"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory, and might I add, nor the bullet for its swift precision. I love only that which they defend."
- J.R.R. Tolkien
The gun-control debate is once again on the front burner, as always, following a tragic media-gasm. Diane Feinstein is back to calling for bans of guns that aren't even linked to the tragedies, Harry Reid is discussing debate on the Senate floor and NYC Mayor Michael "Big Gulp" Bloomberg is demanding the President take action without waiting for Congress. Meanwhile, at least one Congresswoman just flat out said "turn in your guns..." At least she had the spine to say such a witless thing. We want to protect the kids, no matter what. Left, Right, Democrat or Libertarian, everyone is appalled by the violence and wants to see an end to it. We all value the lives in front of us, the faces of our children and the freedom to live peacefully. We just take it for granted far too often.
Aside from the Constitutional realities of limiting the second amendment, it's puzzling that mayors and governors demand federal action for things that are reasonably their responsibility to begin with. Public safety, education, public works are local issues, yet every time something bad happens, leaders seek help from D.C. It's an addiction. The alleged "gun problem" we have is only the latest vehicle of surrender.
But, in defending the right to bear arms, Conservatives often make the mistake of arguing the lazy points, and not the most substantive principles regarding the second amendment. We often hear only one of these lines of defense:
- I want to defend my family
- I live in a bad neighborhood and need protection when I go out
- I love to hunt, and should have the right to
The left, predictably tells us "fine, but you don't need a high-capacity mag and an AR-15 rifle to shoot deer or nab an intruder." End of discussion, and the gun supporter looks like an fool.
From the left, you'll hear the aforementioned response, or perhaps a couple of these:
- Why do you need a machine gun to defend your family?
- Guns provoke more violence
- If more people carried a gun, and someone had a bad day, we'd have more mass killings!
- The Founders never intended everyone to carry guns, just militia
While the local police forces have spent the last 15-20 years becoming more militarized, more and more citizens find themselves reaching their middle-age years having never fired a gun. It scares them. And they see no purpose in retaining these rights protected by the founders 230 years ago. As a result, the preceding rationalizations make sense: "maybe the founders didn't intend for just anyone to walk around with a gun!" Our local forces are virtual mini-militaries, and we are instead left more dependent and intimidated.
What is most disturbing is how effective the Progressive Left has gotten at moving masses of millions into believing the way they do. We have all but given up on engaging the public education sector (despite never having engaged it to begin with), and we don't teach our children as diligently as we should, not just the rights we have, but WHY THE FOUNDERS PROTECTED THEM. Now, 80-100 years later, several generations have been steadily moved toward the centralized, nanny-state, protective, unrealistic lemming-daze we're in.
So, as a refresher, let's remind ourselves about why the second amendment is so important. People will live up to expectations, so if you lower them, they will behave accordingly. Don't be afraid to be blunt and just come out and defend the "radical" idea of full liberty, because that was the original intent.
"The Second Amendment only applies to the military and state 'militias,' not just anyone!'
"[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
- James Madison, Federalist 46
“To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government.
- John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States 475
“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
- Trenche Cox, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb 20, 1788
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...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 serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one."
- Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments
The Founders did not have selective-brilliance, nor did they "fail to see a future with automatic rifles, bombs and planes." They had studied thousands of years of human history, and understood technology and firearms improve over time with both their effectiveness and their ability to take more life with each shot. The second amendment was not written to protect state militias (national guard), the military (federal armies) or hunters. It was written to protect the right of citizens to own all kinds of firearms, for all reasons. Plain and simple. As technology improves, the access by criminals and tyrannical leaders does not change. Why wouldn't the Founders have wanted innocent, law-abiding citizens to have access to these tools? It doesn't make logical sense.
One of the problems we face as defenders of the right to bear arms, is failing to understand the opposition. Like us, they see the same problem and want to rectify it. Where we differ is how to accomplish that. So, we must be armed with the philosophy behind the policy, not just better arguments for the policy.
Natural Law is the fundamental, Enlightenment-era belief that embedded in all human beings and nature itself is a desire for preservation of Life, Liberty and Property. The Founders created the first nation in history to be founded upon those pillars from the beginning. Our government itself was created to protect those three things, and all laws that are written should flow from observing the maximization of each.
And yet, the Founders knew the greatest threat to those three was the government created to protect them. So they wanted to preserve the ability to protect everyone from every threat.
There is only one human tool that exists that is capable of protecting mankind from violators of all three, AND even a rogue government: FIREARMS.
For this reason, we are the only nation on earth that recongizes gun-ownership as a basic right. Not so we can protect against intruders; not so we can shoot game; not so we can prepare for battle in the military; not only so we can be ready against the big, bad, evil government. (Insert liberal perjorative about conservative mountain-dwellers here)
The reason for the right is all of the above. If not a threat today, who's to say it won't be tomorrow? Or next year? Our first priorities as a society should be protection of the right to life and individuality, the liberty to apply our faculties to production, and the right to gain and retain the fruits of our labor. Whether it's protecting your family from an intruder, yourself from an assailant, feeding your family in times of need, preparing for battle in the armed forces, protecting your community from an enemy (foreign or domestic), stopping a madman in a school, or an angry boyfriend in a shopping mall... all forms of firearms are necessary to the ultimate protection of a free people. This argument is not hard to make with a Progressive Liberal, if made consistently and patiently. Yes, evil may occur, and bad men may use liberty to harm others. It is the abuse of liberty that should be legislated against, not the liberty itself. The alternative is often ambiguous, but real.
The "consequences" of liberty are far less threatening than the consequences of living without it. Either by the hand of a repressive government, or at the end of a criminal's own gun. (Which, by the way, they will ALWAYS find a way to acquire)
Michael Hintz said, "there is never a time to remain silent when others are speaking to urge that our fundamental rights be compromised. Others may choose to remain silent in the face of such perfidy, that is their right. However, we must not be silent. Our natural law right to life confers the equal right to self-defense. That right to self-defense includes the right to bear arms for that purpose. That is a right no free person should willingly surrender, for the moment one does so, one is no longer free."
We should defend these rights, not as a policy, because those can be subjectified; not as a scenario, because those are relative to where you live or how you were raised. We can win the gun-control debate by teaching our children and our neighbors about the truths that are self-evident. We can control the conversation in the mainstream more effectively by knowing history, and the reasons WHY we are what we are.
This week, one of my child's after-school teachers asked me what I think about Gov. Rick Perry suggesting teachers should be able to carry firearms if they have a permit. She told me I shouldn't trust her with a gun, because she hates them and wouldn't know what to do if she needed one. I responded that while I think each school district needs to decide for itself, I only had one question for her, while I pointed to the 5-7 year olds at the next table:
"If that psycho was here shooting two or three bullets into each of these beautiful kids, would you hope that someone in this school had a gun to stop him?"
She didn't answer. Her raised eyebrows and fateful glare said it all.
We trust others to do what we ourselves should be responsible to do. When every "protection" around us fails, and we have no government, no policy, no "rule" to help us when facing death, what are we left with?
As for me and my house, it won't be 911 and a stopwatch. It will be whatever means necessary and the training to go along with it.
The national media failed to report that the Clackamas Town Center shooter on December 11th was stopped in the middle of his rampage by a shopper who violated the mall's no-gun policy, but had a state-issued CCW permit. Nick Meli exercised his impulse to protect others in the face of existing gun laws failing, and saved potentially dozens more: