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The Second Amendment and Race

Mark Shea, in his never ending effort to paint everyone who disagrees with him on the Second Amendment as racists and anti-semites, has a long screed on his blog that may be read here.  As usual when it comes to history, Mark is bone ignorant and merely parrots what his leftist sources say.  In regard to race and the Second Amendment Shea’s leftist sources gives us a reverse image look at the actual history:

 

Prior to the Civil War there were laws passed in many of the slave holding states attempting to restrict the right to keep and bear arms to whites.  Challenges to these laws by free blacks almost always asserted the Second Amendment.  A passage in the Dred Scott decision indicates what a preoccupation blacks carrying weapons was to slaveholders:

It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.

After the Civil War freed blacks set up Loyal League militias to defend their rights.  Eliminating these militias and taking away from blacks their Second Amendment rights was a key goal of the white supremacist “Redeemer” governments that came to power after Reconstruction.

In the case of Florida v. Stone, 4 So.2d 700 (Fla. 1941), the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a white man for violating a gun control statute on the grounds that the law violated the second amendment.  In his concurring opinion, Justice Rivers Buford explained that the law was never intended to apply to whites:

I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.

Malcolm X, back in the sixties understood that the Second Amendment provided blacks the right to purchase weapons for self defense:

 

So Mark is correct that race and the Second Amendment are linked in the history of this amendment.  Racists have ever been against blacks enjoying Second Amendment rights.  In his tirades against the Second Amendment Mark stands in evil company indeed.

 

A secondary argument of Mark’s rant, is the contention that the proposition that the Second Amendment is the last bulwark of the American people against tyranny is an illusion, and is a made up pretext by the NRA:

 We’ve heard it a million times.  The second amendment was ratified so that portly suburbanites in Lubbock and Butte could make war on Future Hitler when he takes over the government. It is therefore necessary to offer 35,000 real human sacrifices each year in order to prevent the imaginary slaughter that is come.  Never mind that this theory of gun rights was tested from 1861 to 1865 and the results were negative. Never mind that well-regulated militias do not slaughter children in the some 300  school shootings that have happened merely since Sandy Hook. It is a dogma (and therefore a lie) of the rock-headed Gun Cult:  the second amendment was created by the founders of Constitutional order so that disgruntled idiots could make war on the Constitutional order that gave them gun rights.
I can only assume, based upon the above, that Mark has never in his life read any of the Founding Fathers on the Second Amendment.

Many in the states were concerned that the proposed new federal government would have too much power, and Federalist 46 was written by James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, to help allay those concerns.

The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the State governments is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition.

Madison realized that this was a sensitive point.  The American Revolution had only ended five years before, and the attempt by Great Britain to rule through military force was a raw memory for all of his readers.  Madison tackles this fear head on by comparing the military force of a standing federal army to the militias of the states:

Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it.

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.

A British officer lamented at the beginning of the American Revolution that the Americans were “a people numerous and armed”.  Madison does not simply seize upon militias as an argument against fears of a tyrannical federal government, but he rather views the right of citizens to be armed as a fundamental protection for liberty.

Madison makes this clear in this passage:

Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.

Madison’s views were commonplace at the time.  Justice Story, appointed by James Madison to the US Supreme Court, wrote in 1833 in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States:

“The next amendment is: ‘A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ “

“The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.(1) And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burdens, to be rid.”

 

Mark, like many other leftists with no military experience, pooh-poohs the idea of the American people successfully defending their liberties against the regular forces of the Federal government.  The idea that an armed citizenry cannot be a powerful force against a regular Army  is belied by the American Revolution where the American militia gave invaluable aid to the comparatively miniscule Continental Army.  As for the Civil War, both sides depended upon citizen armies raised from the state militias as volunteer regiments from the states, the miniscule Federal regular army being a non-factor, other than providing a small fraction of the officers in the huge Union army.  The aftermath of the Civil War, Reconstruction, demonstrated how effective even low level civilian guerilla operations could be against an occupying regular force.

