The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com
(Author’s Request: Please share via email—not just social media—due to Big Data’s censorship of conservative content.)
“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, US Constitution
“Try to halt violence by restricting gun ownership and you won’t halt violence. But you will create entire classes of new criminals—people who make paperwork errors, violate technical specifications of law, or rebel against the new restrictions. And you’ll create new bureaus, new enforcement arms, new prisons to punish them. You’ll make hordes of lawyers and bureaucrats very happy. Organized criminals will be grateful to the naive moral crusaders (‘useful idiots’) as they profit by selling an illegal product. And ordinary street criminals will bless fools, legislators, and ‘leaders’ for making their job so much safer.” —Aaron Zelman of the Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (http://jpfo.org/alerts/alert20010903.htm)
Just Who Is the Militia, & Who Regulates It?
When asked who the militia was, Founder George Mason answered by saying, “They consist now of the whole people, except for a few public officers.” Mason reflects the characteristic suspicion by the founding generation of government officials who wield political power. The Founding Fathers distrusted the government so much that, although the Constitution allows the creation of a military force for temporary purposes, the government, in Article I, Section 8, is constrained in its ability to raise and support a standing military. The federal government is allowed “[t]o raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” This is why a National Defense Authorization Act must be passed every one or two years, to continue the existence and support of America’s armed forces. The Founders placed their faith in an armed populace, in order that the people might be capable of defending America against invasion by outside forces, as well as against government tyranny perpetrated by “public officers” within its own borders.
It must be recalled that, as Americans were becoming more serious about throwing off the British yoke of tyranny, the actual event that started the Revolutionary War was the attempt by a public officer—General Thomas Gage, the Governor of Massachusetts at the time—to regulate the firearms of the American colonists by confiscating civilian-owned guns and ammunition. According to an account related on the website Simple Facts and Plain Arguments, “The Boston Gazette reported that, of all of Gage’s policies, ‘what most irritated the People’ was ‘seizing their Arms and Ammunition.’”
The situation continued to deteriorate until, on April 19, 1775, 700 Redcoats marched on Lexington and Concord to seize the weapons stored there. Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn the militias in the area, causing 200 men from 16 to 60 to meet to oppose the British at Lexington Green, while others hid their weapons. Defeated at Lexington, the Americans struck back at Concord, defeating the British there. Later that same night, the Siege of Boston began, and American Revolutionary War was underway! The Americans used an armed militia—regulated by the people themselves, of course—to defend their natural right to keep and bear arms, along with all their other God-given rights (http://www.lexrex.com/informed/foundingdocuments/declaration.htm). In this sense, the right to keep and bear arms is, truly, America’s First Freedom.
America’s First Freedom
To quote Charlton Heston (http://www.wnd.com/1997/11/3152/) from a speech he gave before the National Press Club, on September 11, 1997, “I say that the Second Amendment is, in order of importance, the first amendment. It is America’s First Freedom, the one right that protects all the others. Among freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly, of redress of grievances, it is the first among equals. It alone offers the absolute capacity to live without fear. The right to keep and bear arms is the one right that allows ‘rights’ to exist at all. . . . Because there is no such thing as a free nation where police and military are allowed the force of arms but individual citizens are not. That’s a ‘Big Brother knows best’ theater of the absurd that has never boded well for the peasant class, the working class, or even for reporters.”
Big Brother’s Face May Change, but the Antecedent Victim-Disarmament Remains the Same
It has always been important for government actors who wish to assure their own supremacy over the people to disarm the public. According to the Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (http://jpfo.org/alerts/alert20010903.htm), “[i]n nine major genocides of the twentieth century, at least 74 million people were slaughtered by their own governments. . . . Each mass murder was preceded by enactment of gun-control laws. Each murdered population was first disarmed. Leaders of each murderous government were looking for an unpopular group on which to pin the blame for persistent problems.” A list of the nine murderous governments and their chosen victims, as identified by JPFO, follows: 1) 1915-1917 Ottoman Turkey, 1-1.5 million Armenians murdered; 2) 1929-1945 Soviet Union, 20 million perceived opponents of Stalin murdered; 3) 1933-1945 Nazi-occupied Europe, 20 million Jews, Gypsies, disabled people, homosexuals, and political opponents of Hitler murdered; 4) 1927-1949 Nationalist China, 10 million political opponents, army conscripts, and others murdered; 5) 1949-1976 Communist China, 20 million political opponents, rural people, or “enemies of the state” murdered; 6) 1960-1981 Guatemala, 100,000 Mayan Indians Murdered; 7) 1971-1979 Uganda, 300,000 Christians and political rivals of Idi Amin murdered; 8) 1975-1979 Cambodia, 1 million educated people murdered; 9) 1994 Rwanda, 800,000 Tutsi people murdered. These statistics are some of the more conservative values reported. Most historical records give statistical numbers that go much higher, in many instances, such as the ones reported by the Daily Mail, with regard to Mao, Stalin, and Hitler (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2091670/Hitler-Stalin-The-murderous-regimes-world.html). The Daily Mail reports that socialist leader Mao Zedong, was the greatest mass murderer in history, exacting a death toll of 60 million victims; Joseph Stalin’s socialist regime is directly responsible for extinguishing the lives of 40 million; and Hitler’s national socialism—or Nazi fascism—sponsored the murder of over 30 million people, of which six million were Jews and millions more were Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, and other minorities.
