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Our "founding fathers" were really pro-gun!

The next time that you have an opportunity to do so, ask a gun owning friend or hunting buddy the following question: "What makes you think that you have any legitimate right to own a gun?" Since you are more than likely a gun owner too, your friends's most immediate response will probably be an inquiry into the current state of your mental faculties. Do not be deterred. Be persistent. Ask your friend the question again, and keep doing so until he decides that the safest thing to do is humor you with an answer. The odds are very good that your friend will answer the question by mentioning the Second Amendment. If you receive this response, then smile, pat your friend on the back and congratulate him for providing the appropriate answer to your question.

Now, before your friend can think of a way to put some distance between himself and his strange acquaintance, ask him another question. Ask him this: "What was the primary reason behind our Founding Fathers' decision to amend the Constitution with the right to keep and bear arms?" With this question, your suspicious friend should begin to realize that there is a method to your madness. It is unlikely that he will be able to offer the correct answer to this second question with the same ease of his first response.

At this point, you should be deeply involved in a good conversation with your friend about the timeless wisdom behind the creation of the Second Amendment. And because you have read this article, you will be able to display a depth of understanding and an insight that will turn your friend's growing uncertainty about your mental competency into genuine and unbounded admiration.

In answering the previous question, some people will say that the Second Amendment was created to protect the right of each citizen to hunt and to engage in shooting sports. Such pursuits would, of course, not be possible without firearms, and in this sense, the Second Amendment helps to ensure the continuance of these activities. However, this is not the best answer to our question, as our Founding Fathers had a more profound justification in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment.

Another answer commonly given is that the Second Amendment was passed to guarantee each citizen's right to self-defense. Perhaps the authors of our Constitution wanted to ensure the ability of every law-abiding citizen to protect his life, family and property from the criminal element. Again, this is also not the optimal answer. The right of self-defense was already a well-established fact in English Common Law and in America. When the First United States Congress convened for the purpose of drafting the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and bear arms was high on their list of priorities. (It was number two on a list of ten.) This first Congress had a very special reason for placing such importance on the Second Amendment; that reason, however, was even more important than the right of individual self-defense.

"Foreign invasion" is another common answer given in response to the question, "Why is there a Second Amendment?" It's a good answer, and when this country was formed such an invasion was a distinct possibility. (Remember the War of 1812?) The idea was that by allowing the population to possess their own firearms, citizens could be quickly mobilized in an emergency and used to repel the invading armies of another country. This was certainly on the minds of our Founding Fathers, but it is still not the principal reason for the Second Amendment.

In order to fully understand the primary reason behind the Second Amendment, you need to keep in mind that, shortly after the Revolutionary War, the thirteen new American states found it necessary to begin the task of creating the very thing that they had fought against--a permanent central government. Even after our Constitution was completed, many of the states were still hesitant about ratifying the document. In fact, a significant number of states made their ratifications conditional on the adoption of a Bill of Rights that would protect their citizens from the kind of oppressive practices that were so typical of strong, centralized governments of that day. Therefore, the task of the First Congress was the creation and enactment of the first ten amendments to the Constitution--our Bill of Rights.

One way of looking at the Bill of Rights is to see it as a list of limitations and one last resort. Nine of these amendments are designed to limit that government's ability to oppress a free people, while one amendment (the Second Amendment) is intended to give the people the means to resist their own federal government should that government ever abandon the democratic principles upon which this republic was built. Simply stated, the Second Amendment is one of the many checks and balances that our Founding Fathers felt compelled to include in our Constitution, so as to prevent the rise of a totalitarian state. The great men who engineered our freedoms back in 1787 kew that their marvelous creation could, at some future date, disintegrate under the designs of evil men. So, our benefactors, in their great wisdom, gave us something with which to deter future dictators and despots; they gave us the Second Amendment!

There can be no doubt about the intentions of those who authored the Second Amendment. Should any elitist anti-gunner try to convince you otherwise, just show him the following quotes from the very men responsible for our Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence .... From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensible .... The very atmosphere of frearms everywhere restrains evil interference--they desrve a place of honor with all that's good." These are the words of George Washington, and they reflect his feelings about the right of each citizen to possess firearms.

"To preserve liberty, it is esential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them." This statement was made by Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.

Even those who felt that the addition of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution was unnecesary still believed that an armed citizenry was an excellent idea. The following is from Noah Webster and was intended to convince Pennsylvania citizens, who were already armed, that they had little to fear from the newly forming federal government: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States."

James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, had this to say in regards to your right to keep and bear arms: "The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of all other countries ... notwithstanding the military establishements in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear; the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

Samuel Adams, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, stated, "the Constitution shall never be construed ... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."

