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August 3, 2001
More On nuclear weapons and the 'well-regulated militia'
by Vin Suprynowicz
In our ongoing dialogue on "Nuclear weapons and the Second Amendment," an attorney who has subscribed to this list responded to Vin Suprynowicz today:
Just read your piece "On nuclear weapons and the 'well-regulated militia'" and had a question for you:
If Joe citizen exercises his right to build a nuclear device, and turns out to be an agent of an enemy power, aren't we just providing free delivery?
Seems to me all the Chinese or North Koreans or whatever would have to do is line up a 100 folks, plus or minus, have them assemble bombs at various locations around the country, set the timers to all go off at once and leave the continent. No one could do anything about it until the molten slag had cooled - and by then bringing the perps to justice might be a moot point (with a few hundred million crispy-fried citizens rotting in the burned-out cities and waiting to be buried.)
The cops couldn't touch any of the treacherous 100 before the bombs blew because of the "Constitutional Right" to build nukes.
I'm with you in saying that citizens should not be restricted in ownership of militia arms (rifles, pistols, shotguns, machine guns, possibly even bazookas, grenades and mortars) but I generally think of militia arms as weapons that can be carried and operated by a single person - localized tactical weapons, not strategic nuclear weapons.
To gain the "respect" of the Reno crowd, a Quad 50 or a mini gun would probably have sufficed. And a mortar would have ruined their day.
# # #
Hi, K.A. --
My "thought" is that neither you nor I nor David Koresh are being allowed to possess quad 50s (in any pragmatic way -- yes, yes, we can get finrgerprinted and wait a year for approval and pay $50,000 for one of the few that ever managed to get "registered" before the import ban took effect, if my Class 3 Dealer can FIND one ...) precisely because so many folks who CLAIMED to be champions of the Second Amendment have spent the past 70 years taking one big step after another BACKWARDS, conceding, "Well, OK, it wouldn't be PRACTICAL for me to argue I should be "allowed" to exercise some "right" to own an armored car or a machine gun ..."
All based on theoretical hobgoblins, from whom we are assured only a massive police state can ever keep us safe.
Where in the Second Amendment do you find this "which can be carried and used by a single man" crap? Are you really contending Washington had no right to employ FIELDPIECES at Princeton or Yorktown? His army was a militia army, unauthorized by the crown. Did Washington's army have a right (a right which can only be the birthright of every American -- he certainly didn't gain it in any charter from King George) to use the biggest cannon it could lay hands on, or not? If you had it in your power to go back in time and deprive him of fieldpieces, would you do so? Do you BELIEVE in these "restrictive principles" which you're tossing about like pieces on a child's board game, or not?
You start out, "If Joe citizen exercises his right to build a nuclear device ..."
Thanks for conceding he has that right.
You then say "I generally think of militia arms as weapons that can be carried and operated by a single person -- localized tactical weapons, not strategic nuclear weapons."
Fine. You have every right to think that, and no one can require you to take up, learn to use, or possess any other kind of weapon if you don't want to. Others may "think" their ideal and only militia weapon should be a black powder muzzle-loader. Fine with me.
I, on the other hand, think a perfect militia weapon -- one which I'd like to save up and buy at surplus and store in the side yard -- would be a six-wheeled self-propelled 155mm cannon, with a few thousand live rounds for practice, out in the desert.
What's your point -- that someone shouldn't "allow" me to buy, own, or drive around in my self-propelled gun, because I hypothetically "might be" a Red Chinese agent? That "thinking" nuclear devices are inappropriate tactical weapons will keep bad guys from ever using one against you and yours?
That you and I might join in to a "voluntary pact" that neither of us will ever buy or build a neutron bomb? To what purpose? Someone else will -- many others already have. This is like arguing that it would really be better if rattlesnakes didn't have fangs. You haven't told me what you propose to do about it, besides which you're trying to convince the wrong guy. If you think you can talk the snake out of his fangs, or the Pentagon out of their warheads, go and try. Let me now how you do.
Or are you saying you would vote for a politician who would throw me in prison for attempting to buy the same weapons owned and operated on a daily basis by that politician's uniformed agents -- that you would cooperate in jailing me for violating the government's MONOPOLY ON ARMED FORCE, just as prevailed in the Ukraine in 1933, in Germany in 1940, in Red China under Mao, in Cambodia under Pol Pot? If so, why don't you just COME OUT AND SAY SO?
I know for a FACT the Special Operations Command down in Florida has thousands of trained "shooters" and scores of "back-pack nukes" available, which they could infiltrate into China (or Idaho) and detonate next month, if they wanted to. Welcome to the nuclear age. Just how severe a police state would you be willing to submit to, if they could "guarantee" you none of your neighbors will ever own a "prohibited weapon" ... while the government retains all it wants?
