Cognitive Dissonance and the 2nd Amendment

“The exponents of the Amendment to whom I refer volubly promote its last fourteen words, without saying much of anything about the first thirteen. Indeed, they often try to distance themselves from anything with even a tangential connection to any conception of “militia”. Even as they profess their belief in the Second Amendment, they consign half of it to oblivion.”

Also see Bill of Rights: “further declaratory and restrictive clauses” • 2nd Amendment: Proper Constitutional Construction • 2nd Amendment: Proper Grammatical Construction

Cognitive Dissonance and the 2nd Amendment by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.

“Cognitive dissonance” denotes the state of psychological stress which affects an individual who simultaneously entertains two mutually contradictory beliefs, or who comes upon information which conflicts with his beliefs. (Cognitive dissonance differs from “doublethink”, as imagined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, because “doublethink” describes an individual’s ability to hold two mutually contradictory beliefs in his mind at the same time, believing both of them to be true, even and especially if neither of them has any relationship whatsoever to truth.)

Cognitive dissonance is relevant to various self-styled champions of the Second Amendment because most of them should suffer from it in a form both acute and obvious. The Second Amendment provides that “[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”. The exponents of the Amendment to whom I refer volubly promote its last fourteen words, without saying much of anything about the first thirteen. Indeed, they often try to distance themselves from anything with even a tangential connection to any conception of “militia”. Even as they profess their belief in the Second Amendment, they consign half of it to oblivion. Apparently they imagine that the first thirteen words, on the one hand, and the remaining fourteen words, on the other, somehow stand in mutual opposition, notwithstanding that they appear in the selfsame sentence. Or they believe that each set of words is irrelevant to the other, again although they are contained in the very same sentence. Or both. In order to overcome the psychological discomfort that must arise out of their dissecting this single sentence and discarding half of it, these advocates of the Second Amendment supply the rationalization that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is an individual right, whereas “[a] well regulated Militia” is a collective undertaking—and therefore they can dismiss the Amendment’s first thirteen words as not having any controlling legal, logical, or even linguistic influence on the following fourteen.

Now, if cognitive dissonance is the state of psychological angst which affects an individual who simultaneously attempts to entertain two mutually contradictory beliefs, were the Founders of this country victims of that disorder when they adopted the Second Amendment (and, for that matter, the Militia Clauses of the original Constitution in Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16, and Article II, Section 2, Clause 1)? Certainly not. They understood—and relied upon—the principle that, “‘[i]n expounding the Constitution of the United States, every word must have its due force, and appropriate meaning; for it is evident from the whole instrument, that no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added. * * * Every word appears to have been weighed with the utmost deliberation, and its force and effect to have been fully understood’”. Williams v. United States, 289 U.S. 553, 572-573 (1933). So, with respect to the clause “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”, “[i]t cannot be supposed that the framers of the Constitution did not use this expression with deliberation or failed to appreciate its plain significance”. Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 583, 587-588 (1938). Obviously, the Framers both of the original Constitution and of the Second Amendment were fully aware of the relationship between individual and collective rights (and duties, for that matter) with respect to “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, because they conjoined those rights (and duties, too) in the Militia. The Framers well knew that a collective institution such as “[a] well regulated Militia” could be—indeed, would have to be—the protector of each individual member’s rights. The “well regulated Militia” to which the Second Amendment refers consist of citizens each of whom obviously must enjoy an indefeasible “right * * * to keep and bear” the particular “Arms” necessary for his own Militia service. For that reason, the Militia themselves are the ultimate guarantors of the right (and, as well, of the duty) of each individual eligible for Militia service “to keep and bear Arms”. And, by personally possessing suitable “Arms”, each individual reciprocally contributes to the effectiveness of the Militia, and thereby to “the security of a free State”. In short, the Second Amendment cannot be construed so as to set up a distinction, let alone a conflict, between an “individual” and a “collective” “right of the people to keep and bear Arms”. The “individual” and the “collective” right are two sides of the very same coin. “[T]he right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is necessary to the existence of the Militia; and the existence of the Militia guarantees, as nothing else can, “the right of the people”. (As I have dealt with this subject at great length in my CD-ROM book The Sword and Sovereignty, I leave it to the reader interested in an extended treatment to consult that work.)

Now consider the most prominent, vocal, and politically influential of the advocates of “the [individual] right of the people to keep and bear Arms”: namely, the National Rifle Association. In deference to “full disclosure”, I must identify myself as a long-time member of the NRA, as well as an NRA-certified firearms instructor in several disciplines. With that background, I cannot be dismissed as simply an antagonist of the organization. Nonetheless, with respect to its position on the Second Amendment I am a critic of the NRA. But justifiably so. For it is a work of mercy to “admonish the sinner”.

At the most basic level, the NRA does not understand the Second Amendment because it does not understand the constitutional concept of “[a] well regulated Militia”. For a recent example, writing in the American Rifleman magazine (November 2014), the NRA’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, premonished his readers that the 2014 elections

“can mark a turning point for our nation’s survival. What’s at stake * * * is more than preserving the Second Amendment. It is securing the very future of our free nation as we know it—if we use the power of our votes to put an end to the moral, political, financial and constitutional chaos that grips us today.” [Page 12]

What, though, could he possibly have meant when he wrote, “more than preserving the Second Amendment”? The Second Amendment addresses nothing less than preserving this country as “a free State” at every level of the federal system. What could be more at stake than that—and always, not just when elections happen to be held? The Second Amendment informs us that elections and votes are not enough to insure “the security of a free State”. Indeed, under some circumstances elections and votes might actually threaten that security. For history records many instances in which majorities have voted to impose tyranny on minorities, and even on themselves (albeit in that case perhaps inadvertently). Rather than elections and votes, the Second Amendment instructs us that “well regulated Militia”, consisting of “the people” properly organized with “Arms” in their own hands, are “necessary to the security of a free State”.

Mr. LaPierre himself seemed to recognize that elections may prove, not only unnecessary to, but even destructive of, “the security of a free State”, when he warned that,

“[i]f we do not elect a national legislature that will hold Obama accountable, he and his radical cohorts will destroy the tree of liberty. Just mark my words.
We have already seen the steady erosion of our core constitutional values: the right to speak, the right to assemble, the right to be secure in our persons and papers. And we have seen relentless attacks on the right to keep and bear arms, especially our right to self-protection.
We are headed down the path to the destruction of our freedom, our way of life and the pollution of the American dream.” [Id.]

On what distant planet, though, has Mr. LaPierre been sojourning for the last several decades? America has suffered through election after election while all of this has been going on, and not just during the questionable tenure of the possibly faux “President” Obama, but also under the Administrations of the undoubtedly real Presidents Clinton and Bush (and even earlier). During this period, this country’s national nightmare—what Mr. LaPierre correctly described as Americans’ trip down “the path to the destruction of our freedom”—has become progressively more frightening, as “the path to * * * destruction” has become ever more steep in its descent, election after election. That is because these elections have consistently ensconced in public office individuals who, if not actually intent upon destroying the constitutional foundations of American society and government, have proven too corrupt or incompetent to protect those foundations against assault by others committed to the full and final eradication of “our way of life”. (And the most recent elections in 2014—in which Mr. LaPierre set such great store—have not appreciably improved this situation, either.)

The Second Amendment identifies “[a] well regulated Militia”—not elections, or anything else for that matter—as “being necessary to the security of a free State”. Nevertheless, the one thing conspicuous by its absence in the American Rifleman or other NRA publications is any discussion of “well regulated Militia”, let alone any analysis of why “well regulated Militia” are “necessary to the security of a free State” at every level of America’s federal system in a way that no election can ever be. To my knowledge, the American Rifleman and other NRA publications have never expended any significant amount of typeface to educate their readers as to (for example): (i) the constitutional definition of “[a] well regulated Militia”; (ii) what legal and especially political purposes “well regulated Militia” are intended to serve; (iii) whether any “well regulated Militia” exists in any State today, and if not why not; (iv) how “well regulated Militia” could and should be revitalized in each of the several States; and (v) what functions modern revitalized Militia could and should perform within and for the States and their citizens. This is rather a stark deficiency in the public output of an organization which prides itself on its dedication to the defense of the Second Amendment.

