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Hamilton was for gun rights. Federalist #29

by Steve Svenvold
(Yuma, AZ)

The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 newspaper articles published circa 1788 in NY State designed to convince New Yorkers (and everybody else) to ratify the newly proposed Constitution. It's all pretty heavy reading, but worth the effort!

In Federalist #29, Hamilton makes the case for employing a standing army. He says, in essence, "Hey, if we're going to have a country, then we need to protect it, right? And if we're going to protect it, we should probably do it properly. This means having a well regulated militia, hired and trained and organized at the ready because if you wait until we're invaded, and THEN gather up troops from all over, try to organize and train them and then deploy them, it will be too late. The only other way to have a well regulated militia for our protection is to make them leave their jobs and attend training as often enough to keep them proficient. This won't work.

Besides, this is like waiting for a modern town to catch on fire before you hire and train firefighters. Not a good idea. But there was a real fear of standing armies amongst the states. They had just fought a war to win their freedoms and they didn't want them taken away by anybody with a standing army. Was there any room for insurance against this?

Absolutely. I quote Hamilton in Federalist #29:

"But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia. The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit them for service in case of need. By thus circumscribing the plan, it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist."

He's saying here that we must have a well-regulated, standing army. If the government turns the standing army against the people, the well-armed body of citizens can defend their rights, and this is the best way to do it.
In my opinion this is why the 2nd amendment is worded the way it is: "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." I.e., God forbid, but we can shoot them if we absolutely have to.

Comments for Hamilton was for gun rights. Federalist #29

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Jun 26, 2015
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blh NEW
by: Anonymous

so someone is saying the Founders wanted state militias so they could fight agaisnt the Federal government? That is incredibly stupid

Nov 12, 2014
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ass NEW
by: Anonymous

sucking the ass is a very great thing although it will make yo toung stank like dat ratchet puss

Feb 27, 2014
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Time Back Than NEW
by: Anonymous

Have you read all the Federalist Paper? Evidently not. Or really don't understand the intent Do you understand the frame of mind back than. Remember they were under a tyrant King and GOVERMENT. and trusted nether> Just to Say the Second amendment should be dissolved really. Lets just dissolve The other ones also for surly they were just added to the CONSTITUTION for no importance reason at all. One reason the second amendment is there is because the king tried many times to remove the ARMS from the colonist. In fear of an uprising. Learn the American history MONARCEST. We American do not want to live under a one ruler leader. We are a Constitutional Republic. as set forth FROM THE FEDERLIST PAPERS

Mar 09, 2013
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Fed. 29 - An Argument Against An Individual Right NEW
by: jck747

Federalist 29 supports the notion that the second amendment did not intend to provide for an individual right to bear arms outside service in a state militia. The fact that Hamilton had to argue for a federal standing army reflects the fear the states had that such an army would, like the British, pose a threat to the liberty of the citizens of the new nation. He is attempting to persuade the populace that though there may be the possibility of such a threat, it would be much more efficient to have one nation army then 13 smaller ones; were such an army a true threat to liberty, relying on 13 similar bodies would only increase the threat. It's clear that the anti-federalists still harbored fears about such a standing national army and, therefore, they were granted assurance, in the form of the second amendment, that the people would retain the right to defend themselves through their state militias and, further, that those militias would not be rendered impotent by stripping the people of their arms. It would seem that the amendment does not grant the people the right to bear arms absent their potential use in a militia, though the threat posed to the people from a standing army, whatever it was, would be the same regardless of whether militias were in existence.

Jan 27, 2013
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Correction please ... NEW
by: Anonymous

If you read what Hamilton wrote a bit more carefully you will see that he is not advocating a "well regulated, standing army", rather he cites that the states should STILL create, as "a matter of utmost importance" "the proper establishment of the militia." even though he cites first "the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable".

His point there I think you missed. It being, that "if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens." He is stating that IF a (Federal/National) "standing army" should be required the threat posed by that standing army to the liberties of the citizens (a concept that was obviously then, and should still be today, apparent to anyone reading FP.29) would best be held in check by (State) "the Militia". The Militia and the Standing Army were viewed as two (2) vastly different entities each with their own specific scope and purpose of formation and operation. This is a view of "US Armed Forces" that was then KEY to the formation of governmental establishment and operation, and which has been LOST over time due to both apathy and active propaganda to dilute it's meaning, perspective, and value.

And as to the other person's comments about having to accept the larger scope of Hamilton's views in order to justly ascribe to that portion of his views that relate to "gun-rights", that is poppycock. The intrinsic value of his views on organizational establishment of governmental operation of "armed forces" remains pertinent and germane to the Second Amendment (2A) regardless of his further views on the larger picture of governmental constructs (monarchy, etc.). The point is, these "papers" were written and published to persuade the public to adopt the proposed view on establishment of governmental construct. They succeeded. Look at the FRUITS of that establishment, as in, "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.", and one can no longer argue as to the explicit and direct connection between the intent of the published Federalist Paper (FP) No. 29 and what it (helped to) produced.

Jan 08, 2013
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No he wasn't, at least the way you mean... NEW
by: Kim

Firstly, I really doubt Hamilton had any serious concerns about gun ownership among citizens, so I'm not certain the point of such an essay. Why, you could even make a list of several hundreds of thousands of important historical figures who never raised a concern about civilian gun ownership, and then say they were "FOR GUN RIGHTS." Big whoop.

Secondly, Hamilton supported a republic but spent his career pushing for a monarch-based constitution (later, for changing the authorized constitition to reflect monarchical values), as well as for a primarily Federal government instead of a union of State governments. Hardly the kind of guy that right-winger "Patriots" would care to quote! If you are going to promote his statements on guns, then you need to support his other ideas.

The Federalist essay you highlight in your essay is his attempt to persuade the public to ratify the new constitution, and to appeal to all sides. This is clear when he writes the point you consider central; you can tell it is thrown out there to appeal to any who would oppose a standing Federal military and not because he particularly felt that way.

As to citizens being armed to oppose the tyranny of their own government, his key argument is this:
"...but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens."
Clearly, unless every citizen is as well armed and trained as the standing Federal military, then his point is pointless.

Just sayin': his support for individual citizen gun ownership rights is meaningless, and, his words don't really support your position anyway.

It's time to repeal the 2nd Amendment (or else dissolve our Federal army, navy, marines, coast guard, etc., and let each State organize citizens with their own private guns, tanks, ships, missles, radar, etc.)

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