MUST READ: The Horrors Associated with Guns pt. II
December 4, 2012 in Guns
Imagine a pollster walking down the street surveying the general public. He asks the people if they like the Declaration of Independence, support the Constitution, and believe in freedom. It would be very surprising to most people if the polls said anything less than 95% of the respondents saying they like the Declaration of Independence, support the Constitution, and believe in freedom. However, if one actually reads the Constitution, for example, and compares it to the current laws we have, one might see that we have moved far away as a society from what our founding fathers wanted.
Our founding fathers grew up in an America that was largely oppressed. The colonists were treated as second-class citizens. Unfair taxes were levied. The colonies’ redress of grievances to the British government was hindered and ignored. They were left with no alternative but some kind of revolt. The British, seeing the inevitable, sent troops on April 19th, 1775 to confiscate the stockpile of weapons that the American rebels had in the Boston area. The Americans, seeing the weapons as the last line of defense against the king’s tyranny, would not allow the British to do this. Thus began the battles of Lexington and Concord, more than a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
When our founding fathers were laying the framework for the Constitution in the 1780s, they kept in mind the problems that the colonists had with the British oppressors for the previous hundred and fifty years. They wrote the Constitution in a manner that would restrict and limit government so that tyranny could never hijack the states. A series of checks and balances were placed on the three branches of federal government to prevent a dictator or oligarchy from controlling the people. With the writing and ratification of the Tenth Amendment, the individual states were given the power to legislate as they pleased in a vastly independent way. The rule of law, rather than the rule of a king or the rule of a mob, was set in place though decentralized authority of the states by the Constitution and its first ten amendments.
James Madison, as well as others at the Constitutional Convention, decided that the specific rights of the people should be spelled out in a way that could not be misinterpreted or misconstrued to allow tyranny to take control. In this, he created the Bill of Rights. These amendments guaranteed many freedoms, such as free speech, freedom of religion, freedom to redress grievances to government, freedom to protest, freedom of the press, freedom from search and seizure, right to trial by jury of peers, and the right to keep and bear arms. These many rights were put in place to maintain freedom for the both the individuals and society in general. What is interesting is 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 (USA Bill of Rights).
What can be confusing to some is that the Second Amendment is the only amendment that guarantees the right of the people to own an item. You cannot physically hold free speech, but you can hold a firearm. Why this right? Why would the framers specifically include this right, but not any other rights to own certain items? The people weren’t given the right to own property, the right to farm for self-sufficiency, or any other right to own something.
The Second Amendment is not about hunting, recreation, or even self-defense per se. The Second Amendment is designed to give the people the ability to violently overthrow a corrupt government if one should gain power. We have the Second Amendment to allow a second Lexington and Concord if necessary. This is a radical idea to many Americans who think that corrupt government is a concept only experienced overseas in third-world nations. The people that think this are vastly unaware of history and the path that all empires take. These people ignore Operation Northwoods, the 1962 U.S. Army plan to hijack planes and fly them into skyscrapers in New York City to blame on Cuba (USA Department of Defense). These people ignore Operation Ajax, the successful 1953 operation by the CIA to overthrow the democratically-elected prime minister of Iran in favor of a CIA-controlled dictator (USA Central Intelligence Agency). These people ignore COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal program to infiltrate, discredit, spy on, and disrupt peaceful political organizations throughout the U.S. from 1956 though 1971 (USA Federal Bureau of Investigation). Tyranny can happen and is happening in our country as this is being written. The First Amendment was written to allow an ideological and peaceful overthrowing or restructuring of a corrupt government. The Second Amendment was written to allow a violent overthrowing.
If one reads the text of the Second Amendment, that intent is obvious. Specifically, it mentions a well-regulated militia as being necessary to maintain a free state. A militia, by definition, is a decentralized army composed of normal citizenry (Militia).The process of maintaining a free state is threefold. Firstly, by allowing the citizenry to have a method to repel foreign invasion. It is well-known that one of the main reasons that the Japanese never mounted a ground invasion of the U.S. in World War II was because they were well aware and fearful of the armed populous. Secondly, to allow for personal defense from criminals, of course. Lastly, to metaphorically have a gun to hold to the head of our government to ensure that the Constitution is abided by.
The Second Amendment goes on to declare that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. “Arms” can be defined as any item or equipment designed to be used for combat (Arms). This would include not only firearms, but also armor, explosives, armored vehicles, swords, and knives. To “keep and bear arms” means simply means to own and carry arms. This means that anyone, under the Constitution, can legally carry any arm they wish anywhere they want and build up a stockpile of any arm they want for any reason. Some proponents of gun control insist that the Second Amendment is essentially referring only to a government-controlled military and not the private citizens. However, this theory is disproven by James Madison’s Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution in the Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789. In it, he states very clearly:
As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms (Original Intent).
If this clear and completely unambiguous statement wasn’t evidence enough for the framers’ true intentions, the same incontrovertible meaning is explained in the Federalist Papers. Specifically, in Articles 29 and 46, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison outline the same ideas elaborated above; that it is the people’s right to keep and bear arms for the maintenance of freedom and discouraging of tyranny (Hamilton) (Madison).
The final part of the Second Amendment is perhaps the most important part of the language. The last four words serve as the legal concrete on which the entire amendment stands. It reads “shall not be infringed.” These words mean exactly what they say. The right of the people to own and carry firearms shall not be infringed. Put simply, if any law exists that prohibits one from carrying a firearm in a certain area, that law infringes on the right to bear arms. If a certain law exists that prohibits one from owning a certain type of firearm, the right to keep arms has been infringed upon. This is clear to anyone who can comprehend English. If legislation restricts firearms to certain places or certain types, the right to keep and bear arms is clearly being infringed upon. Now, the Constitution is the highest law of the land. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution guarantees this (USA Constitution). As an amendment to the Constitution, the Second Amendment functions as a part of the Constitution. Marbury v. Madison, one of the Supreme Court’s most famous and important landmark cases, reiterated and confirmed the Constitutions supremacy by declaring that, “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution, are null and void” (Marbury). Between the Supremacy Clause and the decision in Marbury v. Madison, it is clear that any law that infringes upon the right to keep and bear arms in any way is null and void. All it takes is one informed judge, prosecutor, or jury member to allow an alleged violator of a gun law to go free.
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For many reasons that have previously been spelled out, a world without guns is a much scarier place than a world where everyone has one and is trained to use it. That is one of the most important parts of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: the need for a “well-regulated” armed populous. “Well-regulated,” in this context, does not mean “heavily restricted” or even “reasonably restricted.” It means that we, as a society, need to be trained and informed in the operation of firearms for defense of ourselves and the state. Part of being well-regulated, in the opinion of this researcher and our founding fathers, is ensuring that a vastly ignorant public understands the importance of gun ownership, as well as the removal of gun control legislation and extrajudicial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulations.
From the perspective of an informed person, the horrors associated with guns are not the guns themselves. Rather, the horrors are the unconstitutional, crime-provoking restrictions that are placed on firearms and ammunition. When reading the Second Amendment to the highest law of the land in our great republic, it often confuses me: how much clearer could the words “Shall not be infringed” be?
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