Friday, December 28, 2012

The Second Amendment and the Coming Gun Ban

I have been watching the political haranguing about the various massacres committed by crazy people that seem to occur on a regular basis in the gun-free zones of our country -- places where self-defense is not allowed.

I see politicians posturing for assault weapon bans, and magazine capacity bans. They say things like "no one needs a gun like this for hunting," and, "no one should have these weapons of war in their home," and, "we need to get these mass-murdering guns off our streets."

A ban is likely coming. Soon.

(click image for very large version)

On December 22, 2012, at a gun show, I saw huge prices for AR-15's, ammunition, and large-capacity magazines -- between two and five times what the same items cost only a few weeks ago -- and even with those prices, everything available was sold out in a few hours. It is being reported that a gun retailer (Brownell's) sold a typical three years' worth of AR-15 magazines in the last week. Background checks that usually take less than an hour, are taking up to two weeks because of the backlog caused by so many guns being purchased.

The push for bans and restrictions show that these politicians, and indeed most of our citizens, have no understanding of our history, and no concept of the principles that our country was founded on.

The Second Amendment has never been about the right to hunt. The Founders didn't care about hunting. They cared about Liberty. They wanted to make sure that the power of the gun resided not in the government, but in the people. They wanted to make sure that if the government were to grow large and oppressive, the people would have the power to overthrow it.

They wanted the government to be small and weak, and the people strong.

Thus the Second Amendment is purely about our right to own and carry military arms; the kind of arms that an individual soldier would carry; the kind that gives the people the power to change the government by force, if necessary.

Note that the Second Amendment doesn't grant this right.  Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, it affirms the pre-existing, inherent right that we have simply by being human. The Founders believed that all men were "endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Thus no government has any power whatsoever to take our rights away. We have our rights forever, regardless of what kings, or presidents, or government agencies, or Congress says. Our rights are forever beyond even the power of democratic majorities.

This means that even if the Second Amendment were to be removed from the Constitution, we would still have our inherent unalienable right to own military guns.

It is important to remember that gun confiscations and gun restrictions were the match that lit the American Revolutionary War. The "Shot Heard Round the World" on April 19th, 1775, was the response of the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts to what was in essence a British SWAT team coming to get their military guns, ammunition, and cannons.

The core of the Second Amendment is about the right of free people to respond to exactly that kind of oppressive government action.

Based on the writings of Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Washington, and many other Founders, it is clear that they would have considered any ban on citizen ownership of the soldier's standard military arm to be a point of no return. The right to keep and bear military arms is the foundational right that protects all other rights. By abrogating that right, the government eliminates the only true physical check on its power.

Military arms in the hands of the people form the greatest barrier to the kinds of utopian changes to our culture that some of our servants in Washington want to make.

And that is why they take every opportunity to attempt to ban such guns.


Some supporting quotes:

"The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals... It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." -- Albert Gallatin, Oct 7, 1789

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it." -- Abraham Lincoln, April 4, 1861

"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves ... and include all men capable of bearing arms." -- Senator Richard Henry Lee, 1788, on the meaning of "militia" in the Second Amendment

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. 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." -- Cesare Beccaria, as quoted by Thomas Jefferson in his Commonplace Book

"To disarm the people... was the best and most effectual way to enslave them." -- George Mason, speech of June 14, 1788

"Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. [...] the right of the citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible." -- Hubert H. Humphrey, 1960

" 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... What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure. -- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith (November 13, 1787)

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better-- This is a most valuable, -- a most sacred right -- a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world..."
     -- Abraham Lincoln, 1848

"One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms."-- Constitutional scholar Joseph Story, 1840

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." -- Patrick Henry, speech of June 5, 1788

"The great object is, that every man be armed. [...] Every one who is able may have a gun." -- Patrick Henry, speech of June 14, 1788

"The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner." -- Report of the Subcommittee On The Constitution of the Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, second session (February, 1982), SuDoc# Y4.J 89/2: Ar 5/5

"As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives [only] moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion to your walks." -- Thomas Jefferson to his 15-year-old nephew Peter Carr, 1785.  Boyd, Julian P., Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, et al, eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-. 33 vols.

Citizens Repel the British SWAT team at Concord, 1775
click for wallpaper-sized version


1 comment:

  1. Very well written, Scott! You hit many nails squarely on their heads!