The Right to Arm and Organize
Code of Conduct
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know now what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
1.2.1 Give me liberty or give me death!
When the second revolutionary convention of Virginia met in March of 1775, the majority of those in attendance favored quiet preparations for war but wanted to continue seeking peace with the king of England and Parliament. So when resolutions were introduced proposing that Virginia formally assume a defensive posture in anticipation of war, the majority cringed at the prospect of war being inevitable. The resolutions were about to be defeated when Patrick henry rose to address the assembly. It was his speech that changed minds so that the resolutions were carried. It was his speech that first openly advocated war. It was his speech which arguably mobilized the American colonies for eventual victory.
I therefore will quote the speech in its entirety to set the context of the American Revolution and to remind us of the similar perils we face today. As you read it, keep several things in mind.
First, Patrick Henry was promoting war to a group of informed men who were predisposed to peace. His speech was meant to convince the skeptical rather than to agitate warmongers.
Second, Patrick Henry was promoting war against the greatest military power on the face of the earth, the British Empire. The men in that assembly did not have the benefit of hindsight but were contemplating a war which, from their perspective, was by no means sure to be won.
Third, Patrick Henry was promoting war as a necessary last resort. He was not a "trigger-happy" glory seeker. He was facing facts that peaceful approaches had been impotent for over ten years of struggle.
Keeping these facts in mind will keep us from mistaking Patrick Henry for an impatient, violent man and keep his speech in proper perspective. And now, let Patrick Henry's words speak for themselves.
"No man, Mr. President, thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very honorable gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I should speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. And in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
"Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of Hope. We are apt to shut out eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my own part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past. And, judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry, for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparation which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation -- the last arguments to which kings resort.
"I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.
"And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty, and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not already been exhausted?
"Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne.
"In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we are to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained -- we must fight! I repeat sir -- we must fight! An appeal to arms, and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us.
"They tell us, sir, that we are weak - unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of Hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
"Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.
"Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone: it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable. And let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
Thus was Patrick Henry's speech. Thus were the resolutions to prepare for war carried. Let me make a few more remarks so you can see the parallels with our situation today and so there is no misunderstanding.
Neither Patrick Henry, nor the resolutions he sought to approve advocated attacking the British army. They simply advocated being ready for the inevitable British attack. Neither does the Free Militia propose to attack anyone but only to be prepared to defend.
Just as the colonists sought to alleviate unjust taxation without representation with every possible form of peaceful means, there has been an ongoing attempt with all branches of the federal government to demonstrate how unconstitutional many laws, programs, and taxes are, to no avail. The Constitutional is routinely ignored and petitions to obey it are met with an "insidious smile" but no serious action.
The great danger of Patrick Henry's day was the growing strength of British forces along with the growing measures to disarm the colonies. Today we see the multiplication of police officers, agencies, prisons, and government power simultaneous with attacks on personal gun rights.
1.2.2 The beginning of the American Revolution
Contrary to popular belief, the American Revolution was not fought because the colonists were taxed without representation. It is true that for years preceding the revolution, taxes and fair representation were the issues that energized patriots. These were the questions that first caused friction between the colonies and England. But no American patriot took up arms to kill a British soldier because he thought his taxes were too high.
American patriots took up arms against the British and began the revolution only when -- and precisely because -- the British attempted to disarm them.
The first incident was when the British tried to confiscate stores of gunpowder and weapons to disarm the militia in New England. Almost at the same time (news travelled slowly in those days) the British confiscated the colonists' gunpowder in Williamsburg. The events in New England resulted n bloodshed; in Virginia the bloodshed was averted. But both historic confrontations took place because the British attempted to disarm citizens.
March 23, 1775. Patrick Henry gave his famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech.
April 18, 1775. British soldiers set out from Boston to confiscate muskets, gunpowder, and cannons from the colonists. Paul Revere rode out of town to warn the Americans.
April 19, 1775. The British encountered their first resistance by minutemen at Lexington Green. After pushing on to Concord, the British were repelled, and then routed, by the American minutemen and sustained casualties.
April 21, 1775. Still unaware of fighting in New England, the governor of Virginia ordered British marines to confiscate all gunpowder held in the public magazine at Williamsburg.
May 2, 1775. Captain Patrick Henry led an armed militia of Virginians on a march to Williamsburg. Soon five thousand men sprang to arms and joined the march.
May 4, 1775. The British agreed to compensate the Virginians for the gunpowder that was confiscated before the armed militia arrived in Williamsburg, thus averting armed conflict.
Two lessons should be noted about these two incidents which really started the American Revolution. First, the British government's attempts to disarm American colonists, even though the colonists had not attacked the British, was considered to be an act of war by the Americans. They knew that if they were successfully disarmed, the British would be unchecked in their attempts to subjugate and enslave them.
