By KrisAnne Hall, JD
What many citizens and legislators do not understand is that the federal government has no right to prevent any law-abiding citizen from owning or possessing any firearm. The entire argument for gun control is built upon a false premise. The Second Amendment is not about self-defense from criminals.
As unpleasant as it may be for this modern society to say out loud, historically and constitutionally speaking, the right of the people to keep and bear arms has always been a right to protect yourself from those in power who want to enslave you. If America wants to engage in a real factual debate on the right to keep and bear arms, then it must be approached from the proper perspective.
The Constitution and its history is unequivocally clear on this. Here is a little Second Amendment history lesson so we can defend our Rights from becoming government bestowed privileges.
Everything we need to know was explained by our founders in the years 1787-1788. Lesson one comes from George Mason, who along with James Madison, is referred to as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.” Seems to me a good person to listen to when it comes to any portion of the Bill of Rights is someone who is referred to as its “Father.” Mason first explains the reason we are to bear arms, and guess what? — it has nothing to do with hunting and skeet shooting…or fighting muggers.
Lesson one: The militia explained
“Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, (Sir William Keith) who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia. [Here Mr. Mason quoted sundry passages to this effect.] Why should we not provide against the danger of having our militia, our real and natural strength, destroyed? The general government ought, at the same time, to have some such power. But we need not give them power to abolish our militia.” (George Mason, Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1788)
In the words of the “Father,” we bear arms to keep from becoming enslaved by the federal government. But Mason doesn’t end his lesson there, he continues by making sure we know who the militia is and this is contrary to what most politicians profess.
“Mr. Chairman, a worthy member has asked who are the militia, if they be not the people of this country, and if we are not to be protected from the fate of the Germans, Prussians, etc., by our representation? I ask, Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor…” (George Mason, Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788)
So Mason explains We The People are the militia who bear arms to keep from being enslaved by the federal government and to protect ourselves from the tyranny of our representatives, whose dereliction would lead us to suffer the same fate as foreign nations.
Lesson two: Who we need protection from
This comes from the great patriot Noah Webster. Speaking on the threat of an overpowering central government, he further explains, with great clarity, the reason our founders intended the entire citizenry be armed.
“Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.” (Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787)
There is no need for interpretation. These instructions are written in plain English. Why do we bear arms according to Noah Webster?
To prevent rule by a standing army;
To prevent Congress from executing unjust and unconstitutional laws;
To prevent the Federal Government from becoming unjust and oppressive;
The people bearing arms should be superior to an army controlled by Congress.
Lesson three: Duty to bear arms
This comes from a founder referred to in pseudonym as Letter from a Federal Farmer (most likely Richard Henry Lee, writer of the Resolution Declaring Independence). Lee explains,
“[W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.” (Letter from the Federal Farmer #18, January 25, 1788)
Lee explains that it is our duty to not simply bear arms, but to always bear arms. Lee is probably rolling over in his grave at the idea that we have to ask permission of the government to carry a firearm. How about that directive that we also must teach our children to bear arms?
Our final lessons today come from Patrick Henry, who was probably one of the most passionate champions of the citizen’s duty to bear arms. No one can break it down like Patrick Henry.
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” (Patrick Henry Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1788)
“Oh, sir! we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone;…Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all? You read of a riot act in a country which is called one of the freest in the world, where a few neighbors can not assemble without the risk of being shot by a hired soldiery, the engines of despotism. We may see such an act in America.” (Patrick Henry Virginia Ratifying Convention June 5, 1788)
Well, there you have it; an historical and truthful education on your Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The writings is easy to find and easy to read. Why are our politicians and media talking heads bent on disseminating miseducation and lies? Perhaps they repeat the lies because they intend on disarming the people, because they know, as our founders did, that an armed citizenry is the last line of defense against absolute tyranny.
A proper debate on one’s right to keep and bear arms is not one that is framed in the terms of whether you can feel safe from wicked and depraved people, full of hate and malice, who want to hurt you. You will never feel safe from those people and those people will not cease to exist just because you are not allowed to legally own a gun. Why? Because those people do not care about laws and they will always find a way to hurt and destroy, with or without gun laws.
If society is honest and historically accurate, the only question that has any relevance to the gun control debate is:
“Do you trust those in government, now and forever in the future, to not take your life, liberty, or property through the force of government?”
If the answer to that question is “no,” the gun control debate is over.
KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com
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