The Only Legitimate Reason To Own And Carry Firearms

I seldom share my personal opinions on the issue of gun control due to its emotional nature and the typical over reaction I have experienced from a public with little exposure to firearms.

But with the Parkland shooting, the Vegas shooting, and others of the last year, I feel compelled to add to this volatile narrative by expressing a position that I almost never hear, nevertheless one that I believe to be the foundation for all accurate responses to the anti-gun lobby and the only compelling reason that I would feel comfortable giving to grieving families.

So here it is, the sentence that has fueled this very American debate for more than 200 years:

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 don’t want to spend any time on the concept of militia and what it meant then versus now,  I want to focus on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

When people try to defend the 2nd Amendment with rhetoric about the right to hunt or engage in shooting for sport or even home defense, they are actually doing the pro-gun adherents a disservice. While these are positive secondary benefits, it’s not about hunting or hobbies or home defense. It is very much about all Americans being armed and trained.

I think I can sum up the varied concerns on this issue in one statement; namely, anti-gun advocates desire to diminish the ability of private individuals to commit mass violence on the general public. Whether this is initiated by mentally unstable individuals, those of criminal intent, or even the commission of terrorism against the state—it is suggested that the restriction of privately owned firearms will solve this concern.


I have to be honest, the way anti-gun advocates verbalize this concern seems manipulative to me.

Seriously, who doesn’t want to eradicate murder?

Who’s ok with mentally ill people shooting others or violent crime at any level?

The problem is that the gun control side of the narrative has tried to posture themselves as the only people who are concerned about decreasing crime and the well being of citizens. Can we just state for the record that people who own and carry firearms are as equally concerned about law and order as those who want to prevent private ownership of guns?

A corollary to this concern is the question by sincere anti-gun advocates—why does a private American citizen need an AR-15 rifle (an AR-15 is the 1959 civilian version of the M-16 military service rifle which is no longer in service, it was replaced by the M4 carbine)?

To answer these not-so-modern questions (the 2nd Amendment was first challenged for these very same reasons in Bliss v. Commonwealth 1822), let’s look at the broader picture. Why was the right to keep and bear arms written into the U.S. Constitution in the first place? What was the original intent of the framers and US citizens at the time the Constitution was written?

billofrightsWhen the Bill of Rights was legislated, 189 proposed amendments were submitted. James Madison, removing duplications, boiled them down to 17, and 12 were approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

Ten of the original 17 were ratified, and the right to bear arms was established as the second amendment.

By overwhelming demand, the right to bear arms was seen as a vital component of the plan of freedom vouchsafed in the Constitution. Not only did all fourteen state legislatures see this as an indisputable right in 1791, the vast majority of the citizens themselves approved this measure.

But the question remains—why? Why did early Americans vote to allow ordinary people to own and carry firearms in the open—in public? Were they unaware of the risks? Were they insensible to the violence and damage that firearms can inflict?


Since firearms were part of the daily life of colonial America, even the most ardent gun control advocate today would have to agree that these people clearly understood the dangers and risks of weapons in public even if the technology of the time was limited.

In fact, most early Americans not only owned and carried firearms, but their weapons were often of the same caliber and size as those used by the military. So their stanch support for the second amendment couldn’t have been a result of  ignorance or a lack of experience. So why would they knowingly allow, encourage, and in fact, demand that anyone who wanted to—could own and carry a weapon in public?

The answer is as simple as it is compelling:

they feared a oppressive government more than mass public gun violence.

History is replete with human rights violations by kings and governments against the citizenry.

William Blackstone, arguable the greatest influence on early American jurisprudence, stated in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that, “the last auxiliary right of the [king’s] subject . . .is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. [But this] is also declared…a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.” [Commentaries 1:139 – Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England: A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765–1769. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.]

What he is saying here is that while a case can be made for reasonable restrictions on ownership of weapons, the whole point of private individuals “keeping and bearing arms” is to provide the means whereby free men can exercise the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression. Oppression is the unjust or cruel exercise of power or authority. Since Blackstone is specifically numerating the rights of a subject, the threat of oppression he discusses here can only be that of the ruler or government.


BISHOP’S WARS – 1639-41

The colonial and early American mentality regarding private ownership of firearms was to ensure the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to resist, the right to self-preservation.

