The Second Amendment does not Protect Against Oppressive Government
Debate Rounds (5)
The Second Amendment was not created for the population to be able to resist an oppressive government. It was created to both give the population the illusion that they could resist tyranny, so that they would not feel motivated until the other members of their 'Well-Regulated Militia' took up arms, leading to perpetual inaction; and to aid in colonising the land west of the Thirteen Colonies. Naturally, the Native Americans would be a touch irritated if people from the East came West and said: 'This is our land now, your land is that desert we didn't want a few hundred miles down the road'. As Al Capone said, "You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word." The colonists would have firearms to defend their settlements and attack any obstacles, and the militia would fend off any massed opposition. I have other arguments, but I don't want to use all my ammunition, so to speak, in R1.
Best of luck, and I welcome the possibility to change my mind on the issue.
I disagree with your statement which seems to be implying that the Second Amendment was created for the purpose of defending against Indian Raids.
Evidence this is your argument.
"Naturally, the Native Americans would be a touch irritated if people from the East came West and said: 'This is our land now, your land is that desert we didn't want a few hundred miles down the road'."
The bill or rights was established far before America had made any serious purchases of land out west and before there were any great migrations to move out west. The laws that were established as incentives to move out west were not even established yet.
The bill of rights (which holds the second amendment) was established following the constitution to protect the rights of the average individual as so they had reasons to speak up against an oppressive government because it is written in law.
The First Amendment prohibits the government to prohibit the freedom of speech or religion.
Similar to the second amendment, the first amendment makes it clear that the government cannot oppress a person's right to speak their opinion.
The Bill of Rights was invented by Anti-Federalists. Federalists valued the importance of federal powers. Anti-Federalists being afraid that they would abuse their powers pushed for the establishment of the bill of rights which established some basic rights of man. Therefore the second amendment makes more sense to be an addition in the defense of an oppressive government.
It is not the turn of my opponent. :)
This was chiefly to constrict British expansion west, as a Britain with the resources of the modern USA behind it would seriously upset the balance of power in Europe; so much in fact that it was British expansionism in North America that was one of the main proponents of the Seven Years' War. or as it is known in America, the French and Indian War. Roughly two thirds of what is now the USA was already under Europe's hegemony at the time of the American War of Independence. The French behaved rather leniently towards the Indians, and rather than taking all of their land under direct control, they maintained more of a trading monopoly with them, which explains the prevalence of Native American volunteers in the French Army during the French and Indian War, and the fact that in the British Army, there were only a few conscripted Native Americans. When the British acquired the French lands, they had no such reservations, and began giving huge swathes of land west of the colonies to chiefly Hessian officers from the French and Indian War. But there was a problem. Whenever they sent a colonial expedition west, or the landowners arrived to claim their land, they were repelled by the natives. They lacked the resources to outfit a large-scale military expedition to pacify the tribes, and before they applied a solution, they were distracted by the War of American Independence. Once it was over, the newly formed US government had accumulated huge amounts of debt from loans taken from France that needed repaying, as well as financing the repairing of the devastated landscape, so they decided to sell off land west of the frontier in the former French lands. They remembered what the now-disappointed Hessian officers, skulking in Europe waiting for the next major war to kick off, had encountered on the way, and had the idea that if the colonists and new landowners were armed to the teeth, they did not need to outfit a military expedition to claim the lands, and could sell on a lot of the old military equipment they did not need anymore. This is evidenced by the War of 1812 in which the US Army, despite the fact that the French Crown donated enough arms to give three muskets to every soldier, only had enough weapons for a few regiments because they had sold all of their arms to private gun owners, who formed 'well-regulated militias' with their fellow colonists to defend (a term I use very loosely) the land they had been sold by the Govt. The Louisiana Purchase was made in 1804 with the proceeds from selling arms and land, when France needed the money for Napoleon's wars with the rest of Europe. Most of the other points in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were put in as part of Jefferson, Franklin and Paine's genuinely liberal views, but the Second Amendment was there to aid colonisation of the west and to get rid of those pesky natives that didn't want to be exploited by capitalism. This worked, and military expeditions were only used for especially stubborn tribes such as the Sioux, and the genocide against the Native Americans, such as the Trail of Tears and most of the massacres were mostly perpetrated by either the colonists or the 'Well Regulated Militia'.
