The RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) is a heated debate today. Which side are you on?
I will ask a question requiring critical thought at the end regarding this. Be prepared.
Before we begin, let us ask ourselves, "Why is there a Second Amendment in the first place? What and why is it there?"
In order to answer that, we must go and take a look at history. Just about any American child knows that on July 4th, 1776, the American Continental Congress drafted a , to declare the American Colonies separate from British rule. Please follow the link to it and refresh yourself of it. Go ahead, I'll be here when you're done.
Read it? Good. Now, just because the Colonies said "We're through with you, Britain!" doesn't mean that George III gave up right there. No, what ensued was 1,933 days of fighting before Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown and ended the struggle. A new nation was born.
And we all know that George Washington was elected President at that time, and everyone was happy, right? Nope. We had another constitution before our present Constitution, known as the . The Articles were created in 1777, ratified in 1781 and was replaced by our present Constitution in 1789. The Bill of Rights was proposed as Amendments to the Constitution in 1789 and added in 1791.
Now that we know the book learning, there is something else that is very important to know and understand: Context. You can read about the deeper meaning and intent of the Constitution in another of my articles, coming soon.
Why did our Founding Fathers add the Bill of Rights, specifically the Second Amendment to the Constitution? Remember that the Constitution defines and limits the powers of the federal government. The Founding Fathers believed that while the Constitution was pretty clear on everything they could think of, it did not specifically include limitations of the government on individual rights. Look at what they had been through. They had been oppressed for years by George III, and had fought a war to gain their independence and ability to self-govern. These men were determined that all of their succeeding generations should never have to experience what they were forced to undergo.
Just to make this clear, only one-third of the Colonial population actually took up arms against British Rule. One-third of the population was neutral, and the last third were still loyal to the Crown and were known as "Tories."
There were two basic types of rebels. You had the Regular Army, who were trained, disciplined and were usually paid for their efforts. The other type was the Minutemen, or militia. They were called Minutemen because they could be "ready to fight in a minute." They kept their musket, powder horn and bag of musket balls hanging from their mantle, ready to fight whatever or whoever threatened the household.
The militia were generally private armies, usually financed by well-to-do individuals or communities. It was also legal, and not unknown in those times, to have private ownership of cannon, otherwise known as artillery. Try buying an operational 105mm Howitzer today and see how far you get. The militia were as well armed as the regular soldiers they fought beside and against. The citizen had the current state of the art military equipment.
As a result, when the Constitution was drafted, the Founding Fathers clearly stated that the power and authority of the government came from the consent of the governed. They also recognized that people had inherent rights that came from their Creator and should not be curtailed by government. These men knew without a doubt that governments, without appropriate checks and balances, would become oppressive towards the People, if the People did not have the ability to actively resist the oppression. They wanted to make sure that the Citizens have the ability to band together and fight against an oppressive government.
The Second Amendment, therefore, is not about "Sporting," or "Hunting." It is about having the ability to tell the government, "No." Here are the twenty-seven words of the Second 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."
Let’s take a look at that Amendment, and break it down so we can put it together in the way the Founding Fathers intended.
"A well-regulated militia" - When the Founding Fathers wrote the term "well-regulated," they meant "disciplined." As in being able to use their arms effectively. What does the term "militia" mean? George Mason said this: "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."
"...being necessary to the security of a free state..." Our Founding Fathers set us on a path unheard of in their time. A path where the concept was that the government was subservient to the People, not the other way around. The SA stands as a bulwark against the state becoming oppressive towards the people.
"...the right of the people to keep and bear arms..." The term "the people" appears in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments. In each of these, the Founding Fathers meant the individual free person. For those who push for gun control, they try to twist the meaning in the SA to mean the National Guard. I don't think the Founding Fathers had the NG in mind, as it wasn't created until over a hundred years after the Constitution was created.