Second, when the acts of war were perceived, it was not Americans acting under the authority of the British Crown that opposed them. It was ordinary armed citizens -- outlaws as the British saw them -- who fought.
Our country sprang into being and is founded on the principle of ordinary citizens like you and me arming and organizing ourselves to fight tyranny.
1.2.3 The Declaration of Independence
About a year after hostilities broke out at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. This declaration officially severed political ties with England and established the thirteen American colonies as independent states.
On the one hand, it took quite a long time to finalize and ratify the Declaration of Independence considering that the country had already been at war with Great Britain for a year and there was no real prospect for a peaceful resolution. But what this delay accomplished was a consensus among the delegations from all thirteen colonies about the justification of revolution and independence. It is therefore enlightening to examine their rationale in the Declaration of Independence since it represents the universal position of the leaders of all the colonies as to why America was justified in its revolt against the king and Parliament.
The relevant text is the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence which reads as follows:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such a form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. --"
What follows is an enumeration of particular abuses by Britain, many of which were particular to that day. I shall not comment on these except to say that one complain rings very literally true today: "He has erected a Multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." We also are harassed by every conceivable kind of regulatory agency, trivial law, and arrogant official which "eat our substance" through confiscatory taxes that get us coming (income taxes), standing (property taxes), and going (sales taxes).
Now for some relevant thoughts on the second paragraph:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." Man is granted certain rights by God. These rights precede the formation of any government. Since governments are established by God and derive their authority from him, they cannot legitimately take away rights that have been graciously given by God.
"That among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Notice it says, "among these are." This is not a comprehensive list of man's rights. Even the Bill of Rights is not a comprehensive list as indicated by the Ninth Amendment. But our rights can be organized or classified under the headings of life, liberty, and happiness.
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." This demonstrates that governments are formed to protect our rights, not to give them.
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government." This clearly advocates dissolution of any government which does not act to defend the rights of the people. Notice that "the People," that is, individuals, have the right to make this adjustment. In our present case, we do not need to change, abolish, or replace the Constitution; what we need is to change our government so it will conform -- by force if necessary -- to the Constitution.
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes." No one should be quick to resist minor and isolated abuses of power. These are inevitable in any government staffed by human beings.
"And accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." Americans have indeed suffered evil after evil from the government -- infractions of free speech, gun restrictions, exorbitant taxes, and violations of property and state rights -- for a very long time.
"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to thrown off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." For now we will not consider whether or not such a systematic abuse of power exists in the United States. What is important to note is that when systematic abuses exist it is the people's (remember this means you and me, not elected officials or law enforcement agencies) RIGHT and DUTY to "throw off such Government."
If you become convinced that the federal government is bent on systematic violations of our personal liberties, it is your moral duty and obligation to join with others so convinced to restore true liberty for all Americans.
This is a radical conclusion, but our forefathers were "radicals" and this is the premise upon which our nation was founded and has its being.
1.2.4 Guns are not the problem
Americans have a rich heritage of arming and organizing themselves into militias. We have not even considered the Old West where virtually everyone had a gun for self-defense. Nor have we considered the fact that up until the turn of the century, states required by law that every able-bodied adult male citizen possess a gun and ammunition.
But aren't guns the cause of all kinds of evil? Ostensibly, recent movements to restrict private gun ownership or use have been intended to reduce accidents and violent crime. But facts simply do not support this.
Fewer accidents occur with guns than by many other common things in life.
In 1987, there were only 1,695 accidental deaths involving firearms in the United States (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, p. 59).
It is 26 times more likely that you will die in an auto accident than by a gun accident (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, p. 60). Yet there is no organized movement to ban car ownership like there is for guns which are Constitutionally protected.
Accidents involving firearms have decreased by 42% from 1970 to 1983 (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, p. 60).
There is no basis for the belief that restricting gun ownership or use will significantly reduce violent crime. While it would be stretching the truth to say that gun ownership prevents crime, it certainly does not cause it.
Violent crimes such as murder have not been invented since the advent of firearms but have occurred as long as sinful man has existed. Crime is encouraged by culture and sin, not mechanical instruments.
Florida has the nation's highest violent crime rate and 8.6 gun dealers per 10,000 people. North Dakota has the lowest violent crime rate and 25.8 gun dealers per 10,000 people. This is consistent with crime and gun dealer rates in other states. (U.S. News & World Report, 1/17/94). There is no correlation between gun sales and crime.
Gun control activists point to Great Britain as an example of a country with strict gun control and low crime rates. However, the British murder rate was lower than America's BEFORE the instituted gun control and their rate of increase in murders is FASTER than in the U.S. (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, pp. 77-78).