Perhaps, though, the present leadership of the NRA should not be singled out for too stringent censure. For the organization’s misunderstanding of the constitutional conception of “[a] well regulated Militia” arose at and has persisted since its inception. To be sure, the NRA can claim some affinity to the purpose of the Second Amendment, because it was founded in order to teach Americans marksmanship. As its history explains,

“[d]ismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church.” [“A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NRA”.]

Yet its founders and those who have succeeded them obviously have never grasped, and to this day still do not comprehend, for what reason the NRA might ever have been considered necessary or even expedient. The initial question was: “Why had the Union troops proven themselves to be such inept marksmen?” The answer was straightforward: Inasmuch as no truly constitutional “well regulated Militia” were in operation immediately prior to the Civil War in any of the several States, no near-universal, compulsory training in arms in time of peace had taken place among the general population. As Article 13 of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights (1776) exemplified, America’s Founders knew that “a well regulated militia” is “composed of the body of the people, trained to arms”—not of some small, élitist group, with the rest of the citizenry relegated to inactivity, ignorance, and lack of instruction. So, the constitutional requirement of near-universal service (and therefore training) in the Militia having been allowed to atrophy, of course the Union troops came to their military service devoid of even rudimentary proficiency in the use of arms. That is, the NRA’s mission became plausible only because the institutions the Second Amendment declares to be “necessary” had theretofore been rendered moribund.

Despite its founders’ good intentions, from its inception the NRA has actually continued, facilitated, and even encouraged this unsatisfactory state of affairs. To be sure, the NRA always did train those Americans who voluntarily joined the organization or participated in its programs of instruction in marksmanship with firearms. So it always could have been near-universal in its effect. Nonetheless, it never would be near-universal in its operations, because no constitutional Militia, with near-universal compulsory service, including actual training with arms—and for which the NRA could have devised suitable training programs, supplied instructors, established firing ranges, and so on—existed in 1871 or thereafter in any of the several States.

Thus the likelihood of the NRA’s success in achieving its stated goal was never very great. Inasmuch as all too many Americans since 1871 have lacked sufficient understanding of why “[a] well regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State”, in their ignorance have refused to assume the minor burdens of participating in such a Militia in each State, and have been aided and abetted in their unpatriotic sloth by Congress and the States’ legislatures, they could hardly have been expected to join some private organization in order to obtain the training with firearms which might have prepared them for service in the Militia (or in the regular Armed Forces, for that matter). So, even today, the NRA can boast of only some four million members, in a country with probably one hundred fifty million or more individuals eligible for the Militia.

This disparity between potential membership and actual participation has not been significantly narrowed by the NRA’s recent promotion of self-defense against common criminals as the supposedly most important reason for individuals to obtain and train with arms. Although in principle violent common criminals could victimize anyone in America, in practice they threaten a relatively small percentage of the population. The large and vociferous lobby which promotes “gun control” shrilly disparages and even demonizes the use of firearms for individual self-defense. And no constitutional principle—other than service in the Militia, which are organized for both community and individual self-defense—requires anyone to equip and train himself for the latter purpose. So, as a goad for the voluntary near-universal training of the general population—“the body of the people, trained to arms”—a concern for individual self-defense is at best problematic.

  • Part 2 : Cognitive Dissonance and the 2nd Amendment

    Increasingly in recent years (as in Mr. LaPierre’s article in the American Rifleman), the NRA has suggested sotto voce that contemporary Americans need to preserve and exercise “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” in order to defend themselves against domestic political criminals—who, in the nature of things, can victimize everyone in America, State by State or throughout the Nation as a whole. But the notion that even well-armed individuals—lacking the organization, training, discipline, and especially the legal authority of some collective, constitutionally recognized institution such as the Militia—could stand up in isolation or in small ad hoc groups for very long against the para-military police-state apparatus of a full-blown tyranny is childish. Moreover, the NRA offers mere “civilians” no training aimed specifically at resisting political criminals; but it does conduct classes restricted to law-enforcement officers, some of whom may very well end up relying upon that very training to oppress the citizenry on behalf of those very criminals. In addition to all of this, some Americans—perhaps far too many overall, and certainly many too many amongst present-day public officials—are on record as in favor of expanding the police-state apparatus in this country, with the particular goal of thoroughly disarming the general public through pervasive “gun control”. So, although the fear of domestic tyranny might cause not a few foresightful Americans to arm and train themselves as individuals, by itself it could hardly promote the kind of near-universal participation in the NRA and its programs that would likely deter, and if deterrence failed could possibly defeat, such tyranny.