As Afghanistan and Iraq have amply demonstrated, insurgencies are difficult to combat even for the most advanced military on Earth.  A widespread insurgency in this country would pose the same problems for our military on a vastly larger scale.  We have a huge country inhabited by some 330,000,000 people.  An insurgency supported by 40% of the American people, with ten percent willing to take up arms, would produce a potential guerilla force in the tens of millions.  National Guard units and segments of the military would quickly line up with the insurgents in a rebellion supported by 40% of the people they are pledged to defend.

The State in which I live, Illinois, is 26th in size, with 102 counties and hundreds of cities, towns and villages. I can just imagine the military effort necessary to hold down just Illinois in a conflict where 40% of the population supported a war against the government.

Modern militaries have immense logistical tails supporting the fighting units, filled with soft targets, all tempting fruit for guerilla units.  The idea that an armed population would not be a check on a tyrannical government in this country badly misunderstands both the nature of modern warfare and the history of this nation.  Mr. Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence wrote of a right of revolution.  The Second Amendment guarantees that if that right ever must be exercised, the people will have the ability to do so.

The Founding Fathers, in all they did, struggled to pass on the blessings of liberty to their posterity.  Ensuring that the American people would remain, in the words of the aforementioned British officer during the Revolution, “a people numerous and armed”, was one part of the safeguards that they gave us against tyranny.  It is the last protection between the people and tyranny. This safeguard is just as effective today as it was in 1789.

 

“Let me tell you why I’m a defender of the Second Amendment.”

“I was a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the late fifties, early sixties.  There was no way that Bull Connor and the Birmingham Police were going to protect you.”

“And so when White Knight Riders would come through our neighborhood, my father and his friends would take their guns and they’d go to the head of the neighborhood, it’s a little cul-de-sac and they would fire in the air, if anybody came through.”

“I don’t think they actually ever hit anybody, but they protected the neighborhood. And I’m sure if Bull Connor had known where those guns were he would have rounded them up.”

Condoleezza Rice, March 1, 2018

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

37 Comments

  1. Can someone please explain to me why Patheticos and Catholic Answers employ someone whose avocation is to (1) shoot off his mouth on matters no more tangentially relevant to the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church and (2) knows nothing of the sociology of crime (or of suicide, while we’re at it), and does not care to learn. I’d love to have a little audio file of Ben Stein’s voice uttering ‘Akin? Akin? Akin?’ over and over again.

  2. Mark is bone ignorant and merely parrots what his leftist sources say. I

    You need to see our Facebook feed to believe it. Ordinary people use Facebook to show you pictures of their grandchildren. There’s a common feminine type who use it to transmit inspid ‘inspirational’ messages. Partisan Democrats use it to blather about politics, and what they say consists of dumb memes and John Oliver clips. They go to a regular menu of sources. The sources take some ordinary political event and put some grossly distorting spin on it and it gets distorted even more with each recycling. It’s like the old party game of ‘rumors’ where ‘uncle John has a limp, pass it on’ turns into ‘uncle John is a pimp, pass it on’. At no time in my life has the opposition been more voluble while seeming more detached from mundane life. At the same time, just about every procedural rule and courtesy of political life has been trashed by the Democratic Party, something for which their most ardent voters blame the opposition. That’s the source of nearly all the political contention in this country. I do not think this will end well.

  3. Mark-who? “Facts! I don’t need no stinking facts!”

    In Reconstruction South, the Ku Klux Klan was viciously reversing Civil War battlefield victories. Freedmen were denied the right to own guns. Night riders didn’t like being shot at.

    Why did it take two weeks for the media liars to figure it was “astroturfing?” It’s all about opportunism and a pre-existing gun-control agenda. It has nothing to do with the actual events being used as an excuse. “BECAUSE THE MEDIA WANTED TO BELIEVE IN MAGICAL KIDS AND THEIR ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY, THAT’S WHY!” Instapundit

  4. Each year in the U.S. obesity claims more lives than gun violence, therefore we need more laws regulating body weight before even considering laws restricting gun ownership.

  5. When it comes to gun deaths, black and white Americans live in different worlds. White Americans experience gun deaths at a rate similar to those of Canada or Northern European countries–and the majority of these are suicides–while black gun deaths are comparable to those in Honduras or African countries, and most of these are homicides.

    And of course, a great number of black gun homicides are committed with stolen or otherwise illicit handguns, not with AR-15s or any of the other “assault rifle” varieties that the media hyperventilates over. No-one–not the NRA, nor law-abiding gun owners of any race–is lobbying to preserve the right of gangs or violent criminals to terrorize their communities.

    School shootings, of course, are a tiny fraction of gun homicides. But the media and the left (but I repeat myself) are entirely uninterested in the sad and sordid reality of American gun crime, preferring to focus on spectacular “black swan” events in order to render innocent people defenseless.

  6. Let us pray that Shea’s ranting demonstrates to people how unstable and uncatholic he has become, and he changes his ways when he sees what a pariah he is becoming. I might also suggest lodging complaints with any outlet that publishes his pieces. The NCR fired him after enough outcry.

  7. I could tolerate this children’s crusade against firearm ownership if they stopped going to the same 4 or so ignorant, shrill children.

    Parkland was a horror–no question about it. But focusing on the gun gives a free pass to all of the agencies that should have stopped this before it happened. Which is a wonderful gift to them, the confiscators and polemicists everywhere.

    In the meantime, we show how much we care about children by letting them drive and duplicate Parkland every three days. If you aren’t mature enough to own a firearm before age 21, you have no business being behind a wheel, either.

    https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

  8. “Mark, like many other leftists with no military experience, pooh-poohs the idea of the American people successfully defending their liberties against the regular forces of the Federal government.”
    What he also doesn’t understand (apparently) is that the vast majority of American soldiers would NOT fire upon their fellow citizens/family/friends and would probably help them in an insurgency with legitimate grievances. There would, of course, be Bernie Sanders types, Maxine Waters types and Sheriff Scott Israel types that would have to be fought, but citizens and our allies in the US military would make short work of them.

  9. Mark Shea is worse than bone ignorant. I do not how he is not willfully blind. I am beginning to feel genuine pity for him. As much contempt as I have for him, it is painful to watch him to circle the psychological drain like this.

  10. Mark probably also holds the contradictory notions that it’s impossible for the government to remove 11 million illegals, but confiscating that number* of so-called “assault-rifles” will be easy-peasy.

    This article reports “The NRA estimates that between 8.5 million and 15 million assault rifles are in circulation based on manufacturer data[.]

  11. If you aren’t mature enough to own a firearm before age 21, you have no business being behind a wheel, either.

    Nor should you be compelled to serve in the military, or have the right to vote.

  12. Duties and rights do not necessarily track. We had a lot of men drafted who were below the age to either drink or vote. Come to think of it, drinking while voting might improve the votes cast by some of the electorate!

  13. T Shaw-You can always use this equation: KKK = Democrats.But note well: In all US history about 5000 lynchings total. Planned Parenthhood kills more African-Americans than that every ten days, these are Sanger’s black and brown “human weeds.”.

    All-worth repeating: We enliven MS; let him be anathema:
    “Beginning some time before he was sworn in, whenever I saw his image, saw his words, or heard his voice, – BSBO, Barry Soetoro Barack Obama, – I turned off whatever screen, site, phone or radio was the source . He is now fading into a black hole of bad history, never to rise up again. I have not read all of the article above, nor have I clicked on any link to any other material. Why? because I send MSBS to that same black hole with BSBO. Try it – you will like it – and in doing so you become part of the silent audience who – a la JM Barrie saving the fairy Tinkerbelle – refuses to applaud and give MSBS life. Guy McClung, Texas

    [“MSBS” = Mark Shea . . . ; you figure out the rest]

  14. “Mark Shea, in his never ending effort….”

    We can stop right there. Nothing more needs to be said. My three most favorite weapons – my Rosary, my Bible, my mini-14 rifle. To Mark Shea and all other liberal progressive feminists – μολὼν λαβέ !