The countries of Switzerland, Israel, Denmark, and Finland have the world's very highest per capita gun ownership and some of the world's lowest rime rates (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, p. 78). Therefore, there is no correlation between gun ownership and crime.
Taiwan, Mexico, and Jamaica have much stricter gun control than the U.S. and much higher murder rates. Since 1974, possession of just a single bullet in Jamaica has been punishable with life imprisonment! Yet Jamaica has six times as many gun deaths per capita as our murder capital, Washington, D.C. (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, pp. 78-79). There is no correlation between gun laws and crime.
The National Sheriff's Association, American Federation of Police, and the National Police Officer's Association of America all officially support gun ownership by law-abiding citizens (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, p. 111).
So-called assault rifles are not the weapon of choice among criminals. They are singled out for gun control not because they threaten the law-abiding citizen but because they threaten an unconstitutional government.
One gets the impression from television and newspapers that so-called assault rifles are responsible for most murders since headlines often tell of maniacs shooting masses of people. In fact, only 4% of homicides involve any kind of rifle and less than 1% involve assault weapons (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, pp. 150, 154).
The anti-assault rifle craze in the media is analogous to coverage of aircraft crashes. Although many more people are killed in care accidents, it is the isolated case of an airliner crash that gets the publicity because the story is more sensational. Likewise, the coverage of murders with "assault rifles" distorts the truth that assault rifles kill very few people.
In fact, military rifles are designed to wound rather than kill. The .223 caliber cartridge of the M-16 is much lighter than a .30-06 hunting rifle. Moreover, military cartridges have "full metal jackets" to minimize tissue damage because killing the enemy eliminates one soldier while wounding him occupies several to remove him from the field and tend to his wounds.
Furthermore, genuine assault rifles have not been legal for private, unlicensed ownership since 1968. The Department of Defense defines an "assault rifle" as a military rifle that discharges multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger (i.e., a machine gun). Today's focus is on semi-automatic weapons which by definition are not assault rifles.
No legally registered automatic assault weapon has ever been used in a crime in the United States (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, p. 149). Either such weapons are not used for crime, or those who do use them totally ignore gun control laws.
In Switzerland, every able-bodied adult male trains two or three weeks each year in the army and is required to keep an automatic assault rifle and ammunition in his home (Fodor's Guide to Switzerland, pp. 60-61). Yet violent crime is virtually non- existent in Switzerland.
Do not believe gun control activists who claim they only want to regulate and not eliminate gun ownership and use by law-abiding private citizens.
Nazis in Denmark, the military in Greece, and officials in Hungary have all used pre-existing gun owners lists to confiscate weapons (Alan Gottlieb, Gun Rights Fact Book, 1988, pp. 88-89).
The stated purpose of Handgun Control is the elimination of guns in the hands of private citizens. Waiting periods and registration are simply the tactical first step towards disarming the public totally ("Handguns Under Heavy Fire," 3/13/94, p. B-6).
"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." -- Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
1.3.1 The text of the Bill of Rights
Up to this point we have considered moral principles and human opinions, not the law. To be sure the Declaration of Independence represents a well-nigh universal opinion existent in the American colonies in 1776. But we have yet to establish the legal basis for forming militias. The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of American liberty and the final court of appeal for our personal freedoms. Since many citizens are not familiar with the Bill of Rights, and since our public education system does an inadequate job of expounding upon them, the complete text is reproduced here for reference.
Article I -- Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Article II -- 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.
Article III -- No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Article IV -- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Article V -- No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Article VI -- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Article VII -- In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall otherwise be reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Article VIII -- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Article IX -- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Article X -- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
These are some of the "unalienable rights" we possess as human beings and which must be protected by the state and federal governments. They are not, necessarily, all-inclusive as Article IX indicates and as subsequent amendments (like Article XIII against slavery) have demonstrated. But they are the bare minimum of what we are Constitutionally guaranteed.
Note also that the Constitution provides for the legal amendment of itself (Article V of the main text). But while there are many parts of the Constitution that are subject to debate and amendable, the Bill of Rights are not. The Declaration of Independence rejects the notion that genuine rights can be annulled by any government or any majority.
We may, for instance, proceed on Constitutional grounds to debate whether the President's term should be four or six years, whether Congress should have the power to lay and collect income taxes, and whether the Supreme Court should be appointed or elected. But we cannot ever consider licensing free expression, invading homes without warrants being issued on probable cause, convicting those arrested without trial, or the like.
1.3.2 The meaning of the Bill of Rights
There are three concepts essential to a proper interpretation of the Bill of Rights. These are original intent, the people, and rights.