    The only sure way the NRA could ever have been, or could now become, successful with respect to its professed aim would have been, and would now be, to advocate—in fact, to insist upon—and to assist in revitalization of the Militia of the several States. This is hardly out of the question today. For no institutional stricture prevents the NRA from assuming a leading rôle in that endeavor. After all, Article II of the NRA’s Bylaws states in pertinent part:

    “The purposes and objectives of the National Rifle Association of America are: 1. To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such Constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms, in order that the people may always be in a position to exercise their legitimate individual rights of self-preservation and defense of family, person, and property, as well as to serve in the appropriate militia for the common defense of the Republic and the individual liberty of its citizens; 2. To promote public safety, law and order, and the national defense; 3. To train members of law enforcement agencies, the armed forces, the militia, and people of good repute in marksmanship and in the safe handling and efficient use of small arms[.]”

    Observe that points 1 and 3 specifically refer to the Militia. And point 2 refers to “public safety, law and order, and the national defense”, which are the explicit constitutional responsibilities of the Militia under Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 of the Constitution, which empowers Congress “[t]o provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”. Thus, according to this bylaw, the NRA should be an ardent advocate, assistant, and even architect of the Militia in the several States, so as fully (in its bylaw’s own words) “[t]o protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” in keeping with the declaration of the Second Amendment that “[a] well regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State”. Why, then, is the NRA not such an advocate, assistant, and architect?

    Perhaps the NRA imagines that the National Guard constitutes the modern-day Militia. The National Guard, however, is not an establishment with the historical pedigree and constitutional rank of the Militia, but instead is a merely statutory creation which Congress and the States did not begin to cobble together until 1903. The Militia to which the Second Amendment and the Militia Clauses of the original Constitution refer, distinguishably, had been in existence in the Colonies and then the independent States long prior to ratification of the Constitution, and had continued to exist (albeit in a constitutionally unsatisfactory state of disrepair) until the sequence of statutory events which began only at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Certainly America’s Founders would never have left it to Congress from 1788 (the date of ratification of the Constitution) or 1792 (the date of ratification of the Bill of Rights) until 1903 and thereafter finally to get around to setting up the institutions which the Second Amendment declares always to be “necessary to the security of a free State”. In fact and law, the National Guard has nothing whatsoever to do with “militia” in any sense of that term, but instead consists of the “Troops, or Ships of War” which the States may “keep * * * in time of Peace” “with[ ] the Consent of Congress”, under Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution. The reader interested in details should refer to The Sword and Sovereignty, at 786-793. The National Guard may very well be useful (in the NRA’s words) “[t]o promote * * * the national defense”—but not in the capacity of “Militia” as the Constitution understands that term.

    Perhaps the NRA shies away from any association with even the term “militia” because:

    (i) The NRA is quite active in providing State and Local law-enforcement agencies with various forms of training in which mere “civilians” are not allowed to participate.

    (ii) Certain well-known subversive organizations are conducting intensive campaigns to demonize the term “militia” and to deceive law-enforcement agencies into accepting the manifestly false proposition that anyone participating in or even merely supportive of a “militia” is a dangerous “extremist”. And

    (iii) the NRA does not want to disturb its coöperative relationship with law-enforcement agencies by challenging the malign misperception of “militia” which all too many of them have unthinkingly adopted.

    This, of course, is a paradoxical state of affairs—for the selfsame subversive organizations which defame the proponents of “militia” are also in the forefront of the movement for the comprehensive “gun control” which the NRA vehemently opposes. In any event, in contrast to the Militia, State and Local police departments and other law-enforcement agencies can claim no explicit basis in the Constitution of the United States. And, upon revitalization of the Militia, in order to imbue them with as much constitutional authority as possible, all of the personnel in those departments and agencies should be incorporated into the Militia as specialized units. So, upon revitalization of the Militia, the NRA could maintain its present relationship with these law-enforcement agencies upon a legal foundation far more significant and firm than now exists.