I shall now argue that an armed populace would be unable to carry out a revolution on its own. There is not a single example of a revolution carried out by an armed population against the government.
In Russia, the outcome was governed by a mixture of factions within the army - the officers supported the Tsar, since they were mostly aristocrats, while the rank-and-file supported the Bolsheviks; whichever side had the best transport links; and which side could most effectively employ guerrilla tactics. The Russian peasantry were largely unarmed, save the Cossacks, who actually backed the Tsar instead of the Bolsheviks. The Russian Revolution is an example of a revolution that not only went on irrespective of the fact that most of the people were unarmed, it continued regardless of the fact that the population that were armed were counter-revolutionaries. Therefore, a population without weapons is just as effective in a revolution as one that has them, and the armed ones can support oppressive government.
In France, there was a similar outcome in 1789, when the crowd that attacked the Bastille was largely composed of mutinying soldiers who brought artillery troops from the arsenal at Les Invalides with them. The population was mostly too poor to own guns, and cannons were completely out of the question. Mutinying soldiers turned on the government and stormed the Bastille. Versailles was stormed by a group of women that were armed with pikes and household utensils. There was a 'well-regulated militia' formed in the immediate aftermath of it - the Garde Nationale, which was composed of citizens. In the anarchy that followed, weapons were distributed to the population, and most people in urban centres owned weapons. The 'well-regulated militia' actually defended the King, firing on protesters at the Champs de Mars massacre, and tried to smuggle the King across the border to Austria where there were armies poised to restore him. Once the King had been dealt with and put on trial (In a manner in which I hope they do with Bush), there was the 'Great Terror', in which the armed citizens murdered priests and aristocrats who the new government, which was just as oppressive as the previous one, had branded as 'traitors to the revolution'. Also, the 'well-regulated militia' toured France, massacring royalists, priests and anyone else the state branded as enemies. So the reforms were going well until the people got their hands on guns, at which point the people supported an even more oppressive government. Also, all subsequent revolutions and coups in France were carried out by small factions in the army or by the King abdicating due to pressure from his advisers and foreign powers - 1795, 1799, 1804, 1830, 1848, 1852 and 1870. Not one of these changes in power was brought about by an armed populace, and in many cases, factions of the citizenry with guns supported the government and not the revolutionaries.
In Cuba, the revolution was carried out by a revolutionary army that was kitted out by the USSR, not an armed population. They were mostly peasants without the money to buy enough food and medicine, let alone weapons to defend themselves against a US-backed government. Only once the revolt had started had the USSR sent military aid to the rebels - firearms, ammunition, artillery, vehicles; as well as military advisers, recruiters and trainers. This resulted in not a 'well-regulated militia', but a powerful standing army, which could overwhelm the poorly-trained, demoralised government forces. There were no weapons distributed among the populace, nor were there any local militia groups formed. This was exclusively conducted by a revolutionary army equipped by a foreign power. The people had nothing to do with the overthrow of the Batista Regime; it was a faction. Admittedly this was a popular faction with a long flow of volunteers, but the second amendment would not provide for the training, artillery, vehicles and tactical expertise that the USSR gave to Castro.