There are basically two ways to interpret any document written by someone else. The wrong way is to interpret it the way we want to interpret it in light of our personal prejudices and cultural pressures. This is routinely the way our present Congress and court system actually do interpret the Constitution. The right way is to interpret it as those who wrote it intended it to be interpreted. This is what is meant by the Constitutional doctrine of original intent. According to this approach, we are not so much interested in the legal precedents handed down in previous court cases as we are in the historical context of drafting and ratifying the Constitution.
Now of course there are situations and issues that have come up in modern times which the Framers could not have known about and therefore had no direct intentions concerning. But their intent should be held to as closely as possible. For instance, the Framers could not have possibly envisioned the advent of radio and television. Yet their intention was for all forms of press to be free and therefore radio and television journalism should remain free even though they are a new technology. The Framers also could not have anticipated the invention of the telephone or wire tapping. But their intention was certainly that such forms of communication to be free from unreasonable surveillance and searches via wire taps. In the same way, automatic weapons were not a reality in the eighteenth century. But that does not mean that they are not protected by the Second Amendment. To say that machine guns are not protected because they were non-existent when the Constitution was drafted would also mean that radio and televisions journalism are not protected forms of press, and that telephone conversations may be recorded without warrant because these are all new technological developments.
This tangent shows that what we mean by original intent is not that we have exactly and only the same circumstances in mind as the Framers but that we have exactly and only the same principles in mind. Circumstances, technology, and culture may change, but Constitutional principles do not and cannot.
Now the reason that seeking original intent is so important to our Constitutional rights is that ignoring this principle inevitably leads to infringing our rights. Rights are routinely violated by the federal government because the courts ignore original intent and interpret the Constitution to suit their whims or to satisfy public pressure.
Now let's say that you and some friends sit down to lay a board game like Monopoly. Perhaps you agree to play by the rules. Or perhaps you unanimously agree to play by "house rules" and modify a few rules here or there. Either way, all of you agree to proceed with the game on the same basis. Now if some of the players -- even a majority -- choose to reinterpret the rules later in the game this would be viewed as cheating. If such cheating persisted to the point of altering all the rules in the majority's favor and against the minority, then one could hardly blame the minority from quitting the game. Cheating is cheating even if it is done by a vast majority!
Today, the Bill of Rights is being reinterpreted by political officials for the "benefit" of the majority. But such interpretations are clearly contrary to the true meaning of the Bill of Rights. It doesn't matter how strong a majority wants to change these rules, it is cheating nevertheless to change the rules by reinterpretation instead of making legal amendments to the Constitution.
It is clear that our Congress and court system generally reject the doctrine of original intent from the following facts:
The emphasis on Constitutional cases is virtually always on legal precedent rather than on the historical background. What matters to the Supreme Court is what they have previously decided, not what the Framers intended.
Those who assert legal cases on the basis of original intent instead of legal precedent are ridiculed and opposed as dangerous radicals. (A good example of this is the outpouring of opposition to Richard A. Epstein's book, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain. It is considered subversive because it argues from the Constitution that our present tax structure and welfare programs violate the intended meaning of the Fifth Amendment.)
Congressmen frequently ignore whether or not a pending bill is Constitutional when they consider voter for or against it. What matters to them is the prevailing public opinion, not the Framers' opinions.
Judges who openly hold to the idea of original intent, like Robert Bork, are rejected by the Senate for confirmation to the Supreme Court exactly because of their method of interpreting the Constitution.
It is clear that any approach to interpreting the meaning of the Constitution apart from original intent is futile. Apart from what the Framers meant there is no rule of law. If we can make it mean whatever we want it to mean, then there is no way of coming to agreement over a controversial or divisive issue since controversy means by definition that we disagree on what is right. Apart from original intent, we break faith with those who founded this great nation. How do you like it when people interpret the Bible to suit their fancy instead of as God meant it? How would you like it if your lawyer and heirs simply reinterpreted your will to suit their personal greed? Documents mean what their authors meant!
The only way that the Constitution has any meaning and can serve as the governing document of this country is if we follow its original intent.
"The people" means individuals
The next idea we must examine to understand the Bill of Rights is "the people." The Bill of Rights recognized three entities which are to be governed and united under the Constitution. First, there is the United States which refers to the federal government. Second, there is the states which refers initially to the first thirteen and now to the fifty state governments. Finally, there is the people which refers to individual citizens, not the federal or state governments. It is "the right of the people to peaceably assemble." It is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." It is "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects." And other unmentioned rights are to be "retained by the people."
All the rights of the people, indeed all of the first nine amendments, are rights we have as individuals and are limitations on the state's powers.