Let's not forget Patrick Henry; he said, "The great object is that every man be armed .... Everyone who is able may have a gun."

Alexander Hamilton also saw the private possession of firearms as a necessary deterrent to the standing army or organized militia of the federal government: "... 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 ... who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens."

These statements are just a sampling of what our Founding Fathers had to say about the rights embodied in the Second Amendment. The evidence of their intent (that all law-abiding citizens have an individual right to keep and bear arms) is beyond question! I have one additional statement that fits in well at this point because of its dramatic contrast with the preceding quotes. It will not be necessary for me to discuss the implications of the quote that you are about to read; just compare it with the others and you will understand.

In 1919, in Germany, the allied forces uncovered a communist document now referred to as the "Dusseldorf Manifesto," which outlined the universal communist rules for infiltrating and overthrowing a democratic country. Rule number eight of the "Dusseldorf Manifesto" states: "Cause the registration of all firearms on some pretext, with a view to confiscating them and leaving the population helpless."

After a considerable amount of intensive and unrelenting investigation, I managed to uncover the following astounding fact: anti-gunners do not like the Second Amendment. It seems that this irritating addition to our Constitution keeps popping up at the wrong time, with no other apparent purpose than to ruin the neatly laid plans of these well-intentioned, socially-minded, gun-grabbing representatives of Utopian perfection. Some of these elite anti-gunners are driven by naive (albeit sincere) motives having something to do with improving the quality of life, while many others harbor sinister political designs that must remain unfulfilled as long as the population enjoys the protection of the Second Amendment. But no matter what their motives are, all anti-gunners seem to agree that something has to be done to destroy, or at the very least dilute, the influence of the Second Amendment.

When you take a closer look at their arguments against the Second Amendment, you will find that the leaders of the elitist anti-gun forces fall into two basic groups. The first group preaches that the Second Amendment really means something other than what it says. The second group does not directly challenge the intent of the Second Amendment. Rather, they argue that it is an outdated idea that was useful in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but certainly is not needed in twentieth century America. The second group's goal is quite simple: convince the American public that it is in their best interest to abandon the Second Amendment.

Getting back to the first group, let's examine their logic. These gun-grabbers claim that our Founding Fathers really did not intend for each citizen to possess firearms, but rather that each state had the right to maintain its own military apparatus independent of the forces of the federal government. If this claim is accepted as true, then any level of government is free to restrict or ban any or all firearms, at will, from private possession. The only place that would be protected by the Second Amendment would be your local state armory. In order to support their claim, these anti-gunners point to the National Guard as proof that our Founding Fathers actually had the various states in mind, and not the people.

Is there any validity to the assertion that the National Guard is all that the writers of the Second Amendment had in mind? Well, let's put it this way: if you follow a bull around long enough, you are bound to step in a pile of the same stuff that constitutes this claim. First, when the authors of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights wrote the Second Amendment they were very careful about the words they used. The word militia appears in the amendment, and it has a very specific meaning. According to the debates and statements that surrounded the framing of our right to keep and bear arms, the word militia was used to describe a universally armed population. And to reinforce this point, the phrase "right of the people" was incorporated into the amendment, not the phrase "right of the State." In fact, the only reference in the amendment made to the State is to describe what the people are defending--"a free state." Here, read it in the Second Amendment itself:

"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."

It should also be pointed out that the words "a well regulated ..." also have a specific meaning. At the time that the Constitution was written, this phrase was commonly used in referring to people who were highly skilled and disciplined in the use of arms. Our Founding Fathers prized very highly the virtues of good marksmanship, and nearly every able-bodied man and most women knew how to handle fireamrs in early America. Throughout our history the government has sponsored programs designed to foster a high level of firearms competency in the general population. Today, the best example of this is the Army's Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. This office sponsors and promotes a variety of training programs and competitions for civilians, and its justification can be traced back to the intent behind the first four words of the Second Amendment, "A well regulated Militia ...." In fact, after demonstrating a sufficient level of skill, any law-abiding citizen can purchase an MI Garand rifle directly from one of the government's armories (through the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship), and at a price well below market value. The benefits of DCM's programs are twofold. On one hand, should any of the civilians who participate in its programs ever called to serve in the regular military forces, they will already be trained in the use of firearms. On the other hand, and of greater importance, is the DCM's positive contribution to our Founding Fathers' concept of "A well regulated Militia." The Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship could not operate as it does without the Second Amendment around to protect the right to individual citizens to possess and use firearms.

