Monday, January 21, 2013
Would I Ever Arm Somebody So They Could Shoot Me?
As I was perusing some old blog stuff, I stumbled upon this debate about whether to exempt States from duties on the importation of arms:
A good militia system had always been considered as a great desideraturn, and had accordingly engaged, every session, the attention of the Legislature. But it was believed that until arms were exclusively put into the hands of our citizens, no effectual provision could be accomplished; whereas, with arms in their hands, they would be competent, under State regulations, to the complete defence of the country.
Under the Constitution of the United States, it did not appear to be the duty of the States to arm the militia; that duty was at best equivocal; as the object was national, it might perhaps, most correctly, be considered as the duty of the neral Government. It was certainly the interest of that Government that the militia should be armed ; and it would also be the evidence of a wise and magnanimous policy to grant the reasonable requests of the States; particularly when a gratification of such requests would promote not only the general harmony, but also the national strength. The removal of the duty, it was observed, would, in the proportion of ﬁfteen to a hundred, increase the ability of the States to purchase arms; for which this was a season the most auspicious, and which ought therefore immediately to be seized...
The militia were, it was remarked, in most of the States but miserably supplied with arms; and this was most particularly the case in the Southern States. Should the nation, contrary to their wishes, be engaged in war it was these States that would experience the first attack of an invading enemy; and in such event, as the ultimate defence must rest upon the national Government, it would then be perceived that even the revenue would in effect be aided, in case the facility thereby given the States to procure arms should have, by the removal of this duty rendered unnecessary the interposition of the Federal Government. By limiting it to two years, a stimulus would be given to the States, as well as an intimation of the sense of the General Government of the import- ance of immediately attending to this interesting object.
Doesn't seem to be much discussion about giving weapons to people so they could rise up against us tyrants in government. And this was in 1803, over a decade after the Bill of Rights was ratified, so you'd think the topic would come up if it were so damned important...
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