Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

2nd Amendment Redux

For various reasons, I feel the need to revisit my thoughts on what the 2nd Amendment means, and doesn't mean, even though it's been less than 2 years since I last did so. Let's do this as a logic exercise; if you disagree with me, please point out the flaw in my logic:

1) Given that people should not be jailed for exercising their Constitutional rights, and;

2) Given that it is highly unlikely that one can violently overthrow the government without shooting Soldiers and Law Enforcement Officers, let alone politicians, and;

3) Given that people who shoot Soldiers, Law Enforcement Officers, and politicians go to jail, therefore:

**The 2nd Amendment does not contain a right to violently overthrow the government.**

I understand that reasonable people (and unreasonable ones, for that matter) can disagree, and bring up a number of 220 year old quotes. (However, please note that not even the NRA Questionnaire mentions support of the concept that the 2nd Amendment allows you to violently overthrow the government. And remember how the Father of our Country responded when faced with actual armed rebellion before claiming to "know" how the Founding Fathers felt about the concept in reality, as opposed to theory.) That being said, if you do believe that one has a Constitutional right to violently overthrow a tyrannical government, I'd ask a couple of questions:

1) Who decides when the government becomes tyrannical? Is it when they serve a warrant at a compound occupied by counterfeiters? When they try to tax whiskey? When they try to insure uninsured people by act of Congress?

2) If you answer, "Whenever a citizen decides they're tyrannical", do you then support releasing this guy, who killed a Soldier in front of a Little Rock recruiting station because he opposed what he thinks is a tyrannical government? Or is it just "whenever I decide it's tyrannical".

Here's my answer. I believe the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to prepare to overthrow a tyrannical government, but not to actually do it, for the reasons listed above. Were the government to do something that would inspire me to take up arms against it (cancelling elections would be one example) I would justify my actions based on a Higher Law than human law; I wouldn't expect that I could claim "I was within my rights" if I was on the losing side.

What do you think?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Joel, you have had too much time off. Go back to shiftwork!


1/09/2011 9:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to prepare to overthrow a tyrannical government, but not to actually do it, for the reasons listed above. Were the government to do something that would inspire me to take up arms against it (canceling elections would be one example) I would justify my actions based on a Higher Law than human law; I wouldn't expect that I could claim "I was within my rights" if I was on the losing side.

Well said. Only part that I disagree with is the bolded portion. The Declaration of Independence is the prime example of people claiming their rights that precede any government claim to the contrary. The brilliance of those who penned and ensured inclusion of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure the capability of citizens to once again resort to any means necessary to throw off the chains of despots - even if they happen to reside in Washington D.C. That the Constitution does not specifically state when Citizens may take up those arms is not really relevant. However, I suspect that time will come about the same time as when the government attempts to start confiscating those arms.

1/09/2011 10:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now why did you really post a gun law topic? - Perhaps in response to the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords attack?

1/09/2011 11:12 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Agree with you Joel in that the 2A doesn't give us the right to overthrow the government, but consider that the goverment is (or at least WAS in theory) designed to be constrained by the people.

Nor did Jefferson necessarily envision VIOLENT change in the government but that political shifts would be periodically required. That being said, the 2A, and the Constitution as a whole, is not a "permissive" list for the citizens, it's what the GOVERNMENT is allowed to do, or in the case of the 2A, what it is NOT allowed to do.

Most of which has been cast aside by the courts piece by piece over the last century or so. Our rights hav been constrained because we've ALLOWED them to be such.

However, consider that tyrrany of the elected would be much easier in areas that the 2A is most severely constrained. We see examples of this daily in such "enlightened" meccas as our large cities. If guns are so dangerous, cities which ban them like Washington DC, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles should in theory be some of the safest anywhere. Hmmmm...

I leave you with the final thought in the words of Heinlein: "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

1/10/2011 7:42 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Oh, I get it, as a political campaign tactic to get into national office...the message amplified all over the country...we can campaign to overthrow our government independent if it was as bad as when the brits owned our country. We can campaign to violently overthrow our country in the aims of “hating the USA” and weakening the end mostly as the means to increase power, business profits and personal income.

I say the whole bunch of you are terrorist...they are already calling for shooting me in and around my house....

1/10/2011 11:05 AM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Quote OP - Here's my answer. I believe the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to prepare to overthrow a tyrannical government, but not to actually do it, for the reasons listed above. Were the government to do something that would inspire me to take up arms against it (cancelling elections would be one example) I would justify my actions based on a Higher Law than human law; I wouldn't expect that I could claim "I was within my rights" if I was on the losing side. - End Quote

Makes sense to me. One way to look at private ownership of firearms is, that the firearm is a great equalizer. It levels the field between the body that has the means to apply force, and the general public. With that field level then either persuasion or greater force must be used. All would probably agree that persuasion is most realistic. We have all seen what happens when governments use force to keep their citizens in line.

In addition, many years ago, a court in California ruled that law enforcement officials are not obligated to protect individual private citizens from harm. Their charter is to protect the public in general. That is another reason many, if not most, states constitutions reiterate the right of the citizen to bear arms in defense of the country, state, and for self defense.

1/10/2011 11:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mulligan, I wouldn't worry about getting shot; Most here wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire.

1/10/2011 11:19 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I will say it as clear as I can, this fixation on dicks and guns, it is a tool to coalesce people into cohesive groups and evil ideals. It only aims is to increase the influence, power and income to a small segment of our society.

Most of these peoples' aim is not to decrease the size of government or overthrow aims is to cut in the big bucks line and gain money without working for it.

1/10/2011 11:23 AM

Anonymous pc assclown said...

To prepare is to conspire…… Conspiracy to commit treason is as punishable as the act of committing treason. To “prepare to overthrow a government” whether it be tyrannical or not, would would be viewed by any government as a treasonous act.

Martial law could, and possibly should be declared if justified by a national emergency. Cancelling elections during a period of martial law would not be unusual. Cancelling elections would not necessarily be justification for conspiracy, or the actual act of overthrowing a government. There’s no language in the 2nd amendment (including the right to join a militia) that even hints at the acceptability of preparing for an overthrow of the government.

I’m reminded of Justice Potter Stewart’s comments in the obscenity case of Jacobellis v Ohio: to paraphrase, when it comes to pornography, I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. If a government becomes tyrannical enough to need overthrowing, most all of us will know it and be in total agreement about what needs to be done. And hopefully there’ll be enough of us with enough courage to band together and do it.

So if it ever comes to the point where a major portion of our society deems it appropriate to overthrow our government, interpretations of the 2nd Amendment mean nothing. We will need to both prepare, and execute the preparations.

1/10/2011 12:34 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

pc assclown

What a pussy...if the overthrow of our government ever came from a weasel type like you we got nothing to worry about. You are too much of a pussy to ever overthrow a government and pick up a gun and shoot somebody...Idaho is a pussy state of government haters....

But most of the treasonous actions against our nation exactly comes from weaselly people, who only have the courage to hide behind the weaselly words in the bushes...

1/10/2011 1:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMHO, whenever you analyze the Constitution (or any other dated document of significance) you need to consider the context. I am not claiming to be an expert, however shouldn't the fact that we did not have a standing army in place at this time the Constitution was written effect how you view the right to bear arms?
IE if a standing Army was in place, would the Founders have felt a need to include a right to bear arms? That would lead you down the path of a need (agree it is not a right) for an uprising at some time “X” in the future. Alternatively, since there was not a standing Army in place, was the right to bear arms simply a way to ensure weapons were available again in the future should we need to “draft” soldiers?

1/10/2011 1:32 PM

Blogger midwatchcowboy said...

I believe that all of the rights in the Bill of RIghts were expositions of Natural Rights. These are not bestowed on us by the Constitution, but are ours because they should be as individuals who do not live under tyranny.

Many of the framers argued against the Bill of Rights because they thought that if you write down some of them, then others would be negated by the government as omissions. They thought you should not have to be told you have the right to arm yourself for defense or that you have the right to free speech or assembly. These are self evident.