    Although every year the NRA trains large numbers of “civilians” in various aspects of the use of firearms (and does so in a highly competent manner), perhaps it discerns no connection between this praiseworthy activity and the Militia. Self-evidently, though, because “a well regulated militia” is “composed of the body of the people, trained to arms”, almost all “civilians” amongst able-bodied adults in every State and Locality would be eligible for some sort of service in revitalized Militia—and therefore would be required to participate in some sort of training with firearms (if only to learn the basic rules of firearms safety), much if not most of which the NRA could conduct. Thus, instead of training only hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, the NRA should, could, and would be training tens of millions. It surely passes understanding why the NRA should want to forego the sizeable financial returns and other benefits that would accrue to it in this regard upon revitalization of the Militia.

    Perhaps the NRA does not comprehend the ultimate purpose of the subversive political ferment on behalf of “gun control”, and how best to counter it. “In 1975, recognizing the critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment, NRA formed the Institute for Legislative Action, or ILA” for the purpose of opposing “gun control”. [“A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NRA”.] But, since 1975 and unto the present day, the NRA has never realized—or certainly has never acted on the realization—that, were the Militia revitalized, all obnoxious “gun control” would be eliminated at one stroke, forever. A permanent and unassailable constitutional defense of the Second Amendment would take the place of the repetitious, tedious, expensive, and not invariably successful “political defense” the NRA now mounts, year after year, against the well-funded, widely propagandized, and strident fanaticism of “gun controllers”.

    The NRA would do well to pay attention to the primary focus of contemporary “gun control”. Yes, the destination of “gun controllers” is the complete disarmament of the American people, through every device up to and including the outright confiscation of all firearms in private possession: As Senator Dianne Feinstein notoriously expressed her and her co-thinkers’ desideratum, “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in!” Since the Clinton Administration, however, “gun controllers” have emphasized, and continue to harp upon, banning, confiscating, registering, or otherwise onerously regulating the possession by ordinary Americans of so-called “assault rifles” (and such accoutrements as “high-capacity magazines” typically associated with such rifles). It is utterly irrelevant to “gun controllers” that the extent of private possession of these arms bears no significant relationship to the overall level of violent crime throughout this country. The decisive point which “gun controllers” never mention, but which should be obvious to any observer, is that these rifles are closely akin to the most modern of military small arms (being similar or even essentially identical in form and function, except for their capability of only semi-automatic rather than fully automatic fire). So, although any and every firearm could be suitable for some variety of Militia service, “assault rifles” constitute the best sort of Militia firearms now generally available to ordinary Americans in the free market. Thus, contemporary “gun controllers” aim first and foremost at denying ordinary people eligible for the Militia (that is, essentially every able-bodied adult citizen) the right to possess what would be the indispensable tools of revitalized Militia.

    Now why would “gun controllers” imagine the denial of this right to be so consequential that they would push for it at every opportunity? Is their intent just to deny individuals, as individuals, the right to keep and bear these particular arms, as distinct from other types, because of some curious concern over the mere appearance of these rifles? Is it just to deny individuals, as individuals, the right to shoot targets with these particular arms, as opposed to rifles that are often far more accurate at far greater ranges? Is it just to deny individuals, as individuals, the right to hunt with these particular arms, which in many instances are already deemed not allowable for harvesting certain kinds of game under perfectly valid State and Local laws? Or is it just to deny individuals, as individuals, the right to personal self-defense with these particular arms, even though an “assault rifle” is not recommended by experts, including the NRA, as the type of firearm best suited for self-defense in most cases? No, no, no, and no! “Gun controllers’” recondite but real intent is to render the formation of “well regulated Militia” in the several States exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, by denying the community the collective right to keep and bear the very firearms particularly suitable for service in the Militia, through the denial to individuals of the right to keep and bear such arms—thus stripping the community of the collective ability to defend itself most effectively against usurpers and tyrants.

    “Gun controllers” are perfectly aware that the concern of the Second Amendment is not hunting, target shooting and other sports, or even self-defense by individuals as individuals. Unless one dispenses with the definitions of words and the rules of grammar, the Amendment’s own language and sentence-structure prove that the notion of an exclusively “individual” “right * * * to keep and bear Arms” is alien to it. The Second Amendment is directed towards “the security of a free State”, not just the security of individuals as individuals. To draw on the phrase made familiar by Massad Ayoob, the Amendment aims at community preparedness in anticipation of “the gravest extreme”: namely, an attack upon “a free State” by usurpers and aspiring tyrants. In the Amendment the Militia occupy the central position, in both principle and practice: “A well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State”, and “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, precisely because “Arms” in the hands of “the people” themselves are essential to “[a] well regulated Militia”. Indeed, a fully armed people is a precondition for “[a] well regulated Militia”.

