In search of the laid-back cruise

1989 Harley-Davidson FXSTC Softail Custom

For many years I rode a Harley Softail; you might say I was one of the Faithful. When I jumped to the Dark Side in 2002 with the purchase of a new Suzuki Bandit 1200, it was quite a shock to my riding buddies. With the move I begrudgingly admitted what many riders already knew: an import’s power, handling and braking was far superior to that of Milwaukee Iron. My only issue was the Bandit’s forward lean, not bad for a bike marketed as a sport-standard, but different than the relaxed posture of the FXSTC. A simple handlebar riser kit took care of the problem.

SW MOTECH bar risers in 25 and 30mm

That original Bandit was ultimately totaled- another story for another day. Its eventual replacement took the form of two more Suzuki’s, 2007 models also purchased new: a Bandit 1250 and a V-Strom 1000. Those bikes each took me to Alaska in pretty much stock trim. It’s funny, but with a combined 80,000 miles on the clock I recently decided it was time to raise the bars a bit.

25 mm risers installed on the Bandit 1250

Since I’ve had good luck with SW-MOTECH products, I ordered two sets of their risers from Twisted Throttle, one 25mm and the other 30mm. This modest height increase assured there would be no need for longer hoses or cables. This proved to be the case on the Bandit with the installation being a ten-minute deal. I stuck with the shorter version to be on the safe side, but the roughly one inch height increase still makes for a tremendous improvement in comfort.

The Strom’s stressed wiring harness, a breakdown in the making.

The V-Strom was a different story. I spent a couple of hours rerouting and adjusting cables and hoses, but in the end it was the clutch-side wiring harness that nixed the deal as it was pulled taught as bowstring at full lock. Not good. Since I’m heading for the plains of Kansas in a couple of weeks I put the stock parts back on.

The manufacturer claims 30mm or less of rise should not require anything more than minor cable/hose/wiring adjustments. But they also offer a caveat that individual machines can vary. The Strom is one of them. Thankfully, the bike was already pretty good comfort wise so I’ll just live with it.

My favorite view, now a bit easier on the wrists and back.

As the Bandit has plenty of cable/wire slack, I’ll eventually swap to the 30mm units when I replace the clutch and brake hoses with longer braided versions. There should be another incremental, but useful increase in comfort with the change. Still, even with all the power, brakes and handling it will never completely replace that Harley.



Link to my Rider Magazine story “Arkansas Getaway”

View fromTalimena Drive, looking north at the Ouachita National Forest.
Mount Magazine Scenic Byway
Pig Trail yard art

Well, the semester at PNC is done and it’s time to attend to this long-neglected blog. I figured a good place to start was with a link to my latest Rider article from the May 2016 issue. The story ran pretty much as submitted. They did delete a favorite part about using my Indiana gun permit in lieu of my misplaced driver’s license when I got stopped for speeding. The officer was cool; let me go with a warning to slow down. I followed his advice, but it reminds me of an emerging pattern with my Rider pieces. In three of the articles that referenced interactions with law enforcement, all were either struck or re-worded. Hmmm, maybe the editor is trying to tell me something.

The other thing is the print version had twenty pictures while the web site only carries half as many. This was the case with my previous five stories as well. Kind of weird since paper and ink cost actual dollars and the internet is just code hanging in cyber-space. I won’t lose sleep over it, but I’ve included a few  shots that didn’t even make the magazine.

Turner Bend on the Pig Trail
Yours truly at Mount Nebo’s hang gliding “launch pad.” Lake Dardanelle and Arkansas Nuclear One in the back ground.




Hook In!

The hang gliding jump off point at Mount Nebo State Park. The plaque at my feet is an admonition to do the deed safely. Lake Dardanelle in the back ground.

It was a long day of riding and I’m tired, so here’s a short one. Plus, I’m heading for Kansas in the morning via the Pig Trail. My plan was to ride the Magazine Mountain loop, which I did. Magazine Mountain Scenic Byway is often compared to Talimena Drive. It was a stunner, but I still prefer the latter. Magazine Mountain is the highest point in Arkansas. Problem was, above 2000 feet there was so much fog I couldn’t see anything, so no stunning pictures. I did get some good ones on the way up, though.

