Pragmatic, cultural and political etiologies of the Founders cognition on the 2nd Amendment

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Xelor, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    Presently there are at least two 2nd Amendment threads running, both of which are the rhetorical and philosophical equivalent of guerilla warfare, and, while I find the discourse interesting, frankly, I just don't have the patience (or the time; it's stupidly time-using to keep apace of "who's who," what "so and so" said and what I said in "thread 1" and "thread 2," etc.) for the repetitiveness, convenient "cream skimming" and organizational incoherence of that style/structure (or more aptly, structureless) of discussion. Thus I have created this thread to respond to several members remarks.

    The OP is part one of a multi-part essay. I've had to break the essay into multiple posts because of the forums character limits and because for some reason, I cannot add attachments to my posts.
    Thread Discussion Topic:
    • Pragmatic, cultural and political etiologies of the Founders cognition on the 2nd Amendment and their allegorical germanity to present day originalist argument based on the right to bear arms as a check against tyranny in all its forms: tyrannical government excess, tyranny of the/a minority and tyranny of the majority.

    Main Post:
    Fairly often I see in the popular press, on Internet blogs, and forums gun rights advocates' vestigial originalist arguments that support of opposing various gun control measures on the grounds of something or other having to do with what the Founders intended. Sometimes the argument (more often a bald assertion, but I'm not going to dwell on that inadequacy at this point) the defense against tyranny. On other occasions, it's the individual rights assertion.

    To be sure, there's some measure of merit to both those arguments; however, on no occasion have I come by arguments that representationally faithfully consider both the Anglo-American historical contexts -- social/cultural, political, governmental, economic and, to a small extent, diplomatic -- inherent to the citizenry's access to firearms and the differences between those contexts and those today extant. It's repeatedly "this happened" and "that happened."

    Well, yes, those events happened, but in what context and is that context comparable in all or most material respects to today's? This essay presents those contexts as they apply to militias as a check against tyranny. It is not structured to be an argument, per se, but rather as a rubric.
    • Foundation of the notion a citizen army: (Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books. )
      William Blackstone attributed the development to Alfred the Great, asserting: "It seems universally agreed by all historians, that King Alfred first settled a national militia in this kingdom, and by his prudent discipline made all the subjects of his dominion soldiers ...." More recent historical research suggests that the early militia, or Fyrd, can now be traced at least to A.D. 690; indeed, it is likely that "the obligation of Englishmen to serve in the Fyrd of people's army is older than our oldest records." By Medieval law, "every land holder was obligated to keep armour and weapons according to his rank and possessions; these he might neither sell, lend nor pledge, nor even alienate from his heirs." This concept differed radically from the Continental feudal system, which revolved around mounted, armed and armoured combatants and limited the right of armament; thus the duty of fighting in defense fell to a relatively small and wealthy class.

      The early feudal system obviated, then, all impersonal need for most citizens -- anyone not a member of the peerage -- to possess sophisticated weapons of the day. The feudal system was, however, highly decentralized, and it suffered from the consequences thereof -- raids, frequent changes in land control/ownership, profitability constriction, etc. On the other hand, not being a peer had its advantages, not the least of which being that when a phalanx of mounted soldiers thundered in one's direction, getting out of their way was generally enough to ensure one's survival for one's lord was their target. Moreover, as a commoner, though life wasn't exactly great, it wasn't likely to get materially worse or better regardless of who was the lord to whom one was beholden, and the conquering lord was, if he won the battle, equally in need of one's labors as was one's current lord of manor. It was an agrarian economy, and commoners were the folks who knew the tricks of the trade to working the land, making arms and armor, building structures, where to find game, etc.

