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Current & future validity of the 2nd amendment to the U.S. constitution

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/10/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 771 times Debate No: 64931
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James Madison reveals in Federalist paper number 46 the intentions of the 2nd amendment.

"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. 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."

To paraphrase, he says that the Federal government should have an army, but it's not too far fetched that the combined State's armies could not overthrow it. He then goes into the numbers. He states that to the best of his observations; a Federal army can't exceed one percent of the total population, or four percent of the total number able to bear arms.

To show why the Federal army could be overthrown at the time, he assumes all people able to bear arms will do so and fight; and that this number can easily repel the Federal army. He then references the successful resistance against British forces to further support his argument.

He later emphasizes the importance of the states within the country, referring to them as the thing that will organize the people, create officers, and lead the people against a Federal force. He later goes on about European people freeing themselves if only they could organize and bear arms.
Which brings us to the argument. The current and future validity of the 2nd amendment.

It is my stance that, after studying Federalist paper #46, that the 2nd amendment not only allows us to be able to protect ourselves against individuals and small groups that would do us or our loved ones harm; but it serves as the one thing that allows the people to rebel against a tyrannical government.

Our forefathers in America took this notion of tyranny very seriously. They did what almost no other country in the world has done - the wrote down... on paper... these words:

"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."

This isn't the only thing they wrote down. They felt it necessary to protect freedom of speech and media, along with other things also. All of these early amendments and the constitution itself were written specifically with tyranny in mind. The design of the U.S. government system was developed with tyranny in mind. Everything created during those first few years of independence day was put in place to keep the government in check, and to limit it's power and prevent any one opinion from ruling all. America's forefathers clearly thought that protecting against tyranny was incredibly important.

It is my stance that although we are not in a state of rebellion at the moment, it's not impossible in the future. And observing all of the Federal branches created post-forefather era, we can see that these branches do not participate with checks and balances as was originally intended, and have grown substantial strengths because of this.

One might argue that an organized people can not outfight the current federal army. This would be accurate at present simply due to technological advancements. No longer do the shear amount of men ensure victory. We are in the era of naval destroyers that can fire half-ton rounds 10 miles inland, and stealth bombers that can deliver nuclear bombs from the stratosphere.

These are all serious problems, and demonstrate that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is being infringed. I argue that the 2nd amendment should be interpreted to it's original intent. Our forefathers may not have foreseen splitting the atom, but surely the foreseen weaponry advancing as it always has, making the individual soldier more effective.

I think that not only should people own firearms or assault rifles (the real ones); but they should be able to purchase or build artillery, drones, large bombs, destroyers, air craft carriers, nuclear weapons, and anything else they so desire.

I stand firmly in this because it is the entire intention behind everything that was created and written by America's forefathers. Our constitution, our amendments, our checks and balances, everything that was initially done was done from the stance of anti-tyranny. This should be the interpretation today still.

I think the 2nd amendment is valid for the purpose of preventing tyranny. And I think that if one doesn't agree that the 2nd amendment can stop tyranny, then what will? Nothing. We'd have another Nazi Germany on our hands, where the opinions of the majority are brutally imposed on the minority, only shortly after all have been disarmed.


So I just want to offer a rebuttal to a lot of the things that you state in your arrangements for the literal interpretation of the 2nd amendment in current American society.

First of all I would like to discuss your point on the maintenance of a militia as per the second amendment. In my opinion the maintenance of a militia is not to rise up against tyranny but to serve as America's military if invaded for in the inception of America the American military was adorable in comparison to the armies of Europe thus America hoped that if we were invaded( or for a lot of reason decided to invade) any European nation America would have a large force for a guerrilla style defense of America that served us well in the Revolutionary War. But to establish the current idea of 2nd amendment as James Madison in modern day America would be a little bit crazy. Because we would first of all need to add either 1.8 or 0.9 million service members to around one percent of the population depending if your talking about active duty or active duty and reserve and then multiply 3 million by 25 to get the grand total of an organized militia that has received military training to 78 million men. Although I do not claim to be a founding father savant I severely doubt that the founding fathers wanted a standing army larger than most of the armies in the world put together or such a absurdly large military force that does not insure against tyranny but instead puts a economic drag on the nation that we can ill afford

I also feel that the the second amendment was written out of the justified fear of military coups which happened alarmingly in France and other nations. I believe this For is best put in the words of Thomas Jefferson "There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation, and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors, that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot, but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army."
Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789, 549
These types of cups although scary have almost happened once and did happened during the civil war. A shockingly low record in comparison to other nations in the same time period. Thus in my opinion the fear of tyranny in unfounded in American history.

However I would complete agree with you on the fact that a armed militia no matter how large would mount a effective resistance against the united States' military. Thus the mere notion that the right to fire arms would make the slightest difference to me is to be quite honest a laughable idea that would a terribly one sided affair.

