A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America

A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America

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The second issue in this paper is about rebellions throughout American history. There were several rebellions, but Shays’ Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and Fries’s Rebellion were an important part of the militia debate. “Shays’s Rebellion was the largest violent uprising in the new nation’s history, would become the first test of the radical potential of the militia and the right to bear arms in post-Revolutionary America”(Cornell, 31). Shays’s Rebellion revealed a tension in American constitutional theory if the militia was an agent of government authority or a popular system serving as a check on government. The notion that the militia refused to enforce an unjust law or took up arms against the government became the most important ideas in mental political confusion of the Revolutionary era. The consequence of the rebellion had influenced the content of the Constitution. Although the rebellion collapsed so quickly, it had an important effect on American constitutional development that motivated to reform the Articles of Confederation. (p.33-36) Following in the tradition of Shays, the Whiskey Rebellion in which farmers took up arms against the whiskey excise tax in western Pennsylvania believe that the people might bear arms to defend liberty. The tax protest had become an armed rebellion and Washington had to lead federal and state militia to put down. It appropriated the rituals and rhetoric of the militia muster and used the language of civic obligation and republican liberty. However, their idea that assembling in arms for liberty was rejected because Republicans believed that bearing arms was only for a well-regulated militia under state authority. The rebellion easily fell apart due to government forces (Cornell, 76-...


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... Although the danger of a standing army and the threat to the militia were discussed in all of the state ratification conventions, that every man may be armed was the prominent issue in Virginia. “As far as the danger of a standing army was concerned, Federalists maintained that Congress would tightly control such an army through the power of the purse”(p.54). All five state conventions in Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and New Hampshire set up a prohibition on standing armies in peace time, and four conventions recommended the protection for the right to bear arms. On the other hand, in the pro-Shaysite regions of backcountry Massachusetts, the Constitution gave an idea that a standing army will be immediately formed.(Cornell, 50-59)



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A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America by Saul Cornell

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