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Second Amendment challenge: When has it protected rights?

I commented on the Second Amendment during my Constitution Monday series. Today I want to issue a challenge in light of people say things like “The Second Amendment guarantees all others” and “The Second Amendment ensures that the government will be afraid of its people rather than the other way around.”

I would like gun advocates and/or historians to come forward with examples of how individual ownership and use of guns have defended any rights of the people against an American local, state or federal government. These examples should come after 1789 when the Second Amendment was ratified and include:

  • Date(s)
  • Location
  • Right(s) being defended against and which government was violating them.
  • A description of the events, preferably with a source, and whether the defense was effective.

My reading of American history, which I admit up front is not perfect, is that there have been few, if any, cases where individuals banded together against a local, state or federal government in the US and none in which the use of firearms secured their rights. In contrast, there have been many instances where state and federal governments have revoked peoples rights undaunted by any fear of reprisals. A partial list:

  • In 1798, the federal government passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which criminalized dissent against the President and led to the jailing of at least one sitting Congressman. No armed resistance was offered.
  • During the Civil War, President Lincoln revoked habeas corpus in the North and shut down newspapers with impunity. None of these actions were opposed with guns at the time they occurred.
  • Post Reconstruction governments implemented Jim Crow laws without an armed response from the African American community.
  • In World War I, newspapers with “wrong” ideas were shut down. No armed response was offered.
  • In World War II, Americans of Japanese descent were put into relocation camps without offering an armed response.
  • In the 1960s, the federal government integrated Southern Schools, sometimes at gunpoint. Despite the fact that White parents felt this was an infringement of their community rights, no armed resistance was offered. Conversely, no African American gun owners attempted to reverse segregation efforts with their own guns.
  • In the 2000s under Republican and Democratic Presidents and Congresses, the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure was made a dead letter and all Americans are pretty much under any surveillance the federal government feels like. No armed response was offered.
  • In the 2000s, both Republican and Democratic Presidents have insisted that they have the sole right to determine who is an enemy combatant who then can be stripped of any Constitutional protections that might still exist. No armed response was offered.

My point here is that if the purpose of the Second Amendment is to intimidate any government body in the United States from efforts to strip Americans of their rights, it seems to have failed. But I’m willing to look at and discuss examples if you have them.

Because the Second Amendment is such an emotional target at the best of times, any comments not relating to the questions asked here will be deleted. I’m not going to have this post host tirades for either side. Feel free to vent on your own blog. 

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