However, I think that your argument takes a down right foolish approach when you star taking about arming the people with modern military ordnance such as "(the real ones); but they should be able to purchase or build artillery, drones, large bombs, destroyers, air craft carriers, nuclear weapons, and anything else they so desire." First of all nuclear weapon are quite literally the most dangerous possible thing on the plant (besides maybe climate change) a he mere notion of saying high Jim bob do you want to build a nuke with me just down right scares me a hell of a lot more than any other threat our nation currently faces. For just imagine some person builds a nuke and blows it up in the eastern sea board. Millions dead making the land uninhabitable for thousands of years as well as any other symptoms of nuclear fallout. All because of a extremely broad interpretation of the US Constitution. I would also hope that you expect the government to not out spend the common people a billion to one in their persona military spending because they may actually be busy living their lives. Thus the notion of why not just give everyone a nuke is not a solution its Mutually Assured destruction

And to counter any arguments that you may bring up I do support the right for Americans to purchase firearms (within reason) as long as they pass a background check yes even the super scary AR15. In my opinion mass shootings do not happen because of guns(they do help) I instead think that its because of mental health thus I have no qualms about the right to bear arms (so long as its reasonable) but interpreting the constitution on the right to own nukes is a bit like referring to the old testament for military tactics. I think that just about covers it. ( Hello my names Jeffery I am a moderate democrat that lives in Massachusetts and I am very passionate about politics I'm sincerely sorry if I offended any one in this article if you would like to have a discussion about please ask)
Debate Round No. 1


sidewinder, thank you for accepting this debate.

The maintenance of a militia is to serve as America's military in case of invasion. The right of regular people (as opposed to a militia) is to not only help defend against foreign invaders but also against tyranny. Defense against tyranny, as intended by the second amendment and explained by Federalist paper number 46 is specifically intended to be carried out by the common people should the need arise.

Interpreting the 2nd amendment as Madison does in his paper does not mean adding millions of service members to our military. Those figures were laid out by Madison as theoretical maximums of a country's standing army (not a state's common man army). He formulated these theoretical maximums in order to reason if the common people would be able to repel this force or not, which they would be able to at the time. The theoretical maximums are just that, theoretical maximums. The figure is supposed to be a high-ball. I want to clarify that Madison specifically states that this would be the maximum for a Federal army. The numbers you came up with were because you assumed that the state's common man army would be constantly standing. This is not the case.

The purpose of the 2nd amendment is to enable an easily readied army should it be needed to fight against tyranny or a foreign invader, or to defend against a smaller more local threat. Also, I think that there is no greater economic drain than a tyrannical government who spends over 19% of all federal income on a standing, well organized militia. The state's common people army would not necessarily need paid, as was laid out by Madison in his paper. He says that the states would collect the will of the people, and then direct the forces of the people. These notions do not directly refer to a paid state army, however if it were paid, it'd be temporary until whatever dispute at hand is settled. This would not be a standing army, rather, it's an easily assembled collection of state armies.

The Jefferson quote you posted accurately reflects the state's common people army as it is today; not standing. A standing army would have those who own weapons and are able, to form a standing army organized by the states. Jefferson's quote also gives light to the current potential of tyranny in our federal government today because there is a large standing army.

The fear of tyranny is founded, as is reflected by the entire design of our constitution, it's amendments, and government. Everything established during the initial forming of the U.S. reflects checks and balances and the rights of the people. They wanted to make it very difficult for tyranny to arise from within in the future.

It is currently laughable that an army assembled with the men and available civilian weaponry could repel the Federal army as it stands. With the intentions of the 2nd amendment in mind, this leads to the primary argument that states and common people alike should be able to purchase or build their own weaponry; comparable to that of the current Federal military's weaponry. This is not a broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment, rather it's a very specific interpretation, as this interpretation serves the initial intentions of America's forefathers.

You've made good points that are all commonly held notions about regular people having such weaponry. However, I'd like to put this into perspective with other things that are comparable in cost and complexity.

Nuclear weapons, and even small supporting artillery such as mortars are expensive. There is great complexity in constructing nuclear weapons, and great knowledge required to build nuclear weapons. The ability of the common man to produce such weaponry is very strained. It would take a collective of highly skilled workers and funding from highly wealthy people to build such a weapon. However it is easily within reach of a state government to construct such weaponry by organizing the will and work of the people.

How many people posses functioning tanks? How many people own a battle ship? None that I can think of. What if it were legal to own such things? Do you expect the number of people who would own them to significantly increase? I doubt it would increase too significantly, or even comparably to the Federal military's ordinances. For a more accurate example that we can look to in support of this notion is things that are legal to own, are expensive and complex, but not weaponry. How many people own a Pagani automobile? The latest model costs one million. Not many own this. How many individual people own a one million dollar Yacht? Not many. A one million dollar house?

One million dollars is quite a sum of money, and I'm certain that purchasing a nuclear weapon would cost far, far more. It'd also cost significantly more than one million to assemble the needed personnel and materials and facilities to construct nuclear weaponry. So, it's safe to assume that "Jim Bob" and his buddy could not construct such weaponry. It's also arguable that nuclear weapons would even be needed in the event of a modern civil war or rebellion. Both sides know that no matter who wins, we must all still live on the same land. A reasonable person with great resources would realize these things, as would our Federal government.

But, lets entertain the thought that "Jim Bob" has the resources available to build such weaponry, or even purchase it. I would infer that any person with such resources available is indeed a responsible person who would not use such power irresponsibly.

As far as background checks and permits for such weaponry, they would be needed, unless in the event of rebellion against a tyrannical government. In such case, the rebel forces would forgo any compliance with Federal regulation; as would be expected.

I could go into other things such as real assault rifles, grenades, RPGs, and such; but as long as we are debating about the most powerful weapon (nuclear weapons), I feel there is no need. Whatever conclusion is reached for nuclear weapons would be inherited by any lesser weaponry.

