"It seems foolhardy to assume that the armed state will necessarily be benevolent. The American political tradition is, for good or ill, based in large measure on a healthy mistrust of the state."
by:
Sanford Levinson
University of Texas law professor
Source:
The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 YALE L.J. 637, 656 (1989).
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Reader comments about this quote:
There is nothing embarrassing about the Second Amendment. The reason the Founding Fathers put it in there was so we could defend ourselves from tyranny by our Representatives. Makes you wonder if that is going to happen sooner then later. As Abraham Lincoln said "America will never be destroyed by from the outside. If we falter & loose our freedoms it will be because we destroyed ourselves." I suggest Sanford Levinson was a bit too Liberal or maybe a Progressive?
 -- Elaine Worth, Oakwood     
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    Elaine, I think you misread his intention. And yes a healthy mistrust of the state is exactly why we must maintain our 2nd Amendment rights - In order to maintain all of our other rights...
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    We hold this truth to be self evident.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    When will I ever trust the STATE? When will I ever trust the DEVIL?
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    Elaine, how on earth could you think that this quote makes Levinson a lib or a"progressive" ? He's talking about an armed state such as Germany was when Hitler took over, not about citizens owning firearms. The last line shows he is no "progressive". Can you imagine Obama, Pelosi, or Reid saying something like that. They love the state and all it's power.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    The quote is a failure because the guy does not know whether or not the American mistrust is for good or is it for evil. I don't think those who mistrust the most really mistrust "the state", they mistrust their fellow man. They tend towards misanthropism and that is a sad attitude to have.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Good ol' Waffler, a truly consistent lefty, he never disappoints.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    In one of the few countries in the world founded upon a republican form of government, deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed, respecting above all else the rights of man, Americans still pass on the memories of when the people were beholden to their rulers forever and ever. And when we formed our new government, we continued to add restrictions to what they could do with the power that we have authorized for them -- for they are but other fellow citizens, and history has shown that we must watch them like hawks especially when we have authorized them to exercise certain powers. Trust them not, but bind them with the chains of the Constitution, Jefferson said. A healthy mistrust of the state is a good thing. I could never understand blind obedience to the state which are but other men and women using the power of the state to take and take and take all the while saying they are giving -- they have nothing to give, but LIES, LIES, LIES. Waffler, your entire premise of obeying government authority is because you mistrust your fellow man, and have somehow equate state employees with enlightened leaders -- nothing could be further from the truth.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Is there anyone in this country that actually trusts this government? Can anyone be that stupid, or perhaps ignorant?
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    Jim, surely you know at least one individual. He is here among us most every day in the name of Waffler. 5 and more for the quote ... Well said Archer.
     -- zeitgeist, la crescenta, ca     
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    Again has anyone the intelligence and diligence to examine the quote and delve into its construction and determine or at least discuss the phrase "for good or for evil". Can anyone tell me of a government they trust or a period in their life when they trusted " The Guvernment". C'mon guys surpise me just once with some intelligent dialogue. Sadly I have to agree with Archer and with Nixon when he described treaties with the Russians, the watch words are "trust and verify". Yes govt must be held accountable just as we should be held accountable.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Well Waffler it certainly struck a cord for me...I generally do trust my fellow man...it's the "state" that I regard with suspicion at every turn. But the Hillary's of the world will always tell us that people are bad and everything they do must be governed....sure works good for the Hillary's doesn't it? ;)
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Thanks Carlton for your repartee. The Brits at least the Royalists thought that these poor colonies would fall into chaos without there royal and noble trappings. We have proved them wrong again and again. Americans did and continue to trust each other and our government. We have the best military, great freedom, and opportunity, life style etcertera. As some one has said our poor are rich by world standards. What is every body bitching about except about paying a little bit of taxes.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Your ability to twist logic is entertaining at times Waffler. So it is your argument that people who love the state and its use of violence are the ones who trust their fellow man, but those who want people to be free of rulers and think that people will get along just fine without state violence dont? Sir, I believe you have that backwards.
     -- Nick     
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    Waffler, our 'trusted' government has usurped its lawful limits. It is because of these corruptions and concentration of power that you have rampant corporatism, booms and busts, progressive and excessive taxation -- and unlawful taxation, imprisonment without trial, victimless crimes (with the highest prison population in the world!), permanent dependence upon government subsidy, an enormous and unpayable debt, buying votes, loss of citizen's sovereign status, the raising of standing armies, the disarming of the people in so many ways -- get out of your utopian dream world, Waffler, not everyone is happy with obeying unlawful authority. And ever the noose grows tighter. Yeah, sure, Waffler you will be dead and forgotten when the next generation is yoked and burdened more and more. Do you really care about your country or just your own comfort? Yeah, you got yours, what is everyone else bitching about, huh?!
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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