This is a very important point. The framers were very clear and consistent in who they attributed certain rights to. "The people always refers to individuals, not groups or governments. Indeed, the first nine amendments are solely rights guarantied to the people. Only the Tenth Amendment guaranties rights to state governments, and none, count them, none, recognize any rights of the federal government. The whole of the Bill of Rights was intended as limitation of government, not an empowering of it. So we do great violence to the intended meaning whenever we twist "the people" to mean collective groups or state governments.
The concept of rights
This brings us to the concept and nature of rights. Rights are not a privilege that can be taken away. Nor are they franchise granted by the government. A right is something a human being possesses as a birthright given by God. They cannot be denied, legislated away, or amended into oblivion by any majority short of 100 percent.
The fact that rights are unalienable by any government and cannot be outweighed by the interests of the majority is incontestable.
God is greater than any government. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Romans 13:1). Therefore, governments and other people have no authority to take away anything -- including rights -- given by God.
God has in fact given human beings certain rights. For instance, following the Ten Commandments, Exodus 21 outlines our right to life and Exodus 22 outlines some of our property rights.
The Declaration of Independence says so. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men ..."
The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution says so. "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." So even the Constitution recognizes that it does not and cannot grant or take away rights but can only recognize and guaranty them.
The common notion of human rights implies as much. We often talk about some foreign government or regime depriving its citizens of basic human rights. This has no meaning if it is the government or the ruling majority that grants rights. If the ruling authorities grant rights, then by definition no government could ever violate them.
We do not have majority rule. The whole Constitution -- with its system of checks and balances as well as the rights of the people -- is designed to prevent personal liberties from being by a tyranny of the majority.
1.3.3 The structure of the Bill of Rights
The primary right of the people is personal liberty. All government functions are designed to insure personal liberties. The Constitution's Preamble states the Constitution's (and thus the government's) purposes:
"PREAMBLE: We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America."
All of these purposes serve the final purpose of securing liberty: justice is established so institutions and majorities will not abuse our liberties. Domestic tranquility is secured lest criminal elements trample liberties. The common defense is provided for so foreign powers will not invade and enslave us. The "general welfare" (which benefits everyone, not select groups) must be promoted for the sake of fostering liberty. (Roads and mail, for example, benefit all citizens by allowing free movement, trade, and communication.) These are the sole legal purposes of the federal government and each is subordinate to maintaining the blessings of liberty.
This pattern of subordinating everything to personal liberties is also found in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment protects freedom of religion, speech, and the press. The remainder of the Bill of Rights is subordinate to free expression, not in the sense of being less important, but in the sense of insuring First Amendment rights. Therefore the Second through Tenth Amendments are designed to protect the First Amendment.
Article II: Gun rights are the "teeth" of the Bill of Rights, meaning that the people are empowered to enforce it against being infringed.
Articles III, IV, and V: Property rights give us a limited sphere of "personal sovereignty" where we can live freely without intervention.
Articles V, VI, VII, and VIII: Legal rights prevent the government from persecuting those who speak out against federal policies or practices.
Article IX: The rights retained by the people are anticipated as a contingency against the government inventing all sorts of new powers.
Article X: State rights divide and dilute the powers of the federal government. The more centralized the power the greater the tyranny.
FREE THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION (the essence of liberty)
(enforce liberty) PROPERTY RIGHTS
(sphere of liberty) LEGAL RIGHTS
UNENUMERATED RIGHTS (limit the expansion of federal powers)
STATE RIGHTS (divide and dilute the federal government's powers)
The Bill of Rights has an integrity that can only be maintained as each of its part remain intact. Eliminate a part, and the whole will crumble.
1.3.4 The meaning of the Second Amendment
Now let's examine the meaning of the Second Amendment as it was originally intended as an integral to the whole of the Bill of Rights.
"Article II: 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."
"A well regulated Militia" does not refer to the regular army. It would be absurd to recognize the federal government's prerogative to raise an army in the Bill of Rights since: (a) It is presumed that all governments raised armies. (b) Since Article II amends the Constitution which already recognizes this prerogative. And (c) since the Bill of Rights is in its entirety a limitation upon, not an empowering of the federal government. Nor does it refer to a state's national guard. Had the Framers meant state militias, they would have not connected the militia with the right of the people to bear arms. It does mean a well-organized army of the people by the people. The word militia originally legally meant (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 13) and still legally means (U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 31) the whole able-bodied citizenry of the country, not the formal armed forces of the United States. Therefore, "A well regulated Militia" is a well-organized citizens' army, not a well-controlled standing army.
"Being necessary to the security of a free state." It does not say, "being necessary to the security of a crime-free state" nor does it say "being necessary to the security of a free hunting state." Thus, self-defense and hunting are not protected, per se (although these are legitimate derivative activities of gun owners). The reason that the right of the people to bear arms and form militia is protected is to secure a free state. Without the ability of the people to rise up against the growing tyranny of a government, there is nothing to stop the tyranny of the government growing! This intention is made explicit in Section 13 of the Virginia Bill of Rights which clearly influence the development of Article II of the Bill of Rights.