Let's entertain the thought of a nuclear weapon being irresponsibly utilized, for it is possible. Is America's very own military above this? I think not. Recently, (around July, 2014) there were many concerns about the security of America's nuclear caches & there were serious doubts raised about the personnel charged with the operation of these weapons, should they be needed. There have been cases of Officers (charged with readiness to deploy nuclear weapons) as cheating on tests and being scored as mediocre at their jobs. Many systems in charge of nuclear deployment are severely obsolete and old, and may not even function correctly if the time comes. A blast door responsible for physical security of a nuclear cache was reported as broken, and propped open with a crow bar, and having been this way for a while. It wouldn't be unreasonable to speculate the ease of stealing these weapons by a small organized force, such as a terrorist group. It also wouldn't be unreasonable to think that the controlling officers of these weapons would fail at their jobs during the deployment of such weapons, with disastrous consequences, or malicious intentions of a drunken & suicidal commanding officer causing similar concerns.

To sum this up, if the Federal government is to comply with the original intentions of the 2nd amendment ( the ability of the common people organized by the state to repel federal forces in defense of tyranny and foreign invaders), then the states and common people must be allowed any weaponry that the Federal government may have. It is unreasonable to assume that 'anyone can have a nuke', and it's reasonable that those with the resources to acquire them (should it be legal) would not use them irresponsibly.


Thank you as well for this debate I enjoy logical debates with people from the other side of the political spectrum

First of all I want to touch on your argument of the difference between a standing army and a militia because you seem to think that a militia does not need to be maintained for even if the state militia is not paid the training, equipment, and officers would need to be supplied by the federal government as it was in early 19th century of American history. Thus the numbers and training and cost would be the same with the only difference being that they are not currently needed to fight and that they owe their allegiance to their state. This move to have 51 separate armies and militias in the United States is quite baffling and would vastly increase the bureaucracy of our government in order to managed this 78 million men distributed into 51 separate armies and or militias. or I personally could not see a single governor that would want to fund a state militia of such exorbitant size. For instance California with its population of 38 million people would statistically need to maintain an militia of 9.5 million. To put this burden on any state in my opinion is obscene when that money could be spent updating infrastructure or any number of things that states could do.

However, you could make the argument that the people could supply their own weaponry. This would lead to a logistical issue of unprecedented difficulty between the hundreds of types of fire arms and ammunition that America uses.

Another issue that i have with a framers interpretation of the 2nd amendment is the fact that their concerns of tyranny has been unfounded with the numerous checks and balances of America preventing tyranny far better than the second amendment.

Also I believed you misinterpreted my use of the Jeffersonian quote which was meant to show the paranoia of Jeffersonian America which was run by the people who wrote the constitution. Therefore it was more to show how the second amendment was based upon a fear that was only justified 200 years ago. For although I have great respect for the founding fathers I think their mos important contribution to america was the fact that the constitution is not written in stone instead it has Amendments that are meant to Amend with America for the founders knew that America would go through change and therefore left ways to adapt the constitution to a more modern America.

I'd also like to reference my straw man (eloquently named Jim Bob) on his access to nuclear weapons. Although I would concur with yo that it is neigh impossible for Jim Bob to get a nuclear weapon I still have many problems with your argument on this type of interpretation of the second amendment. The first problem is more technicality but motors are not at all expensive it is literally a tube with two explosive charges I also cannot think of any colonist or private citizen in America from owning artillery other than a antique. Another problem that I have is that the "state government to construct such weaponry by organizing the will and work of the people" was a statement that confused. For I would like you to imagine that a person goes to their state legislature saying they should build plutonium enriching facilities and build their very own sate atomic bomb just in case the government turned tyrannical. I would bet my life that the state would not do this for they have much bigger concerns least of which is enforcing the will of their states population who would not want to see their hard earned tax dollars to waste on something as foolish as a nuclear warhead.

Another problem that I had was that your new laws which would empower the people with any weapon they desired would quite literally benefit cony the rich because they would be the only people who could afford a battleship. However, the worst part of your argument was when you said "But, lets entertain the thought that "Jim Bob" has the resources available to build such weaponry, or even purchase it. I would infer that any person with such resources available is INDEED a responsible person who would not use such power irresponsibly." for not only is that a logical wrong, historically wrong (do you really think North Korea uses their nukes correctly just because they can build them) but it also goes complete against your argument that misplaced power can be disastrous in the government but suddenly its okay for people. Please elaborate on this because it appears that your creating a double standard in which one person is more trusted than the government which is elected by the people our appointed by those we elect. For that is not protecting against tyranny its a self made dictatorship that this enforcement would allow.
Debate Round No. 2


The difference between a standing federal army and a readily available state army is just that. One is standing, one could be assembled quickly due to each person being armed by the 2nd amendment.

The training and equipping of such a readily assembled state army (once assembled) would not be comparable to the federal army. The army would be self-equipped, as is the intention of the 2nd amendment. These people would already have weapons and ammo. If the people are already self-equipped, it's not a stretch to say that these people already know how to use the weapons they own, too.

A common man army does not necessary need to be organized by the state, but the state would have the ability to do so; and probably should if a great majority of the state's people are rebelling against a tyrannical federal government.

You keep going back to the theoretical maximums of army size. Yes, it's possible that an army of that size could temporarily be formed if the will of the people so desired, but the theoretical maximums will likely not be met on either side.

