I honestly wanted to stay out of this today. Upon hearing about the massacre in Oregon, my first, most honest thought was “Dear Lord, be with these people and their families”, followed by “Dear Lord, please keep the usual suspects from shooting off their mouths about gun control again”. While I’m sure God answered my first prayer, and continues to, I apparently wasn’t quick enough on the draw to keep the second request from being spectacularly, gratingly, and predictably unanswered.
Oh well. Another day, another tragedy set to the music of the left and their love of flying right past the point to the most idiotic of conclusions. Like so many other times before, this cacophony of predictable inevitability was led by the Big Piper himself, our illustrious president, who said the following:
“This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loves ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it safes [sic] lives. The notion that gun violence is somehow different—that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt, and protect their families, and do everything they do under such regulations—doesn’t make sense.”
This, like so many of the completely pointless talking points about guns and “gun control”, is full of hyperbole, full of high-sounding rhetoric, and…well, not much else. There is an element of our society that gobbles this nonsense up, regurgitating it ad nauseum all over the social media sphere. The problem is, it’s not the issue, not the point, and…not even really even coherent.
There is no logical argument that can be made that we have a “gun problem” in this country. I own several guns, of various calibers and styles, each for various purposes. Some for “plinking”(another word for casual target shooting), some for hunting, some for self defense and home defense, and the others, which are for the actual purposes of the Second Amendment. See, none of those other purposes have anything whatsoever to do with the Second Amendment. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. There is nothing in the Second Amendment about target shooting, hunting, protecting my family…anywhere. Those rights are inherent. They aren’t contained in the Second Amendment. Just so we’re clear, here’s what the amendment says:
“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.”
This amendment, for the initiated, cannot be made more easy to understand; however, to understand it, one big hurdle must be overcome, which is to cease all attempts at attaching 21st century language to the wording, and look, rather, at what it says in light of when it was written. Further, you can find the clear intent in the wealth of commentary by the founders on what this amendment is about, why it was written, as well as specificity of definition as to the terms that cause so many undue grief. Let’s begin with the big one…”militia”.
In understanding the word “militia” according to the framers, one needn’t look very far, or very hard. Although not a name brand to the generally educated, Tench Coxe, a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1787, defined a militia quite well…and it has absolutely nothing to do with an official army-other than to keep said army in check:
“The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.”
The popular sentiment among those who push for more government oversight and controls over guns, ammunition, purchasing, and the when and where, displays either an ignorance of the plain definition, or an intention in keeping the masses ignorant themselves. The militia is, simply put, “We, the People”. It isn’t a government sanctioned, government regulated standing army, as the familiar straw man goes. Ah, but there’s that other word that is overused and yet dramatically misunderstood: regulated.
I can hear them now; “See? See? Guns need to be regulated by the government!” They say, with a sort of semi-triumphant smirk, as if they’ve won something in the argument. Alas, for them, once again, the talking point is foiled, by historicity and the fine folks at Constitution.org, who did due diligence in putting the following together.
“The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:”
1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”
1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”
1812: “The equation of time … is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”
1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.”
1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”
1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”
“The phrase “well-regulated” was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. Establishing government oversight of the people’s arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it.”
As the arguments from the gun control lobby typically go, these historical facts alone disarm their two most oft-used arguments completely. All that is left after this is simply “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. But, just for the record, let’s define and flesh out another phrase that is apparently hard for some to grasp- the phrase “shall not be infringed”. For this, I will turn to the good ol’ dictionary:
past tense: infringed; past participle: infringed
1. actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.).
“making an unauthorized copy would infringe copyright”
2. act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.
“his legal rights were being infringed”
synonyms: restrict, limit, curb, check, encroach on
I will risk, using the facts laid out above, a modern take on the amendment, as best as the facts allow:
“The citizens of the United States, functioning as expected, being necessary to the security of a free State, shall not have their rights to keep and bear arms contravened, violated, transgressed, broken, breached,restricted, limited, curbed, checked, or encroached upon.”
But there is still the matter of the POINT of the Second Amendment. See, even with all of this evidence, the preponderance of facts, the familiar fall back usually goes along the lines of “no one wants to take your deer rifle or your handgun-we just want the guns harder to get”. Which would be fine, except for a couple of problems:
1. Criminals, as a rule, don’t buy guns at the gun store (https://www.nraila.org/articles/20150904/study-criminals-don-t-get-guns-from-legal-sources), and
2. That thought process has nothing to do with the purpose of the Second Amendment.
The singular purpose for which the Second Amendment was created is enumerated right in the middle of the text: “being necessary to the security of a free State”. Okay, what does THAT mean? For that, we’ll turn back to the founders, and to Mr. Thomas Jefferson, as he writes to James Madison in December of 1787:
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
And there you have it, folks. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting, government regulation, armies, or any of that. It’s simple and stated purpose is to give the people the means to protect themselves against tyranny in government. We are, all of us, endowed with an unrestricted and uninfringe-able right to keep and bear arms to keep the government in check. We, the People. Jefferson spoke at length on the subject, in fact, and also had this to say, in a letter to John Cartwright in June of 1824:
“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
It serves, therefore, nothing but sheer madness that we would even entertain (and indeed, in small doses, we have entertained far too much already) even the thought of giving the reins of our precious guarantee of liberty over, in any manner, to the government for which we HAVE such an amendment. It truly boggles my mind when folks start up the familiar tropes and refrains, based almost solely in emotionalism, and a need to “do something”, even when the something they prescribe does absolutely nothing in the realm of their aim. It does quite the opposite, actually.