"The right." As we have seen, rights are God-given and governments are formed to protect rights, not to grant them or take them away. Thus the right to bear arms is not something that the government can legitimately legislate away through gun regulation, registration, licensing, taxation, or prohibition.
"Of the people." Consistent with the view that "Militia" refers to an army of the people by the people, the Second Amendment recognizes the right of the people, or private individuals, to keep and bear arms. This right is possessed by people independently of membership in any government-controlled armed force or law enforcement agency.
"To keep and bear." Notice that we have the right both to keep and bear arms. The Framers did not waste words but were very concise in all their texts. So clearly they intended to say that keeping and bearing arms are two different things, both of which are protected. Now the keeping of arms is ownership and possession of arms on your property. The bearing of arms is the carrying of arms with you off of your property. So you have the right to carry weapons with you as well as to own them. Any federal, state, or local law that prohibits bearing firearms on your property or in public is unconstitutional. (Of course, people like business owners may prevent you from bearing arms on their property by exercising their own property rights.)
"Arms." What are these arms that are to be protected? Clearly they are those that are useful and effective in maintaining an armed militia. In other words, it is military-style weapons like assault rifles, submachine guns, and combat shotguns that are explicitly protected, not just hunting and target shooting weapons. Whatever type of firearms are the standard-issue weapons of the armed forces, these are the weapons that you and I have the right to own. The more militarily effective a firearm is, the more it is protected by the Constitution. This is not to say that you and I should be permitted to own anything used by the army. Just as the citizen of 1789 did not own canons and ships-of-the-line, today's citizen should not own M-1 Abrams tanks and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. But just as the citizen and the soldier were armed with the same musket then, so citizens should be able to keep and bear Colt M-16 assault rifles now.
Select-fire assault rifles like the M-16 are the most Constitutionally protected firearms precisely because they are standard infantry weapons.
"Shall not be infringed." "Infringe" means to encroach upon and does not necessarily mean to totally do away with. There are many ways that the right to keep and bear arms can be infringed: regulation limits gun ownership by controlling the production and sales of firearms. Licensing means that an individual is permitted to own or carry weapons. Registration means that an individual's possession of a particular weapon with a serial number is recorded. (Gun businesses are regulated, gun owners are licensed, and guns themselves are registered.) Taxation restricts gun ownership, particularly among the poor, by increasing the cost. Prohibition is either an outright ban of gun possession or the limitation of guns that can be bought.
All of these -- regulation, licensing, registration, taxation, prohibition -- are totally unconstitutional with respect to arms useful to a militia.
Regulation of guns is illegal if it is designed to reduce the supply or availability of them to the public. There is no difference in principle between limiting production and sales of guns and banning possession of guns. Both have the same effect of disarming citizens.
Licensing means the government gives permission to do something like driving a car and is totally contrary to the nature of a right. What would you think about the government "licensing" your religion or free speech? Having permission and having the right are incompatible.
Registration means you must list your gun with the government which is also contrary to a right. How would you feel about Christians having to register Bibles and newspapers having to register printing presses?
Taxation of guns is also illegal if the taxes exceed the normal sales tax because this artificially raises the cost and limits the citizens' ability to purchase guns. The $200 transfer tax on automatic weapons is a good example of an illegal tax intended to restrict ownership.
Prohibition is clearly unconstitutional as the ultimate infringement of gun rights since it absolutely bans their possession and use. Even limiting gun purchases to one gun per month is an infringement of gun rights since it slows the arming of a militia when a crisis develops
Each and every mission that a militia unit carries can be tied to those goals in one way or another. Each and every militia-man will use those as the guiding principles of their lives.
By doing so we can eliminate any "bad decisions", i.e. if the German Army had strategic goals (SG's) they would have NEVER had any massacres or atrocities.
Anytime you are giving - or given - a mission - YOU - and each of you - everyone one of you - from the newest private - to the most seasoned veteran - have the responsibility and obligation to "weigh" that mission against the Strategic Goals. If the mission doesn't go against the SG's - then the planning process can begin. If the mission does violate the SG's - then it shouldn't be done - and YOU have the responsibility and obligation to tell whomever issued the mission - "NO - I will not do this mission - it violates one or more than one SG."
Strategic Goal # 1
The restoration of a well regulated militia as espoused in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the original Militia Act of 1792.
*A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state...A free state being a Republican form of government as proscribed by the constitution; the “militia of the several states”, composed of all able bodied male citizens capable of bearing arms for the common defense, is the only constitutionally recognized entity specifically authorized “to keep and bear arms to defend the Republic.
Strategic Goal # 2
The restoration of the constitutionally limited federal Republic of sovereign States per the original intent of the founding fathers; with the federal government forever barred from any violation or infringement of ALL the God given, unalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
Strategic Goal # 3
To defend our States, communities and all American's life, liberty and property from all enemies both foreign and domestic. At all times basing our self defense upon common law and a strong moral foundation.
It has been often said..:the militia has no mission statement".
Several years ago the moderators and unit commanders of AWRM put together and agreed upon the following mission statement. It is up to You the citizen solder and the individual militia unit to study, follow and implement it.
The members of the militia shall ever stand, as have our Forefathers, before us, First to God, from Whom we acknowledge the Authority of all Rights, and all the blessings of governments and to our native soil, _______. We therefore pledge:
To promote and defend the unalienable God given rights of all citizens, regardless of race, sex or national origin, as is expressed in the _________ Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the U. S. Constitution.
To promote and defend the principles of just government bequeathed to us by our forefathers to whit, That the principle of the Tenth Amendment shall stand inviolate, as history has shown that the greatest system of checks and balances exists with the people and their States to check the powers accrued by the federal government.
That the integrity of the courts, be they local, State or federal, shall remain un contempt able providing that they shall respect and uphold the rights of the citizens of _________, including but not limited to, upholding the due process of law, and to preserve the right of trial by jury and to obtain immediate judicial review of cases wherein abuse of basic Constitutional rights are questioned.
That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.
That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
That all just government is servant of the people who have instituted it, that the people of _____ should never by force nor coercion be obliged to anything styled as "law" which has not been promulgated by their duly elected representatives, nor any as may be promulgated by them to bear conflict to the rights of the people, so that no government shall be made master of the people of _________.
To promote and propagate the militia as a well regulated, (trained and prepared) organization knowledgeable in historical precedent and current affairs, that is composed of common citizens.
To develop a cohesive and competent command structure.
To train our members in the many disciplines necessary to the function of the militia as a whole and to the members individually.
To educate our members in areas of history, law and principle as compiled in the experience and records of our forefathers.
To keep informed our members, and all citizens of events Local, State, National and global that threaten to imperial our traditional Constitutional rights, or such as may imperial the sovereignty of our Nation by the undue influence of those who have forsaken their loyalty to our Nation, and to the principles upon which it was founded.
To repel foreign aggression and invasions, by preparing and training for defense and by our encouraging and showing reason why all citizens should stand stoutly against socialism, fascism, communism, humanism, and all forms of tyranny.
To suppress domestic insurrections and violence, by supporting and assisting the appropriate Officers of the Law in upholding and maintaining law and order in accordance with such Local, State and Federal statutes and laws as does not present jeopardy to our God given rights as acknowledged in the _________ and United States Constitutions.
Furthermore the members of AWRM agreed upon and incorporated the following Code of Conduct for the individual citizen solder into the National Militia Standards.
1. I am a citizen of the State of _________, serving in the militia. I am prepared to give my life to guard and protect my homeland, our common law rights, liberties and way of life. This service is a duty of my citizenship.
2. I will keep and maintain the uniform, equipment, and weaponry necessary to perform the duties prescribed for the militia of ______and will be prepared to mobilize quickly.
3. I will train in the necessary skills to perform my duty as outlined in the National Militia standards and maintain proficiency in the same.
4. I will never forget that I am a citizen of the State of __________, and through her, of these United States. I am responsible for my actions and dedicated to the principles that made this country free. I will strive to lead an exemplary life and never, by action or statement, bring discredit to the militia, my country, or my fellow countrymen.
5. In all cases, I shall endeavor to inform and urge all citizens to return to the Constitutional Republic our forefathers envisioned.
6. I will stand by or come to the aid of my brothers of the militia with whatever means necessary and without question or concern for my own well-being to ensure due process of law as stated in the Constitution.
7. I will never misuse my position in the militia for financial or personal gain, nor will I engage in any activity subversive to the militia.
8. I will never surrender of my own free will. If, in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they have the means to resist.
9. If am captured, I will continue to resist by all means possible. I will make every effort to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
10. Should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound to give only my name, rank, and date of birth. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to the United States and it's citizens or harmful to their continued struggle for liberty and freedom.
11. Should I become a prisoner of war, I will keep my faith with my fellow prisoners, and accept no favors from the enemy. I will give no information nor take part in any action that might be harmful to my comrades. If I am a senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will support them in every way.
Whereas it has become self evident that legislation, legislative initiatives, and policies emanating from certain officials and agencies of the united States government, are destructive of the very liberties they were empowered to defend; perverting God given Rights into mere privileges to be taken at a whim, unjustly making war, killing and imprisoning those who would oppose their lust for absolute power.