Seeing that most common man soldiers will show up with their own weapons, ammo, and supplies, and knowledge of those things; it's not as great of a burden on the state as you make it out to be.

Mixed ammo types isn't really a logistical problem when each brings their own. And if ammo is needed, a delivery of the common types would be acquired. Lets say .22, .223, 7.62x39, 7.62x254R, 308, 20 gauge, 12 gauge, 9mm, .45 cal. All of these things can be found in many stores, and is readily available in warehouses. Purchases could even be made from anyone selling, be it local suppliers via black market or foreign countries as is often used during wars to meet demand.

I interpreted Jefferson's quote correctly, and his concerns are valid. They are just as valid today as they were then. Just because we aren't being invaded today, or rebelling today; this doesn't mean we won't be in the future. Things get worse before they get better. Once people don't really have anything to loose, that's when rebellion happens. For america, that would mean a depression with high unemployment, discontinued welfare benefits, many discontinued civil services; a brutal police force that is militarized, under trained, overfed, and ill-experienced, and FEMA camps to keep the most unfortunate of us in to separate us from others. Gradual registration and limitation of armaments of the public, leading to the total disarmament would be up there with those things too. Jefferson's concerns are very valid. Men with sin nature in their hearts will always exist; this verifies the legitimacy of Jefferson's concerns then and today. Keep in mind, evil does not just spring up from nowhere. It's gradual. The Nazi regime was gradual. Hitler never broke a law, for all the things he did was validated by policies gradually passed.

This slow whittling away of the 2nd amendment due to arguments regarding technological advancement and destructive capacity of individual weapons is not good for a free society in the long run. The 2nd amendment can not be limited to firearms, otherwise the very reason that the 2nd amendment was created can not be fulfilled. As it stands, if the people only posses semi-auto firearms, then we have already lost against any future tyrant that will arise. This validates the literal interpretation of the 2nd amendment. I might add that the 2nd amendment is like a fire department team. There aren't always fires, but you're sure glad you have them when there are fires.

About states organizing the construction or purchase of nuclear arms: it's very reasonable. The United States federal government has an official report that it is currently in possession of 7,300 individual nuclear weapons. However, it's estimated that the United States has produced more than 70,000 nuclear warheads since 1945. With only a few dozen (if that) required to exterminate humanity in it's entirety due to climate change and fallout; I'd say it's reasonable to assume that if America's federal government actually cared about their people, education, infrastructure, the public opinion, and not destroying the entire world, they would have stopped building these weapons around the 300 - 500 mark, and scatter them far and wide so they aren't vulnerable in one spot. And in the event that a state's people would assemble against a tyrant, I'd suspect that if nuclear weapons could be seen as advantageous, they'd simply be purchased. If the state is organizing the people's will while in the midst of rebellion, they aren't going to take a poll of whether they should purchase nuclear armaments or not. They will just do it if it's affordable and advantageous for whatever given scenario.

North Korea has never used nuclear weapons in war, so your notion that they don't use them correctly is not valid. I am fine with anyone who has the resources buying a destroyer or a nuclear weapon. The more people there are like that, the better the odds that a few of them will be on the rebellion's side and supply the destroyers and nuclear weapons to the disposal of the common man armies and the states organizing efforts. Each state forming an army in rebellion would not 'vastly increase the bureaucracy of our government' because the efforts of such armies would be to overthrow the tyrannical, bureaucratic federal government. The notion that any hypothetical owner of nuclear ordinances could use them maliciously is negligible, for if you can afford nuclear ordinances, you've clearly got a whole, whole lot to live for. While it's possible, it's very, very unlikely. Probably thousands of times less likely than a man stabbing 23 school children within mere moments on December 14th, 2012.


Once again thank you for this debate

For this section I think will use a allegory that you used of the fire department where you said "I might add that the 2nd amendment is like a fire department team. There aren't always fires, but you're sure glad you have them when there are fires" I might agree with you their but the reality of the allegory is to imagine the 2nd amendment as a volunteer fire department that was last used almost 200 years ago before being replaced by a professional fire fighting force that is more expensive but works better. Not Only does this professional firefighting force put out the 3 fires that have happened on American soil (Civil war) (Mexican American War) ( World War II) but has also put out fires around the world. Yet the old fire department which existences could arguably be attributed to thousands of deaths a year in America still thinks it should be around because our really really good professional fire department goes all Fahrenheit 451 and turn America into a distopian waste land thus they should be 25 times bigger even though they haven't done anything for over 200 years.

I also wanted to remedy the confusion over the Thomas Jefferson quote you did analysis it perfectly but were both of us differ is its relation to modern society for Jefferson worries which were based in reality over 200 years ago do not pertain to modern America for the mere existence of a standing army is not the greatest threat to democracy

Also your statement that its perfectly reasonable for states to purchase nuclear weapons based upon the fact that the United States built a large amount of warheads during the Cold War in order to absolutely insure MAD. These weapons were absurdly redundant but were built to scare the soviets not to insure nuclear protection.I also don't understand why nuclear weapons are even up for topic for states to own for nuclear weapons are the most destructive devices ever devised by Mankind thus the spread of these weapons could only led to bad things.

