Since Congress was given the power to issue letters of marque and
reprisal which enabled private vessels to capture other ships, it
clearly implies that people were allowed to have fairly serious
armament. We know from history there were United States based
privateers. Incidently, the letters of marque clause predates the 10
It's written down because that is supposed to keep things consistent. It
doesn't mean that the writing-down is the "grantor", so to speak. WHat
it is, is keeping a record of what is and is not agreed upon as being
law, so that the Law can be applied consistently.
So, if people agree that murder is against the law, and agree that to be
murder, the killing has to be pre-meditated and done deliberately (i.e.,
not an accident), it's just common sense to write it down and maintain it
as an official document, so that it won't be forgotten or mixed-up.
I think mot people forget that there is a difference between saying
"Constitutionally guaranteed rights" and "Constitutionally granted
rights" - the latter is not the correct statement. And even the
"guarantee" part relies upon people not only recording the law, but
In essence, it is a contract outlining the agreement between the People,
and those elected to government and what *they* (the gov.t) cannot do.
But this has gotten twisted up and turned around so that now, people
mistakenly think that the Cnstitution is the *origin* of rights and that
it delineates what *the People* cannot do.
So, when it says that the people have a right to bear arms, what it is
actually saying is that the governemnt cannot legitimately take armaments
away from the People. Of course, there is a problem now because back
then, "arms" meant pretty much flintlockl rifles and pistols, whereas
today, we have Mac-10's and AK-47's and so on, so it *might* be
legitimate to argue that automatic weapons are not exempt from giv.t
seizure, but it *cannot* be legitimate that the gov.t can legitimately
keep *all* arms out of the hands of the People.
But that is the point, that difference between the Constitution as a
contract defining, and often limiting, the actions of the goverenment;
and the mistaken idea that the Constitution is the source of rights and
therefore can also be used to remove rights from the People.
As I said in another posting the United States Constitution has among
the powers of Congress the right to grant letters of marque and
reprisal. This was a license for a ship owner to go out and capture
enemy vessels. This in turn meant that the ship owner was assumed to
have some fairly serious armament (cannons, etc.). In short it was
assumed one could own a war ship, maybe even the equivalent of a
guided missile cruiser. Chuck Stevens who posted on comp.lang.cobol
pointed this out in one of the off topic postings.
If there was a time-limit on those letters, specifying a given situation
and/or time frame, it's not reasonable to assume it means that private
citizens *today* should own, for ex., unlicensed hand granades. I don't
muind the idea of gun licensing, *IF* it is used to insure that people
have some level of training before buying a gun.
In any event, in the end, the vital point is the degree to which people
are reasonable, or the degree to which they're ruled by personal emotions
and personal demons and a desire to dominate others. The ideal behind
"the rule of law" is that one maniac can't just up and subjugate his
neighbors simply because he has a bigger gun so to speak.
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