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Old May 13 2013, 06:23 PM   #211
gturner
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Now my US history might be a little rusty and might be in error. But following the Revolutionary War the US had what was known as the Continental Army which wasn't a standing Army.
It's a bit rusty. The Continental army was commanded by George Washington during the Revolution. We also had a navy commanded by John Paul Jones. The Constitution authorized a standing army, along with maintaining a Navy (and the Marines, who were founded in 1775). These were bundled into the War Department.

To equip the Army we built a federal arsenal at Springfield Massachusetts, and to train it we built an academy at West Point. To equip the Navy we built warships, which took the Barbary pirates (we were fighting in the Med back then), and other missions prior to the war of 1812, including some dust-ups with the French. During the War of 1812 the Federal warships were supplemented by private warships, and the private warships did the bulk of the damage to the British, which is why the British targeted Baltimore, burning Washington DC along the way.

We also had police, just not the modern uniformed kind who drive around in cars. There were sheriffs who were elected by vote, as they are now, who would select deputies, sometimes on an as-needed basis. The first Congress created the US Marshall's Service, along with many other executive law enforcement agencies for revenue, customs, etc.

About the only thing we didn't have was an air force.
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Old May 13 2013, 06:47 PM   #212
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Wasn't the US constitution not ratified until 1787? The first ten ammendments not ratifed by 3/4 of the states until 1791?

And wasn't the Contionental Army disbanded in reflection of Republican distrust of standing Armies? No whilst the modern US Army might be descended from the Continental Army, when following the disdandment of the Conintenatl Army was the US Army formed the date which I've found for when the US Army was created is

29th September 1789

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/re...ut_army_1.html
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Old May 13 2013, 07:04 PM   #213
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

MacLeod wrote: View Post
And wasn't the Contionental Army disbanded in reflection of Republican distrust of standing Armies?
This was actually a legitimate fear since they did mutiny over the lack of pay.
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Old May 13 2013, 08:51 PM   #214
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

A whole lot has been written about how it was a legitimate fear all through our history. Standing armies weren't just a problem under King George. Even under Lincoln civil liberties got trampled. After reconstruction, we passed the Posse Comitatus Act because of the abuses inherent in a federal military occupation.

There has also been a long train of thought that the British had more traditional rights and liberties than other European nations because as an island nation, Britain concentrated its expenditures on its navy instead of a large standing army, and navies are virtually useless for domestic control.

The thread is getting better, thankfully. For a while there I would write twenty to forty paragraph replies about the history of the Constitution, militias, etc, and then delete them, thinking "What's the point? The discussion is at the level of 'It's not a Jedi mind-meld, and the Federation didn't have Star Destroyers!"
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Old May 13 2013, 09:19 PM   #215
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Whoa Nellie wrote: View Post
The 2nd amendment is an integral part of the Bill of Rights, hence its position at number two. Or are you actually arguing that the 2nd amendment was meant for the exact opposite purpose as the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th?
Only a strong government can protect your rights. Thus, in a very real sense, the 2nd Amendment, as it was intended at the time of writing - in the very process of strengthening the government - also ensured that everyone's rights were protected.

And let's be frank here - if the government did decide to turn tyrranical, common citizens with ordinary handguns (the kind that the 2nd Amendment allows them to have) aren't going to stand much of a chance against it.
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Old May 13 2013, 09:22 PM   #216
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

gturner wrote: View Post
The thread is getting better, thankfully. For a while there I would write twenty to forty paragraph replies about the history of the Constitution, militias, etc, and then delete them, thinking "What's the point? The discussion is at the level of 'It's not a Jedi mind-meld, and the Federation didn't have Star Destroyers!"
It's a pity we peons missed out on your profound wisdom, great sage. We shall endeavor to meet your exacting standards in the future so you may enlighten us with your wordplay.
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Old May 13 2013, 09:33 PM   #217
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

^ Um, are you reading over the parts where the Bill of Rights was written to empower a strong federal government?