We reaffirm the following to be self evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence dictates that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience shows that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing that to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses, usurpation's, cover-ups and mis-appropriation, pursuing invariably the same object depicts a design to reduce them to absolute despotism, it is the right of the people, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.
We the People of these States united have reached our collective outrage tolerance limit with regard to the state of affairs in our country, the corruption of our government, and the degradation of our citizenry.
We the people, being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the government to enslave the American people and shocked by this administration’s usurpation of power and abrogation of the peoples unalienable Rights, do in most solemn manner resolve never to become slaves; and do associate under all the ties of religion, honor and love of country, to adopt and endeavor to execute whatever measures necessary for the purpose of preserving our Constitutional Rights, our Republican form of government, and opposing the execution of the several Arbitrary and Oppressive Acts of this administration.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army” -- Gen. George Washington
Persuaded that the salvation of the Rights and Liberties of America depend under God on the firm Union of it's inhabitants, in a vigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for it's safety; and convinced of the necessity of preventing anarchy and confusion, which attend a dissolution of the powers of government. We the Militia of the several States have found it necessary to enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for our common defense, the security of our liberties, and our mutual and general welfare, binding ourselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon us, on account of any pretense whatever.
We form this alliance to defend the people from tyranny, the destruction of our constitutional, representative republic and our nation’s descent into a socialist police state.
We have come together to say no more; this far and no further to those who would destroy our great nation and the values which gave it birth. We have come together to pledge ourselves and all that we have to reversing the many destructive trends evident today in our schools, public institutions, government divisions and the fabric of social intercourse in our society.
We have come together to say that we will pay any price, including the highest price, to make our country again into what it used to be, because we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees, perish rather live as slaves.
Finally, we have come together to warn those who would hold cheap our values, our estates and our lives. They will be judged by their own standard, and measured with their own yardstick. We will repay eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, and life for life. We will not go gentle into that good night . The dishonorable traitors in the State and Federal legislatures should be disabused of any belief that they can implement any of their unlawful, unconstitutional acts with impunity. If they come at the American citizen with force of arms, whether under color of authority or otherwise, they should expect and will in fact receive a response in kind.
The latest anti-Bill of Rights measures enacted by various members of congress and the abuses of Constitutionally protected Rights by the BATF, DOJ and numerous other agencies are completely unacceptable. The theft of our lands and their designation as Off Limits in the name of eco-nazism or eminent domain is unacceptable. The selling of our birthright and our literal security to the highest foreign bidder is utterly unacceptable. The invasion of our land by those who bring nothing to the table but crime, their empty mouths and open hands, and the denigration of all that reflects traditional American values is disgustingly unacceptable...and therefore will not be accepted.
It is therefore resolved unanimously,
As our opposition to the settled plan of this administration to enslave America will be strengthened by a union of all ranks of men in this nation, we do most earnestly recommend that all former differences about religion, politics and all private animosities and quarrels of every kind, from henceforth cease, we conjure every man by his duty to God, his country and his posterity, cordially to unite in defense of our common Rights and Liberties.
As long as humanly possible, we the people will continue to exhaust every lawful, peaceful remedy to restore our unalienable rights and our constitutionally limited Republican form of government. We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights to educate and inform our fellow citizens, to peacefully assemble, to engage in political activism, to protest and petition our government for a redress of grievances. Additionally, we will defend against the further use of any situation as an excuse for the enemies of liberty to attack the Bill of Rights or those who defend it.
We will not under any circumstances obey any existing law which is in direct conflict with any provision of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. This action is pursuant to Marbury v. Madison 5 US 137 (1803)
We will not under any circumstances submit to any form of government tyranny committed under the guise of enforcing illegal, unconstitutional laws, regulations or any form of dictate by whatever term it may be known. We are absolved from any need to do so by Title 18 USC, Part 1, Chap. 13, sec. 241 and 242
We will resist with force of arms the use of foreign troops, or the unconstitutional use of our armed forces or police, against the American people. We will resist with force of arms the implementation of a National ID, Martial Law, weapons confiscations or the mass arrest and incarceration of US citizens in detention centers. We will consider it an act of war to surrender the sovereignty of the United States to the united nations or any other so-called world governmental body such as the North American Union.
And, while we will never make a first or preemptive strike on the enemies of liberty, we will consider the planting of evidence, fabricating of evidence, or evidence gained through entrapment …that is then used to imprison any citizen unjustly, to be an act of aggression against all the people of the united States. Plainly stated, any unlawful, unconstitutional action that deprives the citizenry of life or liberty or private property will be an act of aggression against all the people, and will necessitate a response from the Militia.