Can the UN Repeal Your Washington State Gun Rights?

Medellín v Texas is a landmark that stands for freedom in the United States.

See United States

In recent years, some members of the U.S. Supreme Court have made attempts to meld U.S. law with foreign law. International norms are apparently a new prism through which U.S. Constitutional law should be interpreted, according to some justices.

For example, in criticizing the Court’s own previous decision upholding state laws against consensual sodomy, the Court stated:

Where a case’s foundations have sustained serious erosion, criticism from other sources is of greater significance. In the United States, criticism of Bowers has been substantial and continuing, disapproving of its reasoning in all respects, not just as to its historical assumptions. And, to the extent Bowers relied on values shared with a wider civilization, the case’s reasoning and holding have been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights, and that other nations have taken action consistent with an affirmation of the protected right of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct. There has been no showing that in this country the governmental interest in circumscribing personal choice is somehow more legitimate or urgent. Lawrence v Texas reversing Bowers v Hardwick

In the Lawrence v Texas decision, the majority opinion focused on global economics and world order as a justification for reversing an opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court delivered seventeen years before.

Medellin is a death penalty case but the Supreme Court did something more important than just deal with the issue of whether the State of Texas must give a psychopath a new trial. In Medellin, the strict-constructionist members of the Court put a death knell to the concept that international tribunals, treaties and legal usages are binding on states like Texas (and the State of Washington). For example, by holding as it did in Medellin- that international treaties and presidential orders do not trump state laws- the Court may have protected Americans from the UN Treaty on Small Arms that the UN is preparing to promote very heavily in the U.S. (the UN has been working on this agenda throughout the world- even as the UN remains a haven for genocidal regimes of every stripe). The “Progressives” who are up in arms against the Roberts Court are livid, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Though the case became a global cause célèbre, its sordid origins trace to 1993, when José Medellín, a Mexican national, murdered two Houston teenagers. He was sentenced to death by a Texas jury, but his lawyers argued on appeal that he hadn’t had access to Mexico’s consulate before he confessed to his crimes.

This was a violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention, which holds that diplomats are supposed to be notified when their nationals are arrested. In response, the U.S. government took steps to ensure states better comply in the future, both to fulfill its treaty obligations and serve the reciprocal interests of U.S. citizens detained abroad.

But Mexican authorities made the case a referendum on capital punishment and international legal norms, ultimately suing the U.S. in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The ICJ ruled in Mexico’s favor, ordering states to give Medellín and some 51 other nationals new hearings. The question before the Supreme Court was whether such international dictates must be enforced by sovereign state courts. An affirmative answer might have gone a long way toward validating the expansive claims of liberal legal theorists that U.S. courts take instruction from the U.N., among other moral oases.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 6-3 majority, ruled that the ICJ finding was not binding because the Vienna Convention is an understanding between governments. It is a diplomatic compact that was never intended to automatically create new individual rights enforceable domestically by international bodies. Texas’s violation was of diplomatic protocols, and calls for a diplomatic remedy.

Treaty provisions must be in accord with the plain meaning of the Constitution as it is written, not as some European-style socialists would have it to be. This distinction establishes a fire wall between international and domestic law. It also protects the core American Constitutional principles of federalism and the separation of powers.

Justice Roberts pointed out that courts must leave to the political branches the primary role in deciding when and how international agreements will be enforced.

Medellín v. Texas also swatted away a claim of Presidential power. According to the WSJ, the Bush Administration attempted to calm the diplomatic world by directing states to comply with the ICJ ruling in a 2005 executive order.

The Court ruled that the President’s power is limited by the Constitution. Authority to make treaty commitments does not extend to unilaterally asserting new state responsibilities or legal duties. The executive makes new laws subject to the legislature. The same crowd that is so suspicious of the Bush Administration’s claims of executive power, can’t wait to turn the executive powers over to international politicians who have already banned guns in most of Europe, Australia and Canada, to name a few!

Another safeguard provided by the Medellin case, is the safeguard against potential hate speech laws that chill your First Amendment freedoms. Hate speech laws are being used all over the Western World to silence criticism of Islam. If the multiculturalist crowd has its way, it could become a crime to make statements in the United States of America that violate hate crime laws like the laws enacted in Australia and Canada and many Western European nations. Hopefully we will continue to have Supreme Court Justices that recognize this kind of totalitarianism disguised as multiculturalism as a threat to liberty and free speech.

The Medellín majority has delivered a victory for the U.S. Constitution. For many years, the elite lawyers and politicians have been claiming that the Constitution is always changing based on the needs of each generation. This is not rule of law but an argument for tyranny which would interlineate international norms in place of bedrock Constitutional norms.

There are still many law professors and judges that think treaties supersede the U.S. Constitution. Hopefully the Medellin case has put such legal doctrines to rest! The decision went against the Bush Adminstration this time but if Medellin is reversed the next decision could impose UN-made laws that shut down our ability to conduct full debate on many important issues. Debate is often a strength that promotes new ways of dealing with threats and opportunities.

Ironically, we have President Bush to thank for men like Chief Justice Roberts and the other justices on the Court that read documents in plain English and just said NO to the Bush Administration’s overly aggressive claim of presidential power.

See also Perverting the Bill of Rights.

Summary of Second Amendment Brief

The SAF brief is especially important because Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in DC v Heller drew on many sources referenced in the following brief.

The Second Amendment Foundation (“SAF”), a tax exempt organization under § 501(c)(3) of the I.R.C., is a non-profit educational foundation incorporated in August 1974 under the laws of the State of Washington.

SAF seeks to preserve the effectiveness of the Second Amendment through educational and legal action programs. SAF has 650,000 members and supporters residing in every state of the Union.
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The language, grammar, and history of the Amendment show both that its protection is not limited to militia related activities, and that the protected right does extend to having arms for self defense against violent criminals.
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United States v. Miller is unworkable: Petitioners’ principal claim is that the 2nd Amendment “protects the possession and use of guns only in service of an organized militia.” This interpretation leads to one of three untenable conclusions:

• that the federal government is free to eliminate the people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms by abolishing or failing to maintain an organized militia, a conclusion that is absurd on its face; or

• that American citizens have a right to require the federal government to maintain an organized militia in which they can keep and bear arms, which implies–contrary to all historical evidence– that the Second Amendment substantially amended the provision of Article I giving Congress virtually unfettered authority to regulate the militia;4 or

• that the Second Amendment forbids Congress to preempt state laws conferring a right to keep and bear arms while serving in a state militia, which has the problems discussed below.

Petitioners appear to adopt this third alternative, which is fatally flawed.

1. Like the second alternative, it entails an historically unsupported assumption that the Second Amendment substantially altered Congress’ Article I authority to regulate the militia.

2. A right of the states to organize and arm their own militias as they see fit conflicts with the constitutional prohibition against their keeping troops without the consent of Congress.

3. This Court has consistently concluded that the federal government has extremely broad powers to preempt state militia regulations, and has never suggested that the Second Amendment has any relevance at all to preemption questions. E.g., Houston v. Moore, 18 U.S. 1 (1820); Perpich v. Dep’t of Def., 496 U.S. 334 (1990).7 Accordingly, petitioners’ interpretation of the Second Amendment is insupportable.

The Miller case suggests an interpretation that is different from petitioners’, and more facially plausible, namely that private citizens might have a right to possess weapons that are “part of the ordinary military equipment or [whose] use could contribute to the common defense.”

This test (which is not Miller’s holding) implies that American citizens have a right to possess at least those weapons that an unaided individual can “bear” and that “could contribute to the common defense.” Today this would include, at a minimum, the fully automatic rifles that are standard infantry issue, and probably also shoulder-fired rockets and grenades.

When Miller was decided, infantry were typically armed with the same sort of bolt-action rifles that civilians commonly kept for use in everyday life.

Dissenting in Houston v. Moore, Justice Story noted that the Second Amendment at most might confirm that states have a limited concurrent power to regulate their militia “in the absence of, or subordinate to, the regulations of Congress.” 18 U.S. at 52-53. Cf. Hamilton v. Regents, 293 U.S. 245, 260 (1934)(citing Second Amendment when noting that state militia laws that are not preempted must also transgress “no right safeguarded to the citizens by the Federal Constitution”).

The SAF brief goes on to explain that the Miller case focused on whether the weapon (a sawed-off shotgun) was militarily useful and concludes that such an approach is ambiguous when it comes to deciding whether individuals can assert the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms apart from membership in a state sponsored militia:

Accordingly, the ambiguous opinion in Miller should be read to hold only that this Court required further evidence before it could decide whether an unregistered short-barreled shotgun was, in the circumstances presented by that case, covered by the Second Amendment.

As the following discussion will show, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to prevent Congress from using its Article I authorities, including its authority to regulate the militia, to disarm American citizens. The principal reason for including a preamble praising the militia – a preamble that does not substantively alter the operative prohibition on federal overreaching – was to endorse the traditional citizen militia, which many Americans preferred as an alternative to standing armies.

The language, grammar, and history of the Amendment demonstrate both that its protection is not limited to militia related activities, and that the protected right does extend to having arms for self defense against violent criminals.

II. The text of the Second Amendment establishes that the constitutional right extends beyond militia-related weapons and activities.

Eighteenth century state constitutions frequently included explanatory language that was manifestly over- and/or underinclusive.See Eugene Volokh, The Commonplace Second Amendment, 73 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 793 (1998).

A. The grammatical structure of the Second Amendment does not imply that the purpose of the constitutional right is limited to fostering a well regulated militia.

The most significant grammatical feature of the Second Amendment is that its preamble is an absolute phrase, often called an ablative absolute or nominative absolute.

