THE FOUNDING FATHERS DID NOT INTEND THE 2ND AMENDMENT TO PROTECT US CITIZENS FROM THE GOVERNMENT
Commentary and Research by Peter J. Krieser
This information refutes the gun lobby's argument that it was the Founding Fathers intention that the Second Amendment involved protection of US citizens from the government. Those on the left argue that assault rifles are not needed for hunting and home protection. However, the excerpt from Larry Pratt, Executive Director, Gun Owners of America on Chris Matthews MSNBC “Hardball” on Monday, December 17, 2012 (below) and Wayne LaPierre’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (below) shows that gun advocates view of the Second Amendment assault rifle possession isn't just about hunting or protection from criminals. It's about self-protection from the federal, state, and local government. They allege this protection was the Founding Fathers intention. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
The transcript excerpt from Chris Matthews Hardball Monday Dec. 17. 2012 states:
LARRY PRATT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA
MATTHEWS: Would this be a less free country if you couldn`t have an assault rifle?
PRATT: Yes, because we have guns fundamentally protected by the Second Amendment --
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Why would anyone -- what?
PRATT: I thought you`d hear that. Yes. We have guns in order to control
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (Transcript) Senator Dick Durban questioned Wayne LaPierre as follows:
Mr. LaPierre, I run into some of your members in Illinois and here’s what they tell me, “Senator, you don’t get the Second Amendment.” Your NRA members say, “You just don’t get it. It’s not just about hunting. It’s not just about sports. It’s not just about shooting targets. It’s not just about defending ourselves from criminals,” as Ms. Trotter testified. “We need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government” -- from our government, from the police -- “if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.”
Do you agree with that point of view?
LAPIERRE: Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.
I also think, though, that what people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs that they’re gonna be out there alone. And the only way they’re gonna protect themself (ph) in the cold and the dark, when they’re vulnerable is with a fire arm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today’s society to fundamental human survival.
The Constitution was ratified by July 2, 1888. It went into effect on March 4, 1789. The first ten amendments, "Bill of Rights" (including the Second Amendment) to the U. S. Constitution were ratified December 15, 1791. The gun advocates say the Founding Fathers intended that gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment isn't just about hunting or protection from criminals. It's about self-protection from the federal, state, and local government. This allegation is not true!
3 REBELLIONS AND THE CIVIL WAR PROVE THE TRUE INTENTIONS OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS REGARDING THE PURPOSE OF THE 2ND AMENDMENT WAS NOT CITIZEN SELF-PROTECTION FROM THE THEIR GOVERNMENT
Calliope Film Resources. "Shays' Rebellion" states:
By the year 1786, the "disunited states" (as the Tories liked to call them) had achieved political independence -- but the eastern states seemed on the verge of collapse as the flames of civil war menaced New England.
The American revolution, it seemed, had almost gone too far. General George Washington wrote:
"I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country... What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious."
Others in the political elite held the same opinion -- even Massachusetts' onetime Revolutionary agitator, Samuel Adams:
"Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."
Only the young Thomas Jefferson -- reflecting more philosophically and from a safe distance in Europe -- disagreed:
"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion."
All eyes were on Massachusetts, where the insurgents who called themselves "Regulators" or "Shays men" had brought about riots, raids, and the closing of courts.
The Shays insurgents never imagined that their actions would lead to charges of treason against the republic. In fact, they naturally appealed to the republican principles they had fought for in 1776. "I earnestly stepped forth in defense of this country, and liberty is still the object I have in view," an insurgent leader wrote to the public. Eastern political leaders, on the other hand, believed that the gains of the Revolution were being undone by "knaves and thieves" who "intended tyranny." Governor Bowdoin warned that any interference with the legal system would "frustate the great end of government -- the security of life, liberty and property." In a new and precarious republic, the danger of anarchy -- bringing a regression to a Hobbesian state of nature -- appeared all too real. From the commercial viewpoint, the farmers' demands for a circulating paper currency would bring depreciation and fiscal chaos, while non-payment of state taxes meant that men of wealth who had lent large sums to the war effort would be "drained of cash" and would face bankruptcy instead of the economic expansion they had hoped for. As the year 1787 dawned in this atmosphere, it seemed Massachusetts was divided into two armed camps. …
Shays' Rebellion was over, but Massachusetts' officially declared state of insurrection continued. A special court indicted more than 200 rebels -- including Parmenter, who had been caught returning to Massachusetts one night -- and prosecuted them in formal trials. Parmenter's court-appointed defenders included conservative attorney Caleb Strong, a prominent state senator who was almost as hostile to the rebellion as the prosecution. In April 1787, five Shays men charged with treason were condemned to hang. In the election of June 1787, Governor Bowdoin was roundly defeated by the state's most popular politician, John Hancock, famous signer of the Declaration. With a new administration in place, the question of clemency was now a symbolic issue debated by a divided public. General Lincoln himself, the subduer of Shays' Rebellion, came out in favor of mercy. On the other hand Samuel Adams, the influential Revolutionary patriot and head of the governor's advisory council, called for the execution of convicted traitors to the republic. At last a formula was devised which would equally dramatize the justice and the mercy of government: Parmenter and his fellow convicts were paraded at the gallows on June 21, 1787, before a large crowd of spectators -- and were reprieved only at the last instant.
