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.Second Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America
It doesn’t take much time at all outside of my socio-political bubble for me to realize that the majority of Americans don’t understand why firearm ownership is so important to those of us who have them. Why the Second Amendment to the Constitution is one of my absolutely fundamental political topics. I’m basically a single-issue voter. Some people are Pro-Life. Some people are Pro-Choice.
To many people this seems like a radical stance. How can an educated and otherwise seemingly intelligent person have such an extreme view? I figure if you’re reading this, it means one of three things: 1) You already agree with me on guns and you want to reaffirm your opinions; 2) You’re waiting for me to say something radical so you can dismiss my arguments and reaffirm your opinions; 3) You’re open minded and actually interested in why a person would consider the Second Amendment to be of the utmost importance to modern Americans.
I’m going to speak to the third group. Everyone else, feel free to tag along with me, but I’m going to pretend like you don’t exist.
The most basic and fundamental reason I can give for being a “gun guy” is very simple: Freedom. Owning, carrying, and training with a firearm keeps me Free. Freedom comes in many varieties and flavors, and a gun (or many many guns and lots of ammunition)–and the right training–help safeguard every one of them: Freedom from fear of bodily harm from an ill-intentioned criminal; Freedom to secure my own food if the need arises; Freedom from oppression in an extreme case of historical redundancy.
To address the title of this Ramble: They aren’t “just guns” to me because they literally represent my ability to keep Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. If you’re anti-gun, you’re anti-my-Life.
If you need more reasons than that, I’ve got plenty of Rambling to do on this one.
You Ever Wonder Why It’s Amendment Number Two?
My first argument for the importance of the Second Amendment is fairly simple. There were ten amendments to the Constitution immediately gathered and ratified by the states of the newly-formed Union. These became known as the Bill of Rights. Now, being a group of rather wise, worldly, and organized folks, it would make sense that the founding fathers would endeavor to include the most prescient and pressing Rights first and get them front-loaded so they would be seen as priority.
Therefore, we can say that the Right to practice whatever religion you wanted to was extremely important to them. Also, the Right to speak your mind without fear of the government silencing you. The Right to assemble and request redress of grievances. These were paramount to them because they saw these as the best means by which they could guarantee the free flow of ideas that would help the People to improve their newly-established nation. They were also strong motivators for the war of independence they had just finished fighting.
So, upon figuring out how to word the First Amendment, guaranteeing the absolute most important Rights of the citizenry, what did they tackle next?
The Inalienable Right of the People to keep and bear Arms was so crucial to maintaining the stability and freedom of the population–in fact, the security of the free State–that it was the second thing they voted on as a newly-formed government.
That seems like a big deal to me. Maybe like the second biggest deal.
But Muh Mulisha
One of the biggest talking points brought up by proponents of strict gun control laws is the mention of the Militia. It’s been said that a Militia must be an organized military force, and that in the modern world that means the US military. This is supported by the idea that any other “militia” is outlawed in each of the 50 states. They are considered private paramilitary organizations, and are banned.
This seems like a legitimate argument on the surface, but I believe in taking a deeper dive than that. Let’s put aside for a moment that the militia’s legal definition includes every able-bodied male between 17 and 45 who is a citizen or wishes to become a citizen of the United States.
I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788
Let’s go back to the start. In order to understand how to best interpret a governing document from another era in modern times, I posit that we have to first understand the intent of each mandate. Reading through the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, and other musings of the founding fathers, it seems somewhat obvious that the Bill of Rights was intended to leash the federal government: to limit its ability to muzzle the populace. I believe that the members of that first Congress had contingencies in mind when they crafted the specific limitations on the government that each Amendment represents. In other words: “What were they thinking when they wrote this? What were they thinking when they voted on this? What were trying to keep the government from doing?”
From what I’ve read of the events surrounding the founding of our country from the likes of Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, etc. I believe that their reasons for arming the Militia were two-fold: 1) They needed to be able to raise an army at a moment’s notice against any country wanting the test the fledgling nation; 2) They were inherently distrustful of any organized federal government, and wanted the people to be armed against tyranny. This mindset can be inferred from the series of checks and balances they built into the framework of their new government, combined with the rigid protections they placed against the new government for the populace. It would be understandable given that they’d just been under a regime that had pressed them to the point of rebellion and used exactly the tactics they were barring against to try and keep then in line.
The only way they were able to fight against the crown was because they were natively armed. They wouldn’t have been able to mount an offense against their oppressors were it not for the number of privately-held arms among the citizenry. So in their minds, the best way to keep the people prepared against a tyrannical state or invading outside force, was to make sure the People could fight from every nook and cranny. If a threat, foreign or domestic, wanted to steamroll the citizens of the United States, they would have to bleed for every inch.
But Things Are Different Now!
