Friday, March 26, 2010

26 March 2010 militia act 1792 hoist by who’s petard?

26 March 2010 militia act 1792 hoist by who’s petard?

From a friend on a fly fishing forum:

“Congress approved the Militia Act of 1792, which was duly signed by George Washington, then the president and commander in chief.

Establishing state militias and a national standard for their operation, the Militia Act explicitly required every "free able-bodied white male citizen" between the ages of 18 and 45, with a few occupational exceptions, to "provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder.."

Within six months, every citizen enrolled and notified of his required militia service had to equip himself as specified above. There was spirited debate in Congress as to whether the state ought to subsidize the purchase of arms for men too poor to afford their own, so that everyone could serve his country. Subsidized or not, however, the founders saw no constitutional barrier to a law ordering every citizen to buy a gun and ammo.

Quotations and facsimiles of the Militia Act can be found on hundreds of right-wing blogs, of course, where it is often cited to demonstrate that the founders would have despised gun control. Few if any of these Second Amendment zealots seem to have realized yet how ironic it is for them to quote this venerable statute alongside their anguished protests against the constitutional validity of any federal mandate.

Or maybe Washington was a socialist, too. “

The political right has made a concerted effort to co-opt all the symbols associated with patriotism that it can. If they could copyright the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they would. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution has become a battle flag for the right wing, with the NRA and various other gun groups trying to stake out a position that allows them sole use of this amendment.

Today’s most likely court battle will revolve around the 10th Amendment as the GOP attempts to have the Supreme court overturn the just-passed health care reform laws. They will argue that the 10th Amendment does not allow Congress to mandate the purchase of health insurance. Yet, in the opening excerpt, it is easy to see that Congress has previously mandated that all militia members must equip their selves for service at their own expense. This would seem to be a long established precedent that the GOP and other parts of the right wing have no problem accepting. If it were my privilege to sit in judgment on this matter, there would be no need for a lunch break.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. I don’t see any way the GOP can win. If they claim that the militia act is not relevant, then they may anger the gun lobby. If they don’t, there is a clearly established precedent just waiting to defeat their case.

Get used to the sound of laughter, Boener. You’re going to hear a lot more directed at you and your partners in obstructionism.

Washington was not a socialist. Jefferson was not a socialist. Obama is not a socialist. The only socialists in US government are those Republicans willing to use taxpayer moneys to bail out the banking industry. They’re great believers in corporate socialism, making the taxpayer cover the financial industries losses while the taxpayers losses at the hands of the financial industry’s malfeasance is left to the taxpayer. Now it’s time to regulate the banks again.

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