Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cenk Uygur Lied on 2nd Amendment

I am a fan of Cenk Uygur and I do agree with many of his positions, such as his views on healthcare and such. However not only do I disagree with his opinions on gun control, I disagree with his facts. Facts are something you normally can not disagree with as a fact is a fact is a fact. So the facts can truly say only one thing. Either the facts show that the founding fathers and the supreme court supported the right to own guns or they didn't. Fortunately it doesn't take long to dig up the truth.

Point 1.
Justice Scalia is a hypocrite.
Justice Scalia is one of two ultra conservative Justices on the Supreme Court. Cenk compares his ruling on right to handguns to his views opposing abortion.  For example, Scalia in an interview you can read HERE says that he is a textualist and interprets the constitution the way it was written over 200 years ago.  As such he rejects the rulings on things like Roe V Wade which found an implied right to privacy in the constitution.  While I disagree with Scalia on many of his views, such as Abortion, I can at least see his logic.  The constitution does not discuss abortion, and it doesn't even address privacy that much either, it most certainly does discuss the right of the people to bear arms.

At the time of the constitution guns were very limited to things such as muskets which only fired one shot. In fact during the war for independence, Ben Franklin petitioned for bows and arrows to be used as he felt they were easier to make and quicker to shoot.  It wasn't until 1835 that the first mass produced weapon was made that did not require reloading after each shot.  That was the Colt Revolver.

The second amendment reads as follows.
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.

People like Cenk and other anti-gun liberals love to focus on the first half and ignore the second half.  In fact Justice Stevens in his dissenting opinion of Collumbia v Heller wrote.

The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.

The problem is that in Article 1 Section 8 of our constitution the founding fathers laid out the creation of a standing army and navy.  So if it were true that the founding fathers truly feared a central government's powerful army, why did they create one?  Simple because the militia is not the same as the army.  In fact later in section 8 the constitution allows for the militia to be called to help restore law and order in cases of insurrections or invasions.

So what did the word militia mean to the founding fathers?  Well thankfully we can look this up.

Richard Henry Lee (Former Senate ProTem)
"Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
Did our founding fathers want to give kids guns?  Won't someone think of the children?

 Tench Coxe (delegate to continental congress originally opposed to independence)

...The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American....

Essentially these and other quotes I could list all say the same thing.  The militia is NOT the military.  In fact George Washington famously wrote home to his nephew his disgust with the poor performance of the militia and how they were getting in the way of his army.  The militia at the time of our founding was simply able bodied men, normal citizens, a last line of defense when all else fails.

So getting back to Cenk Uygar and where in the constitution does it mention handguns, well it doesn't.  However when interpreting the constitution you have to understand the intent.

Well James Madison tried to get this version of the second amendment passed.

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, a well-armed and well-regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."
That is even more clear than what we have now.  It lists rights of guns firsts and would have made military service optional.  It should be noted that there are a lot of bogus founding fathers quotes going around so the ones I am using have been fact checked to the best of my ability.  For example there is a quote from George Washington and his address to congress floating around right now, that one is bogus.  The same is true for Jefferson's famous tyranny quote.

What we do know is that our founding fathers viewed the military and militias being two distinct groups.  The militia was essentially civilians who could be called upon from time to time to act as a supplement or even a replacement for the rule of law.

Point 2
The Founding Fathers Were For Gun Control
While technically this is true, it is also deceptive.  Here is what the founding fathers supported.  First they supported mandatory gun ownership.  That is correct.  A law in 1792 was passed that you can read HERE that mandated every able bodied white man to own a gun and ammo for the purpose of serving in a militia.  This was during the Whiskey Rebellion and things were getting out of hand.  (I also found online reports that they prohibited gun ownership to those opposed to the revolution however I have not been able to independently verify that.  So that may or may not be true.)  It is also true that gun ownership was prohibited for blacks even after the civil war.  For a complete list of black codes go HERE.

The militia act of 1862 replaced the 1792 law and allowed blacks to serve.  The militia act of 1903 is what gave rise to the National Guard and was used to prevent Governors from using personal armies to mount insurrections such as the Civil War.  It was here that the ability to fight against a national army ceased to exist.  It is because we no longer have a militia that the 2nd amendment is void some people say.

So was the only reason for having guns was to serve in the militia?  No.  The bill of rights is not a list of things our government decides.  By the very words of our founders.  From the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The right of the people get their rights from their Creator not from Government.  Furthermore, it is the right of the people to alter or even abolish the government when it becomes destructive.  An effort to stop the coming revolt King George 3rd in 1774 but a ban on gun powder imports to the colonies and in 1775 tried to confiscate the guns.  The founding fathers knew too well that a dictatorship can not survive when the population is armed.

Point 3
The NRA started as a gun control group
It is correct that the NRA started out as being for better training.  In fact as early as 1910 military grade riffles were being sold to NRA members.  They also supported the 1934 National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968.  What did the 1934 act attempt to do.  It imposed a tax on certain types of weapons such as Machine Guns.  It also created a system of gun registration for both the owner and dealer.  The law was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court.  However throughout it's history the NRA has supported one thing, gun ownership for law abiding citizens.