1/10/2011 1:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, MWC.


IE if a standing Army was in place, would the Founders have felt a need to include a right to bear arms?

A reading of their discussions and thoughts at the time lead me to answer that question with a resounding, HELL YES! It is obvious that their intent was to ensure that future generations of CIVILIANS had the capability to overthrow the government being instituted should that government become oppressive and violate its Constitutional constraints.

1/10/2011 2:06 PM

Anonymous hipoweredens said...

The idea that the 2nd amendment gives you the right to prepare to overthrow any government is ludicrous.

"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.”

Note the language "well-regulated" and "the security of a free State" Reading the Federalist papers regarding the formation of a standing army is pretty illuminating. I'll look for the reference after I post this, but I recall that the preference for a militia was from a mistrust of standing armies and a belief in their inherently corrupting nature, not as a means of armed resistance to the newly formed state. In other words, the "well-regulated militia" was preferred because standing armies were seen as a threat to security, and not as a hedge against tyrannical government arising. I'll find the appropriate section and post it here, I'm sure there will be lots of comments waiting for me when I do...

1/10/2011 4:50 PM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

I think the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to bear arms.

And it gives the government the power to regulate a militia.

Don't see anything in there about a revolution.

1/11/2011 7:04 AM

Anonymous pc assclown said...


In reply to your 1/10/2011 1:14 PM comment.....

For a brief moment I thought about telling you to go behind that bush and play with your weasel (or pussy); only you and your boyfriend actually know which one you were born with. But then it hit me that you were more than likely already doing as much.

And I did notice that your grammer, punctuation, and spelling seem to slightly improve when you are on the offensive, although in this case, a totally lame yet humorous attack.

You've been officially sent back to the first grade and will no doubt be seriously challenged in that arena.

My apologizes to the rest for providing the idiot troll with additional fodder....

1/11/2011 8:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our forefathers knew when it was time to force out the government by violence.

It was when:

1. The government started using courts without true citizen juries (for the most part back then the vice admiralty courts).

2. Military and paramilitary forces were used for police functions.

3. The citizens were being disarmed of effective infantry weapons.

4. The government was restricting publication of ideas.

Looks like a pretty good set of guidelines to me.

1/11/2011 8:16 PM

Blogger Roy said...

"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 governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such 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. "

1/11/2011 9:06 PM

Anonymous STS2 said...

I think that people should have the right to defend themselves. I'm personally not worried about overthrowing the government any time soon, since there would just be another government to replace it...I do think there should be limits on what weapons a person has available to defend themselves. I don't think the avg citizen needs a Glock 19 with a 33 round magazine for self defense. I know the "don't tell me what to do" folks are coming out of the woodwork, but at some point common sense relevant to the world in 2011 needs to at least augment the reasoning of a document written in 1787.

1/12/2011 9:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@sts2 - I'd like to believe I wouldn't need 33 rounds to accomplish self (or home) defense, but I'd hate to come up a couple of rounds short because a politician passed a law that, while it sounds reasonable and makes some folks feel good, really does nothing to make us safer.

I'd rather see the focus from the AZ shooting shift to how society cares for and protects itself from the seriously mentally ill. I won't hold my breath, though - Nancy Grace et al would never pursue real issues while there are dead 9 year olds to exploit for ratings.

1/12/2011 6:59 PM

Anonymous Xenocles said...

While I do not believe the Constitution protects the right to "alter or abolish" the government (in the sense that the Founders did), I believe the underlying assumption is that the only justifiable scenarios would be ones where the Constitution is no longer in effect (whether de facto or de jure). Thus it grants legal right to be prepared but not to execute (but the right to execute is a human, not a legal one).

Put it another way: submarines carry escape gear, but it's not for use inside the submarine.

1/12/2011 7:31 PM

Anonymous T said...

1. The government started using courts without true citizen juries (for the most part back then the vice admiralty courts).

Guantanamo? Anwar Al Awliki (American citizen)? That American kid that they detained and stranded in Kuwait with no charges filed against him?