But, here's the last one I wrote a little earlier today, which I abandoned even before it was finished.

cooleddie74 wrote: View Post
gturner wrote: View Post
If we didn't have a military back then, what the heck was General George Washington a general in?
Apples and oranges, dude. The American colonies' forces opposing the British weren't a standing military in the traditional and modern sense.
Hrm... What were they? What were they drawn from? Oh, I remember. They were from the various local militias (citizens with guns). It seems that the official government sanctioned army was wearing red and worked for the King of England.

But as was in keeping with English customs, the colonists had maintained militias since they'd landed. They used to have town pike drills until they realized how useless pike formations were in the Americas. The militias of course had their own officers because somebody has to be in charge. The system had been around virtually forever, because defending your village, town, castle, or walled fort in Europe required that everyone take up arms when some king came marching through trying to sack everything. So the colonists maintained the system, defending against Indian attacks and other threats, some of which rose into wars.

Anyway, the Royal Army was proving itself useless at defending us from external attacks, and then they became the main threat, so everyone who had rebelled and won American independence from British rule was either in a militia or from a militia (volunteering for extended service in the Continental Army).

Given that the militias had just saved us from tyranny at the hands of our official government's professional armies, which were doing the bidding of the aforementioned oppressive central government, the Americans held that armed citizen militias are a great way to ensure liberty through force of arms against oppressive centralized governments, and that if people depend on centralized governments to provide the arms required to throw off their chains, they're totally screwed.

They also knew that people need personal guns to defend against Indians, cut throats, robbers, bears, and whatever, and that skill in using arms only comes from using arms, something that's not learned in a weekend. Given that the British had been intent on disarming disloyal colonists, Americans had a bug up their a** about not ever letting the government take away people's guns.

There was also a lot of period and subsequent thoughts about militias versus standing armies, along with the profound observation that English-speaking countries developed their civil freedoms to a greater extent than Continental Europe because England was an island and put all its money into its navy instead of armies, and navies are virtually useless for domestic oppression. Most of Europe followed a different path, except for Switzerland, which not surprisingly depended on vast citizen militias.

So the Founders put in a guarantee that we had a right to maintain the guns and the militias. Unfortunately everyone grew to dislike the militia drills, and those started to peter out by the 1830's or so, with a revival for the Civil War, and then pretty much petered out again.

The problem with militia service is that townsfolk you interact with every day might also be your superior officers. That's okay when you live in a very class-conscious, somewhat regimented society where roles are largely inherited and social mobility is quite restricted, since the militia ranks just reflect the pre-existing social pecking order. It's a system the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen would be comfortable with ("How convenient, the town ranks all its eligible bachelors!")

But as Barbara Tuchmann wrote, part of the American revolution was the ongoing revolution in social mobility and equality. It wasn't long before we not only didn't find it comforting for a town to have a semi-official social hierarchy and pecking order, we found it revolting.

An organized militia still requires ranks, positions, and officers drawn from the people, and there's no good way to maintain that without a whole lot of extra overhead (training academies, tests, performance reviews). Just basing it all on who somebody's daddy was, which was always inadequate militarily, was also becoming socially unacceptable. So everyone made excuses during militia training and exited stage left.

The remnants of an active militia system drug on for some time, by the later 1800's mostly in the form of easy patronage jobs at the state level, somewhere to stick the governor's drunk son-in-law to appease his family. But the country still clung to the notion, preferring it to standing armies (the Civil War had given the country a huge reminder about why it hates standing armies). Then came the Spanish American War and the disastrous performance of state militias, who showed up with a wide variety of obsolete guns, poor training, and poor leadership.

So the federal government needed to fix the militia system, or at least find someway to field an effective fighting force without a massive increase in the size of the standing army, which was opposed because in our experience, standing armies were injurious to liberties (Civil liberties get trampled by standing armies even if Abraham Lincoln is in charge, so its not just a problem with King George).