The NRA did a shift in the 1970s to more of a political action group.  You can read about some of what went down HERE but let's remind ourselves of what brought about these changes.  First there was a backlash to the NRAs support of the 1968 Gun Control Act which attempted to prohibit certain individuals from owning guns.  Nixon is quoted as wanting to ban handguns if he thought he could get away with it without retaliation at the polls.

Ronald Reagan was also a gun control advocate.  In 1967 in response to the Black Panther Patrols he supported and signed into law the Mulford Act which prohibited carrying of firearms on your person or in your vehicle.  While the law was meant to target Black Panthers it applied to everyone, although it is highly likely that in the 60's that this law was "selectively" enforced.

Fun fact, even though Reagan had himself used a gun to stop a robbery HERE   Also during his time as an actor when he started becoming political he carried a gun for self defense.  He was a strong advocate for gun control such as his support for the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and also the Brady Bill.  With 1970s came Nixon and Watergate.  Then we had Ford and then Carter.  While Neither Ford or Carter signed any major gun legislation cities and states were cracking down, and the NRA leadership began to divide.  One abhorred politics and instead wanted to focus solely on training, while the other saw gun rights eroding.  The final result was a shift in policy we now see in the NRA today.

Point 4
How does responsible gun ownership interfere with "Domestic Tranquility and General Welefare?
Cenk Uygur must really think his viewers won't fact check this.  What he is quoting from is the Preamble of the Constitution.  Here it is in full.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Essentially what this meant was treason.  Our country was founded on treason.  We rebelled against our government and our King.  It was an act of war that not only our founding fathers paid dearly for, but so did our nation.  We paid for it in blood and damage to our land.  The Constitution then laid out things like a system of checks and balances to ensure no branch of government ever became to powerful.  We then limited the government by listing off a bill of rights.  Rights that are unalienable, as in not something granted by the government as it saw fit.

We already established the law of 1792 requiring every able bodied white man to own a gun and we established that the militia at the time of our founding was not the same as our military.  The militia was a last line of defense when SHTF, otherwise we had a bunch of white people walking around with guns.

The part about insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welefare was based on the idea that the new government created that day was better for the people than the rule of the King of England.  Cenk is grasping at straws to say otherwise.

Point 5
The Lie of the Warren Burger quote
Remember how in point number 2 I was honest enough to remind my readers that I was unable to independently verify a claim that the founding fathers outlawed gun ownership to those opposed to the revolution.  There are many places that cite this fact, but none can cite the law.  Don't you wish that Cenk Uygur was as honest as I was?

The quote is from Chief Justice Burger, however it is NOT from a court decision.  In fact TheYoungTurks quotes the New Yorker for the source of this quote.  You can read the full article HERE.  The New Yorker does not cite the Supreme Court case that Justice Burger said this.  The reason is because they can't.  Cheif Justice Warren Burger never said it while he was on the bench.  Furthermore, he didn't even say it in the 70's when the New Yorker Attributes the quote to him.  No the quote comes from Chief Justice Warren Burger, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, December 16, 1991.  A search on their website does not appear to show any transcipts.  It should be noted that he retired from the Supreme Court in September 1986.  So he was not an active judge when this was said.

Point 6
The Supreme Court Previously Rejected Individual Rights to Bear Arms
Well that is true and that is not true.  Going back through the court decisions on gun control you can find a shift as more recent rulings have favored individual rights independent of militia use.  However lets look at the facts.  One in 1903 we started to replace militias with the National Guard.  This was to prevent insurrection among the states.  The first major constitutional test to gun laws was Miller v United States.  This was a test of the 1934 National Firearms Act.  It should be pointed out that the Miller side their court appointed lawyer did not have any documentation from the prosecution nor had he been compensated and that he was only given a mere two weeks to prepare his oral arguments for the Supreme Court.  In the end only the prosecution was there to argue the case.  The court predictably agreed with the government's conclusion and in the end this was the law of the land for many years.  This court decision was cited 7 times later until District of Columbia v Heller in 2008 which upheld an individual right to own guns.

You can go back even earlier if you like and you will find cases for both in favor of the militia only view and the individual rights view.  However, just as nobody quotes Dred Scott anymore, we should recognize the reality that later courts often do invalidate the rulings of earlier courts.

Point 7
Orin Hatch
Again Cenk Uygur quotes from the New Yorker which sadly did not give a source for their quote attributed to him but what I found was a report he authored when he was judiciary subcommittee on the constitution.  You can read his full report HERE.  In this report he lays out his claim that the right to bear arms was always intended to be an individual right and bases this on the writings of the founding fathers as well as notes taken during floor debates when our constitution was being written.  The report was from 1982.

Final Point
The Conclusion
I hope I have refuted at least some of the claims from Cenk Ugyar and TheYoungTurks show.  Normally I enjoy their content and rely on their team of fact checkers but in this case they purposely stayed away from citing their sources and instead relied on an article from the New Yorker which also did not cite their sources.

I hope I have helped explain the differences in a militia and the military as it was defined in 1776.  I hoped I have helped dispel the myth that the founding fathers were in favor of gun control and did not want an armed population.  I do hope that you all have learned something today.  I will be doing an update video on my views on gun rights in the next few days so stay subscribed to my YouTube channel.