As we approach the July 4th holiday I've been pondering the founding generation's intention when they penned the bill of rights which protects the basic and inherent rights of Americans to speech, religion, and the bearing of arms among other things. I've seen considerable debate about what the founders intended when they wrote that the people should have the right to bear arms. I have to ask myself if it really matters what they intended? Times change and the reality of firearms in America is not the only thing that has changed over time. The burden of currently living Americans is to help determine what these laws mean for us today… not what they meant to the generations of 250 years ago.
That said, history is our greatest teacher and the most common thread of history is that those who have power will do anything to keep it and expand it. So was the case of King George when he sent his military forces to the American colonies to squash the “rebellion” before it could get carried away. Today we have political parties who operate under the control of people and organizations who feel the same way about the power and influence they feel they currently have. George Washington just wanted to go back to being a farmer, but today's politicians don't have any real life or career outside of the legislature and we as the people haven't been willing to hold them accountable.
The founding generation I fear was a different kind of people. Our founding generation was full of people who were upset because they were paying taxes but didn't have a voice in government. Today I fear that too many in our society prefer the system of paying taxes, assuming the government will take care of you, but not having any sense or regard for what is happening in government.
In summary for me, I feel that the importance for the citizenry to be able to own, carry, and use firearms is more critical than ever before. Guns exist and it isn't practical to think we can get rid of them or stop criminals from getting them or using them. Therefore law abiding citizens need them and have a constitutional right to them.
This July 4th as you eat BBQ, watch fireworks, and sing the national anthem remember that the “American Experiment” will only work if the people abandon the sense of apathy and comfort and begin to look more closely at what is being done and how we can effect the change we need.
God Bless America!
Here are some quotes from our founding fathers about the Right to Bear Arms:
Buckeye Firearms keeps a great list of founding father quotes updated on their website. Check it out here. I'm adding just a few of my favorites below.
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…”
– George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They 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.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776
“The thoughtful reader may wonder, why wasn’t Jefferson’s proposal of ‘No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms’ adopted by the Virginia legislature? They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin, “Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor”, November 11, 1755
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”
– James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788