1997-05-07 - OFF-TOPIC: Second Amendment

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From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Message Hash: 39a4f70fe16ba1641d849237aae43c622de4e51228c4c1a8be9e6c76e830e36b
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Reply To: <199705051842.LAA21649@krypton.chromatic.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-07 17:35:14 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 01:35:14 +0800

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From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 01:35:14 +0800
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: OFF-TOPIC: Second Amendment
In-Reply-To: <199705051842.LAA21649@krypton.chromatic.com>
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(This is veering off into a typical Second Amendment debate, the bane of so
many lists and newsgroups, so I will be brief and will try to make this my
last comment in this thread.)

At 8:43 PM -0800 5/5/97, Kent Crispin wrote:

>I have heard, from a knowledgable person, that the reason that the NRA
>has not pressed a constitutional challenge is that their lawyers tell
>them that the historical context clearly indicates that the second
>amendment does *not* protect individual ownership of firearms, and
>that a constitutional challenge would almost certainly lose.  Hence
>the NRA resorts to lobbying.  That is, it is not a matter of
>Roosevelt scaring the judges, but a matter of the clear intent of the
>This made sense to me -- if the constitutional grounds were clear the
>NRA could save a tremendous amount of money and trouble just by
>letting the court rule on it -- Roosevelt is dead.

I don't buy this "knowledgeable person"'s claim (though all manner of
opinions emanate from the NRA). NRA literature has consistently claimed the
opposite. Now, why there hasn't been a major court challenge is unclear,
and this theory is one explanation. But there are others, such as NRA
willingness to save the rights of "hunters" over the rights of "militia
members." Or a calculation that the courts would rule against gun
ownership, for whatever reason.

I can't find support for the notion that the Founders were not speaking
about individual ownership of firearms. First, essentially every household,
except perhaps in the larger cities, had a musket or rifle, such as they
were in those days. These were used for putting food on the table, defense
against Indians, and all the usual Colonial cliches.

Second, there was never a formal "militia" in most communities. The
"militia" was the informal formation of a defense force should the need
arise. Thus, the weapons were those the households had, the rifles and
muskets that farmers, traders, and shopkeepers had at their disposal. There
certainly was no mention of a "National Guard Armory" where such weapons
were to be stored!

In any case, arguing the "intent" of the Founders is always problematic. I
favor direct action. Caching weapons in secure places, for example. Buying
several thousand rounds of ammo, and setting up reloading capabilities, for
another. And quitting the NRA, which is too namby pamby about gun rights.
And, last but not least, buying a defensible home on top of a hill.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
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