Ancient Hebrew Militia Law

This is a re-post from July 21, 2013. I’m re-posting it because it seems so relevant to today.

David Kopel is a national treasure and a local hero to all who love liberty.

I’ll explain after some brief background. When I got out of law school in 1976 I needed to pass the Colorado Bar Exam, and that meant I needed to take the Bar Review Course. It was a bit more expensive than I could afford after three years of borrowing for tuition and having no time for employment.

The Bar Review Course at that time was owned locally and run by David Kopel’s father, Jerry Kopel (1929-2012). Lucky for me, Jerry Kopel allowed me to attend the Bar Review for free in exchange for manning the recording machine each night and replaying each lecture the following afternoon for Bar Review participants who missed the previous evening’s lecture, or just wanted to hear it again. Not only did this relieve me of a fee I could not afford, but also gave me the benefit of hearing each lecture twice. Thus, my daily routine for approximately 45 days was to first spend 3 hours in the morning reading the outline for the lecture to occur that night, then 3 hours in the afternoon listening to the previous night’s lecture, followed by 3 hours that night listening to the live lecture. No better Bar Exam preparation can be imagined. I passed easily.

For 22 years Mr. Kopel was also a Colorado State Legislator who defended liberty from the statists in the Colorado Assembly, especially against those who seemed bent on requiring everyone who desired gainful self-employment to posses some sort of state license. Jerry Kopel stood against these efforts, rightly arguing that it served little purpose to require people in common trades to have a state license except to enable trade associations to limit competition by erecting barriers to entry.

Even before “I warmed both hands before the fire of life,”[1] that forged in me certain libertarian principles, I innately understood the critical value of those such as Jerry Kopel who stood before the advance of authoritarian statism yelling “stop.” Thankfully, there are some today such as Senator Greg Brophy who follow in the path of Jerry Kopel and try to put the brakes on the John Morse’s and Angela Giron’s in the state Assembly as they set about dismantling individual liberty in Colorado.

David Kopel carries on his father’s legacy in all ways possible [2], not the least of which is his representation of 55 of the Colorado’s 62 elected Sheriff’s in their suit against Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper over Colorado’s newly enacted and idiotically restrictive and unconstitutional gun laws passed in the last legislative session. Some early success in that suit have been achieved.

Another effort of David Kopel is his historical research on how the founding fathers of America were influenced by both Greek and Hebrew intellectual traditions when they drafted the United States Constitution. Believe it or not, American Jews are treading a new path in their opposition to widespread gun ownership and they are not, as they probably believe, upholding ancient Jewish tradition. In fact, the modern State of Israel is much more in line with Jewish history than the majority of today’s Jews in America.

David Kopel’s latest in that regard is Ancient Hebrew Militia Law in the Denver University Law Review. This is a must read for all who support the Second Amendment and want to further their understanding and knowledge of the pillars of the American civilization as our founding fathers envisioned it. His article ends this way.

If Western Civilization can be said to be founded on two pillars of “Athens and Jerusalem,”[22] the Jewish pillar matches the Greek pillar in recognizing the importance of an armed people in preserving liberty through service in a militia of all free and able-bodied men.[23]

David Kopel’s assertions are always well sourced with footnotes.  Here are the notes in the above quote:

[22]. See Leo Strauss, Jerusalem and Athens: Some Preliminary Reflections, in Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, 377–405 (Kenneth Hart Green ed., Albany State Univ. of N.Y. Press, 1997).

[23]. Nicholas J. Johnson, David B. Kopel, George A. Mocsary & Michael P. O’Shea, Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy 164–65 (2012), at 48–52.

[1] This is a line from the poem I Strove With None (1853) by Walter Savage Landor.

[2] I should say that I have no idea what David Kopel’s father’s position was on Second Amendment freedom.  I only know that he stood fast for individual liberty in most respects.  UPDATE 11/30/2020:  There aren’t making Democrats like Jerry Kopel anymore. Somewhere I hope they are still making Jews like Jerry  Kopel.

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