A Well-regulated militia

As I listen to the comments about the need to do something to keep another Uvalde from happening, I’m hearing the usual comments that the second amendment is more to authorize a militia than the individual right to bear arms. 

That I disagree is not an adequate reason to ignore the argument – scientific method pretty much demands listening respectfully to folks who disagree.  Fortunately, the internet gives me access to historical research that was confined to university campuses a quarter-century ago.  There is the problem of avoiding confirmation bias, but I can cope with that.

Hartnation goes through the importance of the militias during the American revolution.  Remembering my long ago American History classes, I think George Washington expected a militia unit to be able to stand and fire 3 rounds, but not stand when the Brits closed with bayonets.  Hart described how dependent the Continental Army was on the local militias:

At the beginning of American independence an immense task faced the colonial revolutionary. The English army, the best-trained, best-equipped military in the world, had served in the Americas, enforcing the will of the crown for many decades. American victory rested in the ability of the colonists to put together a viable fighting army. We know from history that the American Continental Army, commanded by George Washington, defeated the superior British army and expelled the rule of the crown from the colonies by 1783.

. . . How much did the colonial militia contribute to enable the Continental army to defeat the British? I would posit that the militia movement was the driving force behind the Continental Army’s victory over the British because they were the main source of manpower, because they were already trained and armed with a 150 year harden tradition of defense to protect their own communities, and because the militia was made up of mostly  farmers and landowners, they stood to gain the most from independence giving them something tangible to fight for other than “liberty”.”

Militias also provided the Continental armies in the field much-needed manpower, albeit on a temporary basis. When British commanders planned for their campaigns against the Continental armies in the field, they had to take in account the size of the militia forces operating in those same geographic areas. The British knew the militia were unpredictable, but they could not totally neglect their presence either. In some instances, militia units were the deciding factors in important battles. The war’s first battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts were fought mostly by militia with some minutemen units. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, outside Boston, militia dealt a deadly blow to the British. Later in the war at battles such as Bennington, Vermont, King’s Mountain, Cowpens, both in South Carolina and Guilford Courthouse, in North Carolina, the militia was crucial to American victories.”

Reviewing those historical comments, I get the feeling that the militia at the time of the American Revolution could have been described (as in the quote misattributed to Admiral Yamamoto) as a rifle (or at least a musket) behind every blade of grass.  The better regulated, the better drilled and prepared, the more essential to the security of a free state.

The Supreme Court  (Miller case) ruled that the Second Amendment did not protect weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”.  This kind of invalidates the arguments against “weapons of war.”  That 1939 decision protects them.


Not All Canadians

I noticed a headline that referenced “North of the 49th Parallel” as a descriptor for Canadians.  Here, where I’m 20 miles south of the 49th Parallel, that’s correct – basically the Canadians I know are north of 49.  Still, they’re unusual Canadians.  Toronto is further south than Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  72% of Canadians live below the 49th Parallel. 

This website shows that half of Canada’s population lives below “the redline”, a line drawn at 45 degrees 42 minutes.  From a westerner’s perspective, this map makes Canadian politics a lot easier to understand.  Half of them live further south than Billings.  And, as you can see from the map, they’re crowded together – unlike our own northern neighbors.

The Red line is drawn at 45 42 minutes- For Context, the Canadian Line we border is at the 49th Parallel

There’s a Durham report going around now, as Durham reports on the shenanigans around the Trump-Russia investigations.  It’s about 180 years ago that Canada had its own Durham report, after a bit of civil unrest.  Back then, Canada was divided into upper Canada and lower Canada.

Upper Canada was the area just north of the great lakes – largely settled by Loyalists (Tories) after the American revolution.  The head of each family received 100 acres for settling there, with 50 acres more for each additional family member.  Soldiers who had fought for the crown received significantly more.  Family histories go way back – and at the turn of the 19th century, this area was home to some downright anti-US Canadians.  The Canadian Encyclopedia  provides us this description:

“The term Family Compact is an epithet, or insulting nickname; it is used to describe the network of men who dominated the legislative, bureaucratic, business, religious and judicial centres of power in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) from the early- to mid-1800s. Members of the Family Compact held largely conservative and loyalist views. They were against democratic reform and responsible government. By the mid-19th century, immigration, the union of Upper and Lower Canada, and the work of various democratic reformers had diminished the group’s power. The equivalent to the Family Compact in Lower Canada was the Château Clique.”

If we think about those early settlers of “Upper Canada” – the area that today is shown below the “red line”,  they weren’t folks who wanted the representative democracy that was established in the new American republic.  They were monarchists, and Canada bloody well had a king.  Sure, it’s a couple centuries back, but the Tories (Loyalists) had soldiered for the crown, and the government they wanted was not a representative democracy. 

In 1837 and 1838 there were rebellions in both Upper and Lower Canada.  Basically, the French Canadians didn’t particularly like the English speaking Canadians, and that was reason enough for small uprisings in Lower Canada, and the newer settlers of Upper Canada didn’t particularly like being governed by the old guard Loyalists.  Lord Durham looked the situation over, and recommended uniting the provinces into a single Canada – remember, the Brits had a lot of experience ruling conflicted peoples in Ireland . . . there it was Protestant and Catholic, but it could work.  So he moved things to a spot where the English speakers wound up with a readily identifiable political opposition – while Durham’s report is regarded as paving the way for Canadian independence and responsible government, the roots of that government were planted by moneyed Loyalists who lost the American Revolution, and largely made their identities in opposition to the US form of government.

As we watch the truckers protest, it may be a good idea to remember that there is a lot of historical difference between the Canadians of Eastern British Columbia and Alberta whom we know and the heirs of the Family Compact and the Chateau Clique.  Somehow, it seems appropriate that Durham reports are a historical commonality.