Which leads me to Oregon. And countless other tragedies. Did you see the sign in the opening of this article? The “Gun Free Zone” sign? That is how those signs read to the evildoers that do these horrific deeds. Have you noticed that in every media-saturated instance like this, we will almost always find out that it was a “gun free zone”? Want to know why? I’ll tell you why, in a very true story, told to me some years ago by a well known gun store owner in North Alabama.
On a particular day, with a police car parked in front, no less, a man walks into this gun store, brandishes a gun, and demands cash. As anyone who has ever frequented a gun store knows, every employee is “well regulated” and armed. Plus, did I mention that a POLICE CAR was parked in front of the main entrance? At any rate, as the store owner is recounting this event, he pauses after telling us the perpetrator’s demand and action….then says, with a small upturn on the corner of his mouth, “I think they counted 40 or 45 bullet holes in the guy”.
And THAT, ladies and gents, is why monsters pick “gun free zones”.
The problem we have today is not a preponderance of guns. Guns are tools. Inanimate objects, no more harmful than a paperweight on their own. No, our problem is a preponderance of evil, unchecked. Evil is not much different than a cockroach colony; left unchecked, it will spread and multiply. But pull out a Roach Motel, and roaches check in, but…well, you know the rest.
Evil. Our society has a heart problem. Of course, societies all throughout history have had heart problems. Evil isn’t some new entity in 21st century America. But not all evil looks evil. It’s easy to look at the bastard who did this today and call him evil. Do you want to know, however, what I find even more evil? The gun free zone he picked out; and make no mistake, he picked it out specifically. People who do these kinds of dastardly deeds want to be powerful-they want control. To incite fear. If there’s even a chance that they will meet with lethal resistance, or even if they simply believe they will, they’ll move on. It’s why predators tend to isolate the young calves, the wounded…the defenseless. It’s the exact same principle at play. Putting up a sign that says “we’re all helpless in here!” is absolutely ludicrous. Creating a rule to the same effect, be it on a college campus, or wherever, will get the same result. Does anyone really expect an evil person, intent on doing evil, to walk up to a “gun free zone”, read the sign that says “no weapons allowed”, and mutter “well gosh darn it to heck” and walk away, thwarted?? Really? Come on, folks, think. THINK.
Going after the Second Amendment, even chipping away at small corners of it (which is what is always suggested every single time someone does this stuff) is completely out of the question. Because of the larger issue, the point of the thing in the first place, which I’ve laid out already. As such, any time “gun control” is mentioned, millions of law abiding gun owners are going to resist, call a foul. You call us “heartless”, ask us “why we don’t care about the victims”, an assortment, a barrage of emotionally laden, nonsensical things. Hyperbole designed to quell debate. Truth is, we don’t WANT the debate. Because there simply isn’t one. Not one that is remotely realistic. Occam’s Razor postulates that, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. It’s why we fall back on simplistic, common sense, “bumper sticker” answers to these calls for gun control.
“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”.
“Criminals don’t obey laws. That’s why they’re called criminals”.
“Gun control laws won’t stop lawbreakers.”
Yes, we have quite a few. Know why we use them? Because they’re incontrovertible. Unassailable. Really, they are. But the best common sense arguments are the ones used by those who were around when the Second Amendment was crafted:
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
“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
For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, December 21, 1787
“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
– William Pitt (the Younger), Speech in the House of Commons, November 18, 1783
God bless the families of those killed and injured in Oregon. It is a tragedy, perhaps preventable, perhaps not; we can only speculate. An act of pure evil, done by an evil man, with evil in his heart. Those are the realities, and the families deserved better, all of them over the years, than this silly political theater in the name of “necessity”. To give up any essential liberty for temporary illusions of safety is folly. To cry “necessity!” in the pursuit of giving up freedoms is foolish. Evil is what we are dealing with, not tools. To deal with the evil in the hearts of men is God’s job, ultimately. It is the job of those who would defend the defenseless, however, to be prepared at all times to do so, in whatever measure is required to see it done. After all, as Edmund Burke so eloquently put it,
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I would add this: The only thing worse than doing nothing is doing the wrong thing, simply in the clarion call to “do something”.