Not all roller coasters run on rails. Mount Nebo State Park
Mount Magazine Scenic Byway

Mount Nebo State Park was a side trip, one I almost didn’t do, but am glad I did. A Civilian Conservation Corps project from the 1930’s, the access road rises over 1200 feet in 2.5 miles with some 18% grades. Hairpin turns abound. The fog was burning off by the time I got there giving a good view of Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas One Nuclear Plant. That little 45 minute diversion is going to get a decent amount of ink in my Rider story.

One thing that has struck me on this ride is the profusion of churches and public professions of faith along the way. I feel a kinship with these people. This too I will attempt to convey in my story.

Churches abound across Arkansas. From the magnificent to the humble, a commitment to God is evident here.
Revelation 18:4, Amen.

On my way back to camp I became lost in my thoughts  and  inattentive, net result: I  was pulled over for speeding. I followed my time-honored practice of shutting down the bike and removing my helmet, they say it sets the officer at ease. I don’t know, but it generally works for me. Small problem though, I lost my license somewhere in my travels. Turns out an Indiana gun permit has all the pertinent information and will stand in for an Indiana driver’s license. Good thing our states have reciprocity. I was released with a pat on the back and warning to cool it. I shall.

If I lived in Mena, this would be one of my hang outs.




Ridge Riding

The Suzuki did all the work, but I think it likes the view as much as I do.

I rode what I’d envisioned would be my favorite loop today, Talimena Scenic National Byway. The Ouachita’s are rather unique as far as North American mountains are concerned as they run east to west rather than the more common north to south orientation. Since the route crosses into Oklahoma, I figured I’d ride it to the end and take in the Winding Staircase region of the Oklahoma Ouachita’s. My only concern was getting a tour of the fire watch tower on Rich Mountain, the road’s highest point at around 2700 feet. I shouldn’t have worried. A helpful ranger lady drove on ahead of me and unlocked the gate. She also let her husband, who works at Mount Magazine State Park know that I’d be showing up tomorrow. I understand the ride there is every bit the equal of what I experienced today.

There are plenty of pull-offs. I stopped at just about all of them.

Since I’m supposed to be doing research, I’ll offer a critique. Arkansas is on the ball as far as promoting their roads and resources, Oklahoma, not so much. Case in point: I need maps for both states to give the Rider map artist something to work off of. I have more than half dozen for the Arkansas side; they were everywhere. Motorcycle specific guide books were plentiful as well. I asked several times in Oklahoma, finally locating a 2010 version. The Department of Agriculture station did have some slick Talimena Drive stickers and patches, so I guess that counts for something. But they need to get with the program; the real estate they manage begs to be promoted to the fullest.

The view from the tower. Riding the ridge.



Chasing the Squiggly Lines


Main entrance on U.S. 71 to CMA’s Iron Mountain, Hatfield Arkansas

I picked up this morning where I left off yesterday on Arkansas 9, just south of I-40. I had a vague plan that included riding through Hot Springs, which I did. Beyond that, my goal was to get off the beaten path and hit the roads represented by squiggly lines on map. I have to tell you, in west central Arkansas there are a bunch of them! If I had to pick a favorite though, it would be AR 246 that skirts the southern edge of the Ouachita National Forest.

AR 246

While not as technical in nature as AR 16 from yesterday’s ride, AR 246 has plenty of grin producing fast sweepers bending its red tinted pavement. The other thing is smells. The Ouachita’s, like all national forests is managed by periodic logging. The scent of fresh cut pine and cedar at times was overwhelming. When considering odors though, it is obvious that livestock production is also a major activity in this part of the country. I guess you could say the pine and cedar acts as a type of air freshener.

Love to see signs like this!