Only thing is, don't delude yourself that YOU'LL get to make the final call on which weapons are "prohibited" to us peasants.
Uncle Sam has ALREADY effectively banned those "Quad 50s and mini guns and mortars" which you discuss as though I could go down and buy one at Wal-Mart this afternoon. They'll want all the handguns and "sniper rifles" next. Look at once-free England and Australia.
There are only two sides here. Are you going to join with me -- and the Founding Fathers -- in declaring it's the birthright of every American to possess "every terrible weapon of the soldier"? Or are you going to join the parade of yellow-bellied compromisers, selling away my birthright as well as your own, whining, "Well OK, we certainly don't want to be called UNREASONABLE, so I'm willing to sell my neighbor's right to bear certain really DANGEROUS WEAPONS, along with my own, for the chimercial bowl of porridge you call 'security.' Where do I sign on to support your latest 'reasonable gun control' bill? ..."
CAN YOU GET THE GOVERNMENT TO GIVE UP THEIRS? DO YOU BELIEVE NO GOVERNMENT WILL EVER AGAIN MURDER ITS OWN CITIZENS? It was Thomas Paine who wrote (I may be paraphrasing) "It would be a more peaceful world if all men would lay down their arms. But because there are evil men who WILL not give up their arms, therefore men of good will DARE not give up their arms, or the evil would run among the good as wolves among sheep."
If we stopped meddling in the affairs of foreign nations, why would they want to go to the trouble of destroying us? Do you spend all your days aching for a chance to nuke Iraq or Bosnia? With folks successfully smuggling tons of cocaine and marijuana into this country every WEEK, do you really think they couldn't smuggle in a nuke -- or a couple drums of Sarin gas -- right now, if they had adequate motivation?
It's the ambitious, imperialist, meddling socialist "world police" leaders in place in Washington today -- who insist on a MONOPOLY in such armed force -- who are the folks most likely to DRAG us into such a conflict. The very people to whom you would grant an unchallenged MONOPOLY on such force are the ones who are most likely to do mischief with it. The Founders knew the best way to curtail such ambitions was to make sure such men faced, here at home, a citizen militia well enough armed to overthrow them the moment they usurped a SINGLE power not properly delegated to them.
Has Washington not usurped such undelegated powers, droves of them, for at least the past 90 years, through sheerest chicanery and threats of brute force? Do they no longer live in fear of us armed citizens? Why not? Because 70 years of compromise have reduced us to laughable windbags with deer rifles, of course.
Just how many of your rights -- and mine -- are you willing to trade away in exchange for someone lulling you to sleep with lullabye promises that they can thereby PROTECT YOU FROM EVERY DANGER?
# # #
Another reader today sent me Andrew Fletcher's 1698 "A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias," familiar to all the Founders, wherein he coined the very term "well-regulated militia" which is so much under discussion today (albeit by people would probably wouldn't bother to read the phrase at its source if you set it in front of them.)
Find Fletcher's essay at
I'll close with just a portion:
"A good militia is of such importance to a nation, that it is the chief part of the constitution of any free government. For though as to other things, the constitution be never so slight, a good militia will always preserve the public liberty. But in the best constitution that ever was, as to all other parts of government, if the militia be not upon a right foot, the liberty of that people must perish. The militia of ancient Rome, the best that ever was in any government, made her mistress of the world: but standing armies enslaved that great people, and their excellent militia and freedom perished together. The Lacedemonians continued eight hundred years free, and in great honour, because they had a good militia. The Swisses at this day are the freest, happiest, and the people of all Europe who can best defend themselves, because they have the best militia. ...
"And I cannot see why arms should be denied to any man who is not a slave, since they are the only true badges of liberty; and ought never, but in times of utmost necessity, to be put into the hands of mercenaries or slaves: neither can I understand why any man that has arms should not be taught the use of them. ...
"Is it not a shame that any man who possesses an estate, and is at the same time healthful and young, should not fit himself by all means for the defence of that, and his country, rather than to pay taxes to maintain a mercenary, who though he may defend Mm during a war, will be sure to insult and enslave him in time of peace. Men must not think that any country can be in a constant posture of defence, without some trouble and charge; but certainly it is better to undergo this, and to preserve our liberty with honour, than to be subjected to heavy taxes, and yet have it insolently ravished from us, to our present oppression, and the lasting misery of our posterity. ..."
Read Additional Remarks
Vin Suprynowicz, assistant editorial page editor of the 180,000- circulation daily Las Vegas Review-Journal, is the only member of the "mainstream" media who uncompromisingly champions the absolute human right of individuals to defend themselves and their loved ones against all aggressors and predators -- uniformed or otherwise -- and to keep and bear the means to get it done.
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