The final example I will use of a revolution that was not dependent upon the right to keep and bear arms and maintain a well-regulated militia is your own war of independence. An argument often used by advocates of the Second Amendment is that if the Patriots lacked the weapons they had stored, the USA would still be a British colony. this is not true as if you look at the battles carried out pre-Valley Forge such as Bunker Hill, Brandywine and Germantown, they were all British victories. The victories were carried out because the Continental Army was nothing more than a poorly-trained, poorly-disciplined rabble of peasants with hunting muskets, a few horses and a handful of makeshift cannons they had made themselves (not a feat to be scoffed at since Britain had banned steel production in the colonies); while the British Army was well-trained, well-disciplined, well-equipped and reinforced by Hessian mercenaries, who were incredible soldiers. During Valley Forge, the French arrived, giving them military-grade weapons, proper artillery (still inscribed with Ultima Ratio Regum, which became the motto of a battalion of the US marines), the support of 6,000 soldiers under the Comte de Rochambeau, and military training under the Baron von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette, who was incidentally the man who gave the order to fire on the Champs de Mars protesters in France. After Valley Forge, they had the quasi-victory at Monmouth, and the firm victories at King's Mountain, Cowpens and Yorktown, the latter of which was only possible because of the French Navy under admirals de Grasse and de Barras, who won the battle of Chesapeake Capes against the Royal Navy, cutting Cornwallis' escape off. The American War of Independence was not won by valiant colonists mounting a brave resistance in the towns and cities under British rule; it was won by an efficient fighting force with the equipment, training and support of the French Army that won pitched battles against the British, who were under increasing military and financial strain towards the end of the conflict.
Now going back to the intentions of the second amendment...
"It is clear that from pretty much the establishment of Jamestown the British were intent on colonising the west. The Manifest Destiny was chiefly aimed at the Mexican territories, as well as the remnants of Native American resistance in the far west. The intentions were also known by the French, who took possession of pretty much all the land between the Thirteen Colonies and the Colorado River, hence all the French-sounding places in the Midwest and Canada, such as Detroit, Michigan, Illinois, Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), Louisiana, Quebec, etc."
This complete argument is not valid because you are not relating these events in a chronological order in which they occurred in history. For example, the British began colonizing America in the early 1700s. The Manifest Dynasty occurred in 1844. Also, the French started their colonization at a very similar time that the British started theirs and once these European nations had established their colonies, the biggest disputes were between boundary lines. Thus these, among other inadequate parallels don't seem to prove that the American intentions since the start of the war was to move west.
Your arguments in the second paragraph are abstruse and hard to connect to your main idea which is that the second amendment was established to defend against Indians.
Therefore I will just emphasize one key idea of the Bill of Rights. During the time the Bill of Rights was generated George Washington (a federalist was president).
Federalists (definition taking from The American Pageant;A US History High School Textbook) : Proponents of the 1787 Constitution , they favored a strong national government, arguing that the checks and balances in the new Constitution would safeguard the people's liberties. (Let it be noted that this constitution favored Federalism).
This constitution that was favored by federalists was passed for the 13 colonies leaving the anti federalists (people against strong national government) uneasy.
The Bill of Rights was written by antifederalist James Madison about 1 year after the constitution was published. Fearing that a strong national government would not defend the rights of the people he essentially created an extension to it that created amendments that were meant to safeguard most of Americans precious principles. Among these principles was the right to bear Arms. A strong national government obviously would be able to easily oppress their citizens, so in the eyes of James Madison, the 2nd amendment would clearly deem a logical defense against this.
And I did state that I would not respond to your argument concerning an armed populace but back in the early 1800s an armed American populace would be very much be able to defend themselves against their national government.
Your turn! :)
'...back in the early 1800s an armed American populace would be very much be able to defend themselves against their national government.'
That is only because the US Army was virtually non-existent. Of course a revolution could have taken place at that time, especially given the enormous upheavals going on in Europe. But the government was still rather revolutionary at that point. Monroe's presidency caused the US to mature considerably as a country, undertaking the change from a virtually provisional revolutionary government into a proper nation state. After the fiasco that was the War of 1812, the government underwent a vigorous reorganisation, centralising power in the government, buying unneeded weapons from the French Army, which under the 1815 Treaty of Paris was now severely limited in terms of number, and basing the military doctrine on the Prussian Army. The Federal Government at the time of President Jackson was far more streamlined and dominant than it was under any of his predecessors, and the USA could function as a state independent of French and Spanish assistance. By this time, the army was much better organised, and could easily suppress any revolutionary sentiments left among the population. In the early 1800s, the US people were still drunk on the victories of the revolution, and the War of 1812 made the government realise that it could not remain a libertarian revolutionary state forever, as a libertarian state is a weak state, open to foreign interference, such as monopolising trade into and out of North America, introducing trade embargoes on US traffic to and from Europe, or sacking Washington DC and burning the White House. The introduction of Big Government reforms, which you say the Bill of Rights was introduced to stop, actually saved the USA from a repeat of the War of 1812, only this time by a Britain that wasn't preoccupied with Napoleon.
