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The Second Amendment

Updated 21 September 2004

“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.” -- The Second Amendment to the Constitution for the United States of America.

"People who don't believe in the 2nd Amendment should be shot!"


Okay, so maybe that's just slightly extreme. But the fact remains that Benjamin Franklin's words are still very much a part of reality:

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the issue." [1759]

It should be very, very clear that an unarmed minority of virtually any stripe will not have access to liberty, freedom, and the "pursuit of happiness" without the permission and/or indulgence of the majority. It should also be clear that an armed minority -- even an armed elite -- can rule tyrannically if the majority is unarmed. Or if the majority is just stupid, uninformed, or like George W. Bush: "Solid as a rock; only dumber."

Of course, the clichés of “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” or “Every 13 seconds someone in America uses a gun to stop a crime” doesn’t necessarily carry the same impact when one has seen someone dear killed by a careless, gun-toting idiot.  The fact that the idiot might be a law-enforcement officer -- or a martial law imposing mercenary -- does not lessen the impact.

Nevertheless, the reason for the Second Amendment -- a critical portion of the Bill of Rights -- is not so much a self defense exercise or a means to ensure anyone’s right to hunt for food and/or sport.  The reason is specified in the Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state...”  Without guns in the households -- a lot of guns in the households -- an out-of-control, anal government, seeking power via fear, and looking for Enemy Combatants in every closet (and without a search warrant) will have nothing to fear in carrying out its unconstitutional agenda.  The only security of a free state is when the people can defend themselves.  Period.

In one of the great ironies of recent history, the same people who have implemented enemy combatants as a means of ferreting out terrorists, have gone out of their way to make life easier for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others who like the idea of being able to defend themselves. The Bush administration has "promised to sing the NBA's top priority: legislation that would shield gunmakers and dealers from lawsuits." [1] Thus liability for the misuse of guns could not be attributed to the people making money from the sale of guns.

Additionally, the assault weapon ban was allowed to expire in September 2004 -- even with a rush of publicity on the subject. On a much quieter basis, "Attorney General John Ashcroft has expanded the government's view of the Second Amendment, stating explicitly that it protects an individual's right to possess and bear arms -- a departure from the longstanding view that this right was limited to state militias. Ashcroft has also proposed shortening the length of time the FBI is required to keep records of background checks. He wants it reduced to a single business day; the Clinton Administration required 90." [1]

The idea that we have arrived at a point in our history where we may have to resort of Anarchy, Revolution, or threats of either is not a pleasant thought.  Nevertheless, the old adage of “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” is still true, and the right of citizens to keep and bear arms is absolutely essential.  The fact it may not be enough is sad, but does not reduce the fact that an armed citizenry will at least make tyrants hesitate.

In a speech before Congress, Senator Larry Craig [www.senate.gov/~craig] made a series of noteworthy points in this regard, including:

            “We know that our Founding Fathers in their effort to ratify the Constitution could not convince the citizens to accept it until the Bill of Rights was established to assure the citizenry that we were protecting the citizens from Government instead of government from the citizens.”

            “The framers of our Constitution... made the Second Amendment the law of the land because it has something very particular to say about the rights of every man and every woman, and about the relationship of every man and every woman to his or her Government.  That is: The first right of every human being, the right of self-defense.”

            “Without that right, all other rights are meaningless.  The right of self-defense is not something the government bestows upon its citizens.  It is an inalienable right, older than the Constitution itself.  It existed prior to government and prior to the social contract of our Constitution.”  “It is the right that government did not create and therefore it is a right that under our Constitution the government simply cannot take away.  The framers of our Constitution understood this clearly.  Therefore, they did not merely acknowledge that the right exists.  They denied Congress the power to infringe upon that right.”

            “Our Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment to tell us that a free state cannot exist if the people are denied the right or the means to defend themselves.

            “According to the FBI, criminals used guns in 1998 380,000 times across America. Yet research indicates that peaceful, law-abiding Americans, using their constitutional right, used a gun to prevent 2.5 million crimes in America that year and nearly every year. In fact, I believe the benefits of protecting the people’s right to keep and bear arms far outweighs the destruction wrought by criminals and firearms accidents.  The Centers for Disease Control report 32,000 Americans died from firearm injuries in 1997; under any estimate, that is a tragedy.  Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control do not keep data on the number of lives that were saved when guns were used in a defensive manner.”

Other