So Congress saw two options. Either massively increasing funding for the militias, or somehow create a hybrid between a militias and the federal army. The debate was intense, and Congress knew that the amount of money the militias would require to get up to modern standards would be enormous, and the revenue would likely go down the rat hole of corrupt state governments' militia offices, where graft, kickbacks, and fraud were the usual state of affairs. And even the massive amount of funds they contemplated spending (which probably would've been the largest ever peace-time government expenditures up to then), wouldn't guarantee success.

The other option was to have the US military provide and maintain the weapons and training, giving the benefits of having a vastly larger army in time of war (with uniform standards, equipment, and procedures, and especially auditing), while saving tons of money because the soldiers wouldn't have to receive active-service pay for the entire time they were enlisted. It was like having a large standing army that would always be on vacation until it was needed. That's the option we went with, codified in the Dick Act of 1902.

The militias still existed (and still do, though even more neglected and informal), but their primary wartime role had been handed off to the newly created National Guard. The only time a state ever calls out a militia is when the National Guard is busy overseas, as was occasionally done in WW-II for disaster relief duties during floods and hurricanes.

But the original purpose of an armed citizenry and militia is still there, providing a last-ditch check on government tyranny. There are hundreds of governments that have quietly instituted repressive measures that would've sparked armed conflict here, so the US government rarely even tries such things. It still has those inclinations, as all governments do, but it gets stymied when someone calls for a reality check.

For example, government officials wanted to nationalize the California gold fields and put all the proceeds directly into the treasury, and demanded sufficient military troops for force the miners off the land. Other government officials pointed out that any potential army force they could raise would be outnumbered and out gunned by the gold miners, and that the people needed to man the army were already working gold claims. The other aspect is of course press coverage and public outrage when things turn ugly, whether from busting striking coal miners to getting in standoffs with various religious cults.
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Old May 13 2013, 10:57 PM   #218
Whoa Nellie
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Whoa Nellie wrote: View Post
The 2nd amendment is an integral part of the Bill of Rights, hence its position at number two. Or are you actually arguing that the 2nd amendment was meant for the exact opposite purpose as the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th?
Only a strong government can protect your rights.
Sorry, that may be your belief, but that is the exact opposite of the Founding Fathers intent. The Bill of Rights (that is all of the first 10 amendments) was to to protect the individual from a powerful central government.

Again, This is from the National Archives official site.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/cha...of_rights.html

During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens.
As the delegates gathered at the Pennsylvania State House in May 1787 to "revise" the Articles of Confederation, Virginia delegate George Mason wrote, "The Eyes of the United States are turned upon this Assembly and their Expectations raised to a very anxious Degree." Mason had earlier written the Virginia Declaration of Rights that strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson in writing the first part of the Declaration of Independence. He left the convention bitterly disappointed, however, and became one of the Constitution's most vocal opponents. "It has no declaration of rights," he was to state. Ultimately, George Mason's views prevailed. When James Madison drafted the amendments to the Constitution that were to become the Bill of Rights, he drew heavily upon the ideas put forth in the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
Edited to add; One of the reasons the Articles of Confederation was too weak was because of the Founding Fathers' distrust of a strong central government.

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Last edited by Whoa Nellie; May 13 2013 at 11:19 PM.
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Old May 14 2013, 01:04 AM   #219
gturner
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Nellie, as a history geek who reads books on the law and politics of guns and militias from the 1800's to the 1930's, for some reason I've been asking myself a question more and more often in these recent discussions. As I start writing out a long winded explanation of my position, as if I was Sheldon debating the nuances of the Star Wars expanded universe with Leonard, Raj, or even Will Wheaton, I start to wonder why I'm trying to answer with the usual level of detail backed up with links and citations after I realize I'm talking to Penny. Delete, delete, delete, rewrite, reword.

So here goes:

The American colonists had a very berry bad time with centralized government and officials who'd grown drunk with power, a Parliament that had gone deaf and thought dispatching troops was the best way to shut people up and make them pay taxes, and armies that roamed the countryside answerable to no one but the King. So the Americans fought back like the Ewoks on Endor and blew up the Death Star. At first they cheered, but then they asked themselves how they could be sure that they could stay free even if their new government became as corrupt as the Old Republic or got taken over by clone trooper led by Sith Lords.

