Unless you have been under a rock the last month or so, you have heard multiple things about the federal government “going after guns”. This issue is very important and multifaceted. I want to talk about why this issue is so important, the Second Amendment, the attacks on it and the people who are attacking it, what we might see and how we as Christian gun owners can respond.
This will be a lot of reading, so I am going to break this up into two articles. The first will explain why this issue is so important. I’ll also touch on the Founding fathers and the Second Amendment. I am going to link to other articles that I think you should read as well. I know this is a lot of reading, but it’s important to know why this fight is so important and to understand the argument for our right to keep and bear arms.
The War on Guns; Part One
The war on guns is not new but in the last few weeks it has reached a fevered pitch. The Obama administration is taking the advice of its former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who suggested “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Please do not misunderstand. Let me make this clear now; the shootings that have happened in recent history are horrific acts committed by depraved and often mentally ill people. Despite this, the Obama administration is using this as an Overton Window to take advantage of the situation and do something they could not have done sooner.
Why Is This So Important?
There are two reasons this issue is so important. The first is because of what we may face and what the past has shown when firearms have been restricted. The second reason knowing this information is important is to have a rebuttal to those who would argue to take our guns.
Having a Ready Response
Security is one of the five basic human needs. I believe it is the most important one, because without it you cannot protect the other four. I believe the Founding Fathers also thought it was vitally important. I do not think it is by mistake that right to “keep and bear arms” is the Second Amendment, following only the right to speak out in protest.
The Apostle Paul told us we should have an answer ready to explain and defend our faith. I think that is good advice for anything you have convictions about. You should be able to logically answer and explain your stance to anyone who challenges you. I say logically because I think people that base their opinion in emotion often don’t sound serious. That is not to say that one cannot be emotional about their beliefs, I just think one should have them rooted in logic and facts and speak passionately.
I was recently asked what a Christian should do if the government comes after guns. I answered that we should follow God’s law any time it and man’s law contradict. If you understand what the Founders intent was when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you’ll have an easier time answering that question on many subjects dealing with our laws, including gun rights.
Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Let me first say that I am not comparing President Obama to Hitler or any other despot. There have been those who believe no civilian should own a firearm since firearms were affordable enough for the average citizen to own one. I will discuss gun grabbers in further detail later in this article series. For now, I want to discuss some of the world leaders who have forced strict gun control on their nation and the outcome it led to.
There is some controversy about Hitler and gun control. From my study of history, I am led to believe that the Weimar Republic had strict gun control in place long before Hitler came to power. Hitler did take advantage of it and Jews were not allowed to own firearms. He is also quoted as saying at a dinner talk on April 11, 1942:
““The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country.”
Joseph Stalin is quoted as saying:
“If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.”
Mao Tze Tung, Nov 6 1938
“All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
Something these and so many other evil men understood is that there are two sure ways to control people, take their guns and take their food. There is a quote that say’s “God created man, Samuel Colt made them equal”. It is a firearm that levels the playing field and gives a people the ability to stand up and resist tyranny.
Some people will say “This could never happen here”. I wonder if the Jews in Germany thought the same thing, or the people of Zimbabwe, Rwanda and so many others.
I saw a post recently on facebook that said “I saw a movie once where only the police and military were allowed to own guns. The name of that movie was “Schindler’s list”. Never Again!
The Founding Fathers
I wrote a series of three articles last year that dealt with the Founding Fathers the Constitution, and the future of America. I also wrote God’s law vs. Man’s law. In them, I explain that it took great courage to write the Declaration of Independence. Aside from the Bible, it is one of the most important documents in existence, largely due to the following sentence:
“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.”
The reason that one sentence is so important is because it states that the rights mentioned above in the Bill of Rights and the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and yes, the right to keep and bear arms are granted by God, and what God grants, man cannot take away.
The Founders knew that a large government could not be trusted. That is why there are so many checks and balances.
The Second Amendment
“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.”
Something important to keep in mind when studying the Bible, the Constitution or any historical document is that context its king. Something taken out of context can completely change what the document means; this is the case with the Second Amendment. I have done a lot of reading the last couple of weeks, shoring up what I didn’t fully understand, keeping track of what the anti-gunners were doing and how pro-gunners were responding. I came across a fantastic document from the Lectric Law Library called The Second Amendment: The Framers’ Intentions. The author does a fantastic job of explaining the wording of the Second Amendment and how the particular words meant something different at the writing of the Second Amendment than they do today. I highly suggest you read it, as I will only touch on some key points of the Amendment. Any of the italicized text in the Second Amendment section comes from The Second Amendment: The Framers’ Intentions.