Such constructions are grammatically independent of the rest of the sentence, and do not qualify any word in the operative clause to which they are appended. The usual function of absolute constructions is to convey some information about the circumstances surrounding the statement in the main clause.

The Northwest Ordinance (for example) stated that “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged”.

The SAF brief goes into a fairly tedious grammatical discussion that includes very some tecnical details pertaining to the syntax and linguistical construction of the preamble’s endorsement of militias. Some editorialists have criticized Justice Scalia’s opinion (which contains even more linguistical analysis) arguing that the majority tortured the English language in order to achieve an outcome-oriented “activist” decision.

Of course, the reality is that Justice Stevens and his Constitutional wrecking crew (aka the minority) are the judical activists. Justice Stevens leaps through a series of mental gymnastics in order to conclude that only state militias are encompassed in the Second Amendment’s language. Individuals, according to the minority, have no recourse under the Second Amendment. Why- because the Miller case held that weapons must have useful military purposes and that sawed-off shotguns lack such military usefulness. It takes a great deal of linguistic agility to get from Miller to Justice Stevens’ dissent. Justice Stevens’ dissent makes for great reading- if you want to major in psycho-linguistics! The reality is that Miller was about the federal government’s ability to regulate firearms and had nothing to do with asking the question before the Court in Heller; i.e., the question of whether the Second Amendment is an individual right.

No one even questioned the meaning of the Second Amendment in the 1930s. The Miller case was decided not long after the federal government made its first foray into controlling weapons like sawed-off shotguns and machine guns.

Prof. Lund’s brief on behalf of SAF continues:

C. “The people” referred to in the Second Amendment has always been a much larger body of individuals than the militia.

The militia has always been a small subset of “the people” whose right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment. James Madison, for example, estimated that the militia comprised most obviously…

… women were not part of the eighteenth century militia, nor are they included today (except for female volunteers in the National Guard). Women, however, have always been citizens and thus part of “the people.” See, e.g., Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 165-70 (1874) (although women did not have voting privileges, they were part of “the people” who ordained and established the Constitution, and they have always been citizens).

Just as women have always been covered by the First Amendment’s “right of the people” to assemble and petition for redress of grievances, and the Fourth Amendment’s “right of the people” to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, women have always had the same Second Amendment rights as men.

Even if one mistakenly supposed that “the people” referred to in the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments included only those citizens with full political rights (thus excluding women), the militia and the people would still remain substantially noncongruent.

Under the Second Militia Act of 1792, for example, the militia included most free, able-bodied male citizens who were at least 18 but under the age of 45. This would have included a substantial number of men who were not old enough to vote. The framers of the Bill of Rights knew how to draw precise distinctions between rights appertaining to militiamen and those belonging to the general population. See U.S. Const.amend. V (requiring presentment or grand jury indictment “except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger”).

This example further undermines the supposition that the framers thoughtlessly conflated the militia with the people in the Second Amendment. Political speeches during the founding period sometimes seemed to equate the militia with the people. Careful attention to the context, however, shows that such statements were not meant literally, but rather served rhetorically to contrast a relatively broad-based militia with narrower variations. See,e.g., 10 The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution 1312 (John P. Kaminski & Gaspare J. Saladino eds., 1993) (George Mason at the Virginia ratifying convention); 2 The Complete Anti-Federalist 341 (Herbert J. Storing ed., 1981) (Federal Farmer).

Thus, the militia included many men who did not have full political rights. The opposite form of noncongruence was also significant. Those who were physically unable to perform militia duties, as well as those aged 45 and older, still had all their political rights, including the right to vote. Besides the numerous men in these categories, many other citizens were legally exempted from militia duties. Thus, many men with full political rights were not subject to militia obligations.

The noncongruence of the militia and the people points to another fatal defect in petitioners’ interpretation of the Second Amendment. Nothing in the Constitution purports to forbid Congress from exempting everyone from militia duties, as this Court has recognized.

III. The nature and history of the Second Amendment confirm that its purpose cannot be confined to fostering a well regulated militia.

The preceding analysis demonstrates that the text does not impose a “militia-related” limitation on the Second Amendment right. The constitutional language, however, would be nonsensical if one could not specify any relation at all between the right to arms and the desideratum of a well regulated militia. There is such a relationship, though not the one assumed by petitioners, who mistakenly contend that the Second Amendment protects access to arms only in the service of an organized militia.

A. The Second Amendment contributes to a well regulated militia by preventing a specific misuse of Congress’ Article I authorities, including its authority to regulate the militiaArticle I of the Constitution gives Congress virtually plenary authority to regulate the militia, and the Second Amendment does not purport to shift any of that power to the state governments. The Court has recognized this fact by deciding numerous preemption cases involving state militia laws without so much as mentioning the Second Amendment. See, e.g., Houston v. Moore, 18 U.S. 1 (1820); Perpich v. Dep’t of Def., 496 U.S. 334 (1990).

Let us focus again on the language of the Constitution. One obvious way for a militia to be well regulated is to be well trained or well disciplined as a military organization, and the framers of the Second Amendment no doubt meant to conjure thoughts of such an organization.
32 The Second Amendment, however, added absolutely nothing to Congress’ almost plenary Article I authority to provide for military training and discipline.

Furthermore, the term “well regulated” also has a broader meaning that is actually more relevant in this context.

It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects. . . . If a well regulated militia be the most natural defence of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation, and at the disposal of that body, which is constituted the guardian of the national security.

As its operative clause makes clear, the Second Amendment simply forbids one kind of inappropriate regulation (among the infinite possible regulations) that Congress might be tempted to enact under its sweeping authority to make all laws “necessary and proper” for executing its Article I militia powers (or perhaps other delegated powers).

Note: The brief discusses how the drafters of the Bill of Rights were concerned as to the negative consequences of standing armies (much like people today that justifiably express concerns that military exigencies may subvert our Constitutional framework and undermine privacy and freedom. There was also concern that state militias would come under federal control and/or that the federal government would fail to maintain organized militias. Either circumstance would hold the potential of eroding national and local security:

…or (the federal government) may so neglect the militia as to deprive it of any meaningful existence.

B. The Second Amendment’s background and drafting history confirm that the constitutional right is not limited to militia-related purposes.

The history of the Second Amendment confirms this limited and indirect – though real – relationship between a well regulated militia and the constitutional right to arms.

At the Philadelphia Convention, qualms were repeatedly expressed about the danger of standing armies in peacetime, along with a preference for maintaining the militia as an alternative to such armies.

It was also recognized, however, that a traditional militia could not by itself adequately provide for the nation’s security, even in peacetime.

Accordingly, the delegates put no significant limits on federal military authority in the constitution they proposed.38 Near the end of the Convention, however, George Mason recurred to the uneasiness he and others had expressed. Recognizing that “an absolute prohibition of standing armies in time of peace might be unsafe,” Mason proposed that the clause giving the federal government almost plenary authority over the militia be prefaced with the following words: “And that the liberties of the people may be better secured against the danger of standing armies in time of peace.”

James Madison himself spoke in favor of this proposal, arguing that the proposed addition would not actually restrict the new government’s authority, but would constitute a healthy disapprobation of unnecessary reliance on armies.

The only recorded objection, offered by Gouverneur Morris, was that this language set “a dishonorable mark of distinction on the military class of Citizens.”

During the subsequent ratification debates, the massive transfer of military authority to the federal government became one of the chief Anti-Federalist complaints. The Federalists who controlled the First Congress, however, were no more willing than the Philadelphia Convention had been to curtail federal authority in this field.

As Madison noted when introducing his initial draft of the Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives, he was averse to reconsidering “the principles and substance of the powers given” to the new government, but he was prepared to incorporate noncontroversial “provisions for the security of rights.”

Consistent with Madison’s view – though not with petitioners’ interpretation of the Second Amendment – Congress rejected proposals to put substantive limits on congressional authority over armies and the militia.

“What the First Congress was quite willing to do, and what it did do in the Second Amendment, was to make explicit the… denial of federal power to infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Like the Mason proposal that Madison had supported at the Philadelphia Convention, though more subtly, Madison’s initial draft in the First Congress lauded the militia without diminishing federal authority to keep up standing armies, and without requiring the federal government actually to maintain a well regulated militia.

In the Madison draft, however, the comment about the militia’s value was attached to a provision guaranteeing a right of the people rather than to a provision about congressional authority to regulate the militia, as Mason’s proposal at Philadelphia had been. This created the potential for confusion, and virtually all of the modifications made in Congress to Madison’s initial draft had the effect of clarifying that the right of the people to keep and bear arms was not confined to the militia context.

That each state respectively shall have the power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining its own militia, whensoever Congress shall omit or neglect to provide for the same.

Although Madison was obviously quite familiar with this proposed amendment, he offered nothing like it to the First Congress. (An unidentified Senator did offer an amendment with the same wording, which was voted down. Id. at 1151, 1152.)

First, the House deleted the reference to a “well armed” militia, which might have misleadingly suggested that the sole purpose of protecting the people’s right to arms was to ensure that the organized militia would be well armed. The text sent to the Senate read: A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.

Congress adopted the text that is now a part of the Constitution:

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.

This text offered nothing to satisfy Anti-Federalist desires for actual limits on federal authority over military affairs, and the only contemporaneous criticisms of the Second Amendment were complaints that it did not satisfy these desires.49 The private right protected by the Second Amendment caused no controversy, precisely because it is a private right.

The drafting history of what became the Second Amendment thus confirms that its endorsement of the traditional militia does not imply that the people’s right to arms is contingent on the manner in which Congress exercises its authority to organize and regulate the militia.

Stephen P. Halbrook is a prolific gun rights theorist and avid shooter. The brief cites his law review article entitled “The Right of the People or the Power of the State”, 26 Val. U. L. Rev. 131, 184-85, 192-94 (1991).