They decided that they should forbid their new government from ever seizing their own blasters, light sabers, and X-wings. They also said their new government would never be allowed to censor galactic communications, force a uniform religion on everyone (that leads to the dark side), let Storm Troopers move in to people's houses, use probe droids in interrogations, freeze people in carbonite, burn them with lava, or throw them into sarlacc pits, or try people based on evidence gained via Jedi mind control.

They were very afraid that the inevitable rot, corruption, military regimentation, power madness, and relics of the dark side would render their new government every bit as bad as the one that had abused all their freedoms, abuses that had led to their violent but successful rebellion. So before they allowed their planetary tax revenues to again be combined into a galactic government that would have the resources to turn on them and blast their planets into oblivion with an armada of new Death Stars, they wanted some guarantees, and they wanted those guarantees backed up by the combined non-centralized firepower of all the rebel planets. Without that firepower the guarantees were empty words. So that's what they did, and most people were happy, even if it did take them a hundred more years to recognize that droids have equal rights and longer than that to recognize that women's scripts shouldn't sound like they were written by a twelve-year old.
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Old May 14 2013, 01:05 AM   #220
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Whoa Nellie wrote: View Post
Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Only a strong government can protect your rights.
Sorry, that may be your belief, but that is the exact opposite of the Founding Fathers intent.
That's great, but shouldn't we be a little more concerned about the intent of people living in the 21st century?

gturner wrote: View Post
As I start writing out a long winded explanation of my position, as if I was Sheldon debating the nuances of the Star Wars expanded universe with Leonard, Raj, or even Will Wheaton, I start to wonder why I'm trying to answer with the usual level of detail backed up with links and citations after I realize I'm talking to Penny.
The Big Bang Theory sucks, but I still get the references. Watch your mouth kid, or you'll find yourself floating home.
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Old May 14 2013, 02:56 AM   #221
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

gturner,

Impressive, most impressive.

It was the best giggle I had all evening and my eighteen-year-old fangirl daughter loved it!

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Old May 14 2013, 03:04 AM   #222
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Whoa Nellie wrote: View Post
Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post

Only a strong government can protect your rights.
Sorry, that may be your belief, but that is the exact opposite of the Founding Fathers intent.
So you're saying that the Founding Fathers did not intend for individual rights to be protected?

It's simple logic, really. The protection of individual rights can only be done by a strong government. Without government, there can be no law; without law, there can be no rights or protections.
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Old May 14 2013, 04:02 AM   #223
gturner
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Luke: "Yes, I see it now. Only a strong government can bring order to the universe! I will join with you father, and after we overthrow Emperor Palpatine, nothing will stand in our way!"

Meanwhile, back in the world of legal scholarship, the colonies had operated under their own laws for about a century and a half before the American Revolution occurred. The operated under the Articles of Confederation for years afterward. James Madison drew on the state constitutions to form the basis of his Bill of Rights. If the states were already ensuring the rights of the people (including many not detailed in the Bill of Rights), then obviously the Founders didn't need a strong central government to ensure liberty. In fact, their arguments in favor of the Constitution largely consisted of convincing people that such a government would not destroy their existing rights. Thus the ten amendments.

If a strong central government was guaranteed to be a strong protector of rights, then Thomas Jefferson wouldn't have had to get so picky about the subject in the Declaration of Independence. If the colonists hadn't already recognized their own individual rights (no double jeopardy, speedy trial, trial by jury, etc) then neither they nor Thomas Jefferson would've been pissed off about the abuses of rights that they didn't even know they had.
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Old May 14 2013, 04:16 AM   #224
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

^ what gturner said.

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Old May 14 2013, 04:31 AM   #225
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Re: 5 year old given rifle as gift, kills 2 year old sister

Perhaps, then, you'd care to suggest who else BUT the government could possibly ensure that your rights are protected?
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