War on Guns refers us today to this opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune, written by Kristen Rand (legislative director of the virulently anti-gun rights Violence Policy Center). In it, Rand tries to make the Second Amendment sound . . . icky, by claiming that its original intended purpose was the protection of slavery.
There is also strong scholarship to support the argument that James Madison wrote the amendment primarily to allay southern fears that Congress would undermine the slave system by disarming the militia - thereby denying the southern states an effective means of slave control. Under this longstanding interpretation of the amendment, the district's handgun ban would survive."Strong scholarship," and "longstanding interpretation," eh? It would seem (based on this) that Rand refers here to the work of Professor Carl T. Bogus (no--I'm not making that name up). I do not claim that no other academic research makes such an assertion (although I am not aware of any that does), but Bogus is the only source I've seen the VPC cite in support of that interpretation.
Perhaps a closer look at what I'll call the "Bogus Theory of the Second Amendment" (catchy, isn't it?) is in order. As it happens, the very work that the VPC refers to above ("The Hidden History of the Second Amendment") is available here. What I could not help but notice right away is that this article (or should I call it, as Bogus does every time he refers to it, as an "Article"--capitalized--ego issues, do you suppose?) repeatedly cites the thoroughly discredited "research" of Michael Bellesiles. Doesn't exactly inspire a great deal of confidence, does it?
The Bogus Theory would seem to have other problems, as well. Alexander Hamilton, for example, was an outspoken critic of slavery, and in fact was the second president of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves. If the Second Amendment actually existed as a means of slave control, one might expect that Hamilton would not have been a supporter of it. How, then, does one explain this?
"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."Bogus himself points to Thomas Jefferson and George Mason as having "railed against slavery."
-- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-188
Many in the South also railed against slavery, among them prominent Virginians such as Thomas Jefferson and George Mason.I suppose, then, that they opposed the inclusion of the right to keep and bear arms in the Bill of Rights. Well . . . no, actually.
"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."And . . .
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.
"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."I can't help but wonder what the Deacons for Defense and Justice would have to say about the Bogus Theory, or how one reconciles such a theory with the Racist Roots of Gun Control.
--George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 425-426
I was running a bit behind today, and failed to notice that both Snowflakes in Hell and Days of Our Trailers have also responded to Rand's opinion piece.