      A couple hundred years after The Fall, however, things began to change. Two hundred or so years later, the changes become permanent. (Why'd it take "so long?" Mainly, literacy was low and communications were slow. "Figuring things out," politics, personality and prudence, of course, played a role too.)
        • Note: I recommend reading this -- The Structure of Blackstone's Commentaries -- which is effectively annotations to Commentaries, before or concurrently with reading Commentaries; doing so makes Commentaries somewhat more accessible. (Yes, I know, many folks aren't accustomed to reading two documents in order to fully grasp the content of one of the two. Be that as it may, read the methodological approach to beginning on page 219 first and then return to the beginning if you are going to read "Structure.") One will find this section's content in Commentaries; however, I've attempted to provide other source that strike me as better suited to casual readers of history and political science/political philosophy, but don't let that dissuade you from reading Blackstone for I know of no better compendium that describes the legal and social culture of post-Roman England.
      • King Alfred (871-899) declares all citizens the king's soldiers, thus solidifying the notion of citizens being obliged to defend their country, and concomitant with this obligation was the burden to produce one's own arms.
      • Norman Conquest imports Continental feudalism with material revisions, effected by William the Conqueror, to mitigate a key flaw of feudalism whereby lords/vassals and knights, members of the peerage, owed the duty of military service not to the nation, polity/citizenry, national sovereign or government, but immediately and only to the individual who had granted them land in exchange for their service, thus homage. It was furthermore possible for one to owe service to multiple lords, two or more of whom were at odds with one another. William's solution was to have all swear fealty to him.
        • Consideration of the structure of feudal homage established on the Continent the political tension that, in turn, effects checks and balances against the excesses of any given lord. Lord A couldn't very well wage too disruptive a war with Lord B if material quantities of both lords' vassals were dually beholden, to say nothing of there possibly being yet another lord to whom their vassals were also trothed. The result was thus similar to the domestic political infighting (interparty and intraparty) we observe today, albeit generally with less bloody outcomes. William's solution solved a variety of problems caused by feudalism's multiplicity of loyalties, but it expanded the opportunity for later leaders to "get too big for their britches" and become tyrants.

          Why'd William's vassals swear fealty to him? Well, because there's absolutely no reason to object to a dictator with whom one sees eye to eye. The man led his people in the conquest of an entire country, and as a Catholic, created a huge growth opportunity for Christianity. There was land aplenty, and that was just fine with everyone in the agrarian economy that resulted.
      • Henry II added structure to the arms production requirement, defining the nature and extent of arms one was required to produce on one's own behalf. (Original text, ff you prefer, is here: Assize of Arms (Ass Arms) )
      • Edward I reaffirmed earlier assizes and added the requirement that "anyone else who can afford them shall keep bows and arrows."
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  3. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    PART II of the OP:
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  5. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    PART III of the OP

      • The militia mustered in 1642 became standing armies by 1649, and eventually the citizen-soldiers in it no longer served when needed. Many were unwilling to follow the dictates of Parliament; thus Parliament created its own army, known as the "New Model Army" in 1645. True to its roots, a large portion of the army perceived itself a militia rather than the "realm's soldiers," as it were; thus, combined with soldiers' wages being in arrears and Parliament's favoring a national Presbyterian church, their loyalties sat with the people, not Parliament.