In 1972 (only a few years after the creation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), the Second Congress passed the Militia Act. This legislation defined the militia as something that included almost every adult male in the United States. This Act required every such man to purchase and maintain his own firearms and ammunition. This statute not only reinforced the individual's right embodied in the Second Amendment, it for all practical purposes transformed this right into an obligation. And this obligation remained in effect for over one hundred years!

In 1903, the Congress created the National Guard, exercising its power to "raise and support armies." The Congress chose to create the National Guard under this power so that it could have reserve military units that would not be hindered by any confusion with the "well regulated Militia" mentioned in the Second Amendment. The fact of the matter is that the ultimate control of the National Guard does not lie with any state, but rather with the federal government.

In the past, units of the National Guard have been called into federal service. During World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam, units of the National Guard were called upon (by their ultimate commander-in-chief, the President of the United States) to fulfill their obligation as reserve units. These army, naval and air guardsmen found themselves fighting alongside the troops of the federal government's regular standing armed forces. You should keep in mind this fact: when you join your state's National Guard you are also committing yourself to serve in the regular armed forces of the federal government should some national emergency ever motivate Uncle Sam to call upon you. So, the assertion that the National Guard is some kind of people's militia, answerable only to your state's governor, is absolutely false and absurd!

A current news item helps to illustrate the ultimate authority vested in the federal government. Recently, units of the Texas National Guard were sent to Honduras for maneuvers and to train Honduran troops to repel a communist invasion from Nicaragua. The governor of Texas cannot deploy guardsmen in a foreign country; only Uncle Sam can do this.

The anti-gun fanatics who parrot this myth about the Second Amendment applying only to the National Guard know that it is a lie. But to the vast majority of people, who know little about the issues involved, it sounds reasonable. So, you can expect the anti-gun government liberals to continue to play this broken record for as long as they can get away with it. There is, however, a bright side to this anti-gun con job. I have found that when you take the time to explain to people (who have accepted this National-Guard-only myth) the true facts of the matter, they will often come around to your side. Not so much because they develop a sudden love affair with firearms, but because when they realize that they have been had by the gun-grabbers, they resent it and are far less likely to listen to the fanatics in the future. Take the time to talk to people. It works!

Now, back to the other group, the one that wants us to believe the Second Amendment is nothing more than an anachronistic holdover that has no place in today's enlightened society. If we are to accept this idea, then we must also believe that our federal government has achieved a level of humanitarianism and benevolence so great that we need never fear the government will ever turn on us. In a democratic sense, this would mean our institutions have reached perfection, and the people elected and appointed to run these institutions are, and always will be, saintly manifestations of all that is good in human motives and democratic ideals.

Unlike the other group, these anti-guners are not trying to fool you by distorting the Second Amendment's true intent. Rather, they want you to abandon it. This makes them much more dangerous than the first group. Fighting them isn't simply a matter of revealing their lies. Rather, the debate centers around whether the principles upon which this republic is based are in fact timeless. It should be pointed out that in such a debate the timeless qualities of human nature are also of vital importance. Question: Has our society evolved to the point where it is no longer capable of producing individuals or groups with dictatorial ambitions? The answer to this question is, of course, no! Just take a look, and you will find plenty of special interest groups (particularly from the extreme left, but there are also a few from the extreme right) that would like nothing better than to take control, so as to impose their rule over all of us.

The checks and balances that our Founding Fathers built into the Constitution (in their timeless wisdom) are today bending and twisting under the continuous pressure of a variety of powerful movements. The people in these movements have found the restrictions imposed on the government by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights to be a constant source of frustration. So the need for them to effect fundamental changes in the way these documents are interpreted is essential. The preferred vehicles for accomplishing and communicating these changes are the judiciary and the media.

For quite a few years now liberal judges have been handing down opinions and decisions that ignore the original intentions of the founders of our republic. The media elite have been successful at desseminating this judicial mischief. (In general, they have cajoled the public into accepting an ultra-liberal interpretation of the Constitution especially suited to the so-called needs of modern America.) During the past several decades, this is how the Constitution has been updated and altered without going through the burdensome process of actually amending it. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that the opinions they hold concerning their rights of free speech, religion, etc., reflect more accurately the media's interpretation of the Constitution, and not the intentions of our Founding Fathers. In other words, we are more familiar with the Constitutions according to The New York Times and CBS than the Constitution of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison!

If, through the use of propaganda, the people can be convinced that the Second Amendment is outdated and irrelevant in today's world, then it becomes vulnerable to a variety of judicial, bureaucratic and legislative assaults. The result would ultimately be the functional equivalent of deleting the Second Amendment from our cherished list of checks and balances against tyranny. If such a circumstance should come about, pray that we are forever led by angels--for it requires only one devil to enslave us.
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Author:Kavey, Fred
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Jul 1, 1985
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