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Letters to the Editor, published

See also:
"Guns and Guerrillas," Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, March 6, 1996

"Writers should get their theories right,"
Letter to the Editor, Herdersonville [NC] Times-News, January 13, 2002

To the Editor
The Hendersonville News
PO Box 490
Hendersonville, NC 28793

Dear Sirs/Mesdames:

Let's get the history, constitutional doctrine, and political theory behind the Second Amendment right. The Constitution's militia clauses, the Second Amendment and the Militia Act of 1792 were about military organization not the civil rights of private individuals. The Constitution is a frame of government. Citizens, "the people," gun owners and non- gun owners alike, are citizens under law and government. They are not sovereign individuals who made a treaty..

The Militia Act required all obligated men to be "enrolled" registered for militia duty. They were taxed to provide a weapon. The Militia Act also required that privately owned weapons be inventoried in the "Return of Militia" and reported to state governors and the President of the US. There were no objections then to those requirements, no concern for a right to armed outside of the knowledge and reach of government. However, that is the individual right that some people have tried to invent today. It is a right to individual sovereignty. Such a right would reduce the Constitution from a frame of government to a treaty among sovereign individuals who give no more than good faith.

The state militias's citizen soldiers were part of a constitutional balance against the potential dangers of the Federal Government's regular army, modeled after the British Army. Militia duty was conscript duty. The regular army was not. In the twentieth century, the Selective Service Acts combined the opposing concepts.

We made these points in our amicus brief in US v. Emerson (2001). Judge Garwood's gratuitous dicta, a great demagogic boost to gun rights ideologies, did not address the fundamental points. Those will have to be taken up by another court. We do not have to wait till then to decide if we are citizens who consent to be governed or individual sovereigns who do not.

Yours truly,
G. Eyclesheimer Ernst


"Forming government reduces one right,"
Letter to the Editor, Herdersonville [nc] Times-News, February 6, 2002

To the Editor
The Hendersonville News
PO Box 490
Hendersonville, NC 28793

Dear Sirs/Mesdames:

In citing the Declaration of Independence, understand a big difference. The Declaration was a charter for Revolution, not a Frame of Government. Revolution is a natural right outside of law and government. Expand the passage:

They institute new government, not anarchy. Citizens consenting to be governed create a higher authority. Sovereign powers making a treaty do not. The governmental authority created is also the mechanism to decide which rights will be securedóby law.

The concept was once understood. Hamilton, FP 33:

Framer James Wilson, at the Pennsylvania ratifying convention:

On entering political community the right to exercise force except as authorized or permitted by law is the one natural right that is alienated.

Yours truly,
G. Eyclesheimer Ernst


June 25, 1996
[published August 5, 1996] Letters
In These Times

Dear Sirs/Mesdames:

A comment on Chris Lehmann's review of Michael Tomasky's Left For Dead ["Dead again," June 10]: I have not been able to examine Tomasky thoroughly, but I get the picture. The left, with its learned helplessness, has no political instincts or appeal to a broader community. Tomasky provides an insightful and valuable analysis, but his refusal to effectively address gun violence, which Lehmann correctly points out, is more grievous than Lehmann realizes. Tomasky buys into the libertarian fantasy with his refusal to even think about proposing measures against gun violence. The shared political culture that Lehmann and Tomasky seek to build is based on the fundamental proposition that we live under the laws of this government--or some government. A viable political order is the first order of political business. The libertarian fantasy will have it otherwise.

The libertarian fantasy is the driving political ideology of our time from the Southern League to the gun lobby to the Republican Revolution. It is the perfect capitalist fantasy. In the economic sphere we surrender to unfettered capitalism. The private sector will take care of everything. The gun lobby, however, with enormous respectability provided by libertarian pseudoscholarship, will carry the fantasy to the political sphere as well. Private sovereignty will take care of everything. We dissolve political community, declare individuals sovereign, and return to the State of Nature, which is a state of anarchy where we will all be freed from political obligation ... at least until the gun lobby's "armed citizen guerrillas" reorder our relationships. This childish fantasy says more about the personal psychology of the fantasizer than the fantasizer's capacity for thought. Marx at least required a historical process for the state to whither away.

The doctrine of personal sovereignty extends to the gun lobby's claim that a right to arms translates into a right to insurrection. Fallacious, blatantly dishonest arguments have filled the law journals in recent years and are repeated in the newsmedia and the political arena. But the right to insurrection is not an equal opportunity claim. Labor militants in the 30s and student radicals and the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s could not make the claim without serious consequences--never mind acting it out. Minister Farrakhan has not dared. There are simple solutions, but the left has missed this one, too. Tomasky and Lehmann both fail to see that the left could defeat the Radical Right here and establish its credibility simply by demanding a level playing field and holding the politicians to their oaths of office. But it seems that moderate Republicans will be the ones to take the subject up.

I have tried to expose the frauds for years. My articles can be found on the Internet in the Firearms Policy Journal (http://www.us.net/phoenix/index.html) [old link].

G. Eyclesheimer Ernst



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