Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Suppose You Were Conscripted

Suppose that the government required you, as a citizen, to perform military service regardless of your consent. Also, they required you to provide weapons and ammunition to government specification at your own expense, and present it for regular inspection.

Also, by you, the government meant a free, white male of military age.

This is what the Congress that passed the Militia Acts of 1792 thought  necessary for a well regulated militia.

A few observations.

By well regulated, they didn't mean restricted by law. They meant something more than that. They meant to produce a militia that was militarily efficient, sufficiently trained that they could fight effectively as units on the battlefield.

Second, to avoid the possible evil of oppression by a standing army, they were willing to subject virtually the entire population that mattered to the contemporary mind to compulsory military service and compel them to arm themselves at their own expense.


Hugh Knight said...

Not just wrong, but documentably and blatantly false. We know that because we have the words of one of the men who was there to tell us so:
“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”—Tench Coxe (1755-1824), writing as "A Pennsylvanian," in "Remarks On The First Part Of The Amendments To The Federal Constitution," in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, p. 2 col. 1

Will McLean said...

How does that contradict what I wrote? They believed that the armed citizen had obligations as well as rights.

Hugh Knight said...

The implication of what you wrote was that the 2nd Amendment was only intended to arm the militia, and that if we don't have a citizen militia, the citizens don't need to be armed. This is an argument that has been made *many* times, and it is invalid.

Kaleberg said...

This obligation to arm oneself and serve is much older than the republic. In New Amsterdam, all white men of a certain age had a similar requirement to serve. The alternative was to pay a fine. The Jews of the city were originally not allowed to serve by Governor Stuyvesant who made the usual unit cohesion arguments we hear about women in combat today. They protested to the Dutch West India company who overruled Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant was a bit of a religious bigot what with the Quakers and the Flushing Remonstrance and all that.