We Don't Need No Stinking Second Amendment : page 2
Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
"Do you have more?"
He went through more of his papers.
"Here's one of my favorites:
To disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.
"That was by George Mason when the Constitution was being debated."
"And who, may I ask, was George Mason?" Bill asked. "It sounds like you're bringing in the second string now."
"He's the most underrated and unsung of all the Founding Fathers. Jefferson drew on him when composing the Declaration of Independence; his doctrine of inalienable rights was not only the basis for the Virginia Bill of Rights in 1776, but other states used them as the models for their own Bill of Rights, and James Madison drew upon them freely while composing the Bill of Rights for the United States.
"Even though a Southerner, Mason recognized the evils of slavery and the fact that slaves were entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. He also feared the Constitution because it didn't do a better job of limiting the powers of the Federal government. He believed local government should be strong and the Federal government kept weak. He firmly believed in the power, the rights, and the integrity of the individual."
"Never heard of him," Bill said.
"I'm not surprised. But you're not alone because most people haven't."
"Why's that?" Dave asked.
"He suffered bad health and had all kinds of family problems, so he never attained any office outside of Virginia—other than his membership to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. But he was the most vocal of the Founders on individual rights, and the other Founding Fathers recognized him as a force to be reckoned with. Without him, I can guarantee you that the United States would not be as free as it is now.
"You guys should do an article on him," he said to Dave.
Dave quickly wrote something on his notepad, then glanced at me.
Mac continued to go through his papers. "Here's a quote by Elbridge Gerry, a representative to Congress from Massachusetts during the debates over the Bill of Rights. He's also the man for whom gerrymandering is named because, as governor of Massachusetts, he tried to rig districts to favor his party. In this quote he was specifically referring to what we now call the 2nd Amendment:
What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty...Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.
"That should also give you insight as to how the Founders defined the militia and why they thought it was important."
"Okay, I've heard enough," Bill said.
"Me too," Dave added.
"There's one more," Mac said. "It's kind of a long one, but it's by James Madison, the guy who wrote the Constitution and actually put together the Bill of Rights."
"Okay, go ahead," Dave said.
The highest number to which a standing army can be carried in any country does not exceed one hundredth part of the souls, or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This portion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Besides the advantage of being armed, it forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would surely shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors.
"I kind of like that one," Dave said.
"So do I," Mac said.
"I've got more, but I think that's enough. But I think you can see how the Founding Fathers felt about the right of individuals to have weapons. In fact, this whole debate over the right to arms is a recent one. In the last century, Americans would have been as amazed to find their right to have weapons a subject of debate as they would to have found their right to free speech or religion debated. There was no question to them, or to the Founders, that the right to keep and bear arms was one of the most fundamental— perhaps the most fundamental— of all civil rights."
"Are any of the Founders on record saying they don't believe individuals should have guns?" Dave asked.
"None I know of—and I've actually looked for some.
"Do you know of any, Bill?" he asked.
Bill didn't reply. Again, I thought he as acting as if he wasn't listening. The phone rang again and someone called across the office to tell Dave it was an advertiser, so he took the call.
Mac put his papers back into the briefcase and picked up his magazine and started to look for his place.
Bill had even lost interest in the conversation. And it was time for me to get back to work. As I said, I was way behind. I took a last look at the gun parts to ensure they were clean, and I began to reassemble the rifle.
But I turned back to Mac for a moment and asked, "The lawyer friend you found this information for...were you giving him legal advice, doing research for him, or what?"
"I was winning a bet," he said.
"What were the stakes?"
"A six-pack of beer."
"That seems like a paltry sum to have gone through all this research for."
"We're going to drink it in Florida," he said.
"Oh," I replied and continued to reassemble the gun.