Unless you have had your head in the sand for the last few months, you know that 2016 is an election year, and this is perhaps the most competitive and heated election we have experienced in many years. Like him or not, it seems apparent to me and many others that President Obama has ignited some of the most divisive rhetoric and heated political arguments in recent history.
One thing Americans have always seemed to do is accept each others’ differences. However, a major rift in ideals has been exposed (and perpetuated), the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime. And yes, it is sad. Any progress seems to have been erased through this administration.
The one argument that I fear most is the desire of many Americans to do away with, or limit, the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Changing anything in the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, is very dangerous to our ideals, traditions, principles, and subsequently to our very way of life. However, most importantly, it threatens the freedoms that so many Americans cherish and have subsequently fought and died for.
Having grown up in small towns in rural areas, primarily in the south, I learned to target shoot at an early age. My father made sure I knew how to handle a firearm. He went even further to make sure that I understood the potential destruction that a firearm would inflict upon tin cans, animals, and humans alike. Of course, we did not shoot any humans, but after witnessing the destruction that a firearm might inflict upon animals (via hunting) and various non-living targets, I was very clear.
Firearms were no more than just another inanimate object laying around the house. Without a user, they were not inherently dangerous, but they were to be respected. A firearm was a tool, a source of protection, or a means to secure food. Likewise, target shooting was a skill that could be learned and enjoyed by girls and boys alike, with true equality. Target shooting was good, clean fun. No drugs, profanity, alcohol, or immorality was involved in the sport. It taught us responsibility, respect, discipline, and maturity. As a child, I did not view guns as foreign, evil, dangerous, or a mystery. As I said, they were merely an inanimate object like many others, albeit they were not by any means a toy.
Many Americans, in fact I would venture to say that “most” Americans, when speaking on behalf of or in favor of the 2nd Amendment, seem to tout the virtues of personal protection. However, I would argue they are getting it all wrong.
While it is true that the gun can be used for personal protection, the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment has very little if anything at all to do with personal protection. Our forefathers all carried a firearm. Firearms were part of their everyday life. They were used to procure food and even in some cases to settle disputes. (Do you remember Alexander Hamilton?)
Were they used in violent crimes? Sure! Train Robbers, bank robbers, horse thieves, cattle rustlers, bar fights, murders, and other similar criminal activities were evil deeds performed usually with a firearm at the ready. The only thing separating the winners from the losers were their firearms skills and perhaps the element of surprise.
But our forefathers weren’t concerned with all of that when they entered the 2nd Amendment into the Bill of Rights. They had a much more important function in mind– the absolute guarantee of ALL of our other God-given rights. So, the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with making us safer or protecting us from each other. The 2nd Amendment was written into the Constitution as means to insure all of our other rights against a tyrannical government. Quite a lot of people are afraid to say this these days, but this is your history, as an American citizen.
The 2nd Amendment was, for lack of a better phrase, “Balance of Force”. An armed citizenry would be better able to exercise control over its government, and the forefathers warned us about the temptations of power in government. I believe Thomas Jefferson said it best in several quotations:
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistence. Let them take arms.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787
“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824
As a bonus, here is a quote from Mr. Jefferson’s book regarding personal protection:
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776
And this quote seems quite ominous:
“Before a 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.” – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
Those men were very wise and in modern words, they saw the “Big Picture”. I would encourage all to think gun control through to its very end.
If our government becomes so intrusive as to test people before they can own/operate a firearm, then what is to stop them from refusing your right to own/operate a firearm or to stop them from taking your firearms for no reason other than to place a subjective label on you (or me) that we are too dangerous in our thinking to own or operate a firearm? Thus leaving us defenseless against our own government. Also, if our government knows who owns a firearm, they know where they are and precisely where then to go to confiscate every firearm in the country.
With an unarmed citizenry, what is to stop your government from taking ALL of your God-given rights and freedoms? Do you truly believe in man’s ability to resist the temptation of complete power and control over others? We are human beings, and that ugly tendency resides in most of us. Very few men can resist the temptation to rule. It is part of our DNA to favor one group over another, or favor our own family over another, or favor girls over boys, or boys over girls, or looks over brains, or brains over looks, or _____________(insert category here) over another, or those who can or will do something for us over those who cannot or will not. You see this behavior in businesses, churches, schools, politics, the playground, and every other facet of our lives.
This is not a negative view; it is a realistic one. After all, that very tendency is also what makes humans better able to dominate the world we live in.
So what is to stop your government from favoring one group over another? Perhaps it’s a group you are not affiliated with or part of. I will tell you. It’s the threat of expulsion. Though we can and do vote for our preferences, the voting privilege could be taken away very easily, if the public had no means of facilitating that very expulsion. It was intended that Individual Rights would (and rightfully should) always trump the rights of groups of people. Are you certain that your group will always be in a favorable position? The winds of change do blow with much force in different directions, and I might add, quite often.
Those in positions of power will always be tempted to abuse their power. Some of the worst offenders that come to mind are Hitler, Stalin, Ivan the Terrible, Caligula, Mengele, Kim Jong-Il, and his progeny– Kim Jong-Un. Roman emperors were experts at domestic terrorism and abuse of power. Why were they so successful with their brand of tyranny? Because they ruled people who had no realistic way of fighting back to defend themselves.
Our government is far too intrusive in our lives already. I do not want them poking around in my bank account, my blood, my bedroom, my family, my workplace, my gun vault, my mind, or my children’s minds. Those who believe the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with those things are short-sited and miss the point of the 2nd Amendment. It would be prudent to read a little history about the 2nd Amendment, its purpose, and also on the history of dictatorships, tyrants, and how they initially gained and subsequently retained control of the populace.
It is my belief that the 2nd Amendment is our last hope of remaining a free society, because “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This, my friends, is the sole purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and we need to start saying that out loud.
Suggested Reading: The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
Thanks for reading!