    In the final analysis, this is why “gun controllers” demonize (when they do not disingenuously disregard) the Militia, and deride and defame anyone who promotes the Militia. And this is why “gun controllers” are perfectly content to oppose the NRA’s present-day “political defense of the Second Amendment” simply by attacking the “individual right” to possess particular types of firearms (and, in the limit, all firearms) as being in supposedly irreconcilable conflict with the right of the community to be “safe” from “gun violence”. After all, “gun controllers” realize that they cannot possibly win the legal-cum-political argument over “gun control” if they allow the proper understanding of the constitutional Militia to become central to the debate. Can they come out and say, “Americans will be much more ‘safe’ when thoroughly disarmed and disorganized in a police state, than when exercising ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms’ in ‘a free State’ through the Militia”?

    Would anyone accept the notion that he could ever be “safe” to any degree in a police state—especially when deprived of the most effective means to defend himself, collectively as well as individually, against oppression? Or would most Americans believe that the right of the community (and thereby its constituent individuals, too) to live in “a free State” is far more important than the conjectural avoidance of possible injury to any particular individual (or even to many individuals) from some other individuals’ improper use of firearms—especially when that possibility would be minimized because most individuals were thoroughly trained in the safe use of firearms as part of their Militia service?

    The question of the greatest practical consequence, then, is why does the NRA—and, for that matter, most other self-styled advocates of the Second Amendment—obstinately continue to fight the battle against “gun control” on the ground most advantageous to “gun controllers”? One would expect that the very worst manifestations of cognitive dissonance would arise from simultaneously believing that “gun controllers” were so dangerously wrong and yet so politically influential that they threatened Americans’ most important freedom, whilst nonetheless allowing them to set the terms of the debate on “gun control” to their advantage—and that the resulting stress would have to be relieved by rejection of one of these mutually conflicting positions as soon as possible. If someone can offer an explanation for the persistence of this most peculiar state of affairs, and can advance a proposal for how to correct it, I for one would appreciate knowing what they are. Perhaps so might the NRA.The question of the greatest practical consequence, then, is why does the NRA—and, for that matter, most other self-styled advocates of the Second Amendment—obstinately continue to fight the battle against “gun control” on the ground most advantageous to “gun controllers”? One would expect that the very worst manifestations of cognitive dissonance would arise from simultaneously believing that “gun controllers” were so dangerously wrong and yet so politically influential that they threatened Americans’ most important freedom, whilst nonetheless allowing them to set the terms of the debate on “gun control” to their advantage—and that the resulting stress would have to be relieved by rejection of one of these mutually conflicting positions as soon as possible. If someone can offer an explanation for the persistence of this most peculiar state of affairs, and can advance a proposal for how to correct it, I for one would appreciate knowing what they are. Perhaps so might the NRA.

© 2014 Edwin Vieira, Jr. – All Rights Reserved. This article originally appeared November 28, 2014 on

  • Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., P.h.D., J.D. —Biography, Books and Lectures.

    Edwin Vieira, Jr., holds four degrees from Harvard: A.B. (Harvard College), A.M. and Ph.D. (Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), and J.D. (Harvard Law School).

    For more than thirty years he has practiced law, with emphasis on constitutional issues. In the Supreme Court of the United States he successfully argued or briefed the cases leading to the landmark decisions Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, and Communications Workers of America v. Beck, which established constitutional and statutory limitations on the uses to which labor unions, in both the private and the public sectors, may apply fees extracted from nonunion workers as a condition of their employment.

    Dr. Vieira has written numerous monographs and articles in scholarly journals, and lectured throughout the county. Dr. Vieira is the author of the following books:

    • Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution (II Volumes) 

      The most comprehensive study in existence of American monetary law and history viewed from a constitutional perspective. Available on Amazon.

