“We hold these truths to be self-evident” says the often-quoted Declaration of Independence. Of course, that depends on whom you mean when you say “We”. Self-evident truths are only obvious to those that have already discovered those truths. It seems to be part of the human condition to assume that if I know something, then others must already know it, too. Clearly, this is not always the case.
If someone asks me, “Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” I am absolutely certain that they’ve never made a skydive before. Anyone who has experienced the exhilaration of “flying” like Peter Pan would never need an answer to that question. It would already be “self-evident”. “We” [skydivers] already know many reasons to jump, but in this example “We” are a very small subset of the total population.
“We” [Americans] are fond of parades and picnics on the July4th. “We” [Texans] proudly celebrate March 2nd. “We” [Badnariks] always pose on the living room sofa for a family portrait during the holidays. Each of these traditions is self-evident, but only to the group of people that are included in the editorial “We”.
To whom was Thomas Jefferson referring to when he wrote “We” hold these truths? I am certain that “We” included the fifty-six signers who dedicated their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to defend what they thought must surely be obvious to anyone who contemplates the truths outlined in the document. It’s possible that many of the people living in the thirteen colonies at the time were also familiar with the fundamental concept of Liberty, and by necessity, with the importance of being skilled with firearms. Regrettably, many in today’s society are woefully ignorant on the topic of Liberty, and openly hostile to guns and the significance of the Second Amendment.
Let’s begin with a few assumptions. You are reading these words, which means that you are alive and possess at least some level of intellect. You have a strong desire to stay alive, and you hope to postpone your inevitable mortality until the last possible moment. This general tendency is known as the survival instinct. Every living creature is born with it. Go without water, food, or sleep for longer than you are used to, and these things quickly and automatically become higher priorities in your life.
All animals a biologically designed to respond to a perceived danger using a sympathetic nervous system that we commonly refer to as a “fight or flight” reaction. When all avenues of escape are blocked, even the smallest and most timid creature is capable of responding with fearsome violence in order to fend off a larger predator. This reaction is automatic and generally a surprise to both attacker and victim. No intellectual thought process is required. It just happens.
Some individuals in society possess a level of intellect that allows them to remember the past and anticipate the future. These individuals have pondered the human condition long enough to realize that future danger can be minimized or avoided all together by anticipating what could happen, and planning courses of action appropriate for the situation. This might be loosely categorized as “learning from other people’s mistakes”.
One of the dangers mankind has always faced is the aberrant behavior of a very small minority of our own population. Why are some people overly aggressive and downright mean? What could possibly motivate one person to do severe bodily harm, or even murder another person? The answers to those questions are far beyond the scope of this short article, but it would be irrational to argue that these terrible things do not happen.
So what should a rational person do when faced with the possibility of being murdered? We have already mentioned the automatic “fight or flight” reaction that is hard-wired in each of us at birth. (Surprisingly, some people have actually learned how to suppress this self-preservation response, and will – against all logic – simply allow themselves to become another fatality statistic.) Anyone intellectual enough to anticipate a physical confrontation will also be wise enough to search for a practical and efficient method of neutralizing a threat to their well being.
I will not insult your intelligence by concocting a phony paragraph pretending to “discover” the best tool for stopping an attacker. The cliche’ that advises that you “never take a knife to a gunfight” pretty much sums it up. Without a doubt, a handgun is the very best way to end the life of anyone determined to put a premature end to yours. That may not be pretty, but it is indisputable. Fortunately, a credible threat of violence is often as effective as the violence itself. About 90% of the time, simply pointing a gun at someone will put a stop to their assault, which allows you to protect your own life without being obligated to take someone else’s. Clearly, that would be the best conclusion to a tragic event such as this.