  15. Murray-
    and a lot of those murders are because the “Hispanic” cartels are really freaking racist.
    When they move into an area, they will kill any possible competition.
    This is generally the story behind “guy was shot dead gassing up his car on the way to work.” He was black, a cartel member decided he could be competition, and didn’t care if he was wrong; being wrong might even be better, since “black people in this area will be executed before they even know someone’s there” is scarier. Ditto firebombing houses of nice, middle-class families that happen to be black.

    I really have to get my articles on the “drug saints” done. Those SOBs are freaky.

  16. Art-
    if he’s still working for Catholic Answers, it’s probably because he’s a good theologian. Bugnuts on politics, but that’s hardly unique. Some copy-editing on any article submitted and he’s fine.
    I just realized I haven’t heard him on the radio for ages, though.

  17. Oh, since nobody has thrown down the trump card for this chunk yet:
    It is a dogma (and therefore a lie) of the rock-headed Gun Cult: the second amendment was created by the founders of Constitutional order so that disgruntled idiots could make war on the Constitutional order that gave them gun rights.
    It’s a false characterization of the situation; God gave us the gun rights, and the second amendment is for if the Constitutional order is perverted to take them or any other God-given rights away.
    But don’t trust me, trust them:
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
    …I don’t need to source that, do I?

  18. Art-if he’s still working for Catholic Answers, it’s probably because he’s a good theologian.

    He’s never been a theologian. He gives his readers no hint of what his academic history is or what he’s done for a living. Catholic Answers is devoted to education and communications (supposedly), not to theology per se. His blog is a component of what he communicates.

  19. Guy- something that gets ignored a lot is that lynching wasn’t always mob killings of blacks because they were black; it was also the execution of those caught in the act out west, no matter what color they were.
    Vigilante justice is ugly— that’s why we need a clean, open and effective legal system
    ….guess what the programs to reduce arrests and crime rates by not recording the offenses and not punishing the crimes attacks?
    Scares me to death.

  20. He gives his readers no hint of what his academic history is or what he’s done for a living.

    ??? You can look at his page on catholic.com
    He writes and lectures on Catholic theology for a living; he mostly does pop-style lectures, and debunking of stuff like the Da Vinci Code.
    Before he went bugnuts on politics, he was enjoyable and rather good at what he did; I stopped reading him because I caught him lying in conflating some historical practices with modern ones.
    He’s still very good at actually reaching liberals, if you can keep the subject focused away from his own judgement.

  21. Foxfier,

    Shea actually has no formal training/degree in theology. His claim to fame is that he is a convert from protestantism, for which he was trotted around by the Catholic “conservative” establishment. He was actually fired not too long ago from the national catholic register because of his conduct, including dishonesty. Expertise in theology seems to be no qualification for catholic answers- they have several people there who have no real theological training and their folks make their share of errors on theological and canonical matters. I think they have really gone downhill over the years.

  22. He writes and lectures on Catholic theology for a living;

    He’s 60. His 1st book wasn’t published until he was 39. I don’t recall him having much of a profile until he was about 45, and, having acquired one, he set about a few years later alienating most of his audience. Presumably, he had some other occupation at one time. AFAIK, he hasn’t said what it was. Perhaps it’s in his earlier work.

  23. Racism is the Communism of the modern Left. That is, you hang the Racism label the way you could hang the Communist/Socialist label on someone in the 1950s. Except in the 50s you had the intelligentsia, artists, dreamers, poets, musicians, and journalists fighting the Red Scare mentality. Today, they join. So remember, in 2006, we had at least one major Protestant denomination join the hysteria following The Passion of the Christ and declare the New Testament a racist, antisemitic document. In light of that, it’s not hard to imagine that almost all of the BoR, if not the Constitution, will go the same way. The purpose is to eradicate the Christian West and its heritage, including the historical United States.

