The Spirit of the Second Amendment

The Spirit of the Second Amendment

A Story by Father Mojo

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The following blog will have the word “guns” in it, and I know that the word “guns” makes everyone lose their collective effing minds. But the following blog is not about guns, it is about logic and spending.


One of the traditional arguments that gun rights advocates keep using is what I’ll call “the Spirit of the 2nd Amendment.” There was no standing army and there was a debate whether the Federal Government had a right to have a standing army based on the Constitution, and even if it did have that right, would it be a good idea? If the Federal Government had a standing army, what was there to protect the various states from the Federal Government from sending troops into �" say New Jersey �" ala Putin into the Ukraine, and seize or directly control or depose local, democratically elected government if those officials opposed Federal laws and governance, or for any other reason.


The defense was practical: there would be no standing army, but each state would maintain or call up its own militia if military intervention was needed, or if one state was the problem, other states would call up their militias to keep that state in check. During the Whiskey Rebellion, for instance, President Washington had no standing army to send into the Pennsylvanian wilderness, so he relied on the combined militias of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania (leading the army himself which is totally badass!). During the Civil War, states called up their militia or militias or various units of their militias to fight.


So, the 2nd Amendment made perfect sense in a nation in which there was no national standing army for a variety of legal and logical reasons, and also in a nation where much of that nation was untamed wilderness (Pennsylvania and western Virginia and places like what would become Kentucky were the wild west). The 2nd Amendment protected state sovereignty, and since much of most of the states were wilderness, having a gun was not just a political right, it was a matter of practical survival.


In the last hundred years or so, this reality has changed. Even those of us who live in the most rural of areas in most of the states do not live in the untamed wilderness, but “civilization” has encroached to the point that we are not fighting off wild animals and bandits and hostile Native peoples. Many of the people who live in rural areas still engage in the traditions of the wilderness (i.e. hunting) but for the most part, this is more a matter of custom and recreation than it is about survival. It is the vestigial organ, the appendix if you will, of rural life.


During this same period, one could argue that the Spirit of the 2nd defense seems more plausible and necessary. We have moved away from state militias to that of a large, full-time, standing army of volunteers, occasionally formerly supplemented with conscripted individuals. Two World Wars and a Cold War seems to have settled the long-standing political debate as to whether the Federal Government has the legal right to a standing army. On this matter, politics has given way to necessity, or at least practical necessity.


So, does this not prove that we need citizens to be able to defend themselves against possible Federal aggression more than ever since the Federal Government has a large, standing, professional army and states may not? No, because the citizen-militia is just as much a vestigial remnant as hunting is. Taking into account the training and equipment and funding that the Armed Forces possess, most citizens and their so-called militias would be no match for Federal troops.


There is a better way to ensure the protections of citizens from an aggressive Federal Government, and it seems like it would be one with which Fiscal Conservatives should agree. The logic of trying to arm ourselves with various guns, regardless of how automatic and “assault” capable they are, as a means to defend ourselves against the Federal Government’s Predator Drones, tanks, Stealth Bombers, missiles, smart bombs, and so on, is not logical at all �" it is at best a romantic fantasy. I like good, old-fashioned stand up for the little guy style romanticism as much as any other red-blooded American. I get the whole “I would rather die on my feet than serve on my knees” idea behind that romantic vision of citizen-militias and civil resistance. But I also know history, and in history, with very few exceptions, cold, hard, brutal reality usually rolls over passionate romanticism with little or no effort.


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What if there were a way for us to stand on our feet, keeping ourselves safe from an aggressive Federal Government while ensuring that no one has to face that choice of dying on their feet or serving on their knees? There is! It is called “Defense Spending.”


The easiest and most obvious way to protect ourselves from Federal aggression is to limit the amount of money that is spent for the military. It is not the laws, or the policies, that oppress us, but the enforcement of those laws and policies. The Federal Government could have declared taxes on those whiskey makers all it wanted in 1791, but if it did not have the means of enforcing that tax with 17,000 soldiers comprised of various state militias, that tax would have been meaningless. A man who owns a gun to protect himself from the Federal Government does not get a copy of a law or a policy and shoot the paper on which it is written. He does not shoot an idea. He resists the law and defends himself against the enforcement of that law via law enforcement agents and the military.