You are probably familiar with the Preamble to the Constitution that begins, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”. You may have been required to memorize that paragraph as part of your early civics training. However I want to draw your attention to the Preamble to the Bill of Rights. (Did you know there was one?) The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution “…in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers…”. Misconstruction is defined as “a kind of misinterpretation resulting from putting a wrong construction on words or actions, often deliberately” [emphasis, mine]
The Second Amendment refers to “a well regulated militia” which opponents of your right to life insist refers to the National Guard. This idea is preposterous! The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, however the National Guard was created by the Militia Act of 1903.1 If the Second Amendment refers only to the National Guard, then the Founding Fathers were able to predict the future, and the amendment stood meaningless for 112 years until Congress finally found the time to fill in the blanks. This argument is so outrageous that it does not deserve the dignity of a response.
Others insist that the Second Amendment only grants a “collective right” to keep and bear arms. This is a blatant oxymoron. The only type of rights that exist are INDIVIDUAL rights! (Read Chapter 3 of my book for a lengthy dissertation on this topic.) We do not share a “collective right” to freedom of speech that is exercised “for us” by the main stream media. Each of has an individual right to say what is on our minds, and government is explicitly forbidden from making ANY law abridging our freedom of expression. Each of us has an individual right to life that is certainly not respected simply because some subset of the population is still alive. How would you respond if you were told, “Yes, you have a right to life, but the community is going to exercise that right in your absence. You will be sorely missed.” As utterly insane as that may sound, that is essentially what the anti-gun people are telling you. Being anti-gun is the same as being anti-life.
So far my examples have imagined threats to your life from one or two individuals. What if a large group of people organized themselves specifically for the purpose of threatening your life? What if this organization enjoyed the public’s perception of legitimacy? How would you feel knowing that this organization spends nearly a billion dollars of our tax money to prosecute and incarcerate innocent people, simply for the purpose of generating widespread fear and compliance? I refer, of course, to the federal department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF, a.k.a. BATF, a.k.a. BATFE). This organization is the only one explicitly tasked with eliminating one of the Bill of Rights!
If Dante were still alive, he would have to create another level of hell specifically for the social miscreants who have the unmitigated gall to swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and then go to work on a daily basis to assiduously violate that oath! How dare they?! This is the department that staged an early morning raid on the Branch Dividians for the sole purpose of creating a video to document how earnestly they were protecting us from “dangerous people” who are not exactly like us. (Admittedly it took the FBI to turn this travesty of justice into a full-fledged national disgrace.) If you have not yet watched the JPFO2 documentary about the (B)ATF(E) called “The Gang”,3 then you owe it to yourself to do so. I didn’t like them before, but now I loathe what those people do with the burning passion of a thousand blazing suns.
The Founding Fathers knew about government oppression first-hand. They had already experienced the irksome and capricious laws conceptualized by King George III and enforced by his aggressive army and navy. They understood at a visceral level why men must join together to overthrow tyranny. The Declaration of Independence states that, “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” The only way to “throw off” a government that has grown tyrannical is by killing, or credibly threatening to kill, the people who are violating your rights, and by extrapolation threatening your life.
THAT is why the Second Amendment was written! It has nothing whatsoever to do with hunting. It really has very little to do with defending yourself from common street thugs. It has everything to do with forcing our public servants to respect the Constitution they so eagerly and superficially swear an oath to protect. To put it more bluntly, the Second Amendment is our “emergency cut-off switch” for a government run amok.
Patrick Henry said, “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect anyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” He also said, “And what country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms! The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
I don’t know about you, but I stand on principle with Henry and Jefferson. The Second Amendment means that we are justified in using deadly force to resist slavery. I refuse to be a slave to anybody. That’s how much I love my Liberty, and that’s why I will never voluntarily relinquish my guns.
So? What’s the problem? Why is there so much controversy surrounding the Second Amendment? I think John Wayne explains it best during his portrayal of a dying gunslinger in The Shootist. He says, “It isn’t always being fast, or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye, or draw a breath, before they pull the trigger. I won’t.” Most Americans are fully aware of the threats to our Liberty. I think the problem with most Americans is that they don’t have the courage to do what it takes to protect their Liberty. I certainly hope I’m wrong. Of course, only time will tell.
2 http://www.jpfo.org (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership)