First, I was shattered when I got the news. It remains very difficult to watch or read the stories of grieving parents. I immediately think of my own children, and my throat tightens and tear well. I can not adequately put into words how I will continue to mourn for those affected.
What I can put into words, however, is come context for my continued defense of civilian firearms ownership, as enumerated in our Bill of Rights. Please recognize, beyond my college degree in Constitutional Studies and my serving my country in the US Navy, my study of the foundations of our republic is my avocation. I have a great reverence for what our founders set up, and the thoughtfulness in which they did.
It is important to understand, the Bill of Rights is NOT a list that the founders made that said “This new government we form grants these rights.” Instead, what they said was that these rights were granted by the Creator, bestowed upon free men as a birthright, and no legitimate government formed for and by the people can infringe upon these rights. If it does, that government is no longer legitimate, and should be thrown off.
In their list of ten, the placed second the right to protect yourself, to bear arms. It is an important point, that right after your freedom to speak out, they placed this right. Quoted exactly: “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.” It is worded this way with intent.
These founders had just lived through two very difficult periods. The more recent was the war of independence, fighting off both the British occupation, which employed the foreign mercenary troops that the British employed. These occupying armies were brutal, and the horrors inflicted upon colonists was fresh in their minds.
But the period before the war was as just as onerous. The government instituted upon the colonies from England was one of great tyranny. It was more than just taxes without representation. There were the quartering of soldiers without compensation, there was seizure of land and other property without a judicial system. The governance of the colonies from England was despotism. It was when the king went after firearms that the colonies said ‘enough’. After many years of correspondence in opposition to the crown, they formed their militias and began the war for independence.
So the founders had a recognition that governments inevitable go tyrannical, and in order to protect the freedom of the citizens, they must be able to form a militia to oppose that tyranny at any time.
So now the argument becomes “what militia could form now that could face down the might of the American army?” This was of course the same question colonists asked when they looked at the might of the British army. Our modern army is certainly well equipped and well trained, like their British counterparts. What is different to note, however, is that these are not foreign troops. The current military is our fellow countrymen, our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. If a clash were to erupt, would we be able to face them in battle. I would contend that we would never need to, at least not for very long. Our forces would not long stomach orders from above that tell them to slaughter their fellow countrymen. Those orders would soon be ignored, and these brave men and women would turn on their masters.
This is the check we have with civilian ownership of arms that we have on any more tyranny from our government. They have and continue to do many things that could fall in the definition of fascist. But they can only go so far, because they know their force of arms would not last long against our armed citizenry.
And we can not ask for our arms back once we give up this right. We can’t give up this check, fall under more tyranny, and then ask for our defense back in order to oppose that government.
There is more that the founders wrote, and this is as important as the historical context. The founders were entrenching in this Republic the notion that individual freedom is most important to secure liberty. This principle came from the French revolution and the great thinkers of Europe who influenced our founding. So why does this freedom to bear arms, given to the individual by the creator, and unalienable (unable to put a lien on) by government, make sense after the tragic event on Friday?
The opposition to civilian gun ownership is in a tough spot. Supporters expect that you should give the right to protection away from themselves and fellow citizens and put that power in the hands of a few, police and military and the like. They would give up the responsibility of protection of their family to an authority. This of course is immediately recognizable as a step into dictatorship. But I ask some follow up questions.
- “Does the Secret Service keep their arms?”
- Yes, of course, the President needs to be protected.
- “Do private security companies, the type that protect George Soros, or Rupert Murdoch, keep their arms?”
- Well, it is their business.
- So rich people deserve protection, but everyone else doesn’t get it?
- “What about mercenary firms like Xe, formerly Blackwater?”
My belief is this. As a husband, as a parent, as a free man, I have a right and a responsibility to protect my fellow citizens and my family. This is a heavy responsibility. I have to protect them from a rabid dog, from a group of armed home invaders, and from unsecured firearms in my home. And I have to protect them from ignorance and tyranny. Being an adult is not easy, but loving my family is worth the work.
A few other points made in posts I have read.
“You should ask the parents of the children killed how they feel about the 2nd Amendment.” I wish I never had to ask them, and I certainly wouldn’t at this time. However, our legal system does not allow for victims of a crime to sit on a jury to try a case. That is revenge, and it is not befitting a free society. So they may have an opinion colored greatly by recent events, this is not something wise to do.
“If the founders were such great men who believed in freedom, why did they own slaves?” It is true, they had flaws. Some were pained greatly by it. The writings of Thomas Jefferson display this some. I would say this. They knew not to entrench it in the Bill of Rights. They needed the slave owners on board for the founding of the nation as they needed a strong, large territory to continue to keep the British at bay. It is to their shame, but does not diminish all that the set out to accomplish.
“The arms that the founders were talking about were single action, bolt loading arms, not massive automatic weapons.” True, but their point was that the civilian population needs to be able to stand up and fight a tyranny. The standing army we have now the founders cautioned against has a level of arms that civilians must be able to keep pace with. Also, the founders did not envision the internet, but the First Amendment certainly should cover that.