For 150 years prior to the American Revolution, the early Americans watched this very conflict of self-preservation against tyranny in their own homeland of England. And the colonists themselves experienced oppressive government beginning with the Stamp Act of 1765. For the next 11 years, they watched with great anxiety the encroachment of government into every aspect of their lives including the forced quartering of British soldiers and the confiscation of weapons and ammunition. They knew firsthand how a government could justify infringement on the rights its citizens.

Okay, so in 1765 according to Blackstone and the experience of Colonial America, it seems you could make a case that gun ownership was understood to be a deterrent to political/military tyranny. But certainly mankind has evolved and matured so much since that time that those kinds of concerns are no long an issue…or are they?

slide_10It is easy to sit here in the year 2018 and not remember the horrors of the last century.

All over the globe egomaniacs murdered millions and ruined the lives of millions more, in large part, because the people themselves had no means to stop the aggressor.

Think of Tito from Yugoslavia, Pol Pot of Cambodia, the military cabal of Burma, and the unbelievable atrocities of Moa’s China. Then there were countries like Spain and Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan, where the central powers deliberately moved to confiscate all civilian weapons prior to revealing the more sinister part of their plans.

Entertaining the naïveté of not fearing the possibility that democracies can and often do evolve into usurpatious tyrannies is inconsistent with the actual facts of six thousand years of human experience, and this same naïveté and or ignorance of history, led to the near collapse of Europe just 70 years ago.

Because history has demonstrated that over time governments tend to concentrate power and ultimately if unchecked will violate rights, the American framers believed that unrestricted private ownership of firearms was required to keep that ever expanding and egocentric nature of government in check.

There is no counter to the evolving usurpatious-democracy argument. You can call someone out for conspiracy theories, but in the final analysis, the evolution from democracies, republics and democratic republics to tyrannical socialist and fascist states is not fantasy.

It has happened many times in the past and considering the cyclical nature of history, it will likely happen again in the future. How many people in ancient Greece or Rome felt their rights were protected when suddenly government changed its mind?

We could literally list hundreds of governments that have violated their citizenry. What makes our situation any different?

MilitarizedPolice1Many have said that perhaps private ownership was needed centuries ago, but now nearly all areas of the United States have police forces for such things and the US military is the strongest in the world…exactly.

The whole point is regardless how much protection-infrastructure a city or a county or even a state has to protect the people, unless the people retain the ability to “resist and self-preserve,” there is always the looming likelihood that as power centralizes, individual rights will diminish in value and those same government forces will be used against the very people they were designed to protect.

This is exactly why the Framers built the second amendment into the Constitution. They were readers of history and understood human frailties in the passage of time.


So am I suggesting that the US government will become oppressive and tyrannical and will require armed citizens to fight for a restoration of their freedom?

No. I am not predicting that.

But it is precisely the fact that I can’t predict which way it will go that causes me to see the wisdom in the private “keeping and bearing of arms.” I am simply pointing out that anyone who has studied the Roman Republic/Empire or further back the Greek City States or to near present times with Nazism under Hitler, will come to the conclusion that humanity runs in cycles and that knowing the problems and solutions of the past can be very instructive today.

featured_post_03Normalcy Bias
( a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects) dictates that no one in America wants to even consider the possibility that their government could evolve into some kind of tyrannical authority violating the rights of its citizens, but with the documented evidence of historic governmental maleficence, it would be cowardly and irresponsible to not consider the possibilities and make provisions to counter them. I want to close with the words of Tucker, Madison, Webster.

St. George Tucker was an officer in the American Revolutionary Army, a Professor of Law and a Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. His studies in law included private mentoring from the most respected lawyer and professor in Virginia, George Wythe. Tucker states, “This may be considered as the true palladium (palee-dium) of liberty…. The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible.

Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” (Tucker, St. George. Blackstone’s Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 5 vols. Philadelphia, 1803. Reprint. South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman Reprints, 1969.)

Though James Madison did not serve in the military on account of his poor health, he was nevertheless a champion of liberty, the youngest delegate in the Continental Congress, and was instrumental in writing and ratifying the US Constitution, he noted that, “It may be a reflection on human nature, that devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”  – Federalist Papers #51 – James Madison

Noah Webster served briefly in the Connecticut Militia during the American Revolution, but found his true calling in supporting the war effort writing articles in support of the break with Great Britain. He supported the intellectual development of the fledgling country by writing pamphlets, primers and dictionaries to unify language and national identity. In support of the new national charter he said, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
– Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787


Youth For America 2018




Youth For America is  summer retreat for young people who want to learn, have fun, and experience Monticello College for a week.  Below is a list of happenings at Youth for America.



1. Animal Farm, Orwell

2. The Declaration of Independence

3. Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens, DeMille and Brooks

4. Three Words of Caution, Brooks


  • Hikes
  • Sunrise Solitude
  • Work Parties
  • Daily Chores
  • More Hiking
  • Campus Farm Fresh Food
  • Lots of Open Sky and Fresh Air
  • Animals and Greenhouses
  • New Lifetime Friends
  • Wilderness Skills
  • Lots of Wildlife
  • Bonfires and Drums
  • Lake Trip


July 9-15, 2018



At the Monticello College Campus Monticello, Utah



Anyone 15 to 20 (call us if you have a very mature 14 year old)



Farming Just Makes Sense

This post is one that will separate our readers into two groups.  You will either read it and say, “wow, that makes so much sense, I see why Monticello College has a farm and teaches the manual arts,” or you will read a part of it, become bored, and drift toward leaving the site.

Either way, I strongly encourage you to stay the course and read this post to the end.

folks-this-aint-normal_coverart_300pxJoe Salatin, in his book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal, writes a very compelling argument (for the first group) supporting the return to common sense and being grounded.

He starts on page 36:

One of my messages in this book is to try to awaken a thirst and hunger for some basic food and farming knowledge before our appetite for cerebral and academic techno-subjects crowds out all of this historically normal knowledge.

Wouldn’t it be as valuable to go process your Thanksgiving turkey, or at least spend some time with it in the field, as it is to face-paint your five-year-old and stick colored feather shaped construction paper in her hair?

Farms and food production should be, I submit, at least as important as who pierced their navel in Hollywood this week.
60328989.1584Please tell me I’m not the only one who believes this. Please.

As a culture, we think we’re well educated, but I’m not sure that what we’ve learned necessarily helps us survive.

I’m talking about the skills and knowledge contained, for example, in the Foxfire books. The back-to-the-land books of the hippie era are still some of the best living manuals out there.

Country craft and farmsteading enjoy an interest revival every time things look bleak. To me, it seems prudent to acquaint ourselves with some of this information before a meltdown occurs.

A rudimentary, basic knowledge of things won’t crowd out celebrity information or keep us from knowing how to use a cell phone. Trust me, it won’t.

I love people, and I love learning. And it seems to me that an educated person should know a few basic things about farm ecology. Not much, just a little. I offer the next examples in the spirit of explanation.

apostle-david-paul-rodgers-compares-gay-marriage-to-rooster-and-hens“You don’t have roosters with your laying hens? How do they lay eggs?” Dear folks, chickens don’t need roosters to lay eggs.

They need roosters to hatch eggs, but not to lay them. Just like women don’t need men to lay eggs; they just need a man to hatch one.

A mere century ago, not one in a hundred would have been ignorant of this common agrarian knowledge.

The next common one: “oh, there’s the bull, ‘cause he has horns.” Dear hearts, horns do not make a bull. It ain’t what’s on top of the head that counts. It’s what’s between the legs. I don’t know if horns have anything to do with horniness, but they sure don’t have anything to do with masculinity.

imagesA farmer friend of mine told me recently about a bus load of middle school children who came to his farm for a tour.

The first two boys off the bus asked, “Where is the salsa tree?” They thought they could go pick salsa, like apple and peaches.

Oh my. What do they put on SAT tests to measure this? Does anybody care?

How little can a person know about food and still make educated decisions about it? Is this knowledge going to change before they enter the voting booth? Now that’s a scary thought.

Do you know the difference between hay and straw? Straw is the stalk and leaves of a small grain plant. Stover is the leftovers of a corn plant. Hay is solar-dried forage. In order to get hay equally dried, it is windrowed to let the air blow through it and get the underneath leaves turned up to the drying sun.

downloadA windrow is a long tube of hay. A baler picks up the windrow and forms the hay into packages; round bales, little square bales, little round bales, or large square bales. Each of these has a different machine and different reason for use.

How do you herd cows? Cows have a flight zone. Since their eyes are on the sides of their head, they have far more peripheral vision than people.

They can see about 300 degrees around themselves. If we could do that, it would be equivalent to having eyes in the back of our heads.

Depending on our approach to the cow, she either wants to go past us, turn around and stand off at us, or turn tail and run away. All these responses are a result of how we approach her flight zone.

Trees grow out, not up. They only grow up right at their buds. That is why you can put a rope on a tree and it stays at the same height. Once bark forms, the height does not change.

1-130Z31HA20-LThe cambium grows the tree horizontally, in diameter, but not vertically.

Otherwise, that hammock we stretched between those two trees this year would be a foot higher next year and a foot higher a year after that. Wouldn’t that be funny?

Farmers speak in precise language. A cow is a female who has had two calves. A first-calf heifer is a female who has had only one calf. A heifer is a female who has not calved. A bred heifer is a female who is pregnant but has not yet calved. A bull calf is a young uncastrated male.

A bull is an uncastrated male old enough to bred—and that is far from full-grown, believe me. A calf is an unweaned bovine of either sex. A heifer calf is a female calf; a bull calf is a male calf. A stocker is a weaned calf prior to finishing. A finisher is a calf almost big enough to slaughter—it’s being finished.

An open cow is one that is not pregnant. A dry cow is nonlactating. A fresh cow is one that has very recently calved, and a freshening cow is one that is just about to calve. A bull can cover (bred) about thirty to fifty cows.

Folks, that just cows. And believe it or not, virtually every American knew all this lingo a scant century ago. Every species has this same level of nomenclature.

Not long ago, common knowledge included the difference between a wether  (castrated male sheep) and a ram (breeding age male sheep). A ram lamb and ewe lamb.

[Blogger’s Note: Several of these words show up in spell check as misspellings, have we strayed that far?]

images (1)A shoat (castrated male pig) and a gilt (unbred female pig). Sow and boar.

And then you have the whole grouping thing: herd, flock, gaggle (geese).

And if that’s not enough, the birthing takes on distinctives: cows calve, sheep lamb, rabbits kindle, hogs farrow, horses foal.

Can you name four vegetables that grow underground? Potatoes, carrots, beets, salsify, parsnips, turnips. How about four that grow above ground? Corn, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, green beans, lettuce, peas, melons, squash, cucumber. Tomatoes are a fruit.

download (1)Which vegetables can handle frost? Which ones have to be planted after frost? Which ones are legumes? Which ones grow tall? Which ones need trellises? Which ones are perennials? Asparagus, rhubarb.

Everywhere children and gardening mix, the enthusiasm for learning this heritage agrarian knowledge is insatiable. To interact with nature and food in this visceral functional way is foundational to developing common sense.

When people lose touch with these cornerstones of existence, their thinking gets all screwy. Staying grounded, very literally, and staying anchored in sensibleness require relationships with food production.


Along with our academic and leadership goals, Monticello College has the goal of instilling common sense into each and every student by helping them develop a solid relationship with nature and food production.

Legislation Is In The Air

The Utah Legislature is in session. This is the note I sent to 16 legislators:




These bills are easy.

Should I have the right to purchase food from a private party? Yes.

Am I capable of deciding if I trust the quality of the food I am purchasing? Yes again.

These bills ensure that proper labeling gives me ample information in the event that there is something wrong with the food.

This is good economics at its very heart; 2 parties engaged in what they determine to be fair trade. Bad food will not endure in a free economy.

History has shown that no amount of regulation can protect the public 100%. People do have a certain responsibility to protect themselves, these bills allow for that responsibility and choice.

The essence of free trade is that I get to purchase whatever I want with limited reasonable restrictions. These bills provide adequate precautions and restrictions.

Please vote for the free market—vote for HB 181 and SB 108.


Food Freedom is a no-brainer. In fact it is alarming that we are even having the discussion. If you live in Utah please get involved, both of these bills are still in committee and are being heard today January 31, 2018.

Here is where you can read the bills for yourself:






Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education

In 1951, Mortimer Adler wrote a insightful essay on education entitled, Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education.

I have included a short excerpt, if you like it just click on the link above for the full article.

The application deadline for Monticello College is February 15, 2018. Click here to apply and qualify for a $1,000 scholarship.

Let me begin where anyone has to begin—with a tentative definition of education. Education is a practical activity. It is concerned with means to be employed or devised for the achievement of an end.

The broadest definition with which no one, I think, can disagree is that education is a process which aims at the improvement or the betterment of men, in themselves and in relation to society.