Why Criminal Background & Mental Health Are Un-Constitutional Considerations
Everyone has the right to keep and bear arms, according to the Second Amendment. “The right of the people,” we are told, is not to be infringed. The amendment does not say, “except if someone has a criminal background” or “unless a person is insane.” The reason for this is that a person’s criminal background does not render him or her ineligible to take advantage of his or her natural right to self-defense, nor does the questionable state of a person’s sanity. An ex-convict has the same right as anyone else to defend his life against criminal assault by another, according to the wording of the Constitution, and so does a so-called “crazy” person. Anyway, if an ex-convict has not changed for the better, forcing him to purchase firearms on the black market provides no safeguard to the public against any criminal act he may plan to perpetrate. It only removes the purchase from public scrutiny, thereby providing a false sense of security. The same rule applies to those people who might be considered “crazy.”
The Targeting of Political Opponents: Or, the Politics of Diagnosis
The problem with diagnosing someone as mentally unfit to own a firearm is this: the government would be the entity that would have to determine whether or not a person is competent to own a firearm. What if the politicians in power decide that the people who normally vote against them ought to be labeled “crazy” or “mentally unfit”? During the Obama years, many veterans were deemed mentally unhealthy—and therefore deprived of their Second-Amendment right to bear arms—due to their having special needs in the area of handling their benefit payments (http://www.wnd.com/2013/02/obama-threatening-veterans-gun-rights/). These veterans were told that, because they had a disability in handling financial matters, they would suffer criminal penalties if they chose to possess a gun for self-defense: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both,” warned the letters being mailed out by the Obama Administration. Yet it is well-known that a disability in math does not render one mentally unhealthy. There are also reports of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder having their civil right to self-defense revoked (http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/02/21/catch-22-vets-concerned-with-loss-of-gun-rights-if-they-seek-treatment-for-ptsd/). Veterans voted heavily against Obama, causing many, understandably, to view their being targeted with the loss of such an important civil right as nothing less than political payback.
Many irreligious or intolerant politicians believe that religious people are “crazy” or that people with political beliefs different from their own are “insane”; and, of course, this would mean that such people could be denied their Second Amendment right—but only if mental health were allowed as a consideration. A quick Google-search will reveal many articles that are filled with anti-Republican—as well as anti-Democrat—invective accusing people of being mentally ill due to their choices of political-party membership. It would surely not bode well for America, if such biased accusers found themselves in the political position of being able to disenfranchise Americans of their civil rights, based upon something as mundane as religious affiliation or political philosophy.
When it comes to traditional categories of mental illness, the ruling of whether or not a person is mentally incompetent all comes down to a medical expert, with his or her own biases and leanings, who is politically connected to the government. How wise is it, really, to entertain the notion of empowering Big Brother to decide what constitutes mental illness and what does not? We already have the historical example of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_abuse_of_psychiatry_in_the_Soviet_Union) to illustrate how corrupt the political labeling of mental illness can become. Government officials with immoral political goals may wish to see certain individuals ruled incompetent—and thus rendered defenseless—for political reasons. Rendering a political opponent unable to defend himself, for example, could help to enable an evil person to engineer that opponent’s untimely death. Political assassinations are not uncommon in history, and enabling more of them to occur more easily, by infringing the Second Amendment, would certainly be inadvisable. Ronald Reagan, the first American president to live through an assassination attempt, is said to have carried a .38 revolver with him (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3123604/The-president-s-pistol-New-book-claims-Ronald-Reagan-carried-handgun-briefcase-times-administration.html) after having survived John Hinckley’s bullet.
Some feel that restricting the type of gun Americans may purchase to a lower caliber might offer some safety. But here we must be reminded that Reagan was shot with a .22 pistol, a low-caliber weapon considered to be one of the least deadly. So, what about fully-automatic weapons? The truth of the matter is that, for a criminal to feel restrained from using fully-automatic weapons, the law-abiding must be allowed to possess them as well. Indeed, the Second Amendment does not limit the types of weapons the people may possess, although, in reality, most people would probably choose not to use fully-automatic weapons, which is the same choice that most criminals have made. Fully-automatic weapons are, for most practical purposes, a waste of ammunition and lacking in precision when used on the fly, or without a stationary bipod to reduce shaking while in use. This is a major reason why such weapons have been employed only rarely by criminals (https://www.thejacknews.com/law/gun-rights/legally-owned-fully-automatic-weapons-only-used-in-three-crimes-since-1934/) and, likewise, why only serious firearms collectors, in the world of the law-abiding, seem to be enthusiastic about trying to obtain them. But the principle still holds: Law-abiding citizens do have the right, under the Constitution, to defend themselves with the same weaponry that is at the disposal of their criminal adversaries.
