My Thoughts on the Second Amendment: Why the Left Gets It Wrong

Preamble of the Constitution

The Second Amendment to the Constitution:

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.

For modern day liberals, this amendment seems to be the most perplexing because its premise is a real purpose that goes beyond liberal thinking.  When the founding fathers first proposed it, they recognized the necessity of a citizenry to be able to defend itself from tyrants and rogue men.  To not be able to defend oneself, the people are subjected to rule where the very freedoms we enjoy are lost.

George Mason put it this way:

“That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” – Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776

It is clear in the above statement that the power of the people being armed is a necessity to maintain a free state.  History has shown that tyrants throughout time abhor an armed society, and removing arms from its citizens makes it far easier to implement suppression and control of the people.

Liberals seem to balk, if not outright dismiss the past, because they claim the need for average people to have a gun is no longer necessary; that we have evolved to a more civilized society and to continue to evolve, we must remove the instruments of death from the citizenry. Life is far different than it was at the time of our forefathers.

To that extent, Liberals claim, incorrectly, the first clause of the amendment allows us regulate guns:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State,

To the left, militia means a standing Army. In fact, from a liberal standpoint, the only persons that should have a weapon are the police and the military.  These are the entities that are now charged with defending liberty.  Even so, they add to this argument that, back in the day, the forefathers could not conceive of how society has changed.  We are no longer a rural country of people needing muskets to hunt for food everyday and the hardships of toiling to survive.

This idea is far and away a product of the leftist progressive narrative that guns in the hands of people are bad.  Our country has transformed so that we are no longer in need of feeding ourselves; that we have evolved to a greater society, more intellectual and caring.  And unless you are in the government, or a member of the military or police force, there is no need for the average citizen to have one.  If you take the guns away from the people, then there won’t be gun violence and citizens will feel safe – a simplistic and naive, yet untrue, point of view.

Indeed, it has become the de facto coup de grace argument used by the left to target the NRA and other gun rights groups. And for conservatives, this issue is one of significant national importance.  The underlying premise to the leftist argument is that the safety of the public is paramount, evidenced by the horrific killing sprees that have garnered national attention.  Each time one of these tragedies occur, the left conflates the insane actions and argues that guns are the reason, and had they not been in the hands of these crazed maniacs, these deaths could have been avoided.  Interesting supposition since we have no idea if these crazed people would not have committed their acts anyway.  Who is to say they couldn’t have easily perpetrated the same crimes by using different means?

Part of the strategy is to move the argument to the needs of society, which is another way to let the government to dictate what is good for society.  Elected officials are always good about having the government do “good things.” In some cases, the government can do good, but whatever actions the legislatures enact should be limited in authority and not be construed to have greater power than it needs for what is intended.  For example, the need to provide clean water is a power the Government has assumed to ensure that all citizens have safe drinking water.  That power should extend only to the ability of the government to regulate the delivery of water, and not extend to capturing water supplies and enforcing regulations on areas where water consumption for the public may not be intended.

Even as we debate the issues of gun safety and gun regulation, it is important to recognize what the founding fathers may have said about guns and their purpose, and for Thomas Jefferson, this quote is particularly clairvoyant:

“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. Laws that forbid the carrying of arms laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they act rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Quoting Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment

Unfortunately, the left will hear none of this. The left will dismiss the counter arguments about knives, cars, baseball bats, and other instruments that have the same capacity to kill with the premise that guns are far more efficient.  Well, of course they are!  The gun was invented primarily as a more efficient way for an army to prevail in war.  As the technology has improved, so has the lethal capability.  And certainly, the benefits of this evolution are important to an armed citizenry needing to defend itself!

Even if we concede the argument that killing is easier and more efficient with a gun, that doesn’t change the fundamental reason why a law abiding, freedom loving citizen shouldn’t be able to arm themselves with a gun.  In fact, even the founding fathers recognized the need for the people to be armed in the event the government was incapable of maintaining order.  Even so, a country where its citizens are armed, often cause aggressor nations to think twice about invading:

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them.” – Thoughts on Defensive War, 1775; The Writings of Thomas Paine, Collected and Edited by Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894) Volume 1, Chapter XII

So what does any of this have to do with the killing sprees that have caused so much of an uproar?  The answer has to do with the instrument itself and not with the motives of the people who are committing the act.  As stated above, we wouldn’t take fire away because people get burned or water away because people drown.  People dying from a fire, whether intentional or caused by negligence, is an act, or non action, by an individual.

In each example where liberals have tried to bring shame to the pro-gun movement and its supporters, the offender was not a crazed tea-party conservative that hates the government and wants to see government officials and liberals killed (see Shooting References below).  The individuals responsible were just crazy loons, independent of political intentions.  In fact, in the most recent cases, the perpetrators ideology was not identified, something that gets buried while gun control proponents, often aligned with the same ideology, scream about the evils of the pro-gun supporters, such as the NRA and Tea Party.

It all boils down to the actions of a few who intended to kill innocent people, most likely unarmed and incapable of defending themselves readily, and counted on by the perpetrators. Individual responsibility is essentially a right on to itself: We pay the price where we fall short of the law, whether it be speeding on a road, or killing another human.  The instrument itself can do nothing unless someone uses it in act.   We don’t put the gun in jail.

The larger issue, however, is the intent of the amendment itself, and what the founding fathers wanted:  An armed citizenry that is capable of defending its property, its lives and its freedoms.  This includes, inherently, men of rogue nature who would deprive free men of their property, lives and freedoms.  In this day and age, with the current political fighting about border security, and the administration not calling terrorism what it is, having citizens unarmed when the potential for an uprising by nefarious elements in this country exists, it would be irresponsible to keep arms out of the hands of its citizens.

Of course, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, and the debates that raged for a stronger government, it was clear that trust in Government was at an all time low.  The British occupation was still fresh in the minds of the founders and its citizens struggling to build a new country. And they understood, all too well, the lessons in giving too much power to a central government.  To ensure that our society won’t lose the freedoms paid for with great sacrifice, they preserved the rights of an armed citizenry.

We cannot prevent deaths from people using guns.  Humans are emotional creatures that are conflicted with rational thinking. The best way to minimize that is to teach ourselves, starting with our youth, respect for one another, and to instill a moral code that gives a person the ability to overcome the emotional desires that might provoke a senseless act.   Simply removing one tool, no matter how efficient in its purpose of killing, will not solve the problem.  And the founders recognize that, even that kind of moral thinking, pales in comparison the larger question: The right of the citizen to be able to defend their property, themselves and their freedom, irrespective of the government.

Note:  This is the first of a few posts that will cover the Second Amendment.  This article discusses the general arguments without relation to legislation or the courts.  The next article will discuss how the Supreme Court has weighed in and its impact on the debate itself.

Shooting References:

[1] – Jerod Loughner, the shooter of Gabby Giffords that also killed a federal judge, a nine year old girl and wounded several others, had mental issues.

[2] – Adam Lanza had mental illness and may have lead to his killing of school children in response to the treatment he may have received from his mother, whom he also killed.

[3] – Seoung-Hui Cho, the shooter at Virgina Tech who killed 32 people, had a history of mental illness

[4] – James Holmes shot and killed 12 and injured many more in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes defense has been to claim insanity.

[5] – Christopher Dorner, the former Naval officer and LA police officer who went on a shooting rampage in California is thought to have had a mental breakdown.  He was also a Democrat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s