"...shall not be infringed." I think this is pretty clear. It means any law that curtails this Right is unconstitutional on its face. Granted, there can be "reasonable" restrictions. Currently, if you have a Felony conviction or if you have been committed against your will to a mental institution among other things, you are prohibited from owning a firearm. The current laws are not stopping criminals from possessing firearms, so why would more laws, unenforced as the current ones are, change their minds? Laws affect only those who intend on following them. Criminals disobey laws, that's why they're criminals!
Our local and state governments aren't too helpful either, because they don't report 20% of felony convictions to the national database that gun dealers use to determine if a buyer is eligible to purchase a firearm. If there is no record of a felony in the NICS, there is no reason to deny a purchase.
A lot of opponents to the SA have the argument of, "Our Founding Fathers could not have foreseen of semi-automatic weapons with 30 round magazines." I only have to point to the First Amendment, when state-of-the-art printing technology was the Gutenberg printing press which was already over 300 years old by that time. True, the Founding Fathers also had no conception of semi-automatic firearms. Then again, they had no concept of the modern printing press, the computer, or the Internet. We see the modern high-speed printing press, the computer and the Internet as logical technological evolution of the Gutenberg printing press and as a result we extend protections of the First Amendment to these things. I see no reason that we cannot extend the same standards to modern firearms. Remember, the ultimate intent of the SA was that the citizen should be as well armed as an individual infantry soldier.
Another strawman argument is "firearms are designed to kill." That is incorrect. Firearms are designed to forcibly eject a projectile at high speed from the muzzle of the barrel in a consistent manner, so the projectile follows a predictable ballistic path. What the person wielding the firearm decides to do with the projectile is up to the person. It is the heart and mind of the person wielding the firearm that kills. The firearm is only the instrument.
In America over 99.9% of firearms are used for lawful purposes. Granted, guns were used in 8,875 homicides in the U.S. in 2010. Gun control advocates like to "enhance" this number by throwing suicides and accidental shootings into that total. I want to say for the record that people who are intent on killing themselves, they will find a way, even if firearms are outlawed. Accidental shootings comprise less than 2% of that total number of homicides, suicides and accidental deaths.
What gun control advocates don't talk about are the Defensive Gun Uses, or DGU's. Depending on what study you use, the number varies, but it shows an average of about 1 million DGUs a year. In over 90% of those DGU's, all the prospective victim had to do was show the firearm. You never hear about it in the news or the police blotter because nothing happened. The usual scenario is, a criminal decided a citizen was a good target to rob, rape, or whatever, all the way up until the citizen notices they are being sized up and displays their firearm. At that point, the criminal decides there are other citizens who would be easier to pick on, and leaves the armed citizen alone.
Are you comfortable with a million additional crimes per year if the SA is abolished? Because if you disarm citizens, you haven’t disarmed criminals. The criminals won’t register their firearms, and won’t turn them in when the government calls for them. Imagine well over an additional 1 million crimes a year when the criminals know they won’t get shot by their victims.
If the government did manage to confiscate the criminals’ firearms as well, they will just come at you in groups and armed with something else. Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or Steven Segal by themselves probably couldn't stand up to five guys armed with axe handles, what makes you think you can, unless you have a firearm?
As far as banning certain type of firearms, remember it was the intent of the Founding Fathers that the citizen be as well-equipped as the soldier.
Final thought. Critical thinking time. The big test question. Let's just say, as a mental exercise, the President, Congress and three-fourths of the states pass an Amendment that gets rid of the Second Amendment. Gone. Kaput. Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in. Private ownership of any kind of firearms is outlawed from now on. The American populace is disarmed. Now what?
With a disarmed People, what stops the government at that point from outlawing free speech? From getting rid of the Fourth Amendment? Or just getting rid of the Constitution entirely, replacing it with a dictatorship? What are you going to do if that happens? Spit at them? You assemble with your fellow citizens to protest and are gunned down by the government. Slaughtered to a person. Don't think it can't happen here. It has happened too many times in history for it not to happen again.
So the next time you want to surrender a right, think about how you might need it in the future. It is so much better to have and not need, than to need and not have. You never think about the oxygen in the air you breathe until it is gone.