Few will quarrel with this definition because most people are willing to say that education is good; and its being good requires it to do something that is good for men. The definition says precisely this: that education improves men or makes them better.

All the quarrels that exist in educational philosophy exist because men have different conceptions of what the good life is, of what is good for man, of the conditions under which man is improved or bettered.

Within that large area of controversy about education, there is one fundamental distinction to which I should like to call to your attention.

There seem to be two ways in which men can be bettered or improved: first, with respect to special functions or talents and, second, with respect to the capacities and functions that are common to all men. Let me explain.

In civilized societies, and even in primitive societies, there is always a rudimentary, and often a very complex, division of labor. Society exists through a diversity of occupations, through different groups of men performing different functions.

In addition to the division of labor and the consequent diversity of functions, there is the simple natural fact of individual differences.

So one view of education is that which takes these individual and functional differences into consideration and says that men are made better by adjusting them to their occupations, by making them better carpenters or better dentists or better bricklayers, by improving them, in other words, in the direction of their own special talents.

The other view differs from this, in that it makes the primary aim of education the betterment of men not with respect to their differences but with respect to the similarities which all men have. According to this theory, if there are certain things that all men can do, or certain things that all men must do, it is with these that education is chiefly concerned.

Click here for the rest of the article…

Wisdom From Our Father John Adams


In late 1765, John Adams began writing an essay entitled, “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law.” He was 30 years old and just beginning to stretch his legal and political wings.

His purpose for writing this essay was to contrast the tyranny of feudal and canon law with the glorious struggle for freedom in the not-too-distant past of England and the coming efforts in America.


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You will recall that this was right around the time of the infamous Stamp Act. He recorded his thoughts at the time, depicting the Stamp Act, as an “enormous Engine, fabricated by the British Parliament, for battering down all the Rights and Liberties of America.”

What follows is an instructive excerpt from this powerful and expressive treatise of the oppressive tendencies of big government and instruction on how the citizenry should respond. It is highly applicable to our time.

“Let us banish forever from our minds, my countrymen, all such unworthy ideas of the king, his ministry and parliament. Let us not suppose that all are become luxurious, effeminate, and unreasonable, on the other side the water, as many designing persons would insinuate.


Let us presume, what is in fact true, that the spirit of liberty is as ardent as ever among the body of the nation, though a few individuals may be corrupted.


Let us take it for granted, that the same great spirit which once gave Caesar so warm a reception, which denounced hostilities against John till Magna Charta was signed, which severed the head Charles the First from his body, and drove James the Second from his kingdom, the same great spirit (may heaven preserve it till the earth shall be no more) which first seated the great-grandfather of his present most gracious majesty on the throne of Britain, — is still alive and active and warm in England; and that the same spirit in America, instead of provoking the inhabitants of that country, will endear us to them for ever, and secure their good-will.


This spirit, however, without knowledge, would be little better than a brutal rage. Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge.


Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write. Let every order and degree among the people rouse their attention and animate their resolution.“Let them all become attentive to the grounds and principles of government, ecclesiastical and civil.


Let us study the law of nature; search into the spirit the British constitution; read the histories of ancient ages; contemplate the great examples of Greece and Rome; set before us the conduct of our own British ancestors, who have defended for us the inherent rights of mankind against foreign and domestic tyrants and usurpers, against arbitrary kings and cruel priests, in short, against the gates of earth and hell.


Let us read and recollect and impress upon our souls the views and ends of our own more immediate forefathers, in exchanging their native country for a dreary, inhospitable wildness.


Let us examine into the nature of that power, and the cruelty of that oppression, which drove them from their homes.


Recollect their amazing fortitude, their bitter sufferings, — the hunger, the nakedness, the cold, which they patiently endured, — the severe labors of clearing their grounds, building their houses, raising their provisions, and amidst dangers from wild beast and savage men, before they had time or money or materials for commerce.


Recollect the civil and religious principles and hopes and expectations which constantly supported and carried them through all hardships with patience and resignation.


Let us recollect it was liberty, the hope of liberty for themselves and us and ours, which conquered all discouragements, dangers, and trials. In such researches as these, let us all in our several departments cheerfully engage, — but especially the proper patrons and supporters of law, learning, and religion!


Let the pulpit resound with the doctrines and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear the danger of thraldom [bondage] to our consciences from ignorance, extreme poverty, and dependence, in short, from civil and political slavery.”

Additional reading: Revolutionary Writings of John Adams,