Justice Scalia’s opinion also referenced Halbrook extensively. Justice Scalia’s opinion is remarkable in that it shows the little known relationship between the Second Amendment, passage of the 14th Amendment and the beginnings of modern conceptions of Civil Rights that occurred when Southern Democrats enaged in vigilante attacks against black and white republicans in the South. The attacks against the newly free blacks were often initiated by house to house searches in order to confiscate weapons that were prohibited to blacks pursuant to Southern Jim Crow laws. Lynchings often ensued against blacks that resisted and white sympathizers (usually white Republicans).

C. This Court has recognized that the Constitution contains declaratory language that does not change the legal effects that the Constitution would have had without that language.

When Congress sent the Bill of Rights to the states for ratification, it described its provisions as “declaratory and restrictive clauses” meant to “prevent misconstruction or abuse of [the Constitution’s] powers.” The Second Amendment has both declaratory and restrictive elements. The words of praise for the militia in the Second Amendment are a declaration of respect for the traditional militia system, which might – or in practice might not – provide an alternative to the standing armies that many citizens feared.

As early as Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 174 (1803), the Court acknowledged that an entire constitutional clause might be interpreted to be without effect if 50 2 Schwartz, supra, at 1164. U.S. 316, 420-21 (1819), went even further: without claiming that the words required such an interpretation, the Court concluded that the Necessary and Proper Clause may not augment and certainly does not diminish the incidental powers elsewhere conferred by implication on Congress. Perhaps the best example of constitutional language that was not meant to change the meaning of the Constitution came from the very same draftsmen who gave us the Second Amendment. The Tenth Amendment simply reaffirms what was already established by the original Constitution. Citing relevant historical documents, this Court concluded that its purpose was simply to provide reassurance to the public that the new government was meant to be one of limited, enumerated powers:

The [tenth] amendment states but a truism that all is retained which has not been surrendered. There is nothing in the history of its adoption to suggest that it was more than declaratory of the relationship between the national and state governments as it had been established by the Constitution before the amendment or that its purpose was other than to allay fears that the new national 51 The full sentence in Marbury reads: “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.” Petitioners quote only the first clause. Pet. Br. 17.

Thus, this Court has concluded that an entire constitutional amendment was adopted only to allay what were regarded as unfounded fears, without changing or qualifying anything in the Constitution to which it was appended. It is therefore not at all anomalous that the Second Amendment – drafted by the same Congress and adopted at the same time – includes a reassuring preambular comment that was not meant to change or limit the effects of the operative clause to which it was appended.

IV. The purpose of the Second Amendment includes protection of the fundamental natural right of self defense against criminal violence.

Respect for the original meaning of the Second Amendment requires that its language be applied – faithfully and appropriately – to contemporary society….

The fact that public debates focused on questions about the Second Amendment’s adequacy as an obstacle to tyrannical exercises of federal military power does not so much as suggest that anybody thought the new federal government did or should have the authority to disarm its citizens in the name of crime control. Such illogical inferences have long been rejected.

… fear of a tyrannical federal government – has understandably subsided. At the same time, the military power of the government has become overwhelming, which greatly diminishes the potential of an armed citizenry to deter such tyranny. It remains true that a large stock of arms in private hands raises the expected cost to the government of engaging in seriously oppressive actions, and thereby makes such oppression less likely to occur. But whereas Madison could plausibly argue that the new federal government would be incapable of raising an army capable of subduing America’s armed populace, today’s armed forces have the technical ability to inflict unthinkable mayhem on the civilian population.

Even more important, a significant gap has developed between civilian and military small arms. Eighteenth century Americans commonly used the same arms for civilian and military purposes, but today’s infantry and organized militia are equipped with an array of highly lethal weaponry that civilians do not employ for self defense or other important lawful purposes. The Constitution does not require this Court to blind itself to that post-Miller reality, or to hold that the civilian population has a right to keep every weapon that the militia can expect to find useful if called to active duty.

Nor should the Court blind itself to other contemporary realities, the most important of which is the problem of criminal violence, and the inability of the government to control it.

Rather than focus exclusively on eighteenth century comments about maintaining an armed counterweight to the armies of a potentially tyrannical federal government, the Court should recognize that the broader purpose of the Second Amendment emerges readily from the Constitution’s founding principles.

Those founding principles are summed up in the familiar liberal axioms set out in the Declaration of Independence. In liberal theory, the most fundamental of all rights is the right of self defense.

Thomas Hobbes, the founder of modern liberalism, advanced this proposition with his customary forcefulness when he acknowledged only one natural right, and described it as “the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation ofhis own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life.”

Locke stated that “[B]y the Fundamental Law of Nature, Man being to be preserved, as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the Leviathan”, ch. 14 (first paragraph) (1651).

See Donald S. Lutz, The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth-Century American Political Thought, 78 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 189 (1984).

“And one may destroy a man who makes War upon him, or has discovered an Enmity to his being for the same Reason, that he may kill a Wolf or a Lion . . . .”

The SAF brief quotes several other great thinkers from the liberal tradition of freedom that developed in Western Europe during the Age of Reason.

For example the brief quotes Montesquieu:

“The life of states is like that of men. Men have the right to kill in the case of natural defense; states have the right to wage war for their own preservation.”

Blackstone in his Commentaries on the English Common Law stated:

“Self-defence therefore, as it is justly called the primary law of nature, so it is not, neither can it be in fact, taken away by the law of society.” The exchange of rights that constitutes the social contract does not diminish the central importance of the natural right to self defense. Rather, political or legal limitations on the exercise of that right must be understood as efforts to enhance the citizens’ ability to protect their lives effectively. For that reason alone, the Second Amendment should be applied vigorously with respect to governmental restrictions on the liberty of citizens to defend themselves against the violent criminals whom the government cannot control. ”

This corollary to the central premise of liberal political theory is consistent with evidence about eighteenth century attitudes. William Blackstone, for example, characterized the English right to arms as a “public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”

Just as one would expect from the fundamental principle of liberal theory, Blackstone makes no distinction between oppression by the government itself and oppression that the government fails to prevent. If anything, his language seems to refer more easily to the ineradicable phenomenon of criminal violence, experienced by all free societies, than to the extraordinary instances of governmental oppression that call for armed resistance.

…(T)he Pennsylvania ratifying convention proposed a bill of rights including this provision: That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

It would be anachronistic to think that the reference to “killing game” in this proposal reflected a passion for sport. Apart from the role of hunting as a food source at that time, Americans would have been acutely aware, from Blackstone if from nowhere else, of the English game laws behind which the “preventing of popular insurrections and resistance to the government, by disarming the bulk of the people . . . [was] a reason oftener meant, than avowed, by the makers of forest or game laws.”

The Massachusetts ratifying convention proposed that the federal Constitution: be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless when necessary for the defence of the United States, or of some one or more of them . . . .

The natural right of self defense is the most fundamental right known to liberal theory, and the Second Amendment is our Constitution’s most direct legal expression of Blackstone’s insight that “in vain would [basic rights such as that of personal security] be declared, ascertained, and protected by the dead letter of the laws, if the [English] constitution had provided no other method to secure their actual enjoyment.”

The brief cites Blackstones Commentaries to show that “Personal security” is listed as the first of the three great primary rights and that Washington, DC presents exactly the kind of threats which demonstrate the importance of the right to keep and bear arms under English principles of Common Law.

According to what Blackstone calls “the dead letter of the laws,” personal security must be very well assured in a city where almost nobody except agents of the government are authorized to possess an operable firearm. The reality is rather different, and nothing in the Constitution requires this Court to ignore that reality.

In the twenty-first century, the most salient purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect the people’s ability to defend themselves against violent criminals.

Accordingly, the federal government must be required to offer justifications for gun control statutes that go far beyond fashionable slogans and unsubstantiated appeals to hypothetical salutary effects on public safety. Any other approach would trivialize the fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment.

Petitioners have not satisfied the standard of exacting scrutiny to which the District of Columbia’s disarmament laws should be subjected, and this failure is fatal to their case. Nor should this Court accept the Solicitor General’s beguiling invitation to remand the case for application of some lower level of scrutiny loosely derived from an inapt analogy to governmental regulation of elections that the government itself conducts.

The D.C. Code unequivocally forbids American citizens to keep an operable firearm in their own homes for the protection of their own lives. Under no standard or review that respects the fundamental nature of the Second Amendment right could this prohibition possibly be upheld.
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The judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.
Respectfully submitted,
Nelson Lund*
George Mason University School of Law
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, Virginia 22201
(703) 993-8045
Counsel of Record

Plan to Ban Guns in Seattle, Washington

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels recently announced a plan to ban guns at all city facilities, including parks, Seattle Center and community centers. He was already kicking against the restrictions of Washington’s state preemption law- a state statute that absolutely restricts the regulatory authority of local governments when it comes to almost everything pertaining to firearms. The legislature’s rationale was to make sure that checkerboard laws do not make gun ownership and sales impracticable on a jursidiction by jurisdiction basis.

A man with a Concealed Pistol License injured two people in a shooting at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. Apparently there was some kind of scuffle, possibly occurring when someone decided to grab his weapon because of concerns about safety (something that should have been dealt with by the police- not self help- if the concern was well-founded). The incident became a triggering event for the Mayor to hold a news conference with Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske (also an advocate of further gun controls, Chief Kerlikowske is known around our area as the chief that let his weapon get stolen from his unlocked vehicle). Mayor Nickels declared “Our parks, our community centers and our public events are safer without guns.”

The executive order, which does not require City Council approval, will apply even to citizens with a concealed-weapon permit.