I'm most confused that your defending North Korea in their blatant military escalations by testing nuclear weapons to call that the use of them correctly is absurd. Also I worry when you use the words bureaucracy and tyranny interchangeably for they are two very different things. It also annoys me that you continue to use the logical falicy that a person with the most powerful weapon on earth would not use it because you assume will not use it because he now apparently has a lot to live for even though he spent massive sums of money building something which has only on destructive purpose. I also find your casual reference to the newton shootings as a horrible statistical analogy (also he didn't stab them he gunned them down with a assault rifle).

I'm also somewhat confused that you don't understand how different types of weapons would lead to logistical troubles for the US military had massive logistical problems when their were only 4 different types of small arms ammunition the Vietnam War. Secondly the care package of ammunition that your suggesting would be massive it also doesn't solve the problem in providing the huge amounts of spare parts and different types of cleaning kits needed for this diverse set of fire arms. Also your numbers for military style weapons are extreme low for your desire for a 75 million member militia force where their are currently only 1.5 million assault weapons by 1994. However seeing as these theoretical maximums will not be reached how many fire arms should America buy to be safe from something that might happen. And one that has only happened once in our 200 year history (civil war) for very different reasons than the supposed impending tyranny of the government. I'm.I'm also curious on how exactly you would recommend a rebellion be run against the government would it be a massive and organized coup, would it be a guerrilla defensive fight, or something else inertly different. For with so much talk of a hypothetical revolution their seems to be a distinct lack of actual plans other than the people will rise up and states will be the ones who do it.

I also think that your somewhat broadly interpreting President Jefferson by pretty much giving a movie plot that has never happened in the United States. For he people of Germany under Hitler and the American public were completely different Animals with Hitler using the revenge desire of the German people. America has nothing even comparable to this situation that would not be possible due to the checks and balances in our government.

To pretty much sum up my argument I find the profound distrust felt toward are government is unfounded despite having over 200 years of history. Thus I feel that the 2nd amendment has over stayed its usefulness to overthrow the government. However, I still believe that the right to bear arms is a important American tradition that should be allowed with background checks.
Debate Round No. 3


And thank you for continuing this debate, I'm rather enjoying it because it provides me a constructive format for arguing this point.

I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said the 2nd amendment hasn't been utilized for it's original purpose for 200 years. I'll repeat that, it hasn't been used for 200 years. Why is this? Could it be because the American people have been armed for the last 200 years? Perhaps it's what has stopped complete invasion of U.S. soil? Take the cold war, as you mentioned. Nobody wanted to engage because they knew nobody would win. Having armed citizens most likely has the same effect on foreign enemies outright invading. The mightier federal force would be expected to have dealt with the Civil War, the Mexican American War, and WWII, as it did; this is it's man-date.

People not utilizing the 2nd amendment for a length of time is not proof that the 2nd amendment isn't needed. That's like saying we don't need a fire department because there have been no fires for 200 years. The threat of fire is still real, just as the threat of tyranny and subsequent rebellion is still real.

The greatest threat to a free society wouldn't currently be a standing federal army, but that could change. The greatest threat, I think, is a corrupt federal government, un-checked federal branches created post forefather era, and a justice system that isn't held accountable because no elected official wants to outright admit that there is a serious problem.

I've used the word "bureaucracy" and it's variation "bureaucratic" together a total of 2 times (previous to this post), one of which was contained within one of your quotes. I used bureaucratic and tyrannical in the same sentence, with the full meaning of the words behind them. Did the United States not do considerable nuclear testing itself? We may not like North Korea, but they have not used nuclear weapons in war, unlike America.

I'm giving the 'Jim Bob' argument it's own paragraph. Let's look at the closest comparable existing thing. Obviously, we can't use an example of an actual individual with a nuclear weapon because one has never existed. Harry S. Truman, the man who singularly decided to drop the first atomic bomb, and then the second was not alone in the matter, and his orders were supported by high ranking individuals and then carried out by dozens and dozens of men so he can not be used in this specific argument. The closest thing, I think, to having a massively destructive item within the hands of one single individual, able to be used with malice against others (still by one individual) would be the owner of a professional demolition company. The owner could conceivably move the companies explosives by himself into a van or even full size semi trailer, and use it with malice in a populated area. How much high grade explosives can fit into an empty work van? I'd say a whole, whole lot. Yet this has never happened. the closest thing to it that has ever happened on that scale was the Oklahoma City bombing, and those explosives were home made and carried out by a young man who (relative to a demo company owner) didn't have a lot to live for.

I never, never referenced the Newtown Shooting in any of my arguments, you did. I referenced a man stabbing 23 school children within mere moments on December 14th, 2012. I also provided a link. I guess you overlooked that while you were misunderstanding all of my other arguments.

The logistical issues about the ammo are to be expected, but they are minimal. They are to be expected because this is simply the nature of the 2nd amendment, people may bear arms, not specific arms, and also not to be infringed.

Maybe we should examine the word 'arms' in this context. This word in this context is derived from the word "armaments." A quick Google search for the word armament reveals this:

military weapons and equipment.
"chemical weapons and other unconventional armaments"
synonyms:arms, weapons, weaponry, firearms, guns, ordnance, artillery, munitions, mat"riel, hardware
"a shortage of armaments"
the process of equipping military forces for war.
a military force equipped for war.

With this definition of 'arms', then when the 2nd amendment was written, the authors knew that this word meant cannons, battle ships, mortars, howitzers, grape shot, bar loads, rifles, side arms, and carvery. They wrote into law the ability for all citizens (white males at the time) to posses any of the things that were currently available to the military of the time. America's forefathers would have wanted this equivalency in available arms to continue.