The Rebellion and The Constitution
Shays' Rebellion had a generally unifying effect upon the supporters of a stronger national government, and it was a lesson frequently invoked on the floor of the Federal Convention during the summer of 1787.
For George Washington, who gave the insurrection as a reason for his own attendance at the Philadelphia convention, "there could be no stronger evidence of the want of energy in our governments than these disorders."
Massachusetts, its prestige in the union challenged, sent none other than Caleb Strong as one of its representatives to the Federal Convention, partly in order to signal to the nation that order was being restored -- for Strong was a conspicuously pro-government gentleman representing a notoriously unruly state.
Shays' Rebellion became a recurring example in the debates among framers of the Constitution, encouraging some to favor the "Virginia plan" (which called for an unprecedented and powerful central government) over the alternative "New Jersey plan" (which seemed too favorable to state sovereignty). "The rebellion in Massachusetts is a warning, gentlemen," cautioned James Madison, proponent of the Virginia plan. The Virginia plan -- the basis of a government that balances federal and state power, and balances the power among the states themselves -- carried by a vote of seven to three on June 19, 1787. The proposed Constitution of the United States, safeguarding the institution of property from financial disruption and from future taxpayer rebellions, was signed by 39 representatives of 12 states on September 17, 1787. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution -- making it the law of the land -- on June 21, 1788.
Calliope Film Resources. "Shays' Rebellion." Copyright 2000 CFR. http://www.calliope.org/shays/shays2.html , Visited January 29, 2013.
The Virginia Plan envisioned a strong central federal government, whereas the New Jersey Plan imagined a weak federal government with substantially more state autonomy. As stated at http://archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_history.html:
The Virginia Plan
The plan, Randolph confessed, "meant a strong consolidated union in which the idea of states should be nearly annihilated."
… The critical issue, described succinctly by Gouverneur Morris on May 30, was the distinction between a federation and a national government, the "former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation." Morris favored the latter, a "supreme power" capable of exercising necessary authority not merely a shadow government, fragmented and hopelessly ineffective.
The New Jersey Plan
This nationalist position revolted many delegates who cringed at the vision of a central government swallowing state sovereignty. … Paterson proposed a "union of the States merely federal." The "New Jersey resolutions" called only for a revision of the articles to enable the Congress more easily to raise revenues and regulate commerce. It also provided that acts of Congress and ratified treaties be "the supreme law of the States."
For 3 days the convention debated Paterson's plan, finally voting for rejection. …
By July 10 George Washington was so frustrated over the deadlock that he bemoaned "having had any agency" in the proceedings and called the opponents of a strong central government "narrow minded politicians . . . under the influence of local views."
http://archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_history.html The Virginia plan was adopted. Thus, a strong federal government is exactly what the founding fathers incorporated into U.S. Constitution which went into effect on March 4, 1789 and the Bill of Rights,ratified December 15, 1791.
2. WHISKEY REBELLION
Shortly, after the ratification of the Bill of Rights the Whiskey Rebellion occurred.
In 1794 thousands of farmers in western Pennsylvania took up arms in opposition to the enforcement of a federal law calling for the imposition of an excise tax on distilled spirits. Known as the "Whiskey Rebellion," this insurrection represented the largest organized resistance against federal authority between the American Revolution and the Civil War. A number of the whiskey rebels were prosecuted for treason in what were the first such legal proceedings in the United States.
The rebellion began in Pittsburgh during October of 1791….In May of 1795 the Circuit Court for the Federal District of Pennsylvania indicted thirty-five defendants for an assortment of crimes associated with the Whiskey Rebellion. Twenty-four rebels were charged with serious federal offenses, including high treason. Two men, John Mitchell and Philip Vigol, were found guilty of treason, and sentenced to hang.