Violators will be considered trespassers and asked to leave city property, but the city does not have authority to impose fines or jail time (due to the above referenced preemption statute:

RCW 9.41.290
State preemption.

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Many state legislators are asking the state Attorney General’s Office to issue an opinion as to the Mayor’s announcement. The order directs city departments to report back to Nickels within thirty days with a plan to implement the policy, so the state AG’s office is reluctant to plunge into the fray where restrictions are contemplated but not actually imposed at this time.

According to one local news article, Nickels stated the city will start by posting signs in city buildings such as City Hall:

The mayor said he hopes the city will not have to require pat-downs or metal detectors in city buildings, but suggested those measures as a possibility for festival organizers of events such as Bumbershoot at Seattle Center.

“I would not be surprised if there is a challenge to our authority on this,” Nickels said. He said a recent lawsuit involving the city of Sequim may give him authority to ban concealed weapons on city property.

The Sequim case involved gun show operators that sued the City of Sequim for interference with contractual relations when the City required that the premises (the venue for the gunshow was owned by the City) would be restricted to gun sales by dealers only. The court held that where the City was acting in a capacity similar to a private business, imposition of some restriction on gun sales did not violate RCW 9.41.290.

See Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v City of Sequim, 158 Wash.2d 342 (2006).

Many Washington localities have already been doing what Mayor Nickels wants to do. Cities like Federal Way have simply been violating the state preemption law without advertising it. The Mayor of Seattle thinks he can throw around enough weight to make the legislature cave-in to his fiat. The Washington State legislature is so heavily Democrat that it often seems impossible to block most of the Demsocratic majorities wishes.

So far, there have been enough Democrats from Eastern Washington and Republican stalwarts to hold the line on gun laws. Those “blue dog” Dem and GOP lawmakers must feel like the the boy with his thumb holding back a flood of firearms restrictions, but every year they manage to keep a number of laws (like gun show restrictions) from getting reported out of committee.

It is going to be interesting to see how the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in DC v Heller will impact the lawmakers in state capitals around the country. Already cities in Illinois and other states are amending their laws. Morton Grove, Illinois, for instance, is busy modifying its longstanding restrictions. If a future Court is composed of justices like Breyer, Souter, Ginsburg, Stevens and Kennedy the issues may be relitigated so the upcoming presidential election is critical!

The difference between Constiturional strict constructionists and those that worship at the altar of “the Living Constitution” is that conservatives obey judge-made laws even when we do not agree with them. Many of the media hacks have been denouncing DC v Heller as judical activism and Washington, DC announced that it will register revolvers but not semi-autos! To call such conduct passive-aggressive behavior is an understatement. It is more like lawlessness on the part of the authorities in Washington, DC. It is no wonder there is so much crime on the streets. When the powers that be are not setting criminals loose or spending our tax dollars to promote some new social lunacy, they are busy finding ways to prevent us from effectively defending ourselves.

By the way, people in the inner-cities are most often the victims of violence and are often afraid to testify in court. For such folks (like the citizens of Washington, DC), the issue of defending one’s home and family is not an academic exercise in pettifoggery and parsing legal hairs. Not with gangs of drug dealers ruling the streets.

In order to make such claims, the “newspapers of record” claim that it is settled Constitutional doctrine that the Second Amendment only protects state militias. If you said such a thing to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson or John Adams they would think you had lost your mind! So much for objectivity.

We need to start registering journalists; but just in the big cities, because that is where all the major journalistic crimes are being fomented. We can start with NYC and then move to Chicago, Washington, DC and San Francisco.

Every registered journalist will be required to keep a key-lock on his or her keyboard. If one of these journalists tries to defend herself in writing by calling me (or anyone like me) a right-wing fanatic, ignorant redneck or lawyer affiliated with the religious right, the feds should revoke his/her license and prosecute for brandishing an automatically-keyed writing utensil with intent to intimidate.

The First Amendment balancing test will apply, of course. I am not in favor of chilling freedom of speech!

Jews Present Armed Resistance

As modern day Israel prepared to celebrate Purim, a Palestinian gunman was preparing to slaughter Israeli people in the same way that Haman attempted to do in the time of Esther. Purim is the annual celebration of the great deliverance of the Jewish people in the days of Queen Hadassah (Esther):

These holy days are observed to honour the defeat of the enemies of GOD’S people. Purim commemorates the downfall of Haman (means: tumult), the enemy of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire. As such, Haman is a type of Satan, the “accuser” – the one who has throughout history, sought to eliminate the Hebrew race. Haman had the king’s servants cast lots (purim) to determine the date on which the Jews would be destroyed, but his wicked plan was thwarted because of GOD’S great mercy and the obedience of Hadassah (Queen Esther).

“Purim” (casting of lots) is explained like this: Haman, having been warned that all enemies of the Jews had in the past met with frustration, being superstitious, decided to cast lots to determine the most favourable day for the slaughter.

But it turned out that Haman was hanged on the same gallows which he had previously prepared for Mordecai, and all the Jews escaped a terrible massacre. The next day, the 14th of Adar, the victory was joyously celebrated.

After the Persian royal advisor, Haman’s genocidal plot to rid the world of the Jewish people was foiled, “V’nahafoch Hu!” (roughly interpreted: “and the tables were turned!”) became the rallying cry of the Jewish people during the month of Adar. Today the Talmudic sages advise [Tractate Ta’anit 29a] Jews throughout history to seek to schedule critical events, in which Divine assistance is desired, during the month of Adar:

On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, the king’s decree was supposed to be executed. The enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower the Jews that day, but the plot was overturned, and the Jews overpowered their enemies.

Throughout King Achashvairosh’s provinces the Jews gathered in their cities to defend themselves against those who tried to hurt them. No one could withstand them, because everyone was afraid of them.

Even the provincial ministers, the satraps, the governors, and the king’s pages, supported the Jews, because they were afraid of Mordechai.

You see, Mordechai had become very influential in the king’s household, and his reputation was known throughout the empire; as a result, Mordechai was becoming more and more powerful.

The Jews struck at all their opponents with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they defeated all their enemies.

In Shushan Capital the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.

They also killed Parshandasa, Dalfon,Aspasa, Porasa, Adalya, Aridasa, Parmashta, Arisei, Aridei and Vayizoso, the ten sons of Haman, the son of Hamdoso, persecutor of the Jews. But they did not pillage their property.

They notified the king of the death toll in Shushan Capital the same day it occurred.

The king said to Queen Esther, “In Shushan Capital the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men, as well as the ten sons of Haman. Who knows what they did in the more distant provinces of the empire? Whatever you want, you will be given; whatever your request, it will be done.”

Esther replied, “If it pleases the king, may the Jews of Shushan have tomorrow also, with the same rules as today? And also, could the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows?”

The king ordered these things to be done. The decree was announced in Shushan, and also the ten sons of Haman were hanged on the gallows.

So the Jews of Shushan gathered again on the fourteenth day of Adar, and they killed another three hundred men in Shushan, but they did not pillage their property.

The Jews in the rest of the empire also gathered to defend themselves and get peace from their enemies, and they killed a total of seventy-five thousand, but they did not pillage their property.

They fought their battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and they rested on the fourteenth. So they made the fourteenth day of Adar a day of feasting and celebration.

The Scriptural explanations above are from a Messianic and Jewish teachers. Surprisingly, the Persian Emperor, deceived by Haman’s manipulation, issued an edict for the massacre of the Jewish people. Esther informed the Emperor-King of the deception and the only way that he could legally undo his own decree was to issue a new edict permitting the Jews to defend themselves. The decree had the same effect as the modern day Second Amendment. Although it was a temporary decree, genocidal killing was stopped as the Jews turned the table on those who would have killed and plundered them. The death toll was great but the Persians that were foolish enough to seek Jewish blood died instead.

The following is a recent example of how Israel’s modern history contains many events that convey to an open minded observer that supernatural military events are still occurring. The modern Purim story of the Mercaz Harav seminary is also an example of what military strategists call swarming tactics where as soon as the enemy attacks or presents a target of opportunity, opposition coalesces spontaneously as a result of units that are prepared to react to random situations that are impossible to anticipate by means of conventional response planning:

From BBC News

Eight people have been killed and nine wounded by a Palestinian gunman who infiltrated a Jewish seminary in West Jerusalem, Israeli officials say. The gunman entered the school’s dining room and opened fire with an AK-47.

Witnesses said the gunman went into the library at the Mercaz Harav seminary in the city’s Kiryat Moshe quarter and opened fire.

The assailant, who Israeli police said was a resident of East Jerusalem, was shot dead by an Israeli army officer.

The attack is the worst of its kind in Israel for a number of years.

The White House has led international condemnation but the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas called the attack “heroic” while not claiming responsibility.

When we got in… we saw young, 15-, 16-year-old guys lying on the floor with their Bibles in their hands – all dead on the floor.

However, the 15-strong UN Security Council failed to agree on a resolution condemning the attack because of reservations from temporary member Libya, which sought to link it to Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip.

A previously unknown group called the “Jalil Freedom Battalions – the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza” claims to have carried it out, according to Lebanese Hezbollah media.

The fact that the school is at the heart of the settler movement in the occupied West Bank may have been the reason why it was targeted, BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen reports.

Many of its students are on special courses that combine religious study with service in combat units in the Israeli army, he notes.

There will be an Israeli response to this attack, our Middle East editor adds – the question is how severe it will be.


The gunman entered the library at the Mercaz Harav seminary on Thursday evening, where about 80 students were gathered, and fired an AK-47 rifle for several minutes, witnesses say.

One of the students, Yitzhak Dadon, reportedly shot the gunman twice before he was finally killed by an off-duty Israeli army officer, who had gone to the school after hearing gunfire.