  24. David-
    Formal training is not relevant; the arguments either stand, or don’t, on their own. That’s part of why I like Catholicism.
    And he was fired for abusively bad behavior, IE, what this website (and various others) have been pointing out for years.
    I would be interested to see examples of these theological errors?
    ***
    Art-
    So? You don’t have to have much of a profile to make a living, and he’s in Seattle. That is both why I understand his regrettable insane turn– it’s hard to convey what the mob there is like, if you haven’t lived it– and why only an utter idiot would give too many details about themselves.

  25. BTW, I would say that was the worst hatchet job on history I’ve seen in a while, except that it’s becoming the common approach in too many venues.

  26. /sigh
    usually from the same folks who bemoan how there’s a lack of decency.
    Which seems to be a synonym for “politely” ignoring issues with the speaker, if one hasn’t the decency to completely agree right off the bat, in full voice.

  27. So? You don’t have to have much of a profile to make a living, and he’s in Seattle. That is both why I understand his regrettable insane turn– it’s hard to convey what the mob there is like, if you haven’t lived it– and why only an utter idiot would give too many details about themselves.

    As usual, I’m really not sure what your complaint is.

    I’ve a sister who has lived in Seattle for 30 years. She is neither insane nor living in fear of the insane.

    Books usually delineate something of the author’s background (including their current employment) in the front matter or on the back flap of the dust jacket.

  28. Art, is your sister a public speaker, work with anyone who might get personally annoyed with her, or does she comment online?
    If not, what exactly is your point in bringing her up?
    If so, why on earth would I care that she does not realize that yes, Seattle has violent crazies who can and will pull possibly deadly junk against you? Happened to folks in my husband’s office, and they’re nobodies.
    ******
    Books usually have enough detail to be a selling point– and Shea’s tend to say that he’s a double convert, if that, because that’s relevant and folks might find it interesting.
    But your original complaint appears to be that you don’t have enough details to attack him personally when the question is his theology. -.-

  29. If not, what exactly is your point in bringing her up?

    She lives in Seattle. You said Seattle is full of crazies. She used to write for local newspapers. No, she did not receive hate mail.

    While we’re at it, Scott Hahn has an extensive speaking schedule. For whatever reason, he hasn’t lost his marbles.

    But your original complaint appears to be that you don’t have enough details to attack him personally when the question is his theology. -.-

    No, that wasn’t. My original point was that he was not a theologian and that his mundane occupation is unknown. This isn’t that difficult.

  30. She lives in Seattle.

    Up until about a year ago, so did we.

    She used to write for local newspapers. No, she did not receive hate mail.

    Was it in a way as likely to piss off the crazies as solid Catholic theology? Was it since the 90s? Because a good half-dozen of our family friends from over that way specifically warned my parents not to take the vehicle with the triggering bumperstickers on it in the mid-90s, and it’s only gotten worse.

    You said Seattle is full of crazies.

    Part of why we moved was because being seen in public with multiple children was an invitation to be randomly hectored by otherwise seemingly normal people about how evil we were.

    You’re not going to persuade me that such behavior is sane.

    My original point was that he was not a theologian and that his mundane occupation is unknown.

    No, you repeatedly hammered on a lack of credentials, and seem to think theologian means some sort of creator of theology, rather than someone who studies religious faith, practice and experience.

    Seeing as this blog isn’t exactly chock-full of folks with theology degrees, but it does have a tendency to have folks who recognize logical fallacies in response to arguments– peace out.

  31. Yes, Foxfier, a theologian is someone who produces theological speculation, not someone who transmits it.

    No, you repeatedly hammered

    Uh no. I made one remark. You’ve insisted on compulsively returning to the subject, for which you are now blaming me.

    Was it in a way as likely to piss off the crazies as solid Catholic theology?

    No, she’s never written about that subject. She wrote reviews of the local music scene, which might piss off someone.

  32. God Bless you, Foxfier and Art,

    Liberalism is an emotional/psychological pathology.

    Ban liberals not guns.

    In a perfect world, there would be a bounty on liberals. They’re worse than feral pigs. I just insulted feral pigs.

Comments are closed.