The 1994 ban on assault weapons is illegal, according to the 2nd amendment. The estimated figure of 1.5 million being in private possession during 1994 simply reflects how many people were interested in and able to afford such weapons. However if you take into account the total number of firearms privately owned in America, you'll find estimations from 270 to 310 million, which would be a much higher figure than the theoretical maximum size of a common man army consisting of 75 million Americans. And as far as your question of "how many" firearms are needed for protection - I say as many as the public desire.

There is no burden of proof for me to lay out a detailed rebellion plan. If that time comes, it'll be up to the elected officers leading the rebel forces - they would be up to the task. I'm here to debate the validity of the 2nd amendment, not to get sidetracked by creating 'actual plans' for rebellion.

And again, you hit the nail on the head with the Germans also, and with America's current checks and balances system. James Madison warned in Federalist paper number 51 that tyranny is possible in the form of "tyranny of the majority." Being a democratic system, and having checks and balances, the opinion of the majority is imposed on the minority. Although WWII era Germany operated upon a different government model, the people supported the horrifying mistreatment of Jewish people, along with a slue of others. In America itself, Africans were not citizens until 1868. As you see, the "tyranny of the majority" simply goes with the flow. If most people didn't think that the Jewish deserved the treatment they received, those laws would never have been upheld. This happens today still, the tyranny of the majority. If most people have a negative opinion on a non-violent and consensual activity, there's bound to be laws against it. I'll list some examples: prostitution, gambling in some areas, marijuana smoking, sodomy between homosexual couples, fishing without license, open carrying in a class-A county such as St. Louis, and owning an M16 A2 service rifle without permit. The design of the American government absolutely does not ensure against tyranny, for we have had vast and sweeping tyranny in the past. Another sure sign of tyranny is the blatant disregard of the actual meaning of the 2nd amendment, or any of the amendments for that matter.

So, I think that the 'profound distrust felt toward are government' is very much so founded in facts.


Sorry for taking a bit to respond I got a bit caught up with school work

I'd first like to answer your rhetorical question on why the US and the Soviets never engaged themselves in the Cold War. America was never ever in the course of the Cold war under threat of invasion. However, they were in danger of turning the world into a pile of nuclear slag a threat the USSR and the US held over each others head. Thus it was this deterrent that stopped the Cold war from become hot not the right to bear arms. The only example that semi relates to this in which Texans drove Mexicans away from Texas and declared the Texan republic. However, this was when Texas was a separate republic and thus had very little connection to the second amendment.

With your analogy of second amendment to fire department to second amendment I maintain my argument that I made last round. "I might agree with you their but the reality of the allegory is to imagine the 2nd amendment as a volunteer fire department that was last used almost 200 years ago before being replaced by a professional fire fighting force that is more expensive but works better. Not Only does this professional firefighting force put out the 3 fires that have happened on American soil (Civil war) (Mexican American War) ( World War II) but has also put out fires around the world. Yet the old fire department which existences could arguably be attributed to thousands of deaths a year in America still thinks it should be around because our really really good professional fire department goes all Fahrenheit 451 and turn America into a distopian waste land thus they should be 25 times bigger even though they haven't done anything for over 200 years."

In reference to your opinion of the greatest threats to American democracy "a corrupt federal government, un-checked federal branches created post forefather era, and a justice system that isn't held accountable because no elected official wants to outright admit that there is a serious problem." ironically enough has much to do with a college essay that I just wrote. In the essay I reflected on how mandatory voting could solve many problems as listed above that plague American democracy. Thus the idea that Americans seems to need to be armed when a mere increase in reciprocity within our democracy could yield the same results and enfranchise million of Americans who traditionally don't vote. Though the argument for mandatory voting is for another time I believe it is connected to this question because obligatory voting would avert a crisis that you appear to think is bearing down on America and is much less....messy than a glorious revolution.

I also would like to address your thought that the logistical problems of a militia would be minuscule for a old military proverb is that "amateurs think tactics pros think logistics"

In relation to your belief that nuclear weapons were used correctly by North Korea and or at least as bad as the United States North Korea in one of the few things I agree with George w bush that north Korea is a totalitarian nation that it nearly as bad if not worse than Nazi Germany( a statement I do not make lightly). to Say that they would be responsible with this weapon because they had the resources to build it is a somewhat scary isolationist view that ignores decades of strife between North Korea and the World

I'd also like to reference our good old Jim Bob in the idea that if he was hypothetically was a contractor he would fill his car with explosives and blow everything up. First of all they don't have spare explosives between Jobs the government is responsible for maintaining government stores of explosives. However, even if your hypothetical scenario was possible it it suddenly better to instead of trusting a licensed and trained building demolition expert with a nuclear warhead a responsibility that much of he US believes entire counties should not own.

And my reference to the Newton shootings was a brutal sense of irony for on the exact day the newton shootings happened my apologies if I offended you and I hope you can understand my belief that you had made a mistake in that story foe I saw that date and immediately connected in with a different tragedy.