Tomorrow I plan to ride Talimena National Scenic Byway. It is one of the best runs in the area. The forecast is for rain late in the day, so I need to get an early start as the pictures to make the story into a  Rider feature are on that particular loop.

My $5.35 camp site. The pavilion is in the back ground.

The manager at Iron Mountain told me if the weather turned bad to feel free to move my tent under the canopy. Much appreciated. I think I might spring for one of the camping cabins one night as well. The $35 fee can be chalked up to research.

Restored 1928 Esso station in Mena, Arkansas. Owned by the proprietor of Brodix Cylinder Heads and used to house his private car and bike collection. Tours used to be available, but no more. Man, I’d love to see the inside of that place!






Into the Ozarks

Somewhere on Arkansas 5

After a couple of days of heavy rain I was ready to get back in the saddle.

I headed north on Arkansas 5, a route that is rated highly in the official state motorcycling guidebook. The road didn’t disappoint as it presses into the Ozarks with abundant curves and gently rolling hills. At the town of Heber Springs of few of those hills were almost scary.

The dam at Greers Ferry. An Army Corps of Engineers flood control project, it totally transformed the area.

I was loosely following the Pinnacle Mountain/Greers Ferry Loop, so I cut back west on Arkansas 92, another good run of pavement. At the town of Greers Ferry I picked up Arkansas 16 and all I can say is whoa! For the next 21 miles it was ear-popping elevation changes and challenging curves as I followed a ribbon of freshly laid asphalt. When the route linked up with U.S. 65 in Clinton I seriously considered turning around running it again. The experience was unlike anything in my home of Beautiful Northwest Indiana where we count potholes per yard rather than curves per mile.

South of Clinton, Arkansas 9 looked interesting so I varied from the guidebook, and while not as intense as what I’d just ridden, it was by no means a disappointment. I look forward to picking it up again when I head out for today’s ride into the Ouachitas. If the weather forecast is correct, tonight I’ll be camping under a cloudless sky just east of the Oklahoma border.


Eastern Kansas: Time Traveling in the Sunflower State

Fort Scott, Kansas


Here is the link to my latest Rider Magazine story. It was initially rejected for not having a “motorcycle feel.” Not one to give up, I reworked it using creative nonfiction techniques gleaned in Professor Sarah White’s  English classes at Purdue North Central. Education does have its benefits.

Feel free to leave a comment, and if so inclined, drop Rider a line as well.


Rice Paddies and Rock N’ Roll

Beatles sculpture on Abbey Road. Walnut Ridge, Arkansas


I couldn’t have asked for a better day to head out with the temperatures hovering in the mid-seventies. And though rain was in the forecast, I didn’t encounter a drop until I was south of I- 64. As I approached the Mississippi at Cario, an impressive wall of thunderheads did little to dampen my enthusiasm; I was relieved to be finally exiting the Land of Lincoln where I-57 seems to go on forever. The tedium is well known, enough so that the state posts signs alerting the motorist to “Stay Awake-Stay Alive.”

In Sikeston Missouri, I was able to test my impromptu boot repair, riding into a curtain of water, with high winds thrown in for good measure. Then, as quickly as the deluge appeared, it was gone. My feet stayed dry. Score one for duct tape!

The Rock N’ Roll Highway

At the Arkansas border I learned I was cruising the Rock N’ Roll Highway, so named for bygone days when heavy hitters like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash plied their trade in clubs and honkie tonks that lined the highway. Now, only endless rice paddies remain.

The hamlet of Walnut Ridge has thrown up a blockade to irrelevancy, capitalizing on a chance landing at the local airport in 1964, itself a throwback to WWII. It too is gone. The plane contained a group of young men, the vanguard of an invasion from England.

The Beatles spent all of fifteen minutes in Arkansas. It is doubtful they even stepped foot on the dusty street that has been christened Abbey Road, but over a half century later, the music, not to mention Walnut Ridge lives on.

Dead tired and with a hundred miles to go, I jumped on the work-in-progress U.S. 67 bypass that marches towards the Missouri border. As I notched the Strom up to a GPS verified eighty,  I couldn’t shake the feeling that our small-town American heritage is at risk. It is good that communities such as Walnut Ridge are keeping it alive.