    • How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary

      In this brilliant, accessible, and documented work, Dr. Edwin Vieira offers us the best researched and clearest over view to date of the power of the people to control a runaway judiciary. Available on Amazon.

    • Constitutional “Homeland Security”, Volume One, The Nation in Arms

      This book explains why “the Militia of the several States” are the only establishments the Constitution explicitly empowers to provide the crucial elements of “homeland security”. And it describes the practical steps Americans should take to revitalize the constitutional Militia in each of the States. Available on Amazon.

    • Constitutional “Homeland Security” Volume Two, The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”

      A comprehensive CD-ROM study—2,304 pages in length, with 6,544 footnotes and endnotes—of the constitutional and statutory history of America’s Militia, which gives special emphasis to the unique and indispensable rôle of the Militia as the institutions through which WE THE PEOPLE themselves ultimately provide, or withhold, the consent of the governed upon which this country’s form of government depends for its legitimacy. The Sword and Sovereignty derives the basic legal and practical principles of the Militia from a detailed study of the pre-constitutional Militia statutes of Rhode Island and Virginia selected, for reasons the book makes clear, as exemplars of what happened throughout America in that era. It explains how these principles are embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and how they should be applied in the operation of America’s true federal system of government—indeed, why it is Congress’s and every State’s duty to see to the organization of, and every American’s personal duty to participate in, the Militia, more imperatively now than ever before. It exposes the dangerous fallacy in the contemporary “individual-right” misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, and explains how the Supreme Court’s Heller decision reduced American’s right * * * to keep and bear Arms to a level far below what their forebears enjoyed when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified. And it examines ways in which revitalized Militia of the several States could, should, and if they were properly revitalized would deal with many of the most pressing contemporary problems this country faces—such as the correction of rogue public officials, the supervision of the military-industrial complex, the conduct of honest elections, the provision of an alternative currency, etc. Available on Amazon.

    • Thirteen Words

      Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr. examines the phrase in the Constitution of the United States that is most overlooked today, even though it is also the most important constitutional phrase of all for Americans to understand and apply if they are to preserve their country as an independent, free, and prosperous republic, “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State”. Available on Amazon.

    • Three Rights

      Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr. elucidates the three indispensable rights of popular sovereignty, popular self-government, and popular resistance to usurpation and tyranny that lie at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, the original Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. Three Rights proves that these documents are not somehow separate and independent, but instead are integral components of a single coherent plan of government the foundational precepts of which call upon We the People to retain in their own hands, and to wield directly when circumstances demand it, the ultimate power of sovereignty in the defense of “a free State”. Available on Amazon.

    • By Tyranny Out of Necessity: The Bastardy of Martial Law

      All to many Americans today accept the notion they, should a “national emergency’ occur, only “martial law” could maintain “law and order” and secure the continuation of vital public services, and therefore “martial law” is not only desirable but inevitable in an era so fraught with “terrorism” and other dangers against which ordinary citizens are hopelessly unprepared to defend themselves. Available on Amazon. 

    • The Purse and the Sword: Imminent Dangers of U.S. Economic and Homeland Security Policies

      Lecture presentation  featuring Dr. Edwin Vieira., Jr. speaking. A four disc set, 8 hours in length. Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr. uses his “Visual Constitution” to address two of the most pressing issues in our nation:

       The Purse: America’s Economic Crisis…what can and should the government do? Few Americans understand our economic system and its complexities. Hear Dr. Vieira explain, in easy to understand language, the lawful Constitutional powers the government possesses for dealing with money and the economy. Hear the common sense application of those powers, the abuses and unlawful expansions of those powers, as well as the only logical way through which we can return sanity to our economic policies.

       The Sword: “Homeland Security”…how the Militia provides our only true security. Today an unending series of “crisis” are being used to rationalize the continual loss of liberty and expansion of government in size and scope. After years of research, Dr. Vieira presents the lawful and Constitutional remedies for threats to our “homeland security”. Hear how “the Militia of the several States” are the ultimate security against all threats—both foreign and domestic. Learn what you can do to help with “homeland security” in your community and State! Available on Amazon.

    • Cra$hmaker: A Federal Affair: A Novel

      A not-so-fictional story of an engineered crash of the Federal Reserve System, and the political upheaval it causes. Available on Amazon.