Where’s Lexington and Concord in D.C. v. Heller?

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3 Responses

  1. Tim McDonald says:

    It is only a problem if you fail to recognize “militia” as exactly what you described, informal associations of every able bodied man with a gun between 14 and 65.

    That is the militia that the Constitutiion protects, and that the founders expected to protect us from the danger of tyranny.

    And that is in my opinion all the justification we need to expand the 2nd amendment to include allowing the majority of citizens to own any man portable arms they can afford.

  2. Charles Norris says:

    If D.C v Heller appears as a contradiction to Lexington and Concord it is because, in reality, it is a classic paradox. It stands as the perfect example of concepts inspired by the events at Lexington and Concord being perverted by the mis-guided attempts of local legislatures to curb urban crime by infringing on the natural and national right as mentioned in the 2nd. Amendment. The City of D.C.’s gun laws have done nothing to quell urban crime and made it all but impossible for the D.C. Council to “call forth its militia” (if it had or needed one). To answer the call with a well regulated weapon would be self-incrimination and violate the militia’s volunteers 5th. Amendment rights when he “mustered”. The cart now goes before the horse.

    Re: “The colonists even had cannon, the most powerful weapons of the day.”

    Respectfully, I beg to differ. The armed sailing ship, the proverbial “Man of War”, was the nuclear weapon of the 17th and 18th. Centuries. So important that the Founding Fathers did not allow Congress a choice regarding a navy but compelled it to; “Provide and Maintain a Navy”, Ar.1,Sec.8, Para 13. I don’t advocate that “cannon” is a protected arm under the 2nd. Amendment as it is a “crew served weapon”, but the Founding Fathers did not, regard the muzzle loading cannon of the day as being beyond private possession as long as the possessor behaved. “Privateers”, privately owned armed ships were, all together, a different matter.

  3. Trying to base an understanding of the Second Amendment’s intent from one specific historical occurrence results in exactly the type of disagreement that the Supreme Court is attempting to settle in the Heller case.

    Rather than use the beginning of hostilities for an understanding of why arms are guaranteed to the people, why not look at why people had arms to use prior to the beginning of those hostilities? If the people had not possessed arms and knowledge of their use prior to Lexington and Concord, the shot heard ’round the world could not have been fired. Also, it should be obvious that government officials in most of the colonies were not enforcing any of the existing militia laws requiring men to possess and train with their own arms. There were, in fact, extensive attempts to disarm the people and make any arms they had useless by seizing all gunpowder well prior to hostilites. This was especially true in Massachusetts, but also in other colonies, most notably Virginia.

    By emphasizing Lexington and Concrod, the person most responsible for the Second Amendment, George Mason of Virginia, is completely ignored. Mason was organizing a defensive association of all the able-bodied men in Fairfax Countty over a year prior to hostilities up in Massachusetts. He described this defensive force as a well regulated militia. It was Mason who wrote the 1776 Virginia Bill of Rights, America’s first, and the first of several to use his well regulated militia reference. It was also Mason who wrote the first two-clause predecessor of the Second Amendment as part of a model Bill of Rights that became the foundation for the first eight amendments of the U.S. Bill of Rights.

    The problem with understanding the Second Amendment is that those arguing about its intent often know little about the most relevant persons, comments, and actions that resulted in its actual formation. They get diverted into discussions of military matters rather than paying attention to the Bill of Rights context and history of the Second Amendment. I have attempted to solve this problem by documenting the Constitutional Era in The Origin of the Second Amendment and by preparing the first book length defintive history of the Second Amendment in The Founders’ View of the Rights to Bear Arms.

    My critical commenties on the historical arguments presented in four of the Heller amicus briefs supporting Washington DC’s gun control laws are available online. They expose a remarkable lack of understanding of our Bill of Rights history in four of the Heller briefs by those trying to influence the Supreme Court, one of which was submitted by a large number of professional historians and constitutional law academics.

    For links to these articles and information about the historically based Second Amendment related books mentioned above, go to this URL: