TAMPA, December 18, 2012 –U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has vowed to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons nationwide, similar to existing legislation in California. In doing so, she will effectively abolish yet another of the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
To many, Feinstein’s argument might sound very reasonable. She isn’t looking to ban all guns. “The purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said, weapons of war off the streets of our cities,” the senator told Meet the Press.
Having weapons of war on the streets is the whole point of the 2nd Amendment. The amendment wasn’t drafted to ensure that Americans could hunt. It wasn’t drafted so that Americans could protect themselves, although the natural right to defend one’s life was never as compromised as it is in the modern gun control era.
Like most of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment was drafted to prevent an abuse of power that American colonists had suffered under the British. The 4th Amendment was passed with Writs of Assistance in mind. Lexington and Concord inspired the 2nd.
The left loves to reduce the American Revolution to one issue: taxation without representation. That works for well for their agenda, because they can then say, “Well, you’re represented, so now we can tax the living daylights out of you.”
It wasn’t that simple, of course. There were many long term and short term causes for the American secession from Great Britain. But the straw that broke the camel’s back, the most immediate cause for armed resistance, was the British attempt to disarm the colonists.
That’s why the British marched to Concord. That’s the only reason the colonists cared where they were marching.
They weren’t out to confiscate hunting rifles, “fer squirrels and sech,” either. They intended to confiscate a store of arms that would outfit the average colonist with weapons roughly equivalent to the average British infantryman.
That’s why the 2nd Amendment was written, to ensure that the government’s army would never have superior firepower to the people.
These are facts and they really aren’t in dispute. Yet, consider the responses you get when you present them. They range from mistaken to ridiculous. Let’s start with the ridiculous.
“The founding fathers held slaves, so there is no right to keep and bear arms.” So,why not abolish the first amendment as well? In fact, let’s get rid of all ten in the Bill of Rights. Certainly, this argument deserves no further attention.
“So should individuals be allowed to have nuclear weapons?” No reasonable person wants to see anyone have nuclear weapons, least of all the government. Regardless, that is not at issue in any discussion on the 2nd Amendment, including Senator Feinstein’s bill.
The most reasonable objection raised has been that the 2nd Amendment intended only that members of the militia should keep and bear arms. After all, the amendment begins with the clause indicating that a “well-regulated militia” is necessary to the security of a free state. One commenter on my last column argued that the National Guard or the police are the 2012 equivalents to 18th century militias.
They aren’t. 18th century militias were comprised of the individual, private citizens who made up each community. They were expected to put aside their normal occupations and fight to defend their state or the United States in times of war. They were expected to provide their own weapons, which explains why they are referred to in the 2nd Amendment. Every able-bodied adult male was expected to serve.
The modern police force bears no resemblance to 18th century militias. They are full-time government employees and represent a small percentage of the population. The National Guard resembles militias a bit more, but they are far more centrally controlled. National Guardsmen are required to be dual reservists in the U.S. Army Reserve. Both the Guard and the police are creatures of the government, where early American militias were created and organized locally by the people.
The primary reason that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state is because it represents a force that could stand up to the regular army, if necessary. That’s just what the militia did at Concord and it is just what the 2nd Amendment’s proponents had in mind.
Individuals need access to any weapons necessary to that end.
Does that mean that anyone wants to see U.S. citizens shooting at their own soldiers? Of course not. Neither did the colonists at Concord. They had to be exhorted to fire even after the British fired on them. But they took that unthinkable step rather than give up the right to keep and bear arms.
“Who needs these military-style assault weapons? Who needs an ammunition feeding device capable of holding 100 rounds?” Ms. Feinstein has asked.
Free people do, Senator. That’s who.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.