalists successfully responded to some of the arguments put forth by the anti-federalists, but for others--including objections to the militia clause--the Federalists believed that only
17. amendments might assuage the opposition. Indeed, in Madison's original construction of the 2nd amendment, he combined guarantees about two of the main objections: that state militias could be rendered unarmed by Congress and that conscientious objectors were not exempted.
18. The 2nd amendment was thus introduced--very clearly--to deal with the very specific objections raised over Congress's increased control of the militia as detailed in the new Constitution. In the end, the conscientious objector clause was removed and only the arms clause
19. remained (Madison later tried to include the conscientious objector clause as part of the first militia law passed by Congress, but failed there, too). I should note that, in all of the debates over the Constitution, the notion of a personal right to firearms ownership came
20. up hardly at all, something that scholars have long acknowledged. The 2nd Amendment came about because of fears that Congress would deliberately enfeeble the state militias. Of course, the irony is that when it did pass its first militia law, Congress passed the buck to the
21. states, who passed the buck to individual people serving in the militia--who were forced to buy their own firearms (a very expensive and unpopular measure, and one that, along with other burdens of militia service, would add to growing resentment over militia service, a
22. resentment that eventually resulted in states moving from compulsory to voluntary militia service, which eventually brought about the National Guard. There is actually not much mystery behind the 2nd amendment, and it has little to do with ancient English common law or any
23. of the other notions put for by 2nd amendment revisionists. The 2nd Amendment arose to deal with a specific complaint about a specific perceived weakness in the original Constitution. To those few who have read this far, thanks for being patient.
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