By Matt Shipley
Every time a mass shooting happens in America, and before research or analysis for the actual cause can begin, many people and news outlets instantaneously clamor for national gun control as if they are following Rahm Emanuel’s dictum to “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Such an approach speaks loudly that the issue is more about control than it is about guns.
As part of gun control advocates’ mantra and a cornerstone of their argument, they claim citizens don’t need assault weapons to hunt or to defend themselves in their homes. Although, it is true citizens can do both of these things without assault weapons, their claim misinterprets the intent of the Second Amendment and the right it was written to protect.
To understand why this claim completely misses the point of the Second Amendment, we must look at what the Second Amendment states and comprehend what it meant to those who wrote it. “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.”
According to George Mason and many other founders, the Militia, to which the Second Amendment refers, consists of “the whole people, except a few public officials” and “of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor.” From this, it is important to understand that the Militia is the entire population of United States’ law abiding citizens. Obviously, in time of need, only able bodied male citizens would be expected to serve, but this does not restrict the right to bear arms to those who do not meet that description. Therefore, every law abiding citizen of the United States has a right to keep and bear arms without infringement from the national, State or local government, because it is a right bestowed by God derived from His commandment to honor life.
The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms was so important that the first US Congress listed it immediately after the other freedoms about which “Congress shall make no law;” freedom of religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly and to petition the government.
While the Second Amendment protects every citizen’s right to bear arms, many erroneously interpret the amendment to refer only to personal self-defense or sport. The framers of the Second Amendment recognized and understood the right to personal self-defense, but they had an expanded application from what citizens needed to defend themselves; specifically government tyranny.
The importance of this right may be lost to many in our present age, but its relevance and importance is no less valid today than when it was written. The founders who debated the terminology used in the Second Amendment, as well as citizens who debated for and against the ratification of the Constitution, made it clear the Second Amendment was written to protect liberty, the rights of citizens and as a defense against a national standing army.
Even though the Declaration of Independence lists liberty as one of the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, there are people, namely elected and appointed officials, who would take away that liberty if they could. This is why Patrick Henry warned, “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”
The force to which Patrick Henry refers is best described by the author of the Letters from the Federal Farmer, most likely Melancton Smith, in which he describes the purpose of the Militia. “[W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” The Federal Farmer makes it clear that liberty is only preserved through the whole body of the people keeping and bearing arms. This implies a use of force against government that has exceeded its constitutional authority and is stealing liberty from citizens.
James Madison made a similar point during the Bill of Rights debate in Congress. “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”
From these quotes every American must understand that freedom is not free and it is only maintained through eternal vigilance against anyone who would dispossess us of it, which also includes inalienable rights. If individuals are incapable or overpowered in their ability to defend their rights through force, they might as well have lost them already. Although, might does not make right, it is always necessary in defending it.
Some may argue that our standing army defends our rights and freedoms, but it was for defense against a standing army the founders argued the need for every citizen to be armed. Eldridge Gerry, during the Bill of Rights debate in Congress, stated, “What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.” Eldridge Gerry made the point that guns are intended to prevent government from tyrannizing the populace and without guns citizens would not be able to exercise their right to take back their government when the government fails to uphold the law.
Standing armies have historically been a threat to the freedom and liberty of citizens, because standing armies are controlled by people who can and perhaps desire to take freedom and liberty away. This is why Noah Webster correctly deduced, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed;” and it is for this reason every citizen must retain the right to keep and bear arms.
Every other right we hold dear depends on our right to defend ourselves, as Thomas Jefferson stated, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Further proof of this is found in Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Papers. He stated, “... but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.” Hamilton’s point is that the arms and capabilities of citizens should never be grossly inferior to that of any standing army controlled by the national government.
George Mason made a similar point during the drafting of the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. “That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies in time of peace should be avoided as dangerous to liberty;...” These quotes make it clear the right to keep and bear arms was primarily to defend freedom and liberty from a national standing army.
This leads us back to the critical question in the gun control debate, “What kind of arms do the people have the right to keep and bear? Just from the quotes above, a discerning person can deduce that the people possess the right to own equal or greater fire power than what the national government can bring to bear against them.
This sounds completely unreasonable when taking into consideration the lethality of modern military weapons, which is a valid concern. Yet, the answer to this conundrum does not lie in restricting the general public’s access to equal fire power. The solution is in restricting the national government’s access to overwhelming fire power to only when approved by Congress. This means the general public would not need weapons such as claymore mines, fully operational tanks, heavy artillery, anti-tank rockets, chain guns, or grenades and grenade launchers if the national government was restricted in wielding these weapons as outlined in the Constitution. The Constitution confines this authority in Congress and limits it use to the purposes of suppressing Insurrections, repelling Invasions or when Congress declares War.
These restrictions and limitations extend past the Army and Marine Corps to include modern paramilitary organizations masquerading as law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and other entities under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). All these organizations not only add a significant sum to our annual national expenditures, they place a very significant threat on the liberty of Americans. By establishing the DHS, the national government has consolidated control of military-like organizations at the national level and it uses them without Congressional approval. Fiascos such as Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in which rights of Americans were grossly violated, with near impunity, are prime examples of the threat these paramilitary organizations pose to Americans.
The substance of the gun control debate boils down to this simple fact: any public official, elected or appointed, who either advocates for or attempts to restrict personal ownership of firearms is a domestic enemy of the Constitution and anyone who attempts to take firearms away from law abiding citizens is operating outside of the law. American citizens are responsible for their own defense of freedom and it is past time Americans start exercising, via due process of the law, this responsibility by holding people accountable for these crimes they are committing against American citizens.
Canada Free Press