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On the Vital Importance of the Second Amendment

Conor Brennan, Staff Writer

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Before we begin, I would like to confirm my biases towards guns. I don’t have any bias for them. I don’t own one. I don’t hunt; I don’t terribly enjoy shooting sports either.

Since the beginning of the gun-control movement, there have been few Constitutional issues over which unrest has arisen in such great amounts as the Second Amendment. This unrest has arisen for a variety of reasons, but most often because of gun violence in urban neighborhoods in addition to deaths of influential persons, including John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and John Lennon, in addition to the more recent Sandy Hook and Micheal Brown shootings. As more people are killed by firearms, the controversy grows larger over the right to own them. As far as legislation is concerned, the urban violence is a direct result of the right to own arms, and puts out gun control legislation accordingly.

There’s a lot wrong with this, but to begin, some context on the Second Amendment.

America has some pretty obvious roots in relation to the ownership of firearms. Whether we are using them to purge natives, Brits, or any other group who we decide to declare war on, firearms make us what we are today and have landed the world where it is today. However, this does not accurately show America’s relationship with the firearm in full context. In addition to being offensive, the firearm has always been a defensive mechanism for Americans, especially when they are far removed from their governing body. To understand the full relation of Americans with guns, one only needs to read old documents from the colonies, stating, ““That all persons that are above the age of sixteene yeares, except magistrates and church officers, shall beare arms…; and every male person with this jurisdiction, above the said age, shall have in continuall readines, a good muskitt or other gunn, fitt for service, and allowed by the clark of the band…” And not only were the colonists required to own a gun- they had to carry it, as stated, “Whereas it is obsearved that the late Order for on[e] in a Family to bring his Arms to the meeting house every Sabboth and lecture day, hath not bine attended by divers persons,” to every Mass and to Government meetings to ensure they remained safe from the natives. To build on this, there was a fine for not bringing a firearm to these meetings.

Needless to say, describing early America’s relationship with guns as friendly would be an understatement- it’s familial and cordial. The colonists invited them into their places of worship (although perhaps as a necessary evil) because of their vital importance to safety.

And about 100 years later, these firearms would be used to fight for our freedom.

So it’s quite easy to see why the founding fathers put the right to own and carry firearms in the constitution. But the history of firearms also helps clarify what the fathers meant to say when writing this Amendment. Let’s focus in on the most controversial part of this Amendment-

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.”

“A well regulated militia…”

Today, the gun control movement cites this as the constitutional backbone of their ideology- that the army is our “militia,” that the populace no longer needs to have its right to arms because there is a well regulated militia- the biggest “militia” in the world.

This is not the meaning of this line. There are two specific reasons this is not what the fathers intended to say.

The first is obvious. When the colonies began the American Revolution, the first fights were civilian militias fighting against the state army of the British. The emphasis here is on civilian- this was not a professional, state army. These were people fighting against an oppressive regime.

Now, pair that with Jefferson having said that, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical”

How can a populace have any power in relation to the government when they have nothing in order to enforce its demands? And how would the people fight back against an oppressive domestic governing body without any firearms?

The answer to both of these questions is that the people have no power without firearms. The government can abuse its own people only when they have no mechanism to defend themselves.

The second reason that the militia isn’t the same as the army requires a bit more digging.

James Madison, George Mason, Patrick Henry and Alexander Hamilton all had a consensus on what the role of the militia was. And these people were all instrumental in constructing the Constitution. Here are a few quotes from these men:

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials”

“To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them” -George Mason, Notable Virginian Representative at Constitutional Convention

“Little more can be reasonably aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed …” -Alexander Hamilton, who called for the first Colonial Congress in 1774

“[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation… (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” -James Madison, “Father of the Constitution,”

“The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun,” -Patrick Henry, author of the “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death” speech

All of these quotes speak for themselves, and the importance of each of these individuals is beyond recognition in regards to the formation of a stable America, whether it be because of their contributions to the government after the revolution or to the cause of the revolution itself.

So, it’s pretty clear that the founding fathers were in favor of an armed populace, whether it be to defend against those wishing to harm Americans or for Americans to break away from an oppressive regime, whether it be domestic or otherwise.

Now that there is an understanding made of what the Constitution says about firearms and who many own them, we can transition into what is the law in regards to firearms, and how attempts at gun control are not only unconstitutional but authoritarian in nature. For example, just a few months ago California attempted to force firearm owners to hand in all large-capacity ammunition containers or face fines and jail time, simply for owning an essential part of any so-called “assault rifles.”

So, what needs to be done to rescind these unconstitutional acts? There are a few steps that can be taken:

  • Repeal all federal firearms legislation, starting with the 1968 Federal Firearms Act
  • Annul all executive orders pertaining to firearm control, and prohibit any future orders to prohibit firearms
  • Remove all firearm-free zones in places such as military bases and schools

There is rationale behind each one of these. The first two are simply unconstitutional. In relation to the firearm-free zones, if a criminal decided to attack a school tomorrow a firearm-free zone will do nothing to stop them, and the students and staff would not have any defense against the aggressor.

However, I believe there are a few limitations that could be set to appease people on both sides of the political spectrum which, while unconstitutional, aren’t entirely ridiculous:

  • Prohibit offenders of violent crimes (murder, assault, armed battery) from owning a gun
  • Prohibit people with recorded and diagnosed mental disorders from procuring a firearm

Outside of those groups, there is no reason to prohibit a firearm. Criminals don’t care about gun control laws- they’re criminals. There’s a reason why Illinois’ infamously strict gun regulations are ineffective, and it’s quite obvious that they are so when looking at murder statistics in Chicago alone.

Once you take firearms from the law abiding citizens, the only individuals who own firearms are the police, the military, and criminals. If a criminal obtains a firearm and decides to commit a crime, they would have no fear- nobody would own firearms. The populace loses its only way to protect itself against criminals. The police can’t predict all the crimes that will happen, and will only be able to help after the crime has been committed. The government will have supreme control over the people if they are prohibited from owning firearms- without them, there’s nothing for the people to exert any force to resist, and the power of words is quickly crushed in a totalitarian state. Additionally, if this Amendment is disregarded, that allows for the government to decide to scrap other parts of the Bill of Rights. Mass control of firearms is ineffective, unconstitutional and antithetical to Americans, their government and their values, and as such should be prohibited.

 

Photo taken from: https://portlandflag.org/tag/gadsden-flag/ 

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On the Vital Importance of the Second Amendment