Next up, I’ll be driving into the curvy routes that bring riders to Arkansas in the first place. Stay tuned.




Looking for the Natural State

Retired fire watch station on Talimena National Scenic Byway in 2007. May the sky be as clear on this ride.


School is done and I’m heading for Arkansas in the morning. I’ll visit my daughter for a few days and then hit some of the roads that make the state a great motorcycling destination. In the process, I’m going to work on a story for Rider. Editor Tuttle said he’d like a feature length piece. I will do my best to oblige. The wild card is the weather. The forecast for the next week or so doesn’t look promising.

As a precaution I doused the Aerostich suit with water repellant. While sorting through my other gear I discovered my over boots are looking shabby. They’ll make the first day’s ride, but that’s about all. No worries though, Amazon to the rescue. A replacement pair of Tingleys will be waiting at my daughter’s house.

This footwear thing is kind of a big deal to me. On a previous ride to Arkansas I encountered rain that made the road run like a river. I had to pull off and hide under a gas station canopy, something I almost never do. It was that bad. As a result, I spent the next few days slogging in soggy boots. When I got home the dog got a whiff of them and ran whimpering to the corner. A couple of days later my big toes started to ache. Then the nails turned black. After about a year they fell off. Not a scenario I care to repeat. Well that’s enough unpleasantness, the Natural State waits!

I’m going to post updates and a few pictures as I get time. If you’d care to see some shots of Arkansans in all its splendor, stay tuned.


Militias and the Second Amendment


To celebrate the end of a successful spring semester at PNC I present the term paper from my Revolutionary War class, a subject  I am extremely passionate about.


Militias and the Second Amendment


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 Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, twenty seven words whose meaning is argued on a daily basis. The opening clause routinely generates the most fervent discussion. It is interesting to examine just what a militia was in the 18th century and why the founders linked the people’s right to possess and use deadly implements to that institution’s reason for existence.

The prime impetus of the American Revolution was Massachusetts Governor General Thomas Gage’s proclamation of June 19, 1775 that required to colonists surrender their arms and ammunition. True, the conflict had been brewing for decades with the colonials harboring a plethora of grievances, but Gage’s march on Lexington and Concord to confiscate a cache of this vital property was the last straw. Citizen soldiers quickly assembled, literally coming out the woods and fields to harass the British. These were the opening actions of the Revolution and relied wholly on New England militia with Massachusetts providing the lion’s share of the troops.1

As these skirmishes predated the Continental Army’s creation by several months, arms carried by the militiamen did not come from central colonial stores as they did not exist. At the time, the fledgling Continental Congress possessed neither the financial resources nor had an effective overall military control structure in place.2

Militias, however, were well-established in the colonies. In the case of Massachusetts, every man capable of bearing arms and so enrolled was required to furnish his own musket, ammunition and other accouterments as part of his duty per a law dating to 1645. The obligation also entailed drilling twice per year.3 This colonial era enactment doubtless approved by the governor, came during the period characterized by salutary neglect, that is, the colonies conducted business largely free of interference from London. The primary function of the militia during this period was to repel Indian attacks. Harassing and embarrassing the parent nation’s armed forces was probably the last thing on the minds of the governor, parliament or the king when they offered their tacit approval.

Lexington and Concord also saw men who fell outside the parameters of militia service due to advanced age but nevertheless put their privately owned arms to good effect. Historian Clayton E Cramer in Armed America relates the story of one such man. “Samuel Whittemore, age eighty years upon seeing British soldiers marching towards Concorde, prepared by oiling his musket and pistols and sharpening his sword.” Cramer continues the narrative:

