xxi This chronology presents the long and broad range of watershed events that have shaped the contemporary gun debate in American society. Chronology 1787–1791 The place of militias in the new nation is one of myriads of issues during the U.S. Constitutional Convention’s deliberations in 1787. States’ rights advocates emphasize that citizens in new republics should fear standing armies at all costs. This zeal of some such advocates is tempered by the ineffective governance existing under the Articles of Confederation (1778–1789), which have kept the federal government weak and the governments of the states strong. Many are concerned about the need for a strong central government to suppress uprisings such as the recent Shays’ Rebel- lion in Massachusetts. Federalists are also fearful of standing armies, but they see the survival of the United States depending upon a strong national government—a government that, among many other things, has its own army and navy (which does not depend upon grants from the individual states for its sup- port). One of the compromises between proponents and opponents of federalism is reflected in Article I, Section 8 of the Con- stitution and the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. In Article I, Section 8, Con- gress is granted the power to raise and support an army (8.12) provide and main- tain a navy (8.13) call forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions (8.15) and provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States (8.16). Concessions to satisfy the Anti-Federalists include the right of the states to appoint offi- cers to the militia and to train militiamen (according to standards set by Congress). State militias are seen as counteracting forces to the potential might of a standing federal army, as well as reducing the need for a large standing army in the first place. Fears of a standing army are further assuaged by giving the civilian Congress control over the military’s purse strings and by limiting military appropriations to no more than two years. Nagging doubts over the power of the states to maintain and control militias are addressed in the First Congress and eventually alleviated with the passage of the Second Amend- ment. States’ rights advocates want cer- tainty that federal power will not be used to annul state sovereignty. As ratified in 1791, the Second Amendment declares: “A well
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