'This complete argument is not valid because you are not relating these events in a chronological order in which they occurred in history. For example, the British began colonizing America in the early 1700s.'
Colonisation of the Americas by Britain officially started with the founding of the Virginia Company in 1606, though a small colony had been established in 1586. Colonization by the French started as early as 1524, when the explorers da Verrazano and Cartier were sent to find passages to the Pacific through the Americas. Admittedly, most colonies established by the French failed when they were either cut off from supplies, suffered an outbreak of a disease or were attacked by natives (see a trend developing?). It begins even earlier than that if you count Spanish colonisation, which began almost immediately after Columbus landed at Guanahani in 1492, where he established a colony, and serious territorial expansion was evident with both the conquest of Cuba in 1511 and the conquest of the Aztec Empire, which was essentially the area between Nevada and Columbia, in 1518. Colonial expansion had been a prevalent theme in European countries since Columbus' expedition was authorised by the Spanish crown, in late C15, by the French in early C16 and the British in late C16, not early C18. The eighteenth century was the period which saw the balance of power in the New World shift from France and Spain to Britain, which is why there is much more documentation of it in that century.
' The Manifest Dynasty occurred in 1844.... Thus these, among other inadequate parallels don't seem to prove that the American intentions since the start of the war was to move west.'
The Manifest Destiny was a final push initiated by the US government to justify expanding all the way to the Pacific, as well as annexing Mexican territories in the South West by claiming that it was the will of God to dispossess Native Americans of their ancestors' land, and to control areas that were not de jure part of the USA's patrimony. As evidenced earlier by the map, two thirds of North America were already colonised by the time of the American Revolution. Admittedly, this was mostly virgin land, inhabited by a few sparse tribes and frontiersmen, but considered colonised nonetheless. The Manifest Destiny was to capture the remaining third, as well as invade northern Mexico, and the Second Amendment was part of the operation to consolidate American possessions in the land that was, in all but practice, theirs.
'Also, the French started their colonization at a very similar time that the British started theirs and once these European nations had established their colonies, the biggest disputes were between boundary lines.'
The disputes in Europe were over boundary lines, due to the fact that land was relatively sparse, and monarchs needed somewhere to place their new romanesque palaces and go hunting, but the colonial reason for the Seven Years' War was the fact that France was constricting British expansion west. Not only did France have a line of fortifications stretching from New Orleans to Quebec City, but the tribes in the area preferred French rule, which preserved their autonomy and lands, to British rule, which industrially seized their lands and evicted the residence. This did not present an immediate problem to the British, but the French were thinking long term, and fifty to a hundred years later, the resources of the Thirteen Colonies would dry up due to the influx of immigrants and the growing birth rates, and according to the Malthusian doctrine, the land would lose its appeal, and the immigrants would enter at the French ports and settle in French lands, allowing them to impose whatever conditions upon the Thirteen Colonies they wished. The British wanted to be free to expand as far as nature would permit them, so they simply took over all of the forts and subjected the tribes allied to the French to barbaric atrocities, and either stole their lands and displaced the people, or forced them to become protectorates of the British Crown, and pay taxes to them in exchange for protection. Boundary disputes are for small, valuable areas of land, such as Silesia, Flanders and West Prussia, not for huge swathes of wilderness, as boundary disputes largely arise either from ancient settlements, or from inaccurate map drawing. Neither of these were applicable to the New World, therefore they could not be applied. The casus belli for the French and Indian War, and every other war fought in the New World for that matter, was simply colonial expansion.