Whittemore had posted himself behind a stone wall, down Mystic Street about four hundred and fifty feet . . . . The distance seemed an easy range for him, and he opened fire, killing the soldier he aimed at. They must have discovered his hiding place from the smoke-puff, and hastened to close in on him. With one pistol he killed the second Briton, and with his other fatally wounded a third one. In the meantime, the ever vigilant flank guard were attracted to the contest, and a ball from one of their muskets struck his head and rendered him unconscious. They rushed to the spot, and clubbed him with their muskets and pierced him with their bayonets until they felt sure he was dead . . . . Whittemore lived eighteen more years, dying in 1793 at the age of ninety-eight.4

Aside from being a tough individual and patriot, not to mention an excellent shot, Mr. Whittemore’s contribution to the revolution serves to illustrate the risks a government gone tyrannical faces from an armed population. This in a nutshell is why the British, much the same as any other authoritarian regime throughout history has desired disarmed subjects.

The Battle of Bunker Hill, actually fought on Breed’s Hill was another early action, one that solidified the idea that the Americans might have a chance against the mightiest empire in the world. News that “[a] force of farmers and townsmen fresh from their fields and shops, with hardly a semblance of orthodox military organization, had met and fought on equal terms with a professional British Army” was not lost on London.5

At the same time the Continental Congress recognized that if a military challenge were to succeed, much work would be necessary on the organizational and equipment levels. Something more specialized than what the British derisively referred to the militia as “rabble in arms” would be required.6 Still, the paramilitary’s contribution to the cause of independence was far from over. As for creation of the professional force deemed an exigent, it would cause a great deal of debate since it smacked of the hated standing army.

The militia, even considering the above noted successes, is often given a short shrift by modern politicians seeking to minimize their contributions to the Revolution. Much of the rhetoric is designed to support a particular agenda by confusing a population whose knowledge of firearms is limited to what they see courtesy of Hollywood. Many of these individuals who have never so much as touched a real gun are also indoctrinated with an irrational fear of them.

Modern obfuscations notwithstanding, there were real problems in the areas of fitness for duty and duration of commitment as far as the18th century militia was concerned. Often these deficiencies stemmed from lack of leadership, along with the very nature of a part-time volunteer force that had to deal with practical issues such as running a family farm or business. These realities were of no consequence to professionals paid to fight; it was their occupation. The militias for their part were noted to fight fiercely when called to defend home territory, then as quickly as they appeared, melt back into the woods. Conversely, at times, they often fled after only a token resistance was put forth.

Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, a rough-hewed frontiersman himself, was one commander who recognized the unique strengths of the militia. At the same time, he knew intuitively how to turn their perceived weaknesses into a tactical asset. The Battle of Cowpens fought on January 17, 1781 stands testimony to his masterful melding of the two. There, in contrast to General Horatio Gate’s blunder at Camden, South Carolina of placing his militia opposite of Lord Charles Cornwallis’ crack troops, Morgan purposely employed his militia at the front line, albeit to achieve a different objective. There, they fired two volleys as ordered and fell to the rear. British commander Banastre Tarleton took the bait and believed another business-as-usual rout was about to take place. To his shock, he then faced Continental Regulars who were waiting just out of view. On this occasion, however, the militia did not simply break and run. Instead, they followed orders and hid behind a hill, just to the rear. From this protected position they put their accurate rifles to deadly effect picking off the dazed and confused British forces.7

The militia that helped carry the day at Cowpens bore a unique name: Georgia and North Carolina Riflemen. They were so-called because of their arms: the rifled musket, the most accurate, longest range weapon of the day. While somewhat slower to load than the common smooth-bore, in skilled hands this deficiency was more than made up for by deadly accuracy. The rifles for all intents and purposes were equal to, or in many cases, superior to what the regulars of both armies were issued. And while such advanced arms were certainly useful in the procurement of game, the term “sporting purposes” was not in the American lexicon. Lead and powder were expensive and precious. As a rule, shots were not fired except with a specific purpose, whether defense of oneself, neighbors, or to procure food. Firearms were tools, nothing more, nothing less. These were universally understood 18th century concepts.