2. Military and paramilitary forces were used for police functions.

Probably a stretch to say the TSA is this

3. The citizens were being disarmed of effective infantry weapons.

Gun control laws, seizing computer equipment without warrants at the border?

4. The government was restricting publication of ideas.


Well, 2 out of 4 ain't bad.

1/12/2011 10:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2A was absoluylry neccesary in a frontier society for protection from natives and highwaymen etc, it was also included in the constitution as the last best hope for a free society (read the Fedarlist paers and other documents from the time). The importamt point is LAST, cause folks if it gets to that point we really should pray that the officers of the US Armed Forces do something that is pretty much discouraged and uphold their oath of office or we are scre**d. I know where my tipping point is and its quite aways off.

1/13/2011 5:06 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Right, we got a politcal process...if you want a revolution within our nation get in politics and change the world. That is what these revolutionaries gave us besides all our revolutions and wars.

It just can be said, there are forces within our country who want revolution for no other reason than money and power...they will spin any phrase in our Constitution as the excuse to bring catastrophic instability to the United States.

I be the first one in Idaho to say “I love the United States of America” and the ideals of our Constitution. There is no document in the world that expresses the worth of human dignity better than our Constitution. I love the United States of America with all my heart.

This doesn’t come from a easy life. I have played among the fringes of Constitutional behavior and I have challenged big powers, I have put to use my and our constitutional rights, i have risked jail a number of times....I have tested the limits and they are sturdy.

What i get out of the whole deal, I been in the fox hole of issues and challenged those in power, I can say without any fear or reservation: “I love with all of my might...all of my heart... the United States of America and the ideals she stands for.

I love the United States of America without any reservations.

I love the United States of America...I am one of the luckest people living on the planet.

How is that for revolutionary words that are not heard often.

1/13/2011 5:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The day-to-day practical function of the 2nd Amendment is as part of the system of checks-and-balances.

Much like congress rarely tries to pass legislation they know will be vetoed, a well regulated militia ensures the security of our free state.

As for the argument about soldiers, police, et al...
The legitimate authority of the government we create is derived from the limited powers we grant it via the Constitution.

If the government is acting outside legitimately granted authority, it is merely a criminal organization masquerading under the name of our government.

There is no crime in defending yourself against criminals... even if those criminals wear the costumes of our government.

1/14/2011 1:20 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Op-Ed Columnist
Helpless in the Face of Madness
Published: January 14, 2011

"More than 30,000 people die from gunfire every year. Another 66,000 or so are wounded, which means that nearly 100,000 men, women and children are shot in the United States annually. Have we really become so impotent as a society, so pathetically fearful in the face of the extremists, that we can’t even take the most modest of steps to begin curbing this horror?"

1/15/2011 10:28 AM

Blogger Harold said...

Violent overthow of the government via 2nd amendment rights has already happened in the US- in modern times. Battle of Athens, 2 August 1946.

I suspect there is a reason why it hasn't been in any courses on history or political science that I've taken.

As for anonymous statement " wouldn't expect that I could claim "I was within my rights" if I was on the losing side.", that falls right in with a vastly older quote. "If treason doth prosper, none dare call it treason." Also similar, "If you strike at the King, you must kill the King".

The 2nd amendment ensures the right to violent revolution embodied in the Declaration of Independence is preserved. There are no hard and fast rules for when a revolution is justified. 'Tis best to be on the winning side, which means, don't go it alone.

1/15/2011 11:45 AM

Blogger Harold said...

That was not the link I wanted. Go here:
or here:

1/15/2011 11:48 AM

Blogger Harold said...

This subject of armed revolution ssems to be popping up all over.

If you use this link, you'll go straight to one of the more interesting comments.

1/15/2011 12:12 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Mike--How many of those 100K are suicides and gang-bangers offing each other?

John Lott--"More Guns, Less Crime" is a highly suggested read.

And no, I'm not about to give up my CCW permit so YOU can "feel" safer.

1/15/2011 12:30 PM


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