        Army leaders such as Oliver Cromwell advocated of religious freedom, taking the position that a polity's freedom of worship was a right over which Parliament had no control. Thus, part of the army, initially raised and paid by Parliament, unilaterally saw itself as an independent political force empowered to act in the name of "the people." The army, under Cromwell's control, proposed an "Agreement of the People," which denied Parliament's power over religion, impressing men into the army or navy, or requiring accused persons to incriminate themselves. Parliament, unsurprisingly, rejected the "Agreement."
      • Soldiers, via "Solemn Engagement," pledged to remain together until their demands for back pay and political changes were met and defined when Parliament met. Parliament attempted to disband the army. The army declined and eventually took over the government, installing the Rump Parliament.
      • When a subsequent Parliament attempted to disband the army, it was dissolved. Ultimately, another Parliament bestowed on Cromwell the role of Lord Protector and attempted to reduce the army's size and revitalize the militia. Cromwell, however, dissolved Parliament and created a military government. Segments of the army, paid regularly by the government, were assigned to each of eleven military districts. Cromwell's authorized his forces to disarm all Catholics, opponents of the government, and anyone else judged dangerous. When Cromwell died in 1659, the Rump Parliament met again and enacted laws that empowered government officials to confiscate arms from landowners to protect the Commonwealth, thereafter Parliament authorized seizing arms from Catholics, anyone who had borne arms against Parliament, or anyone else judged dangerous to the State.
    • The Restoration (1660) -- Stuarts regain the throne.
      • Parliament reseats purged members, reestablishes the monarchy by crowning Charles II, son of Charles I, who had no army. Because of the policy of universal armament and the Civil War, the English people were heavily armed. Cromwell's army of 60,000 was mingled with the rest of the population. Consequently, Charles II decided to develop his own army and to disarm the population. Parliament assisted by enacting the Militia Act of 1661 which vested control over the militia in the King.
      • In 1662, the more select militia was authorized to seize arms of anyone judged dangerous to the Kingdom. In addition, gunsmiths were ordered to report weekly on the number of guns made and sold; importation of firearms was banned.
      • Game Act passed -- It limited the right to hunt to those persons who earned over £100 annual income from the land and made possession of a firearm by other than those qualified to hunt illegal and provided for confiscation of those arms. (Average annual income of the time was £13. Roughly, then, one had to have more than 7.6 times the average annual income to qualify to possess a firearm.)
      • James II, Charles brother, succeeds to the throne. He's Catholic, which gives the Duke of Monmouth vapors enough to declare himself the Savior of Anglicanism and foment rebellion on religious grounds. James crushed the rebellion, doubled his standing army to 30,000 men, used his kingly discretionary power to appoint Catholic officers, whom he quarters in private homes in violation of Parliamentary enactments, to his army.

        The populace thus became suspicious of whether James might plan to impose his religion on England. Cottoning to yet another "guilt by association" ad hominem lines of fallacious reasoning, the populace disregards that just a few generations before Englishmen were Catholic, and likely would still have been but for an annulment denied. Similarly, it doesn't strike them that Anglicanism isn't particularly different from Roman Catholicism. The general public view the Pope as a king and are oblivious to the realities of Papal and global/European politics of the day. No surprise that they were, of course, for some 70% of the populace was illiterate. So what did they think? Why did they think it? What were the public's sources of information? (Did you read Covenanter Propaganda and Conceptualizations of the Public during the Bishops Wars, 1638-1640?)
    With the preceding historical, political, and cultural contexts, one sees wherefrom Locke's, Hobbes, et al got their ideas. Variously diaphanous and opaque notions were clearly forming into a coherent political philosophy, one that becomes the etiological and political impetus guiding the Founders' thoughts on bearing arms as an palpable prophylactic to trounce tyranny, whether it's an individual (discretionary) right, and the nature and extent of limits and purposes with regard to each aspect. (While this essay addresses the 2nd, one can see elements of other predicates to several core concepts that made it into the Constitution.)​
    • William and Mary became sovereigns in 1689, and Parliament curtailed their powers via the Declaration of Rights. They were required to accord to their subjects the rights in the Declaration and to rule as per Parliament's statutes. The Declaration recited James I's excesses, including raising/keeping a standing army without Parliament's consent, quartering troops in private homes, and disarming Protestant subjects. It also set forth the positive right of Protestant subjects to have arms for their defense, suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.

      The Declaration did not create a new right; however, for the English had been able to possess individual arms for centuries and at times were required to keep them. Even so, the debates attending the Declaration make clear that Parliament thought the right should be recognized as a right of individuals. The Whigs in the Convention Parliament were the most outspoken in favor of the right to possess arms to resist tyranny.
    • Parliament's Whigs were aggrieved that the King and a prior Parliament had disarmed his critics. An early draft of the grievance portion of the Declaration stated that "the Acts concerning the militia are grievous to the subjects," a reference to those portions of the civil war era militia acts that permitted the militia to disarm those suspected of disloyalty.