While possessing up-to-date personal firearms, what the militiamen at Bunker Hill, and Cowpens lacked most in the way of equipment was bayonets.8 This deficiency was not in response to any law prohibiting these militarily useful accessories. To the contrary, day-to-day application of firearms simply did not involve European style bayonet charges. This lack of cold steel however, was a major problem when facing formations of British regulars. Conversely, it was of little consequence when executing the hit and run guerrilla tactics American irregulars favored.

The bayonet, largely superfluous on faster-to-load modern arms played an important role in the foundation of America. It is interesting that well-intentioned, though misguided attempts at weapons regulation such as President Bill Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 targeted what are now viewed as cosmetic features such as pistol grips and bayonet lugs. One has to wonder how our forefathers might view such developments. Would they detect a hint of tyranny in such initiatives?

The Revolutionary War went on for eight bloody years. In the end it was the sacrifice of an inferior, but tenacious indigenous force that carried the day, wearing down not only the British military, but general public as well. True, the financial contributions of France and Spain in what became a world war certainly helped turn the tide; without the French naval presence in particular there would be no America. But the French also supplied desperately needed muskets and ammunition. It is one thing to control the seas, something the British were undisputed masters at, but at the same time, a ground presence is necessary to claim true dominance over a particular piece of real estate. In this the Continental Army and supporting militia proved this maxim true time and again.

When the time came to construct a government not seen in the annals of human history, another protracted battle was waged. In this one though, words replaced bullets. Once the basic constitution was devised, there was still the matter of securing the states blessing through ratification. The key to obtaining this support hinged on the inclusion of a bill of rights to protect the people. These same people had just lived through a revolution and had strongly held views as to what should be contained in the document. It is little wonder that the opening text of this paper, The Second Amendment, was at the forefront of their thinking.

At this early stage of the republic a standing army was repugnant to many Americans, nevertheless, it was recognized that if the United States was to succeed as a nation, and perhaps become a world power, a way to organize the well-armed population was vital. At the same time the resulting force would provide an important check and balance and allay fears of a professional army that was seen as increasingly necessary.

James Madison, champion of a strong central government nevertheless recognized the inherent danger it posed. Historian Clayton E. Cramer notes: “In ‘Federalist 46’ James Madison pointed to the enormous numerical advantage that ‘a militia amounting to near a half million citizens with arms in their hands’ would have over any imaginable standing army.” 9As Madison fought to see his creation of a new style government survive, he extolled the virtues of an armed citizenry as a check on the tyranny such a powerful entity might fall into. It should be remembered that during the Revolution the Continental Army rarely exceeded 10,000 men, so his hypothetical citizen force would have proved formidable.

This theme of an armed citizenry being a bulwark of liberty can be seen in legislation created shortly after ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Recognizing the contributions of citizen soldiers, while at the same time seeking to address some of the shortcomings created by relying on a volunteer force, Congress ratified The United States’ Militia Act of 1792 on May 2 of the same year. This law spelled out the terms of a well regulated militia and authorized the president to call the militias into Federal service “. . . whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from and foreign nation or Indian tribe.” It further provided for a command structure and laid out rules for discipline, pay while called up, and term of service.10

The Second Militia Act of 1792, approved on May 8, delved into great detail as to the composition of the militia: “That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years and under the age of forty-five years . . . shall be severally and respectively enrolled in the militia . . .” Of particular interest is what these registered members were to procure to fulfill their obligation: “That every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, shot-pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball . . . .” Additionally, officers were required to provide for themselves a sword and attending accouterments. Giving a nod to greater uniformity, hence regulated, “. . . after five years from the passing of this act, all muskets for arming the militia, as herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound.”11

It should be noted that every piece of equipment mandated by the Act was standard kit of an 18th century soldier. The objective was to have a force ready to respond to imminent threats, but without the attending risks to liberty a professional army entailed. To the founders, the militia was meant to be a fully militarized force, albeit one where the participants were responsible for providing their own personal weapons and gear.