I'm also well aware of what the military technology that was available to the founding fathers as well as their logistical restraints which stopped them from fielding a larger army thus the reason why the second amendment for the formation of state militias was popular. However, the original framers ideas would not resonate in today's society. For try explaining to James Madison that the shot heard around the world would not just be heard around the world but would also kill every living thing on it. Try explaining to George Washington that America is the worlds only true military superpower in the world. These new realities don't at all match the founders of America's belief for America because America has always been in flux and is still eve now changing with society. thus the ideas of modern weaponry and armament. Ides that had not existed in 1776 it is hard to try and base your ideology you know is based of something that does not necessarily apply to current technology for as I have stated before the amendments of the constitution were not written in stone and were made to amend to american life as it changed and that is truly why our constitution has survived because it is adaptive to change as it must continue to be if America is to continue to thrive.

I would also reference you mention at the amount of weapons currently available in America was to show how few weapons are comparable to the American military for unless you recommend that we coercive Americans into buying such weapons I see little reason that almost 1/3 of the country would arm itself so heavily.

And I would agree that the argument does not give you a burden of proof but the mob rue you espouse to worry about may find its heart in any revolution.

I find your analysis of mob rule in the Nazi party as interesting but if you look at the statistics this was simply not the case when Hitler came to power only 40% of the public voted for Hitler and even less were actual members of that Nazi party. Thus the Nazi party is a classic example of the vocal minority winning over enough of the public with scapegoating.That is why when the allies liberated Concentration camps the citizens nearby had no idea ow Jews were being treated but they did know they were to be at fault for the Germans issues( the work of propaganda) thus I believe that Hitler is not a example of mob rule but is instead a example of a vocal minority.

Thus i think your 'profound distrust felt toward are government" government is drawn from nations very differentthan America and thus irrelevant to the idea of allowing any type of armament for Americans
Debate Round No. 4


School work is definitely higher priority than this debate. I hope you get a good grade on what you're working on.

The Cold War analogy was referencing exactly what you've said. War did not occur due to fear of nuclear warfare, and the fact that nobody would win. This is similar to the American people being in possession of firearms. Several invasions may not have happened due to this fact, because the foreign invader would still not win even if it could best the federal army, and both sides will have lost in respect to destruction and human life.

I referenced the Cold War for the fire department analogy because they are similar. Nuclear war did not happen because of the threat of massive loss. So, you could say that nuclear war has not happened due to the existence of nuclear arms on the defending side. The 1st and 2nd time nuclear weapons were used, nobody else had an effective model except for the U.S., therefore they were used.

Akin to nuclear war in this aspect, many invasions have most likely never happened due to the defending country (the U.S.) having the highest ratio of armed citizens in the world.

A foreign country weighing the probability of successful invasion of the united states would be very foolish to not consider that the United States of America is ranked 1st in gun ownership ratio per 100, and ranked overall as having the most civilian owned firearms in the world 270,000,000 estimated in the U.S. 2nd place is India with 46,000,000. As far as ratios, United States is 1st with 89 guns per 100 people. Yemen is 2nd with 55 guns per 100 people.

The differences in numbers is quite honestly staggering.

So again, I'll reiterate that much like a fire department, although the U.S. 2nd amendment has not been 'used' actively for 200 years, this does not mean it hasn't had significant impact on American history for the last 200 years.

You're concepts about voting are interesting, but alternative solutions to rebellions is not the subject of debate.

As far as logistics goes, I still say that there is a substantial amount of ammo that is in possession of the people, or nearby that can be acquired. Aside from this fact, the United States is ranked among the top 15 countries in the world for ammunition production. Annual World production of small arms ammunition alone float around 16 billion rounds, and can go up to 21 billion rounds. An estimated 39% of this is produced right here in america. It's reasonable to assume that some of these production facilities would either support a common man army or be captured by a common man army.

Even after reading the articles about all the production in America, I still feel that there are significant hoarders out there that possess lots of ammunition and other supplies and would be willing to share in the event of a rebellion. However, logistics of supplies is important. In light of these facts, I feel it wouldn't be the failure point in a common man army repelling the federal military and government. I feel the failing point would be in their armaments - specifically Military grade weapons - or lack thereof.

This is why I feel that this entire sub-argument about logistics is irrelevant to this debate, for if the people can not have equal armaments to the U.S. Government (in terms of ability to own, not the number owned), then nothing else matters really and any rebellion against the U.S. government is sure to fail.

Which brings us back to our topic.

Is the 2nd Amendment valid today & in the future. To determine if it's valid, we must interpret it. That's where we are now, determining just how great of armaments does it apply to. It makes sense to debate about the strongest, nuclear weapons. In order to debate about nuclear weapon's potential for misuse, we must compare it to the closest thing.

I read the demo-FAQ you posted, completely. I never found anything on that page that says they do not keep a store of explosives. However, I did call their office and asked about it. The secretary told me "We can not keep explosives at the home office.", which is not to say that they don't keep them elsewhere.

However, I'd still like to push the same idea with a similar example in which we know the facts. I'd like to bankrupt and re-employ Jim Bob with a mining company. The mining company has nominated Jim Bob as the holder of a blasting explosives user's license, probably because he has previous experience with it as the former owner of a demolition company. A guidelines article on mining explosives (listed below) implies that there's a limit on how much explosives can be stored by a company until a explosives magazine is required. Both below and above the explosives magazine requirement, the guide lists only one person as being necessary to have a blasting explosives user's license.

After curiosity and further research, I've found that type 1 and type 2 explosives magazines are permitted to store any type of explosives and related supplies. The type 1 & 2 explosives magazines are intended to prevent theft, however only one person is required to have a license; and therefore, only one person has the keys to the magazine.