      To address this grievance, the draft stating the positive right first provided: "t is necessary for the Publick Safety, that the Subjects which are Protestants, should provide and keep Arms for their common Defence. And that the Arms which have been seized, and taken from them, be restored." This version stated a collective purpose for the right, public safety, and common defense. A later version omitted the reference to the public safety but retained the collective purpose language: common defense. It altered the "should keep" language to "may keep." This version read, "That the Subjects, which are Protestants, may provide and keep Arms, for their common Defence. " There was a some more argy-bargy with the House of Lords -- remember it'd been disbanded when the monarchy was -- and the final version of the Declaration read, "[T]hat the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law." (Sources, at 601)
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  7. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    PART IV of the OP

    • Several other points are important regarding this article of the declaration.
      • The language that Protestant subjects may have arms "as allowed by law" was not construed as a limitation on possession, but rather a limitation on use. Parliament enacted a new game/ hunting act that deleted firearms from the list of hunting equipment that could not be possessed except by the wealthy. Arms could be confiscated if used to poach game, but possession of arms was protected as a matter of right. However, the phrase "as allowed by law" highlights that Parliament, like Congress, could, and can even today, abrogate rights it previously granted. We know the point of that phrase pertains to the legislature because with or without it, Parliament's Declaration of Rights nonetheless protected individual right to own firearms for individual purposes -- hunting -- from abuse by the monarchy.
      • The English Declaration of Rights states "that the subjects which are Protestants may have arms." However, contemporaneous legislation in 1689 made clear that while Catholics were not permitted to stockpile weapons, they were allowed to possess arms for defense of their house or person.
      • Although the Declaration speaks solely in terms of an individual right to bear arms, a review of eighteenth-century literature indicates that the intended purpose was to provide both an individual and a collective right with the collective right being the more important. A true collective right, however, could only be protected by guaranteeing the individual right.
    During the civil war era and thereafter, both Parliament and the monarchy had proclaimed themselves, to the exclusion of the other, as the protector of the subjects' wellbeing. To facilitate the collective rights of the subjects, each had attempted to disarm the others' supporters. Thus, the collective organization intended to protect all subjects' liberty, the militia itself rather than the government's standing army, became an instrument of governmental tyranny. The collective rights of all subjects could not be guaranteed if the government had the power to vest enforcement in one collective organization because the government controlled the organization. Accordingly, the government's power to appoint the officers of the militia and select its membership meant that the militia could become an instrument of the government, not the people. Thus, the people's collective rights were enforceable only if the power of enforcement, force of arms, was universally dispersed.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    There are two gun control threads running. They are not 2nd Amendment threads. The 2nd Amendment is short, settled, and not nearly as directly derived from centuries of complicated British political history as one might think.

    For one thing, the arms and other gear involved and the standard cultural employments of them were significantly Colonial innovations. That made a big difference, as did the experience of Red culture and warfare. Combine that with the more or less unique political perspective of the Scotch-Irish wave of colonists, and whatever the politics of the militia of Merrye Olde Englande may have been the situation in the colonies was not much blown about by them.

    The damage done by framing all US gun control as a 2nd Amendment issue is imho not just avoidable but critically so.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    A topic worthy of serious discussion but being web forum based makes it difficult.
    A better discussion would be how Democracy, even in the USA is still an evolving thing.
    The current system only replaces the monarchy with another pseudo monarchy falsely claiming representative government in the form of a republic.

    In a truly representative system it is not about the people vs the government ( monarchy) because the government IS the people.
    As it stands, it is us vs them when in fact it should be only "us".

    When the democratic systems evolve to be truly representative of the people the issue of the 2nd amendment becomes redundant.
  10. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    It doesn't actually matter what people thought about this in the past. It's our constitution, and we can interpret it as necessary.
  11. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    L'etat c'est moi.
    -- Louis XIV
  12. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    not quite... (in context) as Louis XIV was not elected thus was not representative of the people.

    My post was:
    In a truly representative system it is not about the people vs the government because the government IS the people.

    with out the (monarchy ) reference to what I wrote earlier... sorry if I confused.
  13. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    That would be a completely different discussion topic.

    What has that to do with the actual thread topic?
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Because the current system fails to eliminate the potential of a tyrannical ( fascist - monarchist style ) government being elected to power.
    The constitution is it's own failing, so to speak because it fails to put in place non-violent safeguards against unrepresentative government.