The first question to answer is; “why would this need to be specified and added as an Amendment?” As Noah Webster, whose name you might recognize from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is quoted:
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe.”
You see, the founders knew that tyrants preferred an unarmed populace. They knew that an over reaching government with a standing army behind it was a threat to the liberty of the citizenry.
Once we understand that these words were very carefully chosen and that the Founders thought they were important enough to make them the Second Amendment, let’s take a look at the words themselves. I’m going to break this into smaller pieces and dissect each one.
A Well Regulated Militia
Context is king. When many people hear the word militia today, they might think of extremists who stock guns and are just waiting for a chance to use them. But, when the Second Amendment was written, the word meant something else.
“When the Constitution was ratified, the Framers unanimously believed that the “militia” included all of the people capable of bearing arms.”
“ALL of the people capable of bearing arms”; this means that according to the founders we are all in the militia. Alright, so anyone who is capable of bearing arms is in the militia, but what exactly does “well regulated militia” mean?
In modern times the word “regulate” often makes one think of the government regulation and restrictions. A much better (and much longer) explanation can be found at The Second Amendment: The Framers’ Intentions. A condensed version is that the founders knew the militia might one day have to fight a standing army raised and supported by the federal government. They would not have made the militia subject to be regulated by the government. Who then would be the regulatory body of the militia? Again, context is king:
“This interpretation is in keeping with English usage of the time, which included within the meaning of the verb “regulate” the concept of self- regulation or self-control (as it does still to this day). The concept that the people retained the right to self-regulate their local militia groups (or regulate themselves as individual militia members) is entirely consistent with the Framers’ use of the indefinite article “a” in the phrase “A well regulated Militia.”
That’s right, “We the people” are to self-regulate our own militia groups made up of anyone capable of bearing arms.
“Being necessary to the security of a free State”
Some of us may say we live under tyranny now, but it pales in comparison to the tyranny the Founders lived under. The Founders knew there were three potential enemies; the first, an invading country, the second, a single terrorist or small groups of terrorists, the last, the standing Army sponsored by the federal government.
It is the job of the standing army to fight against invading forces. It is the job of police agencies to deal with terrorists. It is the job of the militia to be a check against the standing army.
“Thus, “well regulation” referred to something else. Since the fundamental purpose of the militia was to serve as a check upon a standing army, it would seem the words “well regulated” referred to the necessity that the armed citizens making up the militia(s) have the level of equipment and training necessary to be an effective and formidable check upon the national government’s standing army.”
“This view is confirmed by Alexander Hamilton’s observation, in The Federalist, No. 29, regarding the people’s militias ability to be a match for a standing army: ” . . . but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights . . . .”
Of course we don’t have a structured citizen militia as well trained or as well-equipped as the standing army, but this does provide the basis for citizens to own weapons on the same level as the average soldier. This would not apply to planes, tanks, mine or grenades, but it would permit semi-auto rifles and semi-auto handguns with high capacity magazines.
The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The first two parts of the Second Amendment set the stage for why the people have the (God given) right to keep and bear arms. This last part flatly states the right shall not be infringed.
“Furthermore, returning to the text of the Second Amendment itself, the right to keep and bear arms is expressly retained by “the people,” not the states. Recently the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this view, finding that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right held by the “people,” — a “term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution,” specifically the Preamble and the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Thus, the term “well regulated” ought to be considered in the context of the noun it modifies, the people themselves, the militia(s).”
Here is another fantastic piece from Roanoke.com called In Webster’s English. It explains that the English language has changed since the writing of the Second Amendment and uses the first Webster’s dictionary to explain it.
The Second Amendment in Modern Times
There have been some recent developments with the Second Amendment. First, on August 24, 2004, the Justice Department released a brief on Whether the Second Amendment Secures an Individual Right.. They state:
“we conclude that the Second Amendment secures a personal right of individuals, not a collective right that may only be invoked by a State or a quasi-collective right restricted to those persons who serve in organized militia units.”
In the wake of illegal confiscation of firearms after Hurricane Katrina, there was H.R. 5013 (109th): Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006, which, among other things, states:
“The Second Amendment to the Constitution states that 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’, and Congress has repeatedly recognized this language as protecting an individual right.”
Most recently, on 6-28-2010, the Supreme Court upheld, 5-4, that The Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws.
The Founding Fathers clearly laid out that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right. There have been many evil men who have tried to control their people by outlawing the ownership of firearms. I believe the Founders knew this was a possibility in the future of our nation, which is why they spelled it out. Even though they spelled it out, some have tried to muddy its meaning. With the paper from the Justice Department and the decision from the Supreme Court it is clear:
The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
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