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home : opinions : letters May 1, 2016

2/16/2013 1:03:00 PM
Letter: Don’t rewrite history


The debate over the Second Amendment is welcomed and healthy.

However, I take issue with Mr. Bond and Mr. Nelson’s letters to the editor, who in an effort to defend their position attempt to rewrite and revise history. I have two Master Degrees in History, one is specifically in American History and Government.

I have read the early documents and discussions regarding the Second Amendment.

Nowhere can I find that the debate was about slaves or slave uprising. The West Indies slave rebellion that Mr. Bond refers to occurred four years after the Constitution was written and two years after it was ratified. The dates don’t work with his premise.

In order to not indulge the reader in lengthy quotes from the founding era, I will refer to just a couple. First, the United States Constitution included parts of several of the state Constitutions. For example, the Massachusetts Constitution read, “The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defense.” Note the right to arms was for the common defense.

Patrick Henry during Virginia’s state convention opposed the ratification of the new Constitution because it didn’t include the right of the people to bear arms. Said he, “My great objection to this government [Constitution] is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights or waging against tyrants.” This was before the Bill of Rights were added.

Henry was a Southerner; notice he did not say they needed arms to protect against slaves, but against the cruelty of tyrants.

Lastly, the best resource of all is the Federalist Papers. This is a collection of newspaper articles explaining and defending the new proposed Constitution, written by James Madison (Father of the Constitution), Alexander Hamilton (first Secretary of the Treasury} and John Jay (First Chief Justice of the United States).

Article 28 states that the original right of self-defense is paramount to all positive forms of government. “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resources left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense.” Here, the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms is self-defense. Federalist 29 states, “Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped.” And finally, Federalist 46 points out that the governments of Europe kept the people living under tyranny, in part, by never allowing them to have arms. “… 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.” The American colonist unlike their European counterparts had arms and were able to shake off the tyranny of England. The right to bear arms was to discourage tyrants.

In all that I have studied I have yet to come across any of the official discussions, or writings, that states that the Second Amendment was for the suppression of slaves. So to Mr. Bond and Mr. Nelson make your point and debate all you want, but don’t try to rewrite and revise history to defend your position.

Vicki Jo Anderson


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: W J

@ Ryan Jensen

20 years. So what? Do you seriously think Sen. Feinstein has changed her views? Eric Holder has literally used the word "brainwash" to describe how he wants to change how people feel and think about guns and yes it was a long time ago.

You may not believe it, but there is a very real push by some to dis-arm the people of this country and it is accomplished with small steps. To come right out and state it as Sen. Feinstein did exposes the agenda and so they refrain from that now. This discussion was about law and the constitution until you had to drag out labels like "conservatives" and "gun nuts". We all live under the same laws with the same rights. If one can be lost, none are safe and that is what makes this so important.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

@ W J

Nice job! You only had to go back 18 years to find something to contradict my point.

Diane Feinstein’s comment is as stupid and off-the-cuff today as it was back when she said it.

The folks who are running around today, whining about the government coming to take their guns, are not doing so because of something Feinstein said nearly 20 years ago. Today’s gun nuts have their tights in a twist because they believe – nay, they WANT to believe – that President Obama wants to disarm them of any and all weapons.

That’s just plainly and simply not true, and nothing in his recent series of executive orders suggests anything different.


Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by:

Isn't that the legacy of the Democratic Party?

Nowadays it's "white males" who are scapegoats for party propagandists.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Peter Nelson

When Vicky Jo said, "The debate over the Second Amendment is welcomed and healthy.", she was speaking as an educated historian. Contrary to popular belief, historians know how complex history can be. They also know that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was not a "slam dunk" as some believe. They were hard won compromises by states with differing concerns and motivations.

And anyone who follows the Supreme Court knows that the main purpose of their existence is to decide whether laws passed by Congress are in fact constitutional (when challenged in court). A recent case (Heller vs. District of Columbia, 2008) was about the Second Amendment and upheld the Right to own guns for personal defense. For those who are interested, read the decision by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Since 1776, our precious national document has been altered/clarified many times, and today thanks to the changes (Amendments), women can vote, for one. (The conservative position at the time was that this was a very bad idea. After 70 years of denial of their Right to vote, women found a supporter in the progressive Theodore Roosevelt.)

But apparently Vicky Jo, most folks do not see debate on the Second Amendment to be either healthy or welcomed. They not only do not want to discuss it, they seek to paint anyone who does as "out of touch" or as "unpatriotic".

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Re: Vicki Jo Anderson

Good letter ..... informative and to the point ..... however, the "good" mr bond and mr nelson are not interested in history .... or the accuracy of their statements ..... what they are interested in is spreading old fashioned propaganda ..... their purpose is to link the evil of slavery to what they consider the evil of gun ownership.

Which is why they will keep tellin' the same ol' BS over and over and over .... keep telling the lie long enough and hope the gullible fall for it .....

Look at the "good" mr nelson's rebuttal ..... it has so many holes in it that it could double as swiss cheese ..... but he doesn't care if you point them out, 'cause that's not his intent ...... he will just redouble efforts and come up with another line of BS.

"He who controls the past, controls the future."

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: W J

@ Ryan Jensen

You do realise how incorrect you are, right? Right?

Discussing why the 1994 act only prohibited the manufacture or import of assault weapons, instead of the possession and sale of them, Feinstein said on CBS-TV's 60 Minutes, February 5, 1995, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them . . . Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't here."

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Gray Grammarian:
Now that is the whole truth.

If no one could graduate from grade school without a working knowledge of how our Federal, State, and local governments are supposed to work, Peter Nelson couldn't get away with conflating the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with State constitutions and codes. (And it's so easy with programs like the one Justice Sandra Day O'Connor developed for computer-literate kids.)

If no one could graduate from high school without passing constitutional and American history courses, no one in their right mind would suggest rewriting any of the first ten Amendments.

If everyone could express their arguments as clearly as Vicki Jo Anderson, Federal, State, and local legislators wouldn't write, much less pass, so many terrible laws. We wouldn't be bombarded by so many half-baked opinions, either.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Danny Smith

I would suggest that Mr.Ryan Jensen open his eyes. Both Colorado and Missouri Liberal democrats have proposed legislation to force gun owners to turn in or destroy certain types of rifles and high capacity magazines. If passed this must happen within 90 days. The odds of passage are next to nil thank goodness. True supporters of our Constitution can and should keep a watch out for these types of idiotic laws.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: John Munroe

The principle thrust of the Militia Act of 1792 (May 8, 1792) was to provide a manner of lawful conscription (with noted exceptions), "each and every free able-bodied white male citizen... SHALL severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia." "SHALL" being the key verb therein. In more recent times it was called "the draft." Living conditions in Eighteenth Century American military might have made some aspects of slavery almost appealing.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Gray Grammarian

To Vicki Jo Anderson:

I truly enjoyed reading your letter. Dare I hope you are both a scholar and an educator?

Our entire nation needs more teachers accomplished in both constitutional history and English composition.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst


The second Militia Act of 1792 defined who would be conscripted into the militia, not who could keep arms. Every white male 18-45 years of age not expressly excused from service was required by law to be suitably armed and ready to serve. The Militia Act allowed President Washington to call up militias to put down the Whiskey Rebellion tax protest by Pennsylvania farmers in 1795.

I'm not quite sure what your point is relative to the Second Amendment, since no one is arguing that free blacks were not increasingly dehumanized after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

You Conservatives know that no one is proposing to take away your guns, right?

I mean......you understand that, right?


Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: MR. HISTORY

The Militia Act of 1792, Passed May 8, 1792, providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia.
An ACT more effectually to provide for the National Defense, by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States.

I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied WHITE MALE CITIZEN of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside,...

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Tommy J

The Virginia Convention of 1776 put me to work on a draft of a new constitution for the newly independent state. My first draft of the fundamental document contained a provision for the militia and the right to bear arms based in classical political thought which tied human freedom to the right to keep and bear arms. The following shows my original draft and changes made by deletion.

No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

No souldier shall be capable of continuing in (this line crossed out)

there shall be no standing army but in the time of actual war

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: T. Hearn

Reply to Vicki Jo Anderson

Superb letter. Thank you for clearing that bit of smoke out of the way. Now maybe more people will see the valid points Mr. Nelson and Mr. Bond did make.

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