An instance of the arming of a populace for colonial expansion is the British colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand were British penal colonies at first, and huge ships full of prisoners were brought into the ports, and when they had finished their sentences, they were given weapons and equipment and then sent out into the wilderness. Ex-convicts are the last people a responsible government would give weapons to, as they would no doubt use them irresponsibly, much to the chagrin of the local population. This was employed because the local population were Aboriginal Australians and Maori, and were resistant to the British attempts at colonising their lands. When the natives resisted, they were brutally defeated by the colonists, and their lands confiscated. In New Zealand, the Maori were too fierce for the colonists alone, so they formed 'well regulated militias' to subjugate them, leading to the Maori Wars and the eventual conquest of New Zealand. The motive for the colonists to have guns and form militias was hardly to protect against oppressive government, as at that time, there was very little in the way of government in Australia and New Zealand, just colonial authorities and tax collectors, and it actually led to more oppression, as the population with guns and militia oppressed the locals.
Another example is the Force Publique in the Belgian Congo Free State from 1885 until 1960. This was a 'well-regulated militia' that consisted of armed natives led by Europeans that had the aim of maintaining order and enforcing quotas on rubber production. They took members of all tribes of the areas, and trained them in the style of European light infantry and police, forming a paramilitary group that committed incredibly harsh atrocities in the region, such as mutilation, summary execution, mass rape, cannibalism and destroying food stores, which caused the population of the Congo to be reduced by roughly seven million people, or fifteen percent, between 1885 and 1924. It also caused tribes that contributed more men to the FP to be loathed by the other tribes, such as the Tutsi and the Hutu, which eventually led to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, due to the vitriol the Tutsi contributions to the FP caused among the Hutu. Other examples can be found in the British and French 'Askari' soldiers, which fulfilled similar roles in their respective empires in Africa. Therefore, the 'well-regulated militia' has had a history of siding with the oppressors, even against their own tribespeople, with members of the FP burning their own villages for refusing to slave on the rubber plantations and killing and maiming the people who used to be their family and friends on orders of the commanders of the 'well-regulated militia'. This is evidence that not only does the establishment of a 'well-regulated militia' not protect the people against oppression, it also tends to side with the oppressors, thus leading to more oppression.
I shall begin with Rebuttals :)
"With regards to your opening statement for R2, how else could the Second Amendment protect against oppressive government if revolution was not on the agenda? In your counterargument, could you please explain how else it could protect against oppressive government short of either a revolution, insurrection or the threat of one."
The amendment was not meant to prevent an immediate threat but to defend against one that could occur in the future. As I had previously stated, the Federalists wanted a powerful federal government. The Anti-Federalists did not. The more observant anti-federalists were aware that they had just defeated the British in a war defeating and defining their war as freedom from an opressive government. Therefore in the establishment of the bill of rights, they were making sure that a situation such as what occured between the colonists and Britain could not reoccur because certain rights of the citizens were guranteed. You can clearly see this in some of the bill of rights amendments.
"No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law"
An amendment like that probably makes no sense to us today but back in the past, colonists viewed this as a violation of their rights and therefore made sure to add it to the rights which they wanted protected in the bill of rights.
In your statement that colonization occured earlier than the 17th century you are more supporting my point. And though expansion was a goal in America. MANY americans wanted to avoid expansion at the risk of the slavery issue including the Republican Party before the civil war.
You can't use the French and Indian War to say that the goal of the colonists was to expand because this war was fought mostly on Britain's behalf in addition to the Seven Years War. In addition this war was fought far before the bill of rights was pased and can't be compared to the colonists current state of mind after a war.
And lastly many aspects of the argument you make are confusing me. I thought that this argument was concerned with America's attention in creating the second Amendment. Therefore why are you comparing it to ther nations.
henryajevans forfeited this round.
You still haven't given any sort of scenario in which the Second Amendment would protect against an oppressive government, or any possible application of the Second Amendment to protect against oppressive government. You only say that it was included in a document that was designed to protect against an oppressive government, which I agree with. The argument is not about the Bill of Rights; it is about the Second Amendment.