“I shot him twice in the head,” he told the Reuters news agency.

“We heard shooting and knew that something had happened,” recounted Yitzhak Dadon, 40, who studies at the yeshiva. Dadon said he cocked his handgun and went up to the roof of the yeshiva, where he saw the terrorist spraying gunfire indiscriminately at the crowd inside. Dadon said he fired two bullets at the terrorist, who began to stumble.

“He started to sway and then someone else with a rifle fired at him, and he died.”

Another man told the BBC that there had been “terrible scenes” inside the building afterwards.

“When we got in… we saw young, 15-, 16-year-old guys lying on the floor with their Bibles in their hands – all dead…” he said.

Jerusalem police commander Aharon Franco confirmed there had been only one gunman and said he had hidden his weapon in a cardboard box.

Celebratory gunfire reverberated throughout Gaza City, as groups of Hamas militants marched through the streets waving green flags and calling out over loudspeakers: “Allah gave us this victorious day, because we deserve our freedom.”

John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, provides the following analysis for comparison with the above referenced scenes in Jerusalem and the Middle East:

As Northern Illinois University restarts classes this week, one thing is clear: Six minutes proved too long.

It took six minutes before the police were able to enter the classroom that horrible Thursday, and in that short time five people were murdered, 16 wounded.

Six minutes is actually record-breaking speed for the police arriving at such an attack, but it was simply not fast enough. Still, the police were much faster than at the Virginia Tech attack last year.

12,000 people, including relatives of the Northern Illinois University students killed Feb. 14, attend a memorial Sunday in DeKalb, Ill. The previous Thursday, five people were killed in the city council chambers in Kirkwood, Mo. There was even a police officer already there when the attack occurred.

But, as happens time after time in these attacks when uniformed police are there, the killers either wait for the police to leave the area or they are the first people killed. In Kirkwood, the police officer was killed immediately when the attack started.

People cowered or were reduced to futilely throwing chairs at the killer. In attacks last year at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Neb., the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City and the recent attack at the Tinley Park Mall in Illinois, or all the public school attacks, they had one thing in common: They took place in “gun-free zones,” where private citizens were not allowed to carry their guns with them.

The malls in Omaha and Salt Lake City were in states that let people carry concealed handguns, but private property owners are allowed to post signs that ban guns; those malls were among the few places in their states that chose such a ban.

In the Trolley Square attack, an off-duty police officer fortunately violated the ban and stopped the attack. The attack at Virginia Tech or the other public school attacks occur in some of the few areas within their states that people are not allowed to
carry concealed handguns.

It is not just recent killings that are occurring in these gun-free zones. The Columbine High School shooting left 13 murdered in 1999; Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, had 23 who were fatally shot by a deranged man in 1991; and a McDonald’s in Southern California had 21 people shot dead in 1984.

Nor are these horrible incidents limited to just gun-free zones in the U.S. In 1996, Martin Bryant killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Australia. In the last half-dozen years, European countries — including France, Germany and Switzerland — have experienced multiple-victim shootings. The worst in Germany resulted in seventeen deaths; in Switzerland, one attack claimed the lives of 14 regional legislators.

At some point you would think the media would notice that something is going on here, that these murderers aren’t just picking their targets at random. And this pattern isn’t really too surprising. Most people understand that guns deter criminals.

If a killer were stalking your family, would you feel safer putting a sign out front announcing, “This home is a gun-free zone”? But that is what all these places did.

Even when attacks occur, having civilians with permitted concealed handguns limits the damage. A major factor in determining how many people are harmed by these killers is the time that elapses between when the attack starts and someone is able to arrive on the scene with a gun.

In cases from the Colorado Springs church shooting last December, in which a parishioner who was given permission by the minister to carry her concealed gun into the church quickly stopped the murder, to an attack last year in Memphis to the Appalachian Law School to high schools in such places as Pearl, Miss., concealed handgun permit holders have stopped attacks well before uniformed police could possibly have arrived. Just a few weeks ago, Israeli teachers stopped a terrorist attack at a school in their country.

Indeed, despite the fears being discussed about the risks of concealed handgun permit holders, I haven’t found one of these multiple-victim public shootings where a permit holder has accidentally shot a bystander.

With about 5 million Americans currently with concealed handgun permits in the U.S., and with states starting to have right-to- carry laws for as long as 80 years, we have a lot of experience with these laws and one thing is very clear: Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. Those who lose their permits for any gun-related violation are measured in the hundredths of a percentage point.

We also have a lot of experience with permitted concealed handguns in schools. Prior to the 1995 Safe School Zone Act, states with right-to-carry laws let teachers or others carry concealed handguns at school. There is not a single instance that I or others have found where this produced a single problem.

Though in a minority, a number of universities — from large public schools such as Colorado State and the University of Utah to small private schools such as Hamline in Minnesota — let students carry concealed handguns on school property. Many more schools, from Dartmouth College to Boise State University, let professors carry concealed handguns. Again, with no
evidence of problems.

Few know that Dylan Klebold, one of the two Columbine killers, was closely following Colorado legislation that would have let citizens carry a concealed handgun. Klebold strongly opposed the legislation
and openly talked about it.

No wonder, as the bill being debated would have allowed permitted guns to be carried on school property. He attacked Columbine High School the very day the legislature was scheduled to vote on the bill. With all the media coverage of the types of guns used & how the criminal obtained the gun, at some point the news media might begin to mention the one common feature of these attacks: They keep occurring in gun-free zones.

Gun-free zones are a magnet for these attacks.

Armed Civilian’s Rules of Engagement

1. All predators are always killers. When they attack, your options for self-defense are very limited.

2. The predator is smarter than you. Act and react accordingly.

3. Predators will use all the force necessary (and then some) to achieve their goals, without regard to consequences.

4. Predators evaluate their targets before attacking. If you are attacked, the predator has determined he will succeed without a heavy cost to himself.

5. If you are about to become a victim, you have already made serious mistakes.

6. Believe what you see; don’t go into denial. Your attacker won’t.

7. In a lethal confrontation, you will only have time to choose one course of action- and your life depends on making the right choice.

8. Predators rarely act alone, although the ones that do are the most dangerous. If there’s one, look for two; if there are two, look for three, etc.

9. Fear is the predator’s friend and your enemy.

10. Talk and negotiation rarely work.

11. Predators do not have a conscience. Don’t waste time and effort appealing to any sense of mercy or kindness.

12. Some people cannot be frightened or intimidated. Displaying a weapon may not solve and, in some cases, may well exacerbate the problem. Be prepared for this.

13. “Bullets don’t work.” Gene Zink, Former H&K Law Enforcement Trainer. No hand-held firearm fires a guaranteed “one-shot-stop” round. Anticipate needing follow-up shots.

14. Firearms don’t work all the time and may well not work when you need them most.

15. Carry only the biggest-caliber gun you can control.

16. Don’t be overly concerned about caliber. No one wants to “leak” or have holes put in him.

17. Carry a reload

18. Carry a second gun.

19. Be able to get to both handguns with either hand; and

20. Don’t assume you can prevail in the conflict due to your superior tactics and training. The predator only has to be lucky once. Avoiding him is still the best defense.

21. The honest citizen pitted against a predator is an unequal contest. The predator is a professional. Most honest citizens are amateurs.

22. No competition or training, no matter how well learned or practiced, can equal hands-on experience.

23. Predators constantly validate their training with hands-on experience.

24. Getting hands-on experience can be fatal, but survivors learn their lessons well!

Walt Rausch’s Rules

See Ready for Mayhem.

Kalshnikov’s AK-47 and United Nations Policy

George Orwell once said, “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.” If Orwell was right, Mikhail T. Kalashnikov may have arguably done more to extend the symbolism of democracy to the nations of the world than all the international funds that have been plowed into the undeveloped countries (and into Communist nations) by the United States and other developed nations.

Although it is premature to predict whether the world is ultimately headed toward democracy (unrealistic prognosis, I would say), there is little doubt that Kalashnikov designed a weapon that is affordable enough that almost any “labourer” can afford one anywhere in the world. AK-47s are even sold on the installment plan and, depending on the economics of supply and demand, have been available in some places for the equivalent of $50.00 American compared to $1,000.00 for Eugene Stoner’s M-16.

This is not to deny that a swath of death and destruction has followed the Kalashnikov. Kalashnikov always blamed the death and destruction on the politicians. I concur. Read “AK-47”, by Larry Kahaner, to see why I would make such an assertion.

My primary criticism of Kahaner’s approach in this interesting little history, subtitled “The Weapon That Changed the Face of War”, has to do with my sneaking suspicion that Mr. Kahaner would applaud a UN ban on small arms.

AK factories have long existed all over Eastern Europe, in China, North Korea and other places around the globe. Mostly under the auspices of the former USSR and the Eastern Bloc nations the manufacturing facilities and weapons proliferated. Jimmy Carter even authorized purchase of AK-47s for the mujahideen and, by the 1980s; the CIA was purchasing the weapons for the mujahideen and the Contras. The weapons were cheap, abundant and effective; they also were easy to use, fired ammunition abundantly available all over the world and could not be easily traced back to their sources. Many of the AK used in Africa and other countries have been recycled from war to war and through various continents with very little maintenance or refurbishment.

The most surprising fact about the AK is that it is ideal for the small of stature, especially children. In Liberia, Charles Taylor issued AK-47 to anyone that swore allegiance to him. He began mustering more children than adults. In the course of taking control of Liberia for six years, Taylor demonstrated that a minimally trained ten-year-old recruit armed with an AK can be more effective than a well trained adult. Apparently it’s the sense of immortality, laced with plentiful amphetamines, opportunities for rape, theft and mayhem and the likelihood that, if not for being a member of Taylor’s army, other children would hack off the infant soldier’s limbs. These grotesque practices spread to other African countries, including Sierra Leone where Taylor succeeded in controlling the diamond fields and introducing “blood diamonds” to the markets of the world.

