“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.” – The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution
My understanding—I could be wrong—is that our Founding Fathers, with special clarity in the Declaration of Independence, intended in our nation’s original documents to protect the God-given liberties of all the citizens. In so doing, they intentionally used language to show that the state wasn’t granting these liberties, for it had (and has) no power to do so.
I’ve heard some well-meaning folks call our right to bear arms a “God-given right.” I’m not certain a biblical case can be made for that or for some of the other amendments. That said, those particular protections were born of a wisdom cultivated by the experience of tyranny under King George III (and all the way back to Henry VIII) and his parliamentary ministers and their colonial policies.
In the Second Amendment, their intent was to have an armed populace so that governmental tyranny could never centralize the power to steer the nation where the people did not want to go. It wasn’t written for hunters or for home protection, though, like today, their firearms were multi-use.
Arguments against civilians having “weapons of war” are antithetical to their intent. Indeed—even if the government has superior firepower—the hundreds of millions of firearms owned by citizens is ample disincentive to try to seize power. So, like all despots and “tyrant kings,” the first step of those seeking domination of a citizenry is always to disarm it. Banning imports of powder and firearms and confiscation attempts in 1774-75 helped precipitate the Revolutionary War.
I know there are other well-meaning folks who believe with no animus that reducing the number of firearms will help prevent some of the events we too often witness these days. I believe they are mistaken. “Common sense gun control” is a shibboleth to convince those who are uninformed that these steps will reduce mass shootings. They won’t.
First, the toothpaste is out of the tube. Attempts to keep guns from criminals and those morally sick enough to carry out these shootings are fools’ errands. There are simply too many available and already in the hands of ne’er-do-wells. And as we’ve learned, even if guns aren’t available, those seeking to do harm will find other ways, whether trucks or bombs or knives. “Assault weapon” is anything used to assault someone with—no matter how benign its original design.
Second, criminals past and future, by definition, don’t obey laws. Laws forbidding certain types of firearms and requiring miles of red tape may seem “common sense,” but they only penalize those willing to obey the law.
Finally, the far left wants to compare the U.S. to other western democracies who have followed the “gun control” logic with debatable success. Frankly, they are not us. Their constitutions are not our constitution, nor are their histories our history.
Like “climate change” and open borders, progressives’ intent is not about saving the planet or welcoming the “tired” and “poor,” it’s about centralizing power. Even if you lean liberal (in the classic sense), you should decry the fact that our First and Second Amendments are under assault. These protections are in place so that no one—ultra right or left wing—can usurp the will of the people. If President Trump has the intent some on the left attribute to him, they ought to be out front in the fight to protect the right to keep and bear arms.
Progressives respond to thoughts like these with emotionalism and demonization. Gun owners I know would be glad to be inconvenienced or caused extra expense if they believed there would be a net outcome of saved lives. Watching the world today makes that thought preposterous. As long as there are bad guys with guns, good guys and girls with guns are necessary.
Steve Post is a Tallahassee resident, armchair theologian, and past local ministry lay leader. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.