Also, you naively assume that the United States had any more representation of the people than the Thirteen Colonies had. In both cases, it was the landowning class that wanted to expand westwards, to acquire larger holdings. The only difference was where those landowners were based. Under Britain, they lived in Oxfordshire and Somerset, while under the USA, they lived in the country itself. Proximity had nothing to do with intention, and up to this day, very few governmental decisions are made directly by and for the people.
Also, abolitionism could hardly be described as a strong force in the early period of the USA. The cotton industry was ever-expanding, and the constitution protected the trade; and actually, the British, with all their repression, actually promised slaves that fought for them freedom in the event of victory. For fifty of the seventy-two years between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's respective ascensions, a slaveholder had been president. As an institution, it was very well entrenched into society, and were it not for transatlantic influence and popular movements, it would have remained as such. Very few people wanted to avoid expansion west, as they viewed it as their holy destiny to expand. Slavery was not an issue in western expansion, as the territories they were expanding into, such as Colorado, Utah, Dakota, Idaho, etc. were unsuitable and impractical for slavery to take place, as the industries that slaves normally took part in, i.e. the growing of cash crops such as sugar, tobacco and cotton, were not present there, and effective slavery among migrant workers from China or Eastern Europe sufficed in the industries that were present, and the Republican Party did not enter office until Lincoln, long after expansion had started.
I was using examples of other countries and situations to show that either the ideas associated with the Second Amendment have either not promoted the freedom and rights of citizens, or perpetuated a revolution or insurrection against a tyrannical government in other countries, sometimes having the opposite effect of strengthening the establishment; or revolutions and insurrections have succeeded without a population hoarding weapons or forming militia groups. There are several historical examples of these in other countries, and therefore since they did not work in the other countries, we must assume that they would not work in America, since that is all we can do. America is just another country, it is afforded no holy protection from societal ills, and the principles can found in countries with similar relative power, such as late 18th century France, early 20th century Russia, post-WWII China and the mid 19th century British Empire. It is foolish to assume that America is exempt from societal laws and rules, and the principles that could be applied to other superpowers could just as easily be applied to the USA.
In conclusion, not only would the Second Amendment's provisions be insufficient for eradicating an oppressive government, it also contributes to tyranny by either giving the illusion that action could be taken in the event of an oppressive government,, and since no action is being taken, the government is not oppressive, thus taking advantage of man's sedentary and conformist nature; or by providing the establishment and its supporters with the equipment and organisational structures needed to suppress moves against the oppressive government, as shown by the Garde Nationale, the Force Publique and the Colorado Territory Militia.
I shall begin with my rebuttals :)
"You still haven't given any sort of scenario in which the Second Amendment would protect against an oppressive government, or any possible application of the Second Amendment to protect against oppressive government."
Your first round argument was centered on why the second amendment was not made to defend against an oppressive government so in my mind it seemed apparent to me that you were arguing why the second amendment was created. Nevertheless, even if you cite examples where an armed populace fails to overthrow an oppressive government, it still does not refute the mentality had that by being armed they would be able to defend themselves.
In fact many colonists during the time felt that when they defeated the British, they were overthrowing an oppressive government.
"Also, you naively assume that the United States had any more representation of the people than the Thirteen Colonies had. In both cases, it was the landowning class that wanted to expand westwards, to acquire larger holdings."
This statement is confusing but I think you are trying to state that despite the many popular political parties in the North that wanted to end the expansion of slavery, the slave-holding south still wanted to..
"Also, abolitionism could hardly be described as a strong force in the early period of the USA. The cotton industry was ever-expanding, and the constitution protected the trade; and actually, the British, with all their repression, actually promised slaves that fought for them freedom in the event of victory."
Uncle Tom's Cabin, a abolitionist book sold over 1 million copies in the North.
I cite the bill of rights when discussing the second amendment because all of the first ten amendments were passed at the same time on the bill of rights. They all generally had the same intention, to safe guard the liberties of the citizens, that they could never be oppressed.. The second amendment is no exception.
No votes have been placed for this debate.