Fun to Know: Fully Automatic Firearms Already Existed in 1791
While the Constitution does not limit gun owners to the types of firearms in currency at the time the Second Amendment was passed, it is interesting to note that several weapons of the fully-automatic variety were already in existence in 1791, including the following: 1) the Puckle Gun (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puckle_gun), one of the earliest firearms to be called a “machine gun,” which was a flintlock revolver patented by British inventor James Puckle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Puckle) in 1718, capable of firing 32mm rounds from an 11-round revolving cylinder (but difficult to utilize in war, since it was hard to produce replacement parts); 2) the Girandoni Air Rifle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_air_rifle), a weapon firing .46-caliber projectiles from a magazine capable of holding 20, invented circa 1778 by Bartolomeo Girandoni, a Tyrolean master gunsmith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_air_rifle); and 3) the Belton Flintlock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belton_flintlock), invented prior to 1777 by Pennsylvanian Joseph Belton (www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2016/07/logan-metesh/founding-fathers-knew-repeating-rifles-bill-rights-drafted/) and offered to the Congress that same year, capable of getting off 16 shots in only five seconds.
The Incorporation Doctrine
The Incorporation Doctrine is the Constitutional legal strategy by which the first ten amendments of the US Constitution—the basis of Americans’ civil rights, also known as the Bill of Rights—have been made applicable to the states through application of the Fourteenth Amendment, per the intentions of John Bingham, the principal framer of the Fourteenth Amendment, who advocated its application to the first eight amendments of the Constitution (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_of_the_Bill_of_Rights). Prior to the Fourteenth Amendment, the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government and federal courts. States could adopt similar constitutional laws, but they were not obligated to do so. However, subsequent to the American Civil War, and in light of the concern that racist politicians would deprive freed slaves of their civil liberties by writing discriminatory state rules, the Fourteenth Amendment was promoted as a way of binding the states to federal guarantees of equal protection and due process. The Supreme Court eventually began a process of “selective incorporation” by which it would incorporate the Bill of Rights into state constitutions on a case by case basis over time.
After the Supreme Court rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html) and Chicago v. McDonald (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/08-1521), total incorporation of the Second Amendment was universally accepted as a fait accompli. Thus, no state can claim the right to pass gun laws not in line with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. This would render any attempt by a state to implement age restrictions on the purchase of rifles (https://eaglerising.com/51712/nra-sues-florida-over-new-gun-laws/), for example, or any other infringement of the civil right to self-defense, illegal under the Incorporation Doctrine.
But the price of maintaining America’s First Freedom is eternal vigilance. For the moment Americans cease to be well-educated on the matter of the deadliness of gun-free zones (https://eaglerising.com/51177/blood-on-their-hands-by-creating-gun-free-zones-infringers-of-the-second-amendment-ban-armed-good-guys-while-enabling-bad-actors/) or the tyranny governments inevitably impose upon a disarmed populace, the promoters of government force will win out, and America will cease to be the Land of the Free.
When the Righteous Flourish, There Is Strength in Numbers
In the end, the Founders decided to put their faith in the fact that, when there are more righteous people than there are criminals, evil action is made much more difficult, because evil actors know that their risk of being wounded or killed rises dramatically if they attack someone in public, in a government building, in a place of business, or if they invade the private home, in the environment of a gun-wielding populace. Nowhere is this fact more in evidence, perhaps, than in the town of Kennesaw, Georgia, where gun ownership is a legal requirement to be a resident (http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/03/10/kennesaw-georgia-requires-every-head-household-own-gun-mayor-discusses-law). Although this law is not actually enforced, the statement it makes is still strong enough to keep violent crime to historically low levels.
It is time to stop believing that, if the Second Amendment were repealed, criminals would follow the law and disarm themselves, in consideration of the fact that law-abiding citizens had been disarmed. It is time to stop pretending that any gun law or background check might cause criminal actors or crazy people to shrink from purchasing firearms on the black market to avoid age restrictions, background checks, or any other type of restriction. To reduce murders, and crimes of every variety, the people must retain their Second-Amendment right of self-defense and stop believing that the government can protect them or that gun-free zones provide safety.
There is an old saying: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” And, indeed, it is rare that the police ever arrive in response to a 9-1-1 call in time to save victims of a home invasion from being sexually assaulted or killed. The police generally arrive only after the rape or murder has transpired. The best protection against crime is not to create gun-free zones. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The 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 to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” This is why the Founders wrote the Second Amendment without restrictions. They knew that an atmosphere of firearms everywhere, in the hands of the law-abiding, would be the best deterrent to violence and murder. If any infringement at all were allowed by the Constitution, the entire people could eventually be disarmed, based upon some clever political premise.
Without the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” that “shall not be infringed,” as worded in the Constitution, it would prove difficult indeed to stop the government from relieving the people of the other natural rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The phrase “shall not be infringed” is a line in the sand drawn by our nation’s Founders, so that it is not only illegal to pass any law that interferes with the right to self-defense, but it is also a violation of an office-holder’s Oath of Office. In an ideal world, anyone attempting to change the Second Amendment by any legislative means should be turned out of office by the voters.
May all Americans be blessed with security and freedom in perpetuity.