THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 166, March 25, 2002
In Defense of the Second Amendment
by Russell D. Longcore
Special to TLE
Todayís subject is gun control. The issue has thankfully dropped from the radar screen in the aftermath of September 11th. However, those who would outlaw gun ownership are undaunted and patient. They know that another school shooting or mass murder will eventually occur in the United States, and that event will propel this issue back onto the front pages and lead stories in the news media. So, let us examine the issue of gun control in light of history and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says:
"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 consider the definition of the word "arms".
The Second Amendment does not define the word "arms" but leaves it open to definition and expansion in the future. "Arms" were not only firearms, but any weapon that could be used to defend oneís self or property. Why then do the anti-gun advocates only single out firearms as the focus of their desire to disarm Americans? Why not swords, or knives, or sharpened sticks?
Next, letís look at the word "infringe". The Websterís Dictionary defines "infringe" in two ways pertinent to this discussion; from the Latin "infrangere":(1)"to break; to violate or go beyond the limits of: (2) to encroach upon." In order to further explain the Second Amendment, the definition of the word "right" must also be considered, and is: "something due to one by law, custom or nature." The "right" is the thing not to be infringed by government. In the Declaration of Independence, the author speaks of mankind being "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." The definitions above speak directly to rights endowed to humans by natural law, and to the nature of man as a created being subject to Godís authority. These rights were among those enumerated as "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Therefore, the Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms is one that is endowed by our Creator under natural law and shall not be broken, violated or encroached upon. It validates the concept of personal property ownership, in this case oneís own person, and the principle of self-defense.
Many gun control advocates support, and have been successful in the criminalization of the ownership of certain automatic and semi- automatic weapons, the so-called "assault weapons". They now seek to restrict the ownership of nearly all firearms by private citizens. Yet the issue of advancing technology was not an issue that the framers of the Constitution considered worthy of mention. These were learned men, and were well aware of the technological improvements that were made in weaponry just in their lifetimes. They knew world history and knew that guns and gunpowder were relative newcomers to the art of war.
But please consider: at the time of the Revolutionary War, did not the Continental armies possess the same technology of armaments as the Redcoats? Yes.
Hadnít the colonial citizens owned and used firearms since the early 1600s? Yes!
Did the English soldiers have cartridges for their rifles while the Colonials had only musket and ball? No. Musket and ball was the leading technology of the day.
Did only the King have the ability to build ships, forge cannon and cannonball? No. John Paul Jones was a privateer, which is basically a government-sponsored pirate, preying on English ships. His first wartime command was aboard the ship Providence, owned by New England businessman John Brown.
Both of the combatants in the Revolutionary War had the same technology in armaments. The Continental armies consisted of fighting citizens, taking up their rifles and pistols, forging cannon and going to war against superior numbers in the British army and navy, but not against superior weapons.
Therefore, when it came time for the framers of the Constitution to consider the Amendments, they did not even mention the possibility that the private citizen should be prevented from owning the same weapons as the military. Could it be that they considered the threat of government tyranny greater than that of citizens owning military weapons?
One of the beauties of the Constitution is its simplicity. The Second Amendment is written with no ambiguity in clear, simple words. Words have meaning. For decades now, those who would subjugate our citizens with Federal and State tyranny have fought to redefine the words of the Second Amendment. They have been successful in passing unconstitutional laws that do in fact infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms. The framers understood that with freedom comes responsibility, and that the ideas and acts of men have consequences. Yet they entrusted to future generations this simple Amendment. They possessed the foreknowledge that this newly formed government would have the same potential as governments throughout history to decline toward tyranny and totalitarianism. This Amendment, along with the other original Amendments, were their lasting contribution to the establishment of what would become the mightiest nation in the history of mankind. They planted good seed in fertile ground, and God brought forth a nation from that seed as the people of that nation bowed their knees to His authority over them. Whether we remain great will be determined by how many of our knees remain bowed to Him.
Copyright 2002, by Russell D. Longcore
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