by Mike Daggertt “The essence of humanity is freedom. Government -- whether voted in peacefully or thrust upon us by force -- is essentially the negation of freedom. Throughout the history of the world, people have achieved freedom when those in power have begrudgingly given it up. From the assassination of Julius Caesar to King John’s forced signing of the Magna Carta, from the English Civil War to the triumph of the allies at the end of World War II, from the fall of Communism to the Arab Spring, governments have permitted so-called nobles and everyday folk to exercise more personal freedom as a result of their demands for it and their fighting for it. This constitutes power permitting liberty.' 'The American experience was the opposite. Here, each human being is sovereign, as the colonists were after the Revolution. Here, the delegation to the government of some sovereignty -- the personal dominion over self -- by each American permitted the government to have limited power in order to safeguard the liberties we retained. Stated differently, Americans gave up some limited personal freedom to the new government so it could have the authority and resources to protect the freedoms we retained. Individuals are sovereign in America, not the government. This constitutes liberty permitting power.” (Judge Napolitano) There is a common misconception surrounding the Gun Control debate- the truth is that the Second Amendment bears no reference to weapons for the use of hunting, or even the natural right to defend oneself and one's family. A large part of our country has been convinced that "there is no reason for anyone to own an 'assault weapon', or high capacity ammunition magazine." They are under the impression that, for hunting and home defense purposes, these weapons of the battlefield serve no purpose; that allowing people to have such dangerous weaponry simply because "it's my right to have whatever I want" is irresponsible and illogical (which would be reasonable- if that was what the argument was actually about). Those people have been deceived and misdirected by an adminstration making very effective use of "sensible" terminology and emotion thick pleas to "protect our children." The true debate, however, centers not around the weapons' use in hunting or home defense at all- but around the very basis of our Constitution and the truth about where Liberty comes from and how it is preserved. To those who argue that the Second Amendment is outdated and archaic, I present a poignant quote, attributed (most likely erroneously) to Thomas Jefferson, but true nonetheless, “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” The recent push for a regulation of military style firearms- nay, their proposed outright ban by the federal government- threatens the very foundation of this country's liberty. While that may seem like a hyperbole, I assure you that it appears as such only to those who misunderstand history or the fundamental importance of the Second Amendment. Allow me to explain a few things: -First, let's look at the text of 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." (Constitution) -How is a militia relevent to the freedom of our country? Isn't that what the military is for? “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.” ― Thomas Jefferson "A widely reprinted article by Tench Coxe, an ally and correspondent of James Madison, described the Second Amendment's overriding goal as a check upon the national government's standing army [emphasis added]." (Schultz) -Come on, OUR modern day government is incapable of tyranny! I find that the Framers of the Constitution, the very men whose experience and insight helped craft our magnificent governing doctrine, can often be referred to in response to the arguments of today's ill-informed. For example, to those who contend that it is merely paranoid delusion that our very own government could ever have malevolent intentions, Thomas Jefferson expounds upon government's tendency to infringe on the rights of its citizens if left unchecked, “Unless the mass [the people] retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these [powers] will be perverted to their [the people's] own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust [those in power].” In other words, "Power corrupts." And as further evidence of the Founding Fathers understanding of this principle of human nature, the very insistence on a system of "checks and balances" clearly demonstrates their distrust of those who would be in power and observation that no man or group of men ought to be thought immune to the corrupting influence of power. "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." -James Madison The attempt of a government to deny or limit its citizens' access to the kinds of weapons that would serve those citizens to oppose that government, if need be, is not only sinister-it should have us, the citizens, outraged! -Ok, but who is the "militia"? According US Code Title 10, Subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 13, § 311: (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are— (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia. (Cornell) So, if you meet the requirements and are not exempted, then you are part of the militia. If you're in the National Guard, then you're part of the ORGANIZED militia; otherwise, you fall under the UNORGANIZED militia. It's that simple- written in black and white. -But where does the militia get its guns—and what kinds of guns should be available? The Supreme Court made it very clear how the Second Amendment should be interpreted in the 1939 United States v. Miller ruling: "The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time." (Justicia.com) I