Deserving neither liberty nor security

For the last three weeks the debates surrounding the latest massacre involving a deranged shooter has once again split the nation into warring camps. This time seems to be somewhat different. The call for repealing the Second Amendment that the Supreme Court has ruled to be an individual right for private possession of firearms is louder than ever.

You would think that after every government agency charged with an element of responsibility in the provision of security to the public, catastrophically failed in their duty, that the debate might take a different course. That isn’t happening as the media fans the flames of ignorance on individual rights, the relevance of holding a practical means of self-defense and the abdication of responsibility of government to fulfill its most basic duty to protect.

I read with interest media commentary; the theme remains the same; “the 2nd Amendment refers to a militia, not an individual right”, “we support the Second Amendment but…,” “there is no place for weapons of war in civilian hands” and so on. Oddly, the fact that every level of government failed to intervene at all, let alone effectively over a period of several years leading up to the Valentine’s Day massacre in Florida has been dismissed. The real villain, so the public is told, is the National Rifle Association (NRA) who is charged with giving millions of dollars to buy off politicians and therefore has blood on its hands even though 2nd Amendment opponents give and spend far more to undermine the 2nd Amendment.

“Tube-sock solutions” (one size fits all) abound; “let’s raise the age limit to 21 to buy any firearm.” You can vote at 18, involuntarily serve in the military at 18, but not purchase a hunting rifle? Who would tell Lieutenant Audie Murphy, who by age 19 had won every combat decoration in WWII, including a battlefield officer’s commission and the Medal of Honor that upon his return home at age 20, would be told “sorry Murphy, you’re not old enough to be trusted with a gun.”

Let’s sort out a few facts, some of them unpleasant. The Second Amendment doesn’t exist to produce good target shooters and squirrel hunters. The Second Amendment exists to protect the First Amendment, which is also under siege by the same groups opposed to the 2nd Amendment and all of the amendments to the Constitution that follow.

I recognize that some academics scoff at the notion that a military superpower can be cowed by citizen-soldiers armed with small arms (rifles and handguns) but there are a few million Iraqis and Afghans who have been doing exactly that for the last several decades. There is also the inconvenient fact that the American Revolution was started by armed citizen-soldiers and the first shots were fired by local “militiamen” standing up to the legally constituted authorities (the British government) and the most powerful army in the world. Yes, they got a little help and needed a lot of training to eventually win their independence from Britain but the ability of citizens to effectively stand up to the British was directly attributable to the fact the colonists had abundant access to firearms. The British attempted to aggressively “cut off all arms and ammunition at the source by prohibiting the export of these articles from Britain and elsewhere (Holland) and the import thereof into the colonies.” (The Founders Second Amendment, Holbrook). The battles of Lexington and Concord resulted from British attempts to seize powder and shot from local militia being stored at Concord. In Boston, British General Gage ordered all firearms to be turned in to “appropriate authorities” with at first, little compliance. He followed that up with personal searches (stop and frisk) and of the homes of Bostonians, promising if they voluntary turned in their weapons they would be permitted to leave Boston.

After they complied Gage reneged and held the entire populace hostage, subject to whims and abuses of his troops, including outrages against women. (It’s interesting as a side note that after the Boston Marathon bombing that the Boston police conducted house-to-house searches for the suspects, ordering families from their homes without search warrants as SWAT teams pointed their guns at unarmed civilians exiting their homes. Could they do this again when searching for an armed suspect who just robbed a liquor store?)

I’ve used the word “militia” several times but even a cursory study of colonial militias revealed they were homegrown and encompassed virtually every able-bodied male between 16 and 60, who provided their own weapons and ammunition. Failure to comply resulted in fines, imprisonment and in some cases, hanging. In essence, you and I are the militia and bear ultimate responsibility for our personal and national defense. Furthermore, the weapons held by the colonists included rifles superior to the muskets used by British troops. Colonial rifles were accurate to several hundred yards whereas the British musket was accurate to about 50 to 75 yards. Colonial marksmen were so deadly that British officers posted to America during our revolution were counseled to have all their personal affairs in order as the Continentals were noted for picking off British Officers (considered barbaric by the British) at Bunker Hill and every subsequent action.

A lot of blood has been spilled to preserve our constitutional rights. Once gone, you won’t get them back. Most of the offered solutions to our violent culture amount to Band-aids on cancer; we need to look much deeper as to why these tragedies are occurring while not forgetting the admonition of Ben Franklin: “He who sacrifices liberty in the pursuit of security will have (or deserve) neither.”


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