The Right Opinion

Why the 2nd Amendment

By Walter E. Williams · Jan. 2, 2013

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, said: “The British are not coming. … We don't need all these guns to kill people.” Lewis' vision, shared by many, represents a gross ignorance of why the framers of the Constitution gave us the Second Amendment. How about a few quotes from the period and you decide whether our Founding Fathers harbored a fear of foreign tyrants.

Alexander Hamilton: “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” adding later, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.” By the way, Hamilton is referring to what institution when he says “the representatives of the people”?

James Madison: “(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Thomas Jefferson: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which inspired our Constitution's Bill of Rights, said, “To disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

Rep. John Lewis and like-minded people might dismiss these thoughts by saying the founders were racist anyway. Here's a more recent quote from a card-carrying liberal, the late Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey: “Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.” I have many other Second Amendment references at http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/quotes.html.

How about a couple of quotations with which Rep. Lewis and others might agree? “Armas para que?” (translated: “Guns, for what?”) by Fidel Castro. There's a more famous one: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” That was Adolf Hitler.

Here's the gun grabbers' slippery-slope agenda, laid out by Nelson T. Shields, founder of Handgun Control Inc.: “We're going to have to take this one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily – given the political realities – going to be very modest. … Right now, though, we'd be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal – total control of handguns in the United States – is going to take time. … The final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal” (The New Yorker, July 1976).

There have been people who've ridiculed the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, asking what chance would citizens have against the military might of the U.S. government. Military might isn't always the deciding factor. Our 1776 War of Independence was against the mightiest nation on the face of the earth – Great Britain. In Syria, the rebels are making life uncomfortable for the much-better-equipped Syrian regime. Today's Americans are vastly better-armed than our founders, Warsaw Ghetto Jews and Syrian rebels.

There are about 300 million privately held firearms owned by Americans. That's nothing to sneeze at. And notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives.

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24 Comments

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia said:

Clearly, if the Second Amendment does not mean that "Individuals" can own guns, then what makes these folks think that the First Amendment means "Individuals" can have free speech. The First Amendment refers to the "Press", much as the 2nd refers to the "Militia". But both Amendments refer to "the people", and it is only the Second Amendment that contains the key phrase " shall not be infringed".

The First essentially says that congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of the Press, or of speech. But looking more closely, it does not us the word individual or even "the people" in reference to freedom of speech. It is only after the semi-colon that "or the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition ... for .... grievances" appears. Perhaps the founders meant that only the Press had the right of free speech?? Of course not -- anymore than guns were meant to be restricted to the militia.

I think that the order of The Amendments is also pertinent. The First Amendment protects the individual's right of free speech, exercise of Religion, and assembly. The Second Amendment provides the means to protect the First, and it is clearly stated that the Right to bears arms "shall not be infringed".

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 12:34 AM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

Exactly, Dr. Timms.

In all the debate over whether individuals should have the right to bear arms for sport shooting, or hunting, or even self-defense, people forget that those activities were not the impetus for the Amendment's inclusion in our Constitution.

The Second Amendment does not affirm our right to shoot targets or deer or robbers. It's about shooting DESPOTS.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA said:

Speech is now regulated through governmental brute force. Say anything that can be interpreted as a threat and you will find yourself in custody.
I wonder what the gun control freaks would do if multiple violators of their oath were assassinated by some nut cases. All assassins are nut cases aren’t they?
I guess I can expect that for just writing what I did; I will be scrutinized by the department of Homeland Security.
Our government is more afraid of an armed citizenry than they are about their unconstitutional spending as well as simple immoral maleficence

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:01 AM

G. Daylan in Peoria, IL said:

Rome remained free for four hundred years and Sparta eight hundred, although their citizens were armed all that time; but many other states that have been disarmed have lost their liberties in less than forty years. - Niccoló Machiavelli.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:17 AM

rab in jo,mo said:

Excellent column Dr. Williams.

Ironic isn't it? The very folks with the most to fear from an armed populace are the very ones working to disarm them.

The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting, yet that's all I hear from the disarmament crowd - "you can't hunt with an 'assault rifle' (totally false, by the way), so why do you need one?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:05 AM

BlueShadowII in Texas replied:

That's not ironic, rab, it's perfectly logical.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Dioneikes in Colorado said:

The gun grabbers want to parse the wording of the 2nd Amendment however, the Founders put the phrase "right of the People to keep and bear arms" as a Constitutional understanding that the law of self defense is the first natural law, therefore the people have the (God given) right to defend themselves against all dangers ( i.e. criminal and as a last resort against governmental tyranny) and NO ONE has the right to try and take that away. If we allow ourselves to be disarmed, then we deserve only slavery and misery. I was born a free citizen, hence I WILL NOT give up my means of self defense. That order would be un-Constitutional and therefore I am not compelled to obey it.

There has been more than 100 million innocent people killed by governments through gun control and extermination in the 20th Century, than by all criminal actions combined.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:06 AM

RLS in Oklahoma said:

Machiavelli also wrote, "There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your subjects become your adherents. And whereas all subjects cannot be armed, yet when those whom you do arm are benefited, the others can be handled more freely, and this difference in their treatment, which they quite understand, makes the former your dependents, and the latter, considering it to be necessary that those who have the most danger and service should have the most reward, excuse you. But when you disarm them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust them, either for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these opinions breeds hatred against you." Machiavelli, Niccolo (2006-02-11). The Prince (p. 77). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Obviously, a process of insuring loyalty of subjects has been found by today's governments apart from making citizens able to defend themselves. Voters in the U.S. seem to agree. They vote to disarm themselves and disarm the nation.

W. K. Marriott, translator of the Kindle version I read, commented in his introduction to the translation, "Men will not look at things as they really are, but as they wish them to be--and are ruined. In politics there are no perfectly safe courses; prudence consists in choosing the least dangerous ones. Then--to pass to a higher plane--Machiavelli reiterates that, although crimes may win an empire, they do not win glory. Necessary wars are just wars, and the arms of a nation are hallowed when it has no other resource but to fight.

I believe Marriott did the translation in 1908 and, therefore, would not have been influenced by Castro or Hitler but, perhaps, would have been more influenced in his comments by our nation's founders as quoted by Dr. Williams.

What does "glory" mean to the average citizen in the U.S.? Or, to our governors? Do the multitude of recipients of the government's largess even understand what I asked?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Dioneikes in Colorado said:

"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

Captain John Parker to the company assembled on Lexington Green.

We the People are the REAL power in this Country, and our government has been hijacked by internal enemies of the Constitution. Heed the words of Capt. Parker upon the Lexington Common on the morning of April 19th, 1775. Most of all STAND YOUR GROUND!
If Barry is wanting to start a Civil War, he should be on notice that we will be willing to fight back.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas said:

I seem to recall that, during the great gun debates of decades past, the anti-gun cartel was endlessly talking about "compromise." Pro-gun Republicans and pro-gun Democrats compromised with them, and the result was a diminution of the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms.

But a "compromise" means that neither side got all of what they wanted. So the gun-grabbers have ALREADY gotten their compromise from our side. But they were lying - because they view the "compromise" they won as OUR starting position for the next round of "compromise."

Compromise means both parties give-and-get, and that becomes the END of the matter. It does not open the door for the next round of compromise where one side gets to keep their original position while the other side is stuck with the "compromise" position as its new starting point.

I say that if we're going to talk about "compromise" and (what they call) "reasonable" gun control - if they get to start with their original position (eventually ban all guns) - then we should get to start from OUR original position (no bans ever) as well. Otherwise it's just our side giving them everything they want on step at a time.

I want to know what THEY'RE willing to give up - and by that I mean what current gun laws are they willing to roll back in order to get new ones they want?

How about these for compromises?

We'll give up our 75-round drum magazines if they agree to nation-wide concealed carry.

We'll agree to register personal artillery pieces greater than 155 mm if they agree to do away with all "gun-free" zones?

Seriously, it's like negotiating with the Palestinians: Israel gives them something, then that becomes their starting position for the next round. Gun-grabbers are negotiating like terrorists, and we are fools if we don't see that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 11:26 AM

XCpt in the ether replied:

Our compromise starting position should be "...shall not be infringed."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

I concur - I was being a bit facetious. If they had any integrity or brains "shall not be infringed" would be THEIR starting position, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 12:46 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

The only law we need follow is the second amendment, as written. Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Vermont are the only states that allow concealed carry without permit. Every other state is in violation of the Constitution by restricting our outlawing gun ownership by citizens who have violated no law. Why does size matter to the demented liberals? They want to limit drink size, magazine size, car engine size, and on and on. I think these mental midgets just want to downsize to something their mental deficiency might understand.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

wjm, what would have been the outcome on 9/11 if the pilots and/or several passengers were armed? Did you say several dead ragheads? Ask the same thing of a anti-gun nut and the reply would probably be, "It would have been worse." Figure that out if you have time to waste. Btw, how many people know that the 68 Gun Control Act is almost an exact copy of the 38 law in Germany? Tom Dodd was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Trials and asked the Library of Congress for a translation of the German Law. JPFO did a study on this several years ago. And for people who went to govmint skools, Adolph passed the 38 law.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Rod in USA said:

Well done as always and **THANK YOU** for the link to your quotations pages!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Jayve in ABQ, NM said:

Here is some nice info for the soulless left, there are more hunters in Pennsylvania than the entire US Army. There are more privately owned guns in the US that that of the top 10 largest standing armies combined. So go ahead progressives, keep stoking the coals and you will end up having a raging fire under your ass. I am at that point to rid this country of the liberal disease.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 12:50 PM

MajorStu in Peru, IN said:

"Gun bans don't disarm criminals, gun bans attract them." --
Walter Mondale, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, 4/20/94

Mondale was at least as liberal as Humphrey, serving as Vice President with Jimmy Carter, the Democrat party nominee for president in 1984, and Director of Council on Foreign Relations.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Tapdaddy in Indiana said:

"And notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives."
Leave us alone, Barry O.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia said:

I think the argument that a small civilian force can prevail against a stronger military is accurate to some extent, but irrelevant. The question of fighting our own military is probably a straw-man argument that would never be tested.

Officers of our armed forces swear an oath of allegiance not to the President or any other portion of our government, but "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." If it were to come to posse comitatus being repealed and the military called out against the civilian population, I imagine a significant fraction, if not an outright majority, of our service members would pause to consider that the leadership of the Democrat party are essentially domestic enemies of the Constitution. Given orders to fire on their own countrymen, many would conclude those to be illegal orders, and instead turn on those who issue them.

Is it any wonder than obama and Janet Napolitano consider returning veterans a source of domestic unrest? Were they to follow their oaths to the letter, this administration would be gone already.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

I've given that a lot of thought over the years, P3. Now I have a (Ret) after my rank, so I'm one of those "returning vets" you mentioned.

I hope you're right. I also hope I never have to find out.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Part of that oath also states that you will carry out the orders of those superiors appointed over you. The President of the United States in the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces therefore making him their superior.. There is also a provision in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that states you do not have to carryout an unlawful order. I would hope that if Odumbo ever gave an order to take away our weapons and told the military to carry it out they would consider that an unlawful order. However, with the politicians we now have as Generals and Admirals I wouldn't bet my life on it. I am looking at this from an enlisted man's view and it could be different for officers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:37 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

Actually, Sarge, that section (...I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice") is NOT included in the oath for officers.

I'm not sure what that might indicate, except that should the order come down, enlisted men cognizant of their oaths would have to choose whether to obey the President or defiant officers. Hopefully, the oath to the Constitution would break the tie.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:20 AM

BJ in St. Cloud, MN said:

The 2nd Amend. is not a granting of a right by a govt. It is not a proclamation of a right by a people. It is not the guideline for a govt to follow when it comes to our right. What it says it that under no circumstances can the govt mess with it. " The U.S. Constitution is a limitation on the govt, not on private individuals.It does not dictate the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of govt. It is not a charter for govt power, but a charter of the citizens protection against the govt."
If our means to resist is minimized, our will to resist will be gone too.

TERM LIMITS-IMPEACH-PROSECUTE-SOON

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Hank in Texas said:

They gonna take our guns so they can put us in chains.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 11:18 PM