Monday, August 23, 2004


Michael Moore in "Bowling for Columbine" tries to portray NRA president Charlton Heston as a racist. The trouble is Heston was campaigning for black civil rights before Moore left diapers. Heston has no qualms about his support for both civil rights and the Second Amendment. There is a great speech from Heston about it here. Excerpt:

"As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated. For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe". See also here.


Colin Greenwood on the 1688 English Bill of Rights (Excerpt):

"The full version should begin by referring to the various complaints against the Catholic King James II who had endeavoured "to subvert and extirpate the laws and liberties of the Kingdom".

There were thirteen specific complaints and the sixth of these, set well above matters such as free elections, was that King James had "caused several good subjects, being protestants, to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and imployed contrary to law." The Bill did not seek to disarm catholics, but merely to place protestants on an equal footing by asserting that "the subjects which are protestants may have arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and. as allowed by law".

This statement must also be taken in the context of its day. The right to keep arms was a long established part of English Common Law but, because the Common Law is capable of change by various mechanisms, the right was not absolute and Charles II had modified it through his Militia Act of 1662 which continued the practice of requiring subjects to keep arms of a particular type according to their `condition and degree' -- that is their rank in society and their wealth.

The rights and liberties of Englishmen continued to expand under Common Law. In the 17th century, many of the supposed rights did not, in practice, extend to the bottom of the social ladder but by the 18th century, Common Law rights were well established. and of such a nature that Sir William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765) was in no doubt that the right to keep arms was a vital part of the Common Law. Blackstone listed the rights or liberties of Englishmen and showed that to vindicate these rights when attacked, the Common Law provided that the subject was entitled to justice in the courts, the right Of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievance and, "the right of having and using arms for self preservation and defence."

It was Blackstone's statement of the Common Law which formed the basis of the American Constitution, for the revolutionaries complained that their Common Law rights had been violated by the Crown and, in the light of their experiences at that time, they placed great emphasis on their right to keep arms"......

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