    This leads to the perceived need of the right to bear arms (violence) to compensate for constitutional failure to protect against unrepresentative government.
  15. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    i do wonder if this might be a seperate quite complex anthropological historic cultural discussion....subject(that asside).
    would it be fair to state that the need to gain a license which thus discriminates is in its very essence a denial of the right to hold ?

    thus, there should be only 1 ligitimate arguement from all the pro gun lobbys, and that is to ban licensing for guns.

    because this is clearly NOT the case.

    what is the NEW change(of the second amendment) that they have decided to subject the constitution to ?
    and... when did that happen ?
  16. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    you could use the current Trump Republican government as a perfect example as they are a minority government.

    though attributing monarchy to Facism i think is deliberately falacious and has some hidden meaning.
    the bush family ?
    the kenedy family ?
    the trump family ?
    the facist state of the single leader being able to install any person and hand them absolute power ?(that is not a monarchy)
    nepotism is the real word but it is polluted by nazi sympathisers and zealots in the usa dialogue for normal correct use.
  17. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps I have used those labels a little too loosely ... my bad...
    In a fully evolved Representative Democracy the notion of tyrannical government is redundant. As the issues that lead to tyranny have already been removed as a part of that long evolution. Long term confidence and trust in the elected representative Government would be established and the need to threaten "bloody revolution" no longer required.

    The USA appears to be a long way a way from being a representative democracy and due to it's political structures and centralization of leadership (POTUS) the potential of a tyrannical Government coming to power is actually quite high. IMO. Therefore the interpretation of the 2nd that facilitates the possibility of armed revolt could be seen as quite valid.
    So IMO, it could be suggested, with some validity, that it is the lack of truly representative democracy that drives the need to use the 2nd amendment as a safety net against the possibility of tyrannical government forming.
  18. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    That is a con
    revolts do not need weapons
    thus another con
    as the reality is civil war against those just following orders with government issue weapons.

    the need of the secondmendment as a premise to own guns is already lost.
    that happened with licensing.
    the "need" is an emotive con

    the democratic majority do not "need" to carry a gun to get their children to school alive(or home again).
    thus "need" = con

    the democratic majority have "outsourced" their "second amendment" to people with absolute power and then ligitimised this in culture.

    what is the "real" issue ?

    preventing the rich elite from being over thrown by other rich elite or Cults ?
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    well, it just demonstrates just how far the USA has to getting to a Representative Democracy.

    One person = one vote, regardless of race, wealth etc...

    Not gonna happen soon ....yes?
    Too much vested interest in the current BS.
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    An unarmed people is subject to slavery at any time. No Constitution can alter that.
    Science fiction is enlightening, but not a basis for policy.
    Utopias are not available to us. The issues that lead to tyranny are recreated every generation, among every people. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
  21. Xelor Registered Senior Member

    What topic do you imagine you are discussing?

    You quoted my thread topic -- the "pragmatic, cultural and political etiologies of the Founders cognition on the 2nd Amendment and their allegorical germanity to present day originalist argument based on the right to bear arms as a check against tyranny in all its forms: tyrannical government excess, tyranny of the/a minority and tyranny of the majority" -- and then asked me the above question. Where did you get anything having to do with licensing from the thread topic? Did you think perhaps that the pronoun "their" refers to the "the Founders cognition" rather than to "etiologies?" I'm just guessing...I really don't know what aspect of the thread topic catalyzed your inquiry.

    Just to answer your question, I must say "no" because licenses haven't a damn thing to do with (or without) the etiologies of the Founders cognition on the 2nd Amendment; thus aren't germane to an originalist argument for or against anything to do with the 2nd Amendment.
  22. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    So can an armed people be enslaved, by the illusionary guarantee of freedom that arms represent. Just look at the Republicans enslaved by dishonest media.
  23. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    If you need to use firearms to protect your freedom you've already lost it. the very same people who demand unrestricted access to fire arms to defend their "freedom" are the very first people to vote it away.
    Quantum Quack likes this.

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