It's not about guns...

It's about citizenship

The Potowmack Institute
4423 LeHigh Road, Suite 273
College Park, MD 20740

at sign
leave out then's and spaces.
The e-mail address is presented this way to defeat the spam miscreants

PayPal Paybox
revised 08/21/2014

[PotomackForum], Interactive Posting
[ARCHIVE], Potowmack Institute files
[RESOURCES], Newspaper, magazine, journal articles, books, links

Assaulting Jim Zumbo

The NRA on Extremists

NRA scams its members

The Lionel Show
AirAm Radio's ignorant, crude, ugly,
air waves barbarian
Dear John Ashcroft
The armed populace doctrine at the DOJ
The Washington Post
cultivating ignorance.
"Sixty Minutes"
Failing its Mission
NPR's Diane Rehm
Civilized without Substance.
A longstanding dereliction.
Violence Policy Center
The public health agenda
falls in line with the NRA.
Getting it right but
failing its mission in the
larger struggle
Militia Act of 1792
To enroll— conscript, register

Return of Militia
Inventory of private weapons in
the early Republic reported to the
President of the US
John Kenneth Rowland
Lawrence Cress
John K. Mahon
LaPierre's list

The Quotes, the Quotes
Fabricating the armed populace doctrine
Libertarians, Conservatives

Tenn. Law Rev., 1995

Chicago-Kent Symposium, 2000
What does the NRA want?

III. Failing history and the historical concepts

The courts have broken down on the larger context of the "right of the people" in the Second Amendment. The larger context is the republican right of the people to participate in the military functions of the state as conscript citizen soldiers rather than leave those functions up to a mercenary army whether the British Army recently removed in the Revolution or the US Army which as created in the Constitution was explicitly modeled after the British Army. The Second Amendment only makes sense in those eighteenth century terms. Gun rights ideologies completely confuse the difference between the republican right of the people to participate in the military functions of the state— that is, fulfill a coerced civic obligation— and a right of private individuals to be armed outside of the knowledge and reach of law and government. It is through conscription in original design and intent that we get at sovereignty. This is nowhere to be found in present political knowledge or consciousness. We are all libertarians now.
Political concepts evolved in the past 500 years of modern history. Machiavelli rediscovered the civic consciousness of the ancient Greek and Roman city states where the full rights of citizenship included that every man had a military obligation to serve his political community, but citizenship was limited to those who had the resources, usually land ownership, to provide their own time and weapons. Slaves and proles where excluded. The other political order even in the ancient world was empire. The empires of the ancient world were maintained by mercenary armies. In the early modern world dynastic empires were still the military arrangement. The first appearance of a free citizenry in a free commonwealth was the Dutch Republic created when the Dutch libertated themselves from Spanish Hapsburg domination in the sixteenth century. Loyalty became to a free republic, a commonwealth. Commonwealth is the English word for the ancient Roman concept of the res publica— the common good, the public good, public power, the basis of the modern concept of state power or state sovereignty. The concepts were still in conflict in the US Constitution.
The Second Amendment was cryptically worded because it was controversial when ratified but for reasons completely different from the controversy now. The original controversy is one time forgot. The Constitution created a delicate military balance or military federalism between the conscript state militias— based on the repubican concept of the commonwealth and loyalty to the commonwealth— and the voluntarily enlisted professional US Army at the disposal of the new and untried Federal Government which to many resembled too much the British system. The US Army as created in the Constitution was explicitly modeled after the British Army, a mercenary army of empire not citizen soldiers with a civic obligation. The original antagonistic relationship between the militias and the army was combined in the twentieth century Selective Service Acts. The US Army became in a very republican sense a national militia. It was only yesterday. The Supreme Court does not get it, but neither does anyone else. This is who we are now. The Framers gave us free institutions to sort out controversies as they emerged. We have failed them.
The arguments to fabricate an individual right outside of a military or militia context are fallacious and ignorant. Much attention is given to "the right of the people" under the British Constitution. Missing is any understanding that the eighteenth century British Constitution was based on a constitutional balance not among co-equal branches of government but among the estates of the realm— the people (House of Commons, which was composed of the untitled nobility, the younger brothers of the titled nobility. And, of course, only about five percent of the rest of "the people" had a right to vote and it was by oral declaration not secret ballot.), the titled nobility (House of Lords), and the monarchy (the king and his magistrates). The concepts were of a corporatist political order. The American Revolution set out to rescue the British Constitution from corruption but ended up transforming the concepts in the creation of the American Republic in the US Constitution. The right to arms was a corporatist right within the British Constitution's political order. Corporatist rights did not and could not transfer across the Atlantic.
Also missing is any appreciation that present gun rights insurrectionist ideologies do not have their roots in Anglo-American constitutional law but in the rebellious traditions of Scotland and Ireland which are not only not a part of the Anglo-American constitutional tradition but have been constantly at war with it— to this very day.

Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) makes the argument with much supporting scholarship that prestate society were very violent. The civilizations of the ancient world through the Middle Ages reduced the level of violence to about half what it had been in prestate society. The sweep of modern history for the past 500 years has been the ascendency of law and government manifest in the vessel of nation states. There were two transformation. One, individul violence was internalized under the rule of law. Two, feudal warlords with their private armies were subordinated into a centralized system of military command. With all their faults national states have reduced individual and communal violence by from ninety to ninety-eight per cent depending were we look. According to Pinker even the great wars of the twentieth century in the long term did not reach the level of violence in prestate societies.

The courts have not begun a process of dismantling law and government, but we have to be vigilant of where pandering to a malignant constituency leads.

[PotowmackForum] interactive posting

[ARCHIVE], Potowmack Institute files
[RESOURCES], Newspaper, magazine, journal articles, books, links

© Potowmack Institute