As in years past, as Independence Day, AKA the July 4th holiday draws near, I ponder the founding fathers' intention when they penned the Bill of Rights. The ever-important document which, among other things, protects the basic and inherent rights of Americans to speak freely, follow any religion, and the bear arms.
The 4th of July and the Second Amendment—
When it comes to firearms and the Second Amendment, the recent United States Supreme Court Ruling on New York State Pistol & Rifle Association v. Bruen is bigger than anything in the last decade.
Of course, there is always considerable debate about what the founders intended when they wrote:
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.
Some say it doesn't matter what the founders thought, and others that it does. I have to ask myself if it really matters what they intended? Do we really know exactly what each one of the drafters thought? Maybe not. And did they all believe the same exact thing? Probably not.
But does that mean we should just rewrite the Second Amendment because firearm technology changed? I don't think so. I think if we ponder the question: ‘why did the founding fathers find it necessary to include gun ownership as a right?' we will get as close to the founders' intent as possible.
What Was the Founders Intent of the Second Amendment—
Does anyone actually think the founding fathers included the Second Amendment because they really loved hunting animals? It makes much more sense to understand the Second Amendment in its historical context.
The founding fathers just fought off the army of the world's largest superpower. And it all started when the British moved to disarm the colonists. They understood the important role firearms play in turning back a government that moves to subjugate its people. After all, the Bill of Rights is a restraining force on the powers of the government, not on the people.
And, just as we see today, the founding fathers saw people commit acts of violence against their fellow citizens. They understood that armed people can terrorize unarmed people. So in order for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to apply, the individual had the right to defend themselves with arms.
Two of the first military battles of the revolutionary war were the battles of Lexington and Concord. Here is what happened on the morning of April 19th, 1775, in Lexington, Massachusetts:
At dawn on April 19, some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. A British major yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels.”
And the rest is history.
Now I think Americans now can look to what the Second Amendment means for us today. Did anything really change? Do governments have less of a propensity to turn against their people. Nope? Have people become less prone to commit acts of violence and murder? Again, no.
One of the most common threads of history is that those who have power will do anything to keep, 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 was different. Our founding generation was full of people who were upset because they were paying taxes but didn't have a voice in government. They wanted freedom. That generation wanted a government that worked for them and put their best interests before anything else. And they were willing to fight, and die for it.
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. People now beg for the federal government to control more of their lives. To tell them how to live, what to say, and to determine what they deserve. The great lie is that the government has your and my best interest in mind.
Think back to what happened in Massachusetts on April 19th, 1775, and contrast that with the oppressive laws in the state today. Look at how for “progress” has brought us.
What is Independence Day and the Second Amendment Mean to Me—
In summary for me, I feel that the importance for the citizenry to own, carry, and use firearms is more critical than ever before. Guns exist and it isn't rational to think we can eliminate all of them, or stop criminals from getting and using them.
Therefore, law-abiding citizens need them and have a constitutional right to them. Thankfully, our founding fathers also understood human nature and the nature of governmental powers, and included it in the Bill of Rights.
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, over freedom and individual responsibility.
God Bless America!
Here are some quotes from our founding fathers about the Right to Bear Arms:
Here is a post with many great quotes from the generation of founding fathers. I also thought I would include some of my favorites from the list.
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
** This is an updated article, originally published on July 2nd, 2015 **