Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion suc­cess­ful be­cause cit­i­zens had guns

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION - By Harold Pease, Ph.D

Many may not re­mem­ber their ba­sic U.S. His­tory cour­ses as to why the Sec­ond Amend­ment ex­ists in the first place. Cer­tainly, when en­acted, there was no thought of re­strict­ing the type of firearm, or where, or who could carry. So its place­ment as the sec­ond most val­ued free­dom in the Bill of Rights had noth­ing to do with per­sonal safety or hunt­ing, these were al­ready as­sumed. It was specif­i­cally placed right af­ter free­dom of re­li­gion, speech, press and as­sem­bly to make certain that these free­doms were never taken from us. It was aimed (pun in­tended) squarely at the gov­ern­ment. But, cer­tainly, we have no fear of the gov­ern­ment to­day?

One must re­mem­ber that early pa­tri­ots did not ask the ex­ist­ing Bri­tish gov­ern­ment if they could re­volt. They ar­gued in The Dec­la­ra­tion of Independence, that they were “en­dowed by their Cre­ator with certain un­alien­able rights, that among these are life, lib­erty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness” coming from a much higher source than mere man and that “when­ever any form of gov­ern­ment be­comes de­struc­tive of these ends, it is the right of the peo­ple to al­ter or to abol­ish it, and to in­sti­tute new gov­ern­ment.”

God is ref­er­enced five times in this doc­u­ment and thus, they be­lieved, He sanc­tioned their re­bel­lion. They were ex­pected to suf­fer evils while suf­fer­able, “but 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 right of rev­o­lu­tion re­quires the means of rev­o­lu­tion and this is the pri­mary rea­son the Sec­ond Amend­ment ex­ists. Nor­mally, the bal­lot box is the only self-cor­rec­tion needed; but they had no in­ten­tion of for­feit­ing the right to rev­o­lu­tion they ex­er­cised to give us lib­erty in the first place. Nor did they as­sume that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions would never need the se­ri­ous self-cor­rec­tion they used.

The wordage of the Sec­ond Amend­ment was stronger than any other sentence in the Con­sti­tu­tion. “A well-reg­u­lated mili­tia [the peo­ple], be­ing nec­es­sary to the se­cu­rity of a free state, the right of the peo­ple to keep and bear arms, shall not be in­fringed.” They saw this right as be­ing con­nected with a free coun­try and specif­i­cally for­bade the fed­eral gov­ern­ment any author­ity with re­spect to it be­cause, his­tor­i­cally, it was al­ways a gov­ern­ment that took away lib­erty.

An armed pop­u­lace twice proved its value to lib­erty in the Revo­lu­tion­ary War. First, many do not re­mem­ber why Lexington and Con­cord were so im­por­tant. The

Amer­i­cans learned that the Bri­tish planned to go door to door to con­fis­cate their firearms, so they gath­ered and hid them in these two vil­lages. Now the Bri­tish night gun raid and Paul Re­vere’s des­per­ate mid­night ride warn­ing the Amer­i­cans en route so they could re­trieve their guns to use against the Bri­tish makes sense.

Sec­ond, the Bat­tle of Saratoga, pre­vent­ing the con­quest of the north­east by Gen­eral Johnny Bur­goyne was stopped, not by the military, but by an­gry farm­ers with their own military-style “assault” ri­fles. This Amer­i­can vic­tory en­cour­aged other countries, no­tably France, to en­ter the war on our side. We would not have won the war with­out an armed cit­i­zenry.

The Founders’ at­ti­tude re­gard­ing guns — even military is­sue — was clear. Thomas Jef­fer­son wrote: “No free man shall ever be de­barred the use of arms.” And Ge­orge Washington said: “A free peo­ple ought not only to be armed,” but also, “they should pro­mote such man­u­fac­turies [sic] as tend to ren­der them in­de­pen­dent of oth­ers for es­sen­tial, par­tic­u­larly military, sup­plies” (Gun Con­trol, Freemen Re­port, May 31, 1975, p. 1).

But many do fear our gov­ern­ment to­day. If free­dom is mea­sured, as it was in Jef­fer­son’s day, by the “least gov­ern­ment is the best gov­ern­ment,” we are less free to­day than when ruled by the Bri­tish. We fear when all three branches ig­nore Con­sti­tu­tional re­stric­tions on their power, when the Ex­ec­u­tive Branch issues more re­stric­tions on our be­hav­ior through ex­ec­u­tive or­ders than Congress does by pass­ing new laws, when Congress will not limit itself to listed pow­ers, when the Supreme Court in­ter­prets the Con­sti­tu­tion in such a way as to be­stow them­selves with pow­ers never in­tended by the founders — such as health­care, mar­riage and abortion.

We fear when un­elected bu­reau­crats — in the De­part­ment of Jus­tice, Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion and Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency — refuse con­gres­sional (the peo­ples’) over­sight. When jus­tice for shar­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments dif­fers widely for a Clin­ton from that ren­dered Gen­eral Pe­traeus. When pro-Clin­ton in­ves­ti­ga­tors who ex­on­er­ated Hil­lary on her 33,000 deleted emails on a per­sonal server (many clas­si­fied) are the same in­ves­ti­ga­tors as on the Mueller Spe­cial Coun­sel de­signed to al­ter the re­sults of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, equal jus­tice is com­pro­mised and the Jus­tice De­part­ment is weaponized.

The Sec­ond Amend­ment is the Con­sti­tu­tion’s fi­nal check on tyranny. We have the same right to rev­o­lu­tion the Founders used, fully ex­pressed in the Dec­la­ra­tion of Independence. Wide­spread gun own­er­ship has never been a threat to truly free so­ci­eties. An armed cit­i­zenry keeps the gov­ern­ment on no­tice of the gov­erned’s abil­ity to re­sist should in­alien­able rights be taken from them.

A pop­u­lar slo­gan runs. “I love my coun­try but I fear my gov­ern­ment.” Given the un­con­sti­tu­tional an­tics noted above, per­haps we should hang on to the Sec­ond Amend­ment (as it was in­tended) as our fi­nal op­tion against tyranny — an op­tion we hope never to have to use again.

Harold W. Pease, Ph.D., is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and an ex­pert on the United States Con­sti­tu­tion. He has ded­i­cated his ca­reer to study­ing the writ­ings of the Found­ing Fa­thers and ap­ply­ing that knowl­edge to cur­rent events. To read more of his weekly ar­ti­cles, please visit www.Lib­er­tyUn­derFire. org.

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