This glorious 4th Of July seems like an opportune time revisit what the 2nd Amendment says, what was meant by the writers of it, and what the attacks from the Biden Presidency mean about those words.
The actual text of the 2nd amendment will be familiar to most. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the Security of the free State, the Right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is emblazoned on yard signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and tattoos all across the country. For being only 27 words the debate over the meaning of those words (down to the placement of a comma) has raged for decades. Is it really that cryptic? On this Independence Day we’re going back to the source materials and read the writings of the men who ratified the Constitution and fought to establish American freedom from British rule it becomes much clearer that all of the tongue-wagging done over their motivations is in total vain.
Some might argue, “Guns were meant only for militias, which was the precursor to a standing army. That means only the army and police force should have guns”. George Mason answers this in 1788 saying, “I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers” as well as Richard Henry Lee writing in the same year, “A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves… and include, according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms… 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.” Doesn’t seem like there’s much of a requirement for military or LE service unless we include teaching a child how to shoot a .22 into modern military boot camps.
Others might say, “Guns should be permitted only for hunting. No one needs an AR-15 to shoot a deer” Alexander Hamilton destroys this argument beautifully writing in Federalist No. 28, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair”. If that isn’t clear enough Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Stephens Smith in 1787 saying, “…what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms… The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure”. It becomes glaringly obvious that the 2nd Amendment had nothing whatsoever to do with hunting, unless you include dictators, tyrants, and despots as wild game.
Some still might make the plea, “The Constitution was written by people who only had muskets. These protections don’t cover modern weapons of war”. It’s easy to note that the founders also had cannons, but besides that Noah Webster wrote in 1787, “Before any standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops”. It would seem that not only does that cut against the argument that our Rights extend to modern sporting rifles, but that the normal citizen should have access to actual “weapons of war” as well.
Finally, the argument that seems most popular in today’s social climate is, “The Constitution is outdated. The 2nd Amendment is a relic of a more barbaric and violent time. It should be repealed”. With the Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic it seems that this idea has institutional backing. It doesn’t outright call for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment but does everything short of it to make the Amendment effectively null. Everything from outright gun bans and “buybacks” (fancy words for forcible confiscation) to changing the laws that protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits for the misuse of their products.
Also included is a limit to the number of firearms and ammunition a free individual is permitted to buy on a monthly basis and new definitions used to declare a person unfit for ownership of a firearm such as “mental reasons” and if they are charged with a “hate crime”. Both incredibly subjective terms that allow for plenty of federal interpretation. They also want to completely ban all online sales of guns and ammo and completely eliminate private sales between law abiding citizens. It seems there is a very wide chasm between Thomas Jefferson’s, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms” and Samuel Adams’ “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms” to the, “Hell yes we’re going to take your AR-15” of Beto O’Rourke and, “Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress a hundred days to their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. If they fail to do it, then I will take executive action” of now-Vice President Kamala Harris.
To be so fundamentally opposed to the 2nd Amendment is to be opposed to the concept of individual liberty and personal freedom and responsibility that the entire American system is founded on. To say that the average American is too careless or dangerous to be trusted with the responsibility of firearms ownership is to also say that he or she is also too careless to be trusted with the responsibility of free speech. Or the responsibility of freedom itself.
William Pitt said to the House of Commons in 1783, “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” For this new administration it would seem that’s exactly what they would have us be. They believe that their position in government gives them authority over the lives of the citizens and their Rights. However, the Founders knew that Rights presuppose government. Government can’t give you Rights, all they can do is attempt to take them away. And that’s exactly what they plan to do. Unfortunately for them that “spirit of resistance” that Jefferson spoke so highly of is still alive and well in many of the citizens of this great nation.
This Independence Day remember the legacy that we all carry and the great men who were our forbears. It is our duty to uphold the great and powerful ideals that were ratified by the Constitution. Together we will defeat the enemies of freedom and liberty. Happy 4th!