By extinguishing the Whiskey Rebellion, the U.S. government withstood a formidable challenge to its sovereignty. Preceded by Shays's rebellion in 1786, and followed by Fries's rebellion in 1799, the Whiskey Rebellion is distinguished by its size. While all three rebellions were motivated by their opposition to burdensome taxes, neither Daniel Shays nor John Fries ever gathered more than a few hundred supporters at any one time. On at least one occasion, as many as 15,000 men and women marched on Pittsburgh in armed opposition to the federal excise tax on whiskey.
The Whiskey Rebellion also occupies a distinguished place in American jurisprudence. Serving as the backdrop to the first treason trials in the United States, the Whiskey Rebellion helped delineate the parameters of this constitutional crime. Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as "levying War" against the United States. During the trials of the two men convicted of treason, Circuit Court Judge William Paterson instructed the jury that "levying war" includes armed opposition to the enforcement of a federal law. This interpretation of the Treason Clause was later applied during the trial of John Fries, and remains valid today.
"Whiskey Rebellion." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 31 Jan. 2013 http://www.encyclopedia.com
3. FRIES'S REBELLION
Fries's Rebellion was the third of three tax-related rebellions in the 18th century United States, the earlier two being Shays' Rebellion (central and western Massachusetts, 1786–87) and the Whiskey Rebellion (western Pennsylvania, 1794). John Fries's Rebellion, also called the House Tax Rebellion, the Home Tax Rebellion, and, in Deitsch the Heesses-Wasser Uffschtand, was an armed tax revolt among Pennsylvania Dutch farmers between 1799 and 1800.
When the Quasi-War with France threatened to escalate in 1798, Congress raised a large army and enlarged the navy. To pay for it, Congress in July 1798 imposed $2 million in new taxes on real estate and slaves, apportioned among the states according to the requirements of the Constitution. It was the first (and only) such federal tax. Congress had also recently passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, criminalizing dissent and increasing the power of the executive branch under John Adams.
Opposition to the tax spread to other parts of Pennsylvania. In Penn, the appointed assessor resigned under public threats; the assessors in Hamilton[clarification needed] and Northampton also begged to resign, but were refused as nobody else could be found to take their places. Federal warrants were issued, and the U.S. Marshal began arresting people for tax resistance in Northampton. Arrests were made without much incident until the marshal reached Macungie, then known as Millerstown, where a crowd formed to protect a man from arrest. Failing to make that arrest, the marshal made a few others and returned to Bethlehem with his prisoners. Two separate groups of rebels independently vowed to liberate the prisoners, and marched on Bethlehem. The militia prevailed and Fries and other leaders were arrested.
Thirty men went on trial in Federal court. Fries and two others were tried for treason and, with Federalists stirring up a frenzy, were sentenced to be hanged. President John Adams pardoned Fries and others convicted of treason.
Fries's Rebellion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. www.Wikipedia.com
THE CIVIL WAR AGAIN UPHELD THE PRIMACY AND SUPRAMICY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
…the South argued that each state had the right to secede—leave the Union—at any time, that the Constitution was a "compact" or agreement among the states. Northerners (including President Buchanan) rejected that notion as opposed to the will of the Founding Fathers who said they were setting up a "perpetual union". Historian James McPherson writes concerning states' rights and other non-slavery explanations:
While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the state's-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, state's rights for what purpose? State's rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession "legally void".
Today's gun advocates, ultra-left and ultra-right hate groups, and the NRA are alleging that the founding fathers purpose for the 2nd Amendment was to give United States citizens the right to take up arms to protect themselves from Federal Government actions. However, it is clear that the founding fathers did not take this position. Instead the founding fathers thought that taking up arms against the Federal Government was treason! The gun advocates allegation that the founding fathers purpose for the 2nd Amendment is self-protection of United States citizens from the United States Federal Government is false.
Peter J. Krieser
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Peter J Krieser is a 1972 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. 1972 he was admitted to the Minnesota Bar. Member Board of Governors: Minnesota State Bar Association, Hennepin County Bar Association, and Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association. Appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court Board of Legal Certification. Member and Chairperson of the Minnesota State Bar Association Council for Legal Certification, which evaluated candidates for legal certification. 1973 until 1999 private practice with an emphasis on civil personal injury, disability, insurance law. 1999 became a Minnesota Assistant Attorney General (Manager of Minnesota AGO Health Licensing Division , Senior litigation attorney [Senior Advocate] Minnesota AGO Health Licensing Division [1999-2009]). Retired 2009. He is, currently, a licensed member of the Minnesota Bar, and the Minnesota U.S District Court Bar.