18 January 2013

Interesting History on the 2nd Amendment

I've made the comment that the current gun regulation regime is driven by issues of race.

Specifically, once the Black Panthers (the real ones, not the current wannabees) started carrying weapons openly, and then went to the California legislator while packing heat, it led to the passing of what was then the strictest gun control laws in the nation, signed into law by Ronald Reagan, because, "Oh Noes, Blax with Gunz", and this panic about "black militancy" also led to the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Once this law was, passed, gun organizations, most notably the NRA started freaking out, because, Oh Noes, I Needs Gunz to Protekt me from Blax!

So we saw the development of the modern paranoiac gun "rights" movement.

Well, it turns out that race has had a major role in using and owning firearms in the United States goes back far further.

Historical documents show the 2nd amendment was put in the constitution to sanction paramilitary militias used to keep slaves from revolting or escaping:
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, "The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search 'all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition' and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds."

It's the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained when he asks, "Why don't they just rise up and kill the whites?" If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: Well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains.

Sally E. Haden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, "Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller." There were exemptions so "men in critical professions" like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45 - including physicians and ministers - had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.

And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.
The 2nd amendment was not about allowing citizens to resist tyranny, it was about allowing states to enforce the tyranny required to keep slaves in chains.

Live and learn.

H/t Cthulhu at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.


Stephen Montsaroff said...

This is a load of Dingo's Kidneys.

The US Bill of Rights is largely based on the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which includes an arms provision.

Subjects’ Arms.
That the Subjects which are Protestants
may have Arms for their Defence suitable
to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.

In this document are also ideas such as reasonable Bail, right to petition, right to jury trial.

To pretend that this was unknown, and driven by the South is a 'Beckian'.

Scope of the 2nd Amendment is another issue, and given its common law background, had clear limits.

Matthew Saroff said...

Read my followup article which cites The Hidden History of the Second Amendment, (abstract, full pdf article [102 pg] at link) in it, the author, Carl T. Bogus, notes that the right to arms in that declaration was not intended to create a personal right, but to make the regulation arms of the (Protestant) citizenry the exclusive purview of Parliament, and stripping that power from the King.

After reading this paper, I am inclined to believe that Madison's motivations for the 2nd amendment did involve his constituents' (and probably his) concerns about the maintenance of the slave patrols.

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