I, and many others, have written of the continual encroachment by the federal government on the rights of the American citizen and with unconstitutional expansion of government power. It has been so well documented that it should be “settled law” that our central government is currently, and for some time, operating outside its authority.
In light of the awful financial mess our central government, perpetrated by both parties, has placed us in; it may be prudent to know that our founders warned us of exactly this when Thomas Jefferson said:
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds... private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance.
This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering... And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."
Here Thomas Jefferson is showing that governments, by their nature, will become oppressive to the people. Power and human frailties will always, eventually, devolve to despotism and tyranny against the very same people that entrusted them with their lives and freedom.
George Washington also spoke on the nature of government when he said: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
Government is force! So when government collects taxes it does so by force. When government dispenses welfare it does so by force. What – you say -- Welfare by force? In response I say, absolutely; for government does not give away anything that it has not taken from someone else. And because government is force it must take by force from one who has earned it in order to give to another who has not earned it.
So how does this fit in with a discussion of the Second Amendment and military grade firearms? It establishes the position of our current government as moving toward being or becoming a tyrannical government that is antithetical to the liberty of the people and thus leads us to the Second Amendment discussion.
We have seen a resurgence of support for the Second Amendment and in particular the understanding that it is, and always has been, an individual right. But what of Military grade weapons – and why is that important? It is my contention, and many others, that the Second Amendment specifically supports military grade weaponry as its target.
The reasoning for inclusion of the Second Amendment was not to allow the citizen to attend target shooting matches, or to go hunting, or just to have a hobby – it was for protection against a tyrannical government. How do we know that?
Many who have studied our nation’s founding understand the increasing tyranny of King George and the Crowns representatives in the colonies in those early years. George Mason, during the Virginia Constitution Convention, stated:
"When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually...I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor..."
The British had learned that if you try to do too much too quickly the people will resist and rise up against them. They knew they needed to do things slowly, a little at a time, until it becomes too late and the people will become enslaved.
Our politicians, likewise, have learned from the past and it has become quite apparent in what is known as the National Firearms Act (NFA).
The original NFA was codified under Title 15 “Commerce and Trade” as a tax revenue scheme. From 1938 to 1968 everything went along fairly well until the government decided to play a little shell game, and they switched the Firearms Act from Title 15 to Title 18. Title 18 is entitled “Crimes and Criminal Procedures.” Why would the government switch the code section from Title 15 to Title 18 after having been codified under Title 15 for thirty years? The only rational reason is jurisdictional obfuscation, or hiding what would otherwise be apparent as to the limits the government could act upon us, the citizens. You see, under Title 15, the government was within its rightful jurisdiction of “Commerce and Trade.” However, if you are bound by “Commerce and Trade,” you cannot enact laws on normal citizens who are not “acting in the trade.” Therefore, the government changed, with the stroke of a pen, their Constitutional powers of commerce to an unconstitutional power, crime-fighting; which is a state power.
Remember George Mason’s statement above? -- “but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually.”
There are three primary reasons for the tax code. The first is the obvious purpose of raising revenue for the operation of government. The second, a little less obvious but as widely used, is to control behavior. Thirdly; the tax code has been used to usurp power not otherwise given to the federal government. To this third reason I will dedicate the majority of the rest of this article.
We are all aware of the use of the tax code to entice business and consumers to do certain things. Examples of this are tax credits for certain home improvements that conserve energy, or tax credits to purchase energy efficient vehicles, or “cash for clunkers” to get older cars off the road. Tax dollars are used to persuade farmers to not plant certain crops or to entice them to plant other crops. This, in essence, is the government manipulating corporations and the public with monetary carrots to perform a certain way.
The NFA however was a bit more insidious as it stated one purpose for its existence and operated in a totally different manner. The original NFA put a tax on the transfer of certain firearms and related items the government wished to control under the guise of raising revenue. The act focused on short rifles and sawed off shotguns that had the capability of being concealed, machineguns and firearm silencers.
A pivotal case in the advancement of federal control of firearms came from a 1939 Supreme Court decision in the United States V. Miller case that admitted the NFA was indeed a revenue raising act when it included in the decision the wording of the act stating:
"Sec. 3. (a) There shall be levied, collected, and paid upon firearms transferred in the continental United States a tax at the rate of $200 for each firearm, such tax to be paid by the transferor, and to be represented by appropriate stamps to be provided by the Commissioner, with the approval of the Secretary; and the stamps herein provided shall be affixed to the order for such firearm, here-in-after provided for. The tax imposed by this section shall be in addition to any import duty imposed on such firearm.”
Obviously the verbiage of the act specifically called for a tax, money to be paid to the government, for the transfer of the items regulated under the law mentioned above.
But when we take a look at the “intended consequence” we have to believe this act had more to do with control than with revenue. Shotguns (sawed-off or otherwise) were much cheaper in 1938 than the $200.00 tax stamp and thus made this type of weapon out of reach of the common man. A silencer during that time period cost anywhere from 5 to 25 dollars; the result was a near collapse of that manufacturing sector nearly overnight. Many urban shooting ranges required firearm silencers to control noise in order to keep their ranges open and thus were forced to close as fewer and fewer people could afford the silencer tax.
The Miller case also focused on the whether the firearm was protected under the Second Amendment. The government argued that:
“In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”
This statement has two important points that need expounding upon. First; the justice states that the firearm in question (short barreled shotgun) is not “any part of the ordinary military equipment” and therefore they “cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.” Therefore, according to the Supreme Court, the only weapons guaranteed by the Second Amendment would be weapons “of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”
Secondly, had anyone pointed out during trial, the short barreled shotgun was used extensively in World War I as a trench gun (Winchester M1897 with 20 inch barrel) and was a standard inventory firearm of the US military.
Knowing this information was readily available to the Supreme Court Justice, and his staff, with nothing more than a simple phone call to any of the Military Advisors in Washington, could lead one to believe that the outcome of the case was determined to expand the powers of government and to control the civilian population and not correct constitutional interpretation.
Now, if indeed the Justice was correct in determining that only firearms of military type are protected by the Second Amendment then how does the federal government reconcile the assault weapons ban of exactly that type of firearm? It cannot because the government, in collusion with the Judiciary, is working to remove the rights of defense from the American people.
But the militia and the place of arms within our free society was known from the very beginning of our great nation. Tench Coxe wrote in the February 20, 1788 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette the following:
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
Representative Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said that “Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."
It is specifically because the people are armed that we have not seen greater degrees of oppression. It is because the American people maintain the unique ability to resist government’s usurpation of power that it must be measured in very slow increments, lest the people rise up.
Thomas Jefferson was attributed as saying:
"... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
The idea of arms in the hands of the people was to be able to resist government tyranny and to have the means to correct it. The Second Amendment guarantees every man the right to arms for the purpose of war against any that would defile that liberty.
The military grade weapon is the exact weapon the Second Amendment guarantees. Not to hunt deer and pheasant but to hunt those that would threaten liberty. The Supreme Court has acknowledged that fact in Miller and of late in the Heller case that it is an individual right. That means every law abiding citizen has not only the right but the duty to be armed with military grade weapons and proficient in the use and deployment of those weapons.
For those who are too cowardly to learn the art of the firearm, to those who cower at the thought of defense of Liberty and freedom, to those who think more of greed and personal pleasure than to right and justice I leave you with the words of Samuel Adams:
"If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."