Yet, we've never had an incident where a licensed person with access to an explosives magazine has filled up a van with something like ANFO for malicious intentions. All incidents like this used homemade explosives. So, in light of this, I think the proper licensing (and even security clearances) would be appropriate enough to ensure responsible people purchase nuclear weapons.

The price of such weapons would further reinforce that the device would be used responsibly by said individual. I don't think that your argument about N. Korea being able to afford nuclear weapons applies as well, because those weapons are not being developed or purchased at the expense of one person. They are being purchased with, essentially, stolen money. Tax money that has been taken from the people of N. Korea. The point being; others are more willing to spend your money than you are.

As far as the origins and intentions of the founding fathers on the 2nd amendment - they did not adopt the 2nd amendment due to logistical problems or for the specific purposes of repelling foreign invasions. The origins of the 2nd amendment are from the culture of where the forefathers came from. The English bill of rights of 1869 had a significant impact on the forefathers wanting to write similar protections for Americans. It bestowed a duty upon it's citizens to have arms. And, Madison being the major writer of the constitution and early amendments, his federalist papers VERY clearly outlined his intentions (which is probably why he wrote them).

In conclusion; the purpose of the 2nd amendment is to protect against tyranny as it's primary purpose. With the word 'arms' meaning 'armament' and armament meaning any weaponry available that a regular military would have, we can conclude that this applies to all weapons; including nuclear. With the threat of tyranny still valid, and the wording of the 2nd amendment unchanged by congress, then the 2nd amendment is still valid today and in the future.

I sincerely thank you for this debate, good sir, and I'm interested in the paper you wrote recently.


I have thoroughly enjoyed this debate so thank you for affording me with this opportunity

First I want to touch on your Cold War Analogy because I can not think of a signal instance where America has needed its private citizens to stand up and fight invaders since the war of 1812 and maybe the Texan rebellion. However these too battles were not won with cutting edge technology for the time and was instead won with regular fire arms I can not think of a single instance when a private citizen owned a more advanced weapon such as a cannon or weapon above the grade of a small arm. Thus I see little reason that the common people should given access to modern heavy weaponry when back in the beginning of US history when the 2nd Amendment was used heavy weaponry still seemed out of reach of the private citizen.

Also all the numbers that you throw out for gun ownership is interesting but yet again does not protect America from invasion for we are not anywhere close to under threat of invasion. And in relation to the number of Americans with fire arms the statistic is in relation to how close the investigators can get to a country. To think that we have more guns than some third world countries I find highly unlike. Yes I know what is says on Wikipedia but do you really think they go up to every child soldier to ask if they have a gun. And in relation to this group rebelling than we might want our military to not be the most sophisticated in the world for any rebellion that you suggest due to the elite training and technology of the Military. Just giving sophisticated military tech to civilians wold not make them soldiers any more than having a shotgun makes them hunters.

You could also make the argument that their are over 20 million former vets that could operate such vehicles and weaponry in times of open rebellion. However, would you really want to put yet another financial burden on our veterans by saying that they need to be ready for a open rebellion at any moment.

On the logistical problem I'm not sure you quite understand how much logistics goes into running a army but the ammunition problem would be the tip of the iceberg with shortages of every type of good imaginable occurring in a army tat could be up to 75 million strong even if it was only 25 of even just 5 million the logistical issues for a undisciplined a non uniform army would be insane. Also I have a feeling that the influx of military technology may actually be detrimental to the military strategy of any rebellion for over the past 150 years it has been shown that America really can't effectively fight against guerrilla warfare however given a influx of weaponry the rebels my think they could stand u the the US in a pitched battle a mistake that the Viet Cong paid dearly for in the Tet offensive

And for your idea to give Jim Bob explosives ( sorry for not telling you to call the office that is what I did) goes against your premise of your entire argument of stopping tyranny. For as far as I'm aware this rebellion is to stop a government from abusing the people. If you allow people to buy nuclear weapons whats to stop them from pulling an evil villain and hold the world ransom for 1 million dollars or something much worse thus I feel that your legalization of extreme armaments would put the fate of America into less hands not more.

And to counter act your last three paragraphs I must beseech you to closely read this paragraph for it entirely summarizes why I don't think the 2nd amendment is applicable i modern day society

m also well aware of what the military technology that was available to the founding fathers as well as their logistical restraints which stopped them from fielding a larger army thus the reason why the second amendment for the formation of state militias was popular. However, the original framers ideas would not resonate in today's society. For try explaining to James Madison that the shot heard around the world would not just be heard around the world but would also kill every living thing on it. Try explaining to George Washington that America is the worlds only true military superpower in the world. These new realities don't at all match the founders of America's belief for America because America has always been in flux and is still eve now changing with society. thus the ideas of modern weaponry and armament. Ides that had not existed in 1776 it is hard to try and base your ideology you know is based of something that does not necessarily apply to current technology for as I have stated before the amendments of the constitution were not written in stone and were made to amend to american life as it changed and that is truly why our constitution has survived because it is adaptive to change as it must continue to be if America is to continue to thrive.

And finally I find your use of James Madison quite ironic for I just remembered that Madison was originally against the Bill of Rights being included in the constitution because he felt that the constitution alone protected the rights of Americans

I'd like to thank you for this argument and I can only hope that politicians can debate as respectfully as we do
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by wayne.workman2012 2 years ago
Meant to type English Bill of Rights of 1689, not... whatever I put.
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