call your attention to the last phrase: "...these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in COMMON USE AT THE TIME." Two hundred years ago, a musket was in "common use at the time" as the standard military equipment used in battle. Would the Minutemen have emerged victorious in the Revolutionary war had they gone to battle equipped only with the swords and arrows of yesteryear? Today the weapons "of the kind in common use at the time" are the "militaristic" weaponry under attack by the federal government; "Assault weapons" if you will (the term was invented in the 90s as a political tool in favor of gun control- in actuality, an "assault rifle" is nothing more than a "scary-looking" semi-automatic rifle. Politicians coined the term "assault rifle" as a tactic to alienate and demonize this type of weapon in the eyes of the uninformed public; a tactic that has proven very effective). One argument I often hear is along the lines of "well, your puny assault rifles are really no match for the artillery and air power of the US government ANYWAY, so what’s the point?!"- to which I simply submit as evidence the effectiveness of the Taliban's significantly inferior arsenal in comparison to that same artillery and air power, or the Syrian rebels' use of assault weapons to defy Assad's well equipped regime. -And what of the "well regulated" part?? "Thus, the well regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state was a militia that might someday fight against a standing army raised and supported by a tyrannical national government. Obviously, for that reason, the Framers did not say "A Militia well regulated by the Congress, being necessary to the security of a free State" -- because a militia so regulated might not be separate enough from, or free enough from, the national government, in the sense of both physical and operational control, to preserve the "security of a free State." "The unorganized militia members, "the people," had the right to keep and bear arms. They could, individually, or in concert, "well regulate" themselves...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." [as opposed to "the" Militia]" (Schultz) Now that we've breifly discussed the history and relevence of the Second Amendment, lets take a moment to examine the logic behind the current arguments for undermining our ability to defend our freedom: -"Joe Schmoe doesn't NEED that kind of firepower, police and federal authorities should be the only ones to have access to such lethal weaponry." Absolutely ridiculous, since, first of all- the police have been absolved of any responsibility to risk their safety for yours (“a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.” Warren v. District of Columbia (Freddoso)) and have CLEARLY demonstrated their expertise and professional gun handling skills. (ie. ALL 9 bystanders in a recent shootout in NYC were hit by police (Inea)) And more importantly, if the people ever DID feel the need to, as a last resort, protect themselves against tyranny in government... how inconvenient it would be that the tools of battle rested wholly in the hands of the oppressors. Granted, this is a "last resort" hypothetical scenario that may never occur. But, I suppose with that in mind, we may as well do away with other checks and balances built into our government. Once again, Jefferson's observation that "“The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it," is poignant here because the mere fact that the people POSSESS the ability to resist is a check in and of itself. Once that POSSIBILITY is removed, the only thing keeping the government from oppressing its citizens is the government's own benevolence. So no, "Joe Schmoe" doesn't need that kind of firepower TODAY, for hunting or home defense, but as we have established already, this argument completely misses the whole meaning of the Second Amendment. -As for "protecting the children": Despite the horror of mass shootings, they in truth account for such a MINUTE fraction of deaths (about 100 people in the last 30 years (Pearce)), that to address them AT ALL while ignoring staggeringly more significant death rates in accidental drownings (In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings — 10 deaths per day. About 1 in 5 were children ages 14 and younger. (Snyder)) and vehicular deaths (really??) for example, demonstrates the presence of the logical fallacy referred to as "misleading vividness"- which is when the thought, imagery or reality of something is so emotionally potent – positively or negatively – that you begin to overestimate the likelihood and frequency of its occurrence. (same reason people are afraid of flying despite consciously knowing of the statistical rarity of crashing.) (Kontradictions) Actually, the frequency of these terrible events is DECREASING, despite what the media would have you believe. "In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century." (Fund) So while mass shootings are admittedly horrifying WHEN they happen, are incredibly rare and don’t kill a lot of people when they do happen. "It is such an incredible statistical deviation from the norm, objectively inflicting far less suffering and death than many other ways that people are far more likely to die. This is an important point. When our policy becomes based on emotional content rather than facts, we are heading in the wrong direction." (Kontradictions) This recent push for increased firearm regulation is nothing more than the government’s shameless exploitation of a senseless tragedy, in an underhanded move to carve out more control for itself. The proposed measures have been proven to be INEFFECTIVE in the prevention of such incidents. Connecticut had an Assault Weapon Ban similar to the one that expired federally in 2004. It didn't help. California has a very strict version of this law, as well as safe weapon storage laws, and someone still brought a shotgun to school and killed people. All of these cases have happened in places where murder is against the law, and the illegal use of firearms is strictly prohibited (duh!). In fact, "“With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns [gun free zones]." (Lott) And I have not even delved into the statistical evidence AGAINST strict gun regulation in the perspective of its effect on crime, etc. (Baltimore, Oakland, DC, etc all cities with THE STRICTEST gun laws in the nation, lead the nation in gun violence [with the exception of New Orleans, which, due to many factors is an exception]). (Florida) My point is that NONE of these arguments demonstrate a viable reason why we should give up our rights to possess the kind of firepower that would enable us to resist tyranny in our own homes. Can we prevent senseless tragedies, such as school shootings? No. Will giving up our "arms in common use at this time" help in any way? The evidence clearly shows that this is a fallacy. There will always be tragedies, despite our best efforts to avoid them. However, if we were serious about averting tragic suffereing and needless loss of life, we would logically focus our efforts on an area that has a significantly higher death rate than "mass shootings"... say... lightning strikes, or poisonings (41,592 poisoning deaths in the United States in 2009 (CDC)) for example. We as a people seem too eager to give up more and more of our sovereign liberty and permit the government more and more unquestioned power, in response to the government’s (and media’s) unflinching exploitation of our fears and our desire for safety. In reference to this disturbing phenomenon, Benjamin Franklyn long ago penned, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” I submit that those who understand the vital importance of this debate and can see what is really at stake are the ones most worried about the outcome of this battle. This debate isn't about Bubba insisting on his right to own an assault rifle because its "my right", or even about protecting our children or society from armed nutjobs. I submit equally that those who side with the government’s insistence on tighter regulations are simply unaware of, or indifferent to, the actual issues involved here. They have either willfully or inadvertently been deceived by the propaganda of a corrupt media (they are a BUSINESS, people! The media’s role is NOT to objectively report information, but rather to MAKE A PROFIT!!!) and a smooth-talking administration that continually manipulates our raw emotions to mask logical conclusions in their attempt to talk us out of our liberties. This country is starving for real information—whether they know it or not. Unfortunately, unless something changes, those who don’t realize how much they don’t understand will awake to find that they have given up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, and—as has unfortunately been demonstrated time and time again throughout history—will end up with neither. So, basically, while you may have your opinion about the priority of various controversial rights (gay rights, abortion, immigration, etc) the fact of the matter is that the governmental regulation of most of these rights will not undermine the very intention of the founders of our country, nor will it open this country up to potential misconduct by those in authority, thus jeopardizing ALL rights bestowed upon us as citizens- both alienable and unalienable. In fact, the protection of the Second Amendment is pre-requisite to any discussion of individual rights, because without the ability to stand against an oppressive national governing body who controls the standing army, all personal rights are at the discretion and mercy of the ruling group (this is also why we are a republic, and not a democracy... but that’s for another time). Keep in mind that these men and women that are gunning for our guns are no idiots. This is not just some big silly misunderstanding. What we are witnessing is a deliberate attack on our liberties. It is a calculated approach, intended to mask their true intentions, whatever those may be, and to persuade us that we don't really need these liberties to begin with... after all, we aren't really using them anyway. They are selling us a little Temporary Safety, and taking great pains to obscure the steep price involved. Among the other rights, which seem to be increasingly threatened by recent administrations, that are necessary for the preservation of a free state include: the freedom of speech (1st Amendment), protection against unreasonable government interference in our lives (4th Amendment), due process and the right to fair and speedy trials (5th and 6th) as well as the prohibition of excessive fines and cruel/ unusual punishment (8th). These rights, in addition to the 2nd Amendment, as above discussed, seem to be viewed with increasing contempt by our federal government, and are increasingly encroached upon by various laws and decisions (Patriot Act, etc); which laws, while disguised as measures designed for our protection (from terrorists, crazy men with guns, etc), when viewed together, serve to paint a rather bleak and sinister portrait of the intentions of our government. I don’t fancy myself a conspiracy theorist by any means, however, there is no denying that the government seems hell-bent on increasing its authority at the expense of our liberty- and is doing so via the boiling frog technique—turning up the temperature one degree at a time until we boil to death in our own complacence.