So since it is the enforcement of the Federal laws and policies that we are really defending ourselves against, and not the laws and policies themselves, which are abstractions until they are tangibly enforced, or until we agree to accept them, we can protect ourselves much better by limiting the strength of the Federal Government’s ability to enforce its will over us. That is done through spending, not shooting.


Military spending is the by far the largest segment of spending we do as a nation, and it comprises most of the deficit everyone seems to get so worried about when there is a Democrat sitting in the Office of the President. We keep trying to cut the deficit by spending more on the military, which is already the leading cause of the deficit, but by cutting other programs that are essential for social stability (like education, public assistance, etc.). It is like someone who is in debt, whose car payment and mortgage each are more than he makes each month and decides he is going to get out of debt by no longer buying food and clothing for his children, but instead, buy a more expensive car and move to a bigger, more expensive house.


I know people will cry out that we have to spend so much on the military because everyone is out to get us. That is simply not true, and when people are “out to get us” it is because we interfered in their affairs. If you were to take all the money that EVERY other nation spends on their own military, add them all together, and then multiply that number by three, it would still be less than what the United States spends on the military each year. And we still want to spend more.


This is the same military, mind you, that if there ever really were a real uprising or issue with the Federal Government, that the Federal Government would be sending against you. You can buy all the guns you want to protect yourself from that military when the Federal Government sends it out against you, but unfortunately, you have to spend within your means, and you are ensuring that the Federal Government does not. You can buy your guns to defend yourself, but more than three times the combine military spending of the rest of the world is going to roll over you without even knowing you were there.


So, the moral of the story is that if we REALLY wanted to both protect ourselves from an aggressive Federal Government and also were serious about lowering the deficit, we would be cutting military spending instead of increasing military spending. If however, you want to have unlimited, unfettered access to military-grade weapons so you can defend yourself against the Federal Government, and if you want to cut social programs because the deficit is too high, but you refuse to cut military spending (and argue for increasing it) because, well… because ‘Merica! then you care neither about defending yourself, nor about the deficit. You are simply justifying a fetish, which is perfectly fine and valid �" I would just appreciate it if you would just be honest about it instead of dressing your fetish up in faux-Patriotism and fiscal responsibility.


You have the power to both be fiscally responsible and to protect yourself, not with guns, but with votes; not with shooting, but with spending. You also have to come to accept that a Political Party can preach about fiscal responsibility all it wants, but if it is increasing military spending, no matter what else it is cutting (and if it refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy) it is contributing to an ever increasing deficit. That is like our man from above who decides that not only is he going to get out of debt by buying a more expensive car and moving to a more expensive house, but he is going to work fewer hours so he collects less revenue, expecting the extra thousands of dollars he is spending will somehow magically be negated by no longer spending the few hundred dollars he normally does to feed and clothe his kids. It is just cuckoo town (which is an analytical term).


The Spirit of the 2nd Amendment is expressed just as, if not more, effectively by using your power to vote for those who control spending. You simply have to understand that social programs only contribute to about 17% of the deficit. You can cut them all and the deficit would still grow. Forty percent of the deficit (nearly one-half) could be cut overnight just by raising taxes on the top 1% by a few percentage points. We could also cut military spending by about 30% and still spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined, plus it serves to better allow you to protect yourself against that pesky Federal Government that may one day decide to send its army against you.


No one is saying that anyone has to give up their guns. No one is saying that we have to stop spending money on our military. No one is saying we have to force the wealthy to pay half or most of their income in taxes. We are simply applying some basic logic and real fiscal responsibility. If you REALLY care about the deficit, then you will cut military spending, raise taxes a little bit on the rich, as well as cut some of those other programs you do not like (like education, feeding children, school lunches for poor kids, medicine for the poor, and all those “oppressive” government programs). If not, then �" how can I put this politely? �" well, then you’re just full of s**t! (It turns out I cannot put it politely, only truthfully.)



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Father Mojo
Father Mojo

Carneys Point, NJ



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