Al Qaeda discovered that weapons, diamonds and drugs were the perfect mix for the world money laundry, and exploited the opportunity to bring brand name terror into new markets. The role of France and other major powers, including the US, was to maneuver for a seat at the arms bazaar. The French activities in Africa seem more ignominious than the others because of the role France played in setting up Rwandan for genocide. But there was plenty of blame to go around with all the usual suspects in the UN, the Clinton administration and the EU wringing their hands, apologizing and probably making money from the tragedy. See the link to Samantha Powers article below for the details.

The UN role has been to point to the finger at the US for its “intransigence” when it comes to global arms control. In 2001, the “consensus” at the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small and Light Weapons (SALW) favored ridding the nations of the world of small arms, “especially AKs”. On July 9, 2001 John Bolton struck a historic note for liberty when he stated:

“We do not support measures that would restrain legal trade and legal manufacturing of small arms and light weapons… We do not support the promotion of international advocacy activity by international or nongovernmental organizations, especially when those political or policy views advocated are not consistent with the views of all the member states…We also do not support measures that prohibit civilian possession of small arms.”
Emphasis added

The author of AK-47 dismisses the important issues raised by the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs as though Mr. Bolton and the Bush Administration were merely kowtowing to the NRA and “a stab in the back to countries trying to keep AKs out of the hands of terrorist groups, drug cartels, and insurgents.”

Would you put your family at the mercy of the UN based on the member states’ promises to save lives in Africa? The plain facts are that virtually all the genocides in modern times have occurred with the benefit of maximum hand-wringing by the diplomats at the UN. The UN leaves when the “peacekeeping” gets dangerous and returns to exonerate itself when the dust settles in the blood! These same “diplomats” were some of the folks (including the French who were selling Saddam great amounts of illegal military technology) that did everything to ensure that Saddam Hussein had at least ten billion dollars to restart his WMD programs once the sanctions were lifted.

The UN role in the Rwandan genocide is documented by Samantha Power, “Bystanders to Genocide”.

Mr. Kahane makes the terse assertion that the anti-gun delegates identified the NRA as a pro-gun NGO that exerted a large influence on the U.S. position. Duh! “For the NRA, the conference represented the opportunity to raise funds and enter the international arena in a way never before possible.” The fact that the U.S. already is a world leader “in transparency of arms sales and accountability” compared to other countries, with “solid and workable” domestic gun laws poses an irony for the author. The fact that the U.S. is “in the forefront of monitoring weapons transfers, maintaining security of weapons caches, licensing of brokers, and setting standards for weapons markings”, raises the issue of why the “U.S. delegation did not push for international standards even in cases where U.S. laws exceeded worldwide proposals.”

I hear all this talk in gun-world about the errors of the NRA because the NRA supported some legislation of which some gunners disapprove. (See our article on the NRA at our Disaster Preparedness page. Whatever you think about this legislation or that NRA position, the NRA has been around since right after the Civil War and has an impact that cannot be duplicated by any other organization. It is an organization that works with the military and police and commands credibility with everyone that knows about the subject, except for award-winning journalists and former Washington staff correspondents for Business Week magazine, like Larry Kahane.

It is a startling irony that to compare Mikhail Kalashnikov’s poverty in old- age to the wealth enjoyed by his free world peers (i.e., weapons designers like Winchester and John Browning); the comparison amply demonstrates the merits of free-enterprise and evokes a certain nostalgia evinced by this simple soldier that designed a weapon to defend his comrades and his country’s vanished Communist way of life. Thank God that the USSR has “vanished”, nevertheless. Every indication is that Russia (now the biggest arms-supplier to underdeveloped nations according to the New York Times) and China (still a Communist giant, in case you forgot) are creating newer, better assault weapons. History demonstrates that both countries are probably keeping their newest small-arms technology a well-kept secret until deployed.

The U.S. is still the world’s biggest arms supplier. This brings us to the question of whether a world awash in weapons is amenable to democratic ideals. The fact is that individual nation-states themselves have to determine their national destinies and those choices are always made in a cauldron of conflict. The Middle-Eastern nations, for example, are working out a social process that is determined by many conflicting and dangerous forces and no amount of outside engineering can solve the problem.

The question of when and where to sell weapons to another nation, is preeminently a question of national foreign policy. There is no perfect formula or rationale for making such determinations and the UN certainly does not have the answers and never will. We have seen the U.S. arm the mujahideen in the Seventies and Eighties; then our erstwhile mujahideen ally, bin Laden, attacked us. According to Kahane, South America is flooded with U.S. supplied weapons left over from the conflict in Nicaragua and right-wing paramilitaries are vying with narco-terrorists in Columbia to destabilize the Western Hemisphere. The Russians and Chinese have also participated in supplying weapons to governments and NGOs in South and Central America and will probably continue supplying them. It seems like the winner supplies the weaponry- except in the case of the AK-47 and its offspring!

Venezuela is prepared to manufacture and sell a great number of AK-47s to Hugo Chavez’ friends and allies. We will be looking at a much more dangerous border if certain countries achieve their goals. Things may get very dangerous if future administrations shrink from the new challenge of Chinese geopolitical aims in the Western Hemisphere. Farmers and labourers that own cheap and useful assault weapons are the least of our worries and if they manage to overthrow some corrupt regimes here and there or protect themselves from genocide- who else is going to do it? Whoever framed the old metaphor of the wolf in the hen house must have had the UN Security Council in mind!

The UN has managed to institute restrictions on small arms in several nations already, but can the UN do anything where a Chinese owned weapons manufacturer NORINCO and/or Poly Technologies illegally ships assault weapons while China sits on the Security Council?

A company owned by a Chinese general (Poly Technologies) was actually caught illegally shipping SKS assault weapons (Chinese made semi-automatic versions of the AK-47) into the U.S. during the Clinton years. Allegedly the shippers had permits to import the weapons that were approved by President Clinton right after the U.S. assault weapons ban went into effect! The Chinese weapons were probably on their way to the gangs in Southern California. The assault weapons were being shipped by Chinese Overseas Shipping Company (COSCO) an instrument of the Chinese military that controls most of the world’s super-ports, including many of the major U.S. ports. Indictments were issued, but the Clinton Administration never managed to prosecute the corporate officials involved. In fact, there were Chinese campaign contributions made around this time by individuals and corporations connected to the transactions.

In May 1996, United States authorities caught the People’s Liberation Army enterprise Poly Technologies and the civilian defense industrial company Norinco attempting to smuggle 2,000 assault weapons into Oakland, California, and offering to sell urban gangs shoulder-held missile launchers capable of `taking out a 747′ (which the affidavit of the United States Customs Service of May 21, 1996, indicated that the representative of Poly Technologies and Norinco claimed), and Communist Chinese authorities punished only 4 low-level arms merchants by sentencing them on May 17, 1997, to brief prison terms.

How would the UN deal with that? The UN record can be summed up in one word- CORRUPTION.

If the gangs and terrorists in the Western Hemisphere (just south of that porous border) are getting as many AK-47s as all the above referenced information seems to indicate, then maybe all of us should have an AK-47 hanging on the wall of our cottage!

Terrorism, Safety and Situational Awareness

When the first aircraft struck the World Trade Center what were your thoughts? Was terrorism your first thought? Or, was your first thought more like “How could that happen?” The first crash caught most people trying to figure out what human or mechanical error could have caused the crash. However, a little over 15 minutes later and the instant Flight 175 came into view we knew we were under attack. As the jet slammed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center our view changed and the response of police and fire personnel to the WTC and the other incidents changed.

Our response changed because the additional information of the second aircraft changed our perception regarding the first. Our perceptions moved closer to the reality because additional information gave meaning and enhanced our comprehension of what we were observing. By gaining additional information we became aware of the true nature of the situation.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness was a term originally used to describe the tactical situation during aerial combat. While the term doesn’t go back as far, the idea surfaces in World War I, when pilots first took to the sky in combat. At first, it was the ability of the pilot to know where he was in relation to the enemy and the other pilots of his flight. In reality that is only positional awareness. However, when pilots added their knowledge of aircraft capabilities and known battle tactics with positional awareness, they were able interpret, comprehend and anticipate. Comprehension of observation is the essence of situational awareness.

Police officers use situational awareness daily. While it has obvious applications for street tactics, it is likely most used in the development of reasonable suspicion (RS) and probable cause (PC). Both RS and PC are an officer’s interpretation of observations based on their education, training and experience. Whenever you detain someone, conduct a warrantless search or make an arrest you are practicing situational awareness. Just as you and I were able to make better arrests as we gained knowledge on the job, we were also safer. Our safety was enhanced because there is a predictive element to total situational awareness.

Situational awareness has three levels – perceiving critical factors, understanding those factors and finally understanding what those factors will cause to happen in the near future. Just as we gained an edge over the common criminal element by education, training and experience, we can gain that edge over terrorists by enhancing our comprehension of what we observe as it relates to terrorism. We can protect our communities and ourselves by an enhanced situational awareness of terrorism.

Know what terrorism is

In the first article of this series, Terrorism: Crime or Asymmetrical Warfare, we noted that the “the definition of a crime dictates our response.” In that article we further explored the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s definition of terrorism:

“ Domestic terrorism refers to activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and, occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States .”

You will increase your situational awareness, or the ability to use your comprehension of the facts to predict short-term future events, by understanding the history and nature of terrorism.