As the United States grew into a world power during the nineteenth century, the reliance on a part-time citizen-based military was supplanted by full-time professional forces. The militia concept though, was still viewed favorably at the dawn of the twentieth century, enough so that The Militia Act of 1903 was ratified. Sec.1 of this law affirms the manning requirements contained in the eighteenth century rendition, with the notable exclusion of the words “free able-bodied white male.” For the purposes of our discussion, however, it is the distinction made in militia categories which: . . . shall be divided into two classes-the organized militia, to be known as the National Guard of the State, Territory, or District of Columbia, . . . and the remainder to be known as the Reserve Militia.” The law goes into great detail as to how the National Guard was to be organized and equipped, with the firearms to be provided by the Federal government. The law also explicitly declares who controls the same: “That said rifles and carbines and other property shall be receipted for and shall remain the property of the United States . . . .”12

One might wonder how James Madison’s check on tyranny “. . . a militia amounting to near a half million citizens with arms in their hands’ would have over any imaginable standing army,” would be of much effect sans firearms. As the 1903 Act is silent as to how the second component, the Reserve Militia is to be armed, one could conclude that, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed has it covered.

Much of the aforementioned discussions were rendered moot in 2008 when the Supreme Court issued its historical Heller decision.13 In this ruling the court held that Americans have a fundamental right to own guns. There were, of course, caveats excluding criminals, the insane and other prohibited persons, but interestingly, no militia test. The concept of an armed citizenry was expanded in 2010 with the McDonald decision.14 This ruling incorporated the Second Amendment to a state and local level through the Fourteenth Amendment. Lest anyone get the impression the dispute over gun rights was settled once and for all, nothing could be further from the truth. As with protecting other civil rights, the battle rages on.



















Primary sources:


Heller Decision


No. 07–290. Argued March 18, 2008—Decided June 26, 2008.


McDonald Decision



No. 08–1521. Argued March 2, 2010—Decided June 28, 2010.


Militia Act of 1792

SECOND CONGRESS. SEss. I. CH. 28. 1792. CHAP. XXVIII.-An Act to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions. STATUTE I. May 2, 1792.


Second Militia Act of 1792


SECOND CONGRESS. SEss. I. CH. 33. 1792. CHAP. XXXIlI.-An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defence by establishing an Unifurm Militia throughout the United States.(a) STATUTE I. May 8, 1792.


Militia Act of 1903


FIFTY-SEVENTH CONGRESS. SEss. II. 1903. An Act to promote the efficiency of the militia, and for other purposes. Approved January 21, 1903.


Secondary sources:


Coakley, Robert W. and Conn, Stetson eds., The War of the American Revolution Washington,    DC: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1975.


Cramer, Clayton E. Armed America: The Story of How and Why Guns Became as American As    Apple Pie, Nashville: Nelson Current, 2006.

Hallbrook, Stephen P. The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms,       Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2008.



















  1. Robert W. Coakley and Stetson Conn, eds., The War of the American Revolution Washington, DC: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1975,


  1. , 5.
  2. Stephen P. Hallbrook, The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2008, 11.


  1. Clayton E. Cramer, Armed America: The Story of How and Why Guns Became as American As Apple Pie, Nashville: Nelson Current, 2006, 99.


  1. Robert W. Coakley and Stetson Conn, eds., The War of the American Revolution,
  2. , 6.
  3. , 22-23.
  4. , 6.
  5. Cramer, Armed America, 6.
  6. SECOND CONGRESS. SEss. I. CH. 28. 1792. CHAP. -An Act to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions. STATUTE I. May2, 1792.


  1. SECOND CONGRESS. SEss. I. CH. 33. 1792. XXXIlI.-An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defence by establishing an Unifurm Militia throughout the United States.(a) STATUTE I. May 8, 1792.


  1. FIFTY-SEVENTH CONGRESS. SEss. II. 2003. An Act to promote the efficiency of the militia, and for other purposes. Approved January 21, 1903.


  1. Supreme Court of the United States, District of Columbia, Et. Al. v .Heller, 2008.
  2. Supreme Court of the United States, McDonald, Et. Al. v .Chicago, 2010.