No, they’re really not. The only real difference between 1776 and 2020 is that we’re softer and have the internet. It only seems different to you because we’ve been a powerhouse since we dropped a couple of atomic bombs on an island nation in the Pacific, and we’ve enjoyed something akin to domestic peace ever since. Sure we’ve been in constant “police actions” but those have been somewhere else–abstract ideas of war to those not fighting in them. Things easily put out of mind. The fight has always been somewhere else, not at our front door.
Outside of a few acts of terror, there have been no real attacks on our soil, no armies knocking on our gates, and no serious internal threats to national security. We haven’t known a real threat to our way of life. This gives many people a sense of security; they believe they are going to be safe no matter what. They’ve forgotten the world is full of predators.
Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.G. Michael Hopf, Those Who Remain
Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that just because we’ve been on top that we will always be on top. We have enemies in the world, and they would love nothing more than to see us knocked off our pedestal and onto our ass. I was a Boy Scout. I didn’t make Eagle or anything, but I took many of the lessons from my time in the troop to heart. To wit: “Be Prepared.”
You Don’t Stand A Snowball’s Chance in Hell Against the US Military
That is a pretty accurate statement. I don’t think that I, or some coalition of a significant number of Americans, stand much of a chance of defeating the American military in a war. The government has done a pretty good job of making sure of that by keeping citizens from owning the same level of weaponry that they have, not to mention the proliferation of things like drones, recon aircraft, tanks, and hellfire missiles.
I’ll mention in passing that the North Vietnamese made a pretty good showing back in the 60’s and 70’s, and the Islamists of the last 20 years have given us way more headache than anyone anticipated (the Soviets before that, too). “Hearts and minds.” The only reason any revolt of the last few millennia has had even moderate success was because the people were armed.
An armed individual is a citizen, an unarmed one is a subject.
But the Police!
There are so many ways to approach this one. I’ll see what I can do to be brief.
With everything going on in the “defund the police” world, I can’t even believe that someone would seriously still pull this one out of their pocket. The level of doublethink required is almost laughable, but, that’s where we’re at today. If you can’t trust the cops, then you can’t use them as an argument about why I don’t need them around. Not being able to trust the police is all the more reason to be able to protect yourself.
Then, even if you believe you can trust them, there’s the simple fact that the police can’t be everywhere at all times. They are overworked, overburdened, and often just too damn slow to get there in time to save anyone from anything. There’s a saying among the 2A community that goes something like:
When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.
So, when you’re staring down the barrel of some bad guy’s illegally-acquired M4 or AK-47 or even their little .380 pea shooter, and you’re wondering if you’re going to survive the next ten seconds, you go ahead and let me know how safe you feel knowing that the police are just a few blocks away with their radar guns pulled on the guy doing 5 over on the frontage road to the highway, licking their chops at the thought of meeting that traffic quota.
This next point is the real doozy that most people just aren’t aware of, so I’m going to give it its own little standalone here:
You can read more about that from people that know more about law than I do, but basically, there have been a number of SCOTUS cases that have upheld the established precedent that the police don’t have to do that whole “protect” part of “protect and serve.” Just jump over the wikipedia page for the Warren case, and scroll down to the “See also” section.
I carry a gun everywhere I go because I can’t rely on anyone else to protect me. The highest court in the land has said that it’s my job to protect me, and I plan on taking that job damned serious.
You Don’t Need an AR-15
I’ll address this one last because it’s basically a throw away argument. As such, I’ll give it a throw away answer: It’s not called the Bill of Needs, it’s called the Bill of Rights.
I have the Right to keep and bear Arms. As such, nobody has the power to deny me that Right. So fuck “Need.” I don’t have to prove to you that I need anything. The Bill of Rights asserts that I have an Inalienable Right by birth to keep and bear Arms as a de facto member of the disorganized Militia charged with securing the free state. That said… You’re God damn right I need an AR-15. Have you seen the riots happening lately? Have you ever tried to defend yourself against a dozen or more people trying to surround and murder you or burn down your fucking home?
I need an AR-15 and more, because there are people out there who will use their own number (not to mention illegal weapons, because don’t forget there are CRIMINALS out there who don’t give a shit about the legalities of the firearms they’re carrying) to kill me and take whatever I have.
I assert that as a citizen, as opposed to a subject, of the United States of America, we are all charged with guaranteeing our own safety, security, and Freedom. That’s what the Second Amendment is really all about. In order to ensure that we can live up to that responsibility, the founding fathers insisted that our Rights to Arms be preserved and upheld against any infringement from authoritarian power. If you don’t believe that, then I charge that you are simply in denial–denial of the basic fact of nature that at the end of the day, in the dark of night, when you are alone and confronted with a Wolf, there is no one responsible for your own safekeeping but yourself.
I accept that there are Wolves. I am prepared for them.
I am Pro-Gun.
Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.