by Rick Montes, New York Tenth Amendment Center

killed-the-constitutionThe recent Supreme Court case, McDonald v. City of Chicago, has gun rights advocates celebrating. The National Rifle Association and the true champion of gun rights, Gun Owners of America, are hailing this as a landmark decision. As an avid gun enthusiast, collector, NRA Member and Pistol Instructor and life time member of GOA, I am deeply troubled. Let me explain why.

The Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, were never intended as a check on the powers of the States. They are intended as a check on the Federal government ONLY. The Preamble of the Bill of Rights opens with: “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution”. Prevent misconstruction or abuse of power from what? The Federal government of course!

In the Supreme Court case Barron v. Baltimore 32 U.S. 243 (1833), Chief Justice Marshall stated: “But it is universally understood, it is a part of the history of the day, that the great revolution which established the Constitution of the United States was not effected without immense opposition. Serious fears were extensively entertained that those powers which the patriot statesmen who then watched over the interests of our country deemed essential to union, and to the attainment of those invaluable objects for which union was sought, might be exercised in a manner dangerous to liberty. In almost every convention by which the Constitution was adopted, amendments to guard against the abuse of power were recommended. These amendments demanded security against the apprehended encroachments of the General Government — not against those of the local governments. In compliance with a sentiment thus generally expressed, to quiet fears thus extensively entertained, amendments were proposed by the required majority in Congress and adopted by the States. These amendments contain no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them”.

Can’t be much clearer. The Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, are restrictions against the Federal government NOT the States.

Why then has supposedly Conservative Justices voted to expand the power of the Federal government by interfering in a clearly State matter? How did they come to their conclusions? Well, they would argue and have argued that the Fourteenth Amendment changed everything and made the Bill of Rights enforceable on the States. But does it? So many Supreme Court Justices, lawyers and supposed Constitutional Scholars agree that it does, so therefore, it does! But are they correct? Lets take a look. Here is the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment:

Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Why was this Amendment passed? Well, it was ratified July 9, 1868 a few years after a bloody war. Some of the Southern States were trying to find ways to basically undue the 13th Amendment which freed the slaves. Laws were being passed that kept Black’s from enjoying their newly won freedom. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed to protect the rights of a recently enslaved people who were not considered citizens. This Amendment bestowed United States citizenship (different from State citizenship) on them. The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified nearly two years later, then bestowed upon them the right to vote.

Don’t take my word for it, here is Justice Henry Billings Brown in his majority Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) opinion:

“…but it was said generally that its main purpose (the 14th Amendment)was to establish the citizenship of the negro, to give definitions of citizenship of the United States and of the States, and to protect from the hostile legislation of the States the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, as distinguished from those of citizens of the States.” He goes on…“The object of the amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but, in the nature of things, it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either.”

Now, just hold on all of you who are going to argue about this horrible, racist decision that upheld separate but equal laws. I add this because it shows a Supreme Court Justice’s understanding of what the 14th Amendment meant.

Next, another Supreme Court decision that lets us know what the true intent of the Fourteenth Amendment was:

The Slaughter House Cases (1873)

Justice Samuel Freeman Miller who was appointed by none other than Abraham Lincoln wrote extensively on the meaning of the 14th Amendment, particularly the “Privileges or immunities” clause. In his Slaughterhouse opinion he writes: “…We think this distinction and its explicit recognition in this amendment (14th) of great weight in this argument, because the next paragraph of this same section (1st paragraph, section 2), which is the one mainly relied on by the plaintiffs in error, speaks only of privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, and does not speak of those of citizens of the several States. The argument, however, in favor of the plaintiffs rests wholly on the assumption that the citizenship is the same, and the privileges and immunities guaranteed by the clause are the same. He goes on….”Of the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the United States, and of the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the State, and what they respectively are, we will presently consider; but we wish to state here that it is only the former which are placed by this clause under the protection of the Federal Constitution, and that the latter, whatever they may be, are not intended to have any additional protection by this paragraph of the amendment.”

An Abraham Lincoln appointee none the less!

So, what does this all mean? We have been hoodwinked by the Federal government and its minions in the Supreme Court. The Federal Frankenstein Monster continues to usurp power at the expense of the State governments and supposed Conservatives are marching in tune. They have drank the Kool-Aid and now believe in National Socialism.

We don’t want or need a Federal government interfering in a States right to regulate firearms. Remember, if Obama gets to pick a few more Justices a 5-4 majority could switch the other way and the Supreme Court could rule that the Federal government has the right to ban all firearms. Then what? The States were and should be the defenders of your individual freedoms. They did long before the current Constitution was in force. Here are some State Constitutions:

Virginia (1776)

SEC. 13. That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free State; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided, as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

New York (1777)

XL. And whereas it is of the utmost importance to the safety of every State that it should always be in a condition of defence; and it is the duty of every man who enjoys the protection of society to be prepared and willing to defend it; this convention therefore, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this State, doth ordain, determine, and declare that the militia of this State, at all times hereafter, as well in peace as in war, shall be armed and disciplined, and in readiness for service. That all such of the inhabitants of this State being of the people called Quakers as, from scruples of conscience, may be averse to the bearing of arms, be therefrom excused by the legislature; and do pay to the State such sums of money, in lieu of their personal service, as the same; may, in the judgment of the legislature, be worth. And that a proper magazine of warlike stores, proportionate to the number of inhabitants, be, forever hereafter, at the expense of this State, and by acts of the legislature, established, maintained, and continued in every county in this State.

Massachusetts (1780)

Art. XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defense. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it.


SEC. 15. Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

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We are supposed to live in a Federal Republic where certain enumerated rights were DELEGATED to the Federal government. If you depend on the Federal government, like the NRA and GOA are doing now, you seek the help of the Devil. The States are where sovereignty resides. If the people of Chicago elect anti-gun politicians who will take away your right to defend yourself. So be it.

If the citizens of the Peoples Republic of New York allow their elected officials to trample our rights. Shame on us for not trying to defeat them. But if the people of Vermont and Alaska, Montana and Tennessee want to allow their citizens to own machine guns and carry firearms openly, thank God! Who is the Federal government to tell them they can’t? The Supreme Court decision in Mc Donald v. Chicago is just plain wrong and all Conservatives and Gun lovers who support this should rethink it.

If the States can’t make their own laws concerning Firearms then where does it end? The Federal government will and does dictate every aspect of your lives. The air you breathe, the food you eat, the company you keep and so on and so on. Let’s not be allured by the siren song of the Supreme Court and their supposed defense of our right to keep and bear arms. It’s none of their business. They are leading us right to the rocks and destruction.

Rick Montes [send him email] is the state chapter co-coordinator of the New York Tenth Amendment Center

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