Know your beat

If you received a radio call of a shooting on the southwest corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Central Avenue you would have some positional awareness, but not much situational awareness. You would know the best route to get to the call, and probably the best way to approach, but little more. However, what if you knew the location was an apartment building rife with druggies? Alternatively, what if you knew the location was a Jewish Daycare Center? Either set of facts would add to your situational awareness, it would change the way in which you handled your approach and the call.

Most of the literature for first responders on terrorism emphasizes the need to be aware of the critical infrastructure in your community. However, how you define critical infrastructure may somewhat limit your situational awareness. As an example, the Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification report to Congress ultimately defined critical infrastructure as:

“The framework of interdependent network and systems comprising identifiable industries, institutions (including people and procedures), and distribution capabilities that provide a reliable flow of products and services essential to the defense and economic security of the United States, the smoothing function of government at all levels, and society as a whole .”

Based on this definition, bridges, chemical factories and government facilities, etc. are part of the critical infrastructure. However, given the purpose of terrorism, first responders should be aware of their community’s political, social and cultural infrastructure. The Jewish Daycare Center probably doesn’t fall into the category of critical infrastructure, yet it would be part of your community’s social and cultural infrastructure and in today’s world a potential terrorist target.

The following list of indicators is a checklist that is by no-means all-inclusive. It should be viewed as a place from which to start your discussion about terrorist planning:

1. Possession of extremist or radical literature;
2. Interest in law enforcement tactics, yet not in law enforcement;
3. Surveillance of critical infrastructure, or community political, cultural or social infrastructure;
4. Possession or attempts to obtain surveillance or planning materials, i.e., maps, photographs, blueprints, cameras, surveillance equipment;
5. Possession or attempts to obtain materials for improvised explosive devices i.e., chemicals, timers, wires or other components;
6. Possession (or the attempt to obtain fraudulently) identification documents;
7. The rental, or attempt to rent, storage units or a living space for a large group of people;
8. Economical and non-descript lifestyle;
9. The abandonment of typical cultural identifiers such as facial hair or clothing;
10. No interest in learning English; and,
11. Relationships with suspicious groups.
Note: This checklist is by no-means all-inclusive. It should be viewed as a place from which to start your discussion about terrorist planning.

Since 1996 the State Department has issued an annual report on patterns of global terrorism. Between 1996 and 2004, the varying reports list well over one hundred different foreign terrorist organizations. Furthermore, this does not include the large number of domestic terrorist or potential domestic terrorist groups and individuals. Clearly, it is impossible for the first responder to have an in-depth knowledge about the all the potential threats. Similarly, in Los Angeles it would be difficult to have an in-depth understanding of every gang; however, it would be possible to understand enough about gang members in order to increase your situational awareness. In order to increase our situational awareness, we want to understand some overarching principles about terrorists:

• For the terrorist, the end justifies the means. The result is that no matter how bad the act, if the terrorist perceives the act as moving toward their goal, they do not consider the impact of the act on the individual or groups. Their only concern is the impact of the act on their end goal.

• The planning and execution of most terrorist acts seems to indicate that first responders are dealing with criminals that have an above average intelligence and are tactically astute. Research indicates that many terrorist leaders come from middle class families and are relatively well-educated.

• The point of terrorism is always publicity for the cause, through terror. Think of it this way – in war, the point of a mine field is to slow or stop enemy progression; with terrorism, the point of an improvised explosive device along a highway is to gain publicity for the cause.

• The target and the victim need not be the same. On September 11th, the victims who were killed or injured were not the targets. The United States government was the target. This concept reinforces the idea that for every terrorist – the end justifies the means.

Know current intelligence

The current national system for a terrorist alert is almost too general to be of much use to the average first responder. There have been, however, instances when the Department of Homeland Security has issued alerts that were specific enough to be useful. An alert that says that financial institutions in a specific region should be in a higher state of preparedness is specific enough for the first responder to take action. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security not only issues alerts, but general recommendations for action based on those alerts. Every first responder should have a good grasp of how a heightened alert impacts their assignment.

One of the most common deliver methods of explosives is through the use of a vehicle. Some of the indicators may be:

• Vehicles that have a strong chemical smell, or the scent of something burning coming from them;
• Signs of recent body work, especially of poor quality, or with patches welded to the cab or body of the truck;
• Extra fuel tanks or extra antennas, or recent signs of a reinforced suspension;
• Inappropriate license plates or misspelled artwork or badly executed stencil painting;
• Heavily tinted windows, particularly if used in an unusual manner (for example, if the front screen of a delivery truck is tinted); and,
• Signs that the vehicle is heavily over-loaded on its suspension.
One of the problems with American law enforcement is that we tend to “stove-pipe” critical communications. That is, we send information up and down a specific chain of command, often failing a timely dissemination of the information to where it is most needed. You can work to short-circuit this by developing your own sources of information. Whether you subscribe to the Department of Defense e-mail briefings, the State Department email advisories or any one of the great public sources of Open Source Intelligence, you should find a source of information that you continually and regularly consult for intelligence on the latest trends in terrorism.

Total situational awareness is gained through increased comprehension of what we observe. It results in a greater ability to make short-term predictions about what is going to happen and therefore make decisions regarding our response. Comprehension is gained through education, training and experience. If you attain total situational awareness you will be better able to prevent, respond and apprehend.

“© 2007 reprinted with permission”

About the Author
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA is author of Police Technology (Prentice Hall, July 2004), and co-author of Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style (Quill Driver Books, August 2006), From NYPD to LAPD: An Introduction to Policing (Prentice Hall, July 2007), over fifty articles on technology, policing, leadership and terrorism and a dozen educational websites like Raymond can be reached at or through his blog at

Crucible of War

I got interested in the French and Indian War from viewing one episode of a PBS documentary series called “The Making of America”. “Crucible of War” is available in a relatively shorter format under the same title as the documentary, “The Making of America”. The title of the PBS series and the abridged version of this amazing narrative tells a great deal about the importance of the years before, during and after the Seven Years War (officially spanning the years from 1754-1763).

The Seven Years War, fought between Britain and her allies and France and the forces aligned behind the French power, splayed out across continents and oceans. There were at least three other such wars that set the stage for conflict between Britain and France in the theater of North America- King William’s War (1689–1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713) and King George’s War in the 1740s.

The first way that warfare between two European super powers in the wilderness of America “made America” is in that warfare with the French and Indians trained future American leaders and operated as a crucible of character to men like George Washington. The Jumonville Glen skirmish in 1754 was George Washington’s first taste of action.

Washington led an ambush against a band of French; initially ten French soldiers were killed and then, to young George’s horror, he lost control of his Indian allies and the Indians suddenly massacred the French who had already surrendered and been disarmed. The French commander Jumonville claimed he had been sent to extend an offer of peace with the British.

The Battle of the Great Meadows (or Battle of Fort Necessity), was a disaster for Washington and his men. Due to Washington’s inexperience, the enemy was able to fire upon Washington’s men from concealment within the tree line. Washington’s men were pinned down in trenches and were taking fire from within a log palisade that provided poor cover. It started to rain. To make matters worse, the British were out of ammunition. Washington asked for terms and surrendered to the French.

The focus of this book review is on character and the author does a good job of drawing out the characters of all the major players, from King George to George Washington to Pontiac, who led a final bloody war to try to bring back his French allies who had been ousted from Montreal in 1760. By that time Britain controlled most of the interior of North America at least to the banks of the Mississippi and beyond.

Britain’s naval power was crucial to winning North America. Without the fighting abilities of the colonial backwoodsmen, however, the outcome might have been in doubt. The French had much better relationships with their Indian allies than the British and understood how to effectively fight guerrilla warfare.

The Brits, on the other hand, marched into battles in regimental ranks with only their quintessential pluck. They were often cut down mercilessly by fighters concealed in the woods.

Beyond the obvious difference in tactics and the benefit that men like Washington attained by emulating the British officers with whom they came into contact, there was a more subtle process going on. The colonial militias were mustered from small communities and each unit contained men that knew each other as brothers, relatives and neighbors.

The British regular army officers, drawn from the upper classes of Britain, treated the colonials in ways that began to breed resentment and often contempt. The militia volunteers saw British rule in a less favorable light after seeing their brothers and friends flogged and even hung for infractions against strict British discipline. The fact that elitist British officers disdained the frontier “rabble” and refused to understand that a new breed of man was emerging from the colonial wilderness, created a belief that American colonials were lazy and only interested in what they could take out of the British mercantile system and for themselves.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (aka “the Great Commoner”), took over the direction of the war and, as Secretary of State, managed the war personally.

Perhaps his greatest success in North America was recruiting cooperation from the colonial politicians and encouraging enlistment by recalcitrant colonial British subjects, aka the Americans. He did this in a way that is very familiar to Americans today, with huge injections of borrowed cash pumping up the colonial economy and pay incentives for the volunteers.

In 1763, the warring parties in Europe signed the Treaty of Paris, thus ending the conflict. The colonial economy went into a tail spin along with the rest of the British economy, a result of deficit spending and Britain’s attempts to restructure colonial trading policies in such a way as to justify the expense of maintaining a military presence within the colonies.

Consequently trade within the British Empire languished for several years. When the Stamp Act was introduced (a small fee on legal documents and other official papers), the colonials exploded. Some of the worst elements in the cities took to the streets and began looting the homes of British officials.

Along with other elite members of the British power structure, the British leadership was forced to hide from throngs of sailors, tradesman and other “Sons of Liberty” hell bent on burning the ruling class members in effigy, accosting them, stealing their household goods (which were sumptuous) and literally burning them out.

This conduct arose from a number of economic and political factors that seemed to be caused by different situations in each region. But the eruptions occurred all over the Eastern Seaboard and took Parliament totally by surprise.

So what is the character of the New Man that emerged from out of this maelstrom? To most British, the Americans were ungrateful and treacherous malcontents, fighting to free themselves from French and Indian terrorism only after benefitting from ungodly infusions of cash. Now that the war was over, the Americans did not want to pay any taxes levied by Parliament, unreasonably insisting that such taxes violated their rights under England’s common law and the natural law (inalienable God-given rights of English citizens). From an objective perspective, any legal basis for denying that England could impose relatively small taxes or even large taxes on her subjects is highly dubious.

But something had happened at a deeper level. The study of warfare inexorably demonstrates that protracted conflict shapes men’s consciousness in ways that are impossible to predict. The very concept of being an American was developing as young British colonists interacted with members of the most powerful military in the world, closely observing strengths and weaknesses, the foibles, follies and valor of the mightiest army and economic machine in Europe. The young backwoodsman would have grown up with romantic notions about British culture, coming to military service enthusiastically embracing the mores and military culture of the cherished homeland.

But many mustered out with the sense that Americans were different than their English cousins. We fought differently, thought differently and our very consciousness was, well… American!

Think about struggling up a clear-cut hillside with only a few stumps for cover toward an abattoir (literally slaughterhouse) of trees felled to halt your progress in an open kill zone. The British officers are goading you on at the point of a sword to proceed into a hail of grapeshot, musket balls and canister explosions (pieces of metal exploding out of projectiles fired from cannons). Cannonballs are bouncing off the ground and ripping the limbs off your brothers, neighbors and fellow militia troops- mostly colonial British-American volunteers (i.e., Americans) fresh off the farm. The officers have made it clear that they consider you and your neighbors to be lazy, ignorant and backwards. At best a disorganized mob of rabble.

It may help to think about our professional volunteers in Iraq trying to train the Iraqis to fight. The difference, however, is the American could probably shoot better than the British and had experience fighting Indians that totally eluded the professionals, trained as they were to stand and deliver musket shot in close drill formation.

British Army (First Model) Long Land Pattern Brown Bess Flintlock Musket

The main criticism I have for the author, Fred Anderson, is that he spent too much time on the details of colonial and Parliamentary politics. I never was able to learn when and how the colonials were using their smooth bore or rifled firearms (probably all smooth bore at that time?). The book discusses little or nothing related to weaponry or comparisons between the respective technologies of firepower on each side.

I am assuming that the colonial militiamen were expected to provide their own weapons but the long rifle may have just started getting a foothold in America at this time. I suspect the British may have had the Brown Bess and some rifled weapons- although available, muskets, not rifles were the mainstay for the British. The doctrine in most European armies of the time was that aimed fire was a distraction from the regimented cadences of firing on command, loading and waiting for the next command to fire, all the while standing squarely before cascades of musket ball ripping through the ranks of your fellow soldiers standing at attention. Hopefully some of our weapons experts will weigh in on such questions.

The author states that he was trying to:

1. “…give a sense of movement through time”; …and “concentrate on critical transitions from the past toward the present.”…to integrate “latent events”–demographic trends, migration patterns, and other fundamental conditions that contemporary witnesses did not fully grasp, but which have become evident in retrospect–with “manifest events” such as wars and commercial depressions, on which contemporaries commented;

2. …because these new narrators had to connect the latent and the manifest in history, they would need to address the “critical transitions” they described not narrowly or in isolation, but as part of world-historical processes. Finally, the writers of these narratives would have to integrate the history of culture and consciousness into the history of external events;

3. …include static, “motionless” portrayals of situations, circumstances, and points of view of the past, but they will be essentially dynamic; they will concentrate on change, transition, and the passage of time; and they will show how major aspects of the present world were shaped–acquired their character–in the process of their emergence.

The author argues that “the Seven Years’ War was a theater of cultural interaction. Insofar as each group had leaders, their actions, decisions, and understandings had to play a central role in creating the tapestry of stories that would make up the narrative as a whole. Because the war was also a world-girdling conflict, I tried to frame these largely North American interactions with the strategic, political, and diplomatic narrative of the war as a whole. Finally, because I intended to examine both the war and its effects, I extended the coverage of the narrative beyond the typical endpoints of 1760 (the conquest of Canada) or 1763 (the Peace of Paris) into the postwar era, in order to explain such events as the Stamp Act crisis not as harbingers of Revolution, but as results of changes in imperial relationships.”

Whenever I read such a book, I try to relate the historical facts to how we live and make individual decisions today, decisions that have foreseeable and unforeseeable effects on our personal character, the characters of future generations of our individual offspring and the cultural characteristics of life in the United States. But most of all what I am asking myself is about that abstract sense of what it means to be an American. Or how does it feel to be an American?

For some people it evidently causes feelings of shame to be identified with a war in Iraq that is “colonial” and immoral. See book review about the Philippine-American War:

The War in the Philippines (officially lasting from 1898-1902), like most wars, actually continued for many years afterwards. The war with the Moros in the southern regions of the Philippine archipelago is being waged to this day with the U.S. presently engaging Islamicists in a rarely reported theater of warfare.

The Philippine conflict was a protracted war that, without a doubt, caused more loss of life on both sides and collateral damage to civilians by intentional brutality and disease than the war in Iraq. The Iraq expedition has been the most precisely waged and politically correct exploit in the history of warfare. The war in the Philippines had no geopolitical strategy, was almost purely accidental and only came about as a result of McKinley’s total inability to decisively rein in Theodore Roosevelt and others like him that made today’s Neo-Conservatives seem like Sunday School teachers. Yes, Virginia, the attempts to put down the Philippine “insurrection” had far less legitimacy than the incursion in Iraq (no one even voted for it right before they voted against it).

Roosevelt, without any authority whatsoever (he wasn’t the president or even the appropriate cabinet official), took it upon himself to send the Navy to Manila. There wasn’t an important commodity like oil at stake, or allegations of WMDs stockpiled in secret warehouses and laboratories for nerve gas, biological weapons, etc. There was not even a Hans Blix to oversee inspections and provide an imprimatur of propriety and moral outrage and, oh, the anti-imperialists howled. Today, most Filipinos love America, economic imperialism notwithstanding, and even though the foreign aid has been diminishing for years. We are quietly spending a great deal of money to fight Islamic terrorists in Southern Mindanao, however, but I digress.

Every day we have more men and women returning from Iraq. What have they seen there, how do they feel as they listen to the cacophony of dissension at home? What are they learning about the Middle East and that cultural tapestry in which they are required to interact, obtain intelligence and win hearts? What are they seeing in the American people?

I don’t know, but I do know that one tenet of Neo-Conservative philosophy is that war builds character. War changes character but I dare to suggest that war in and of itself cannot improve character. The wars in China over hundreds of years culminated in the reign of Chairman Mao, the ultimate warlord. The wars in Europe revealed Hitler and Stalin and a century (the Twentieth Century) of worldwide genocide and brutality that has no parallel in the past.

All this, and more, while unparalleled human and industrial progress exploded in exponential leaps of quantum and technological energy.

And what is happening to the younger generation that stayed at home? According to the media, morale has been destroyed and faith in the social contract has never been lower. Supposedly the torch is about to pass, either from a regressive baby-boomer President to a “progressive” baby boomer like Hillary or to someone like Barak Obama that claims to represent a break with the stagnating controversies of the Sixties that still bedevil the body politic. But there are other indications that the people of Iraq are experiencing a surge of freedom, relative peace and burgeoning prosperity. In whom do we place our trust?

To me such questions and issues of character constitute the fascination of history and the salient theme of the book on the “war that made America”. We don’t know what we are becoming as a people. It may be that we are headed for a dark fascist future as women like Naomi Wolf tell us, along with a choir of assorted Chomskyites and diverse Chicken-Littles chanting in the wings.

The soothsayers sing-songs that are starting to sound like a dirge for the fall of Constantinople. But, on the other hand, we could be at a divide within the history of the Republic where our decisions actually lead to doom for our way of life.

If doom is our future it will likely be due to something more subtle than terrorist teams invading our public spaces with riacin, dirty bombs and horrible death. On the other hand, such attacks have the potential to further divide and confuse a public that is struggling with what it means to be an American.

Everyone agrees that there is something wrong with the way the news is reported and many of us feel manipulated by a corporate media complex that is driven by elitism. The elitist combinations are much harder to identify than King George’s moneyed interests that funded his war in Europe and the New World. Some people think the UN is the source of the subversive undertow beneath the U.S. governing powers. Or George Soros and currency speculation combined with covert political operations?

Others on the left and right point to the New World Order’s tax exempt foundations as engines driving social change and the influence of invisible government operating covertly in the financial, academic, media and intelligence worlds. A man like Ron Paul calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve, CIA and FBI (according to the news reports I have heard) and there was and (still seekms to be) an apparent groundswell of popular support. If there is reason for hope, what is the greatest evidence that hope exists?

As for me, all I can give is my one opinion that we seem to have a majority of strict-Constitutionalists on the U.S. Supreme Court at a time in history when the Second Amendment is finally coming before the Court. If it is as bad as the left and the right say, then our hope is first of all in God (that is always the case) and, second of all, in the Second Amendment and that thin red line of original intent. You will not get very far with your First Amendment or any other rights without your guns- if the Fascists are really at the door.

Here’s a footnote with some great links from Martin Morehouse: The French Royal forces would have used some variation on the 1717 or 1728 French infantry muskets. The French supplied a cheaper version, known as a ‘trade gun’, to their Indian allies. The British troops would have used the Long Land Pattern (1st model) Brown Bess from 1742, or in the later stages of the war, may have used the 1756 Brown Bess. Militia would have used what they could get.

In 1755, the Governor of North Carolina imported 1000 Dutch muskets and associated equipment for the use of the militia, since, “There is not half the Militia armed”.

Thank you to Martin Morehouse