The right to bear arms in America is an issue that has been debated heavily the last half of the 20th century. Many folks believe that no good can ever come from owning such a destructive device, while other maintain that the right to bear arms is the only preserver of freedom left in America. Now, each side always seems to have the facts and figures to reaffirm their speculative assessment, but rather than sling mud, and quote figures that may or may not be true, lets look at a few reasons why the right to keep and bear arms in America is such an important one. We will look at this first from a Constitutional perspective and then from a more philosophical non-Constitutional perspective.
We will first view this from a Constitutional perspective. That is, the rights guaranteed to the people of America by their governing bodies. First we will look at the ever changing interpretation of the second amendment to the Constitution, which stats that “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.” Now, at first glance this amendment seems to guarantee the freedom to keep and bear arms to all American citizens, for the intent of maintaining a well regulated militia. This seems simple enough, but the proponents of gun control maintain that the word militia applies not to citizens, but to national defense parties, such as the army, navy etc. If you’re like most people you may be asking yourself what exactly is a militia. Well, Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Militia” as:
1.a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.
2.a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.
3.all able-bodied males considered by law eligible for military service.
4.a body of citizens organized in a paramilitary group and typically regarding themselves as defenders of individual rights against the presumed interference of the federal government.
Let us note that in several of the definitions, a militia is defined as “a body of citizens” and not a formal organization or party such as the U.S. Army. But, lets not just take Webster’s word for it, Let’s take a deeper look at why our founding fathers deemed the right to keep and bear arms important enough to include in the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Our founding fathers understood, having just escaped from a tyrannical government, that the governing bodies could easily become too powerful when marked with absolutely no sort of forceful opposition. The framers of the Constitution understood that above all, the inalienable rights of all men included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They knew that some form of checks and balances must exist, not only from governing branch to governing brach, but from governing body to the people. The intent of the second amendment is just a that, a form of check from governing body to the governed. They knew that without this form of check and balance, the governing body would be able to subject their will on the people of America with no questioning or opposition of that subjection. Now we see the picture coming into a bit more focus. The right to keep and bear is not just about the right to keep and bear pieces of forged steel that hurl projectile, but about the right of the people to maintain and pursue those inalienable rights life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Now that we’ve looked at the right to keep and bear arms from a constitutional perspective lets look at it from a non-Constitutional perspective. A broader perspective that applies not only to Americans, but to all people. I do this to illustrate the point that just because our forefathers thought it was a good idea, does make it necessarily so. Now our founding fathers fathers believed that the inalienable rights given to all men were God-given. Which was their basis for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness agenda.
Now, constitution and forefathers aside, what differentiates opinion from fact? After all, if it was just the empty opinion of our forefathers that the right to keep and bear arms is a good idea, then all it takes to deflate their opinion is another persons opinion. After all, without any basis or foundation for thinking something, what is it but one mans theory or idea versus another mans? And how is that theory or idea to survive any attack or scrutiny if it is not rooted in some sort of higher ideal? The point being that if the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not God-given then we have no inherent rights whatsoever. What we would have are detailed expressions of what certain people decided to be right or wrong simply based on personal opinion. Thus, we must consider that if the natural rights of people are in fact, God-given, then they are not simply our forefathers opinions but rights given to us by God himself. Now we could go into a discussion of what I mean by God, but that is an entirely different essay. For the sake of this essay I use God as a higher power than our own, with no religious emphasis added.
Here, we have seen that right to keep and bear arms, whether it is justified by the Constitution or not, is the right of the people. But more importantly we have seen that the right to keep and bear arms is not simply the right to own a gun or a glorified, fabricated piece of metal, it is in fact the very right that secures all other rights. Is it the right that maintains all other rights, including the right to speak out against it. Thank You