We live in a political body built upon checks and balances. The Executive, Legislative, Judicial branches; accompanied by the media and the people themselves, are the 5 major entities of a government.
The Constitution explicitly grants certain powers to each body, such as the freedom of the press to media, or the right to make currency to Congress. The people are also allowed rights: to vote, to due process, to free speech, as well as to bear arms.
The Declaration of Independence states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
While this is not a legal document, the Declaration of Independence provides historical context necessary to interpreting the Constitution.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
In our democratic system, the people choose their representatives on the basis of the candidate’s ability to secure the basic rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”
Before a new government is established, it is the responsibility of the people and the representatives that they elect to effectively alter government policy in order to fulfill the expressed function of government.
The first amendment establishes the rights of the people necessary to attempt to alter the existing government.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The media and religion can both influence politics and culture to invoke change. But when that simply does not work; when the free press is an travesty born of monopoly and the sit in doesn’t cause a stir on Capitol Hill, one can only take arms as the original founders of our country did.
The second amendment grants the people the right to bear arms, and states the necessity of a militia.
“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.”
Why is it that the founding fathers found it necessary to allow every American citizen the right to tote firearms?
The British government in the 1700’s was one of the most powerful and advanced on the planet. It set the political, economic, and cultural tempo for the entire globe, much like America does today. However, in many ways it was a tyrannical government; so tyrannical that American citizens violently revolted against their oppressors in the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first of the revolution. The battle of Concord was a tactical attempt of the British to seize the weapons of the Americans. If these citizens were not able to possess arms, they would have been at the mercy of government armies. Citizens having guns is the first safeguard against tyranny.
Some would argue that the idea of a civilian militia is outdated, and the costs surely outweigh the benefits. These people truly do not believe that their current government would repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the freedoms provided in the first amendment are sufficient to curb government policy. They tend to believe that no freely elected leader could become a tyrant.
A Nazi Germany which elected Adolph Hitler, a fascist Spain which persecuted Spaniard Republican opposition; these are portraits of potential evil. Leaders like this can take power democratically. One of the first things Hitler did was ban guns. No guns, no opposition. Granted there would still be a black market, but that’s where his Gestapo police state came in.
Now what if there were no civilian guns to begin with, and we Americans elect a schmuck president (it wouldn’t be the first time). He seems nice enough, but he really starts tightening his grip as his term goes on. When he finally does cross the line, who will be able to stop him? His “subjects” are helpless because the president controls basically all arms in the country. Whoever has the gun makes the rules; if you don’t play by them, you die.
Call it far-fetched, but in a post-9/11 world is it so unbelievable to think that in the wake of another terrorist attack that the constitution would be run over? Once the constitution is effectively marginalized, what stops those in power from taking more?
All that I ask is that we do not neuter ourselves. Do not take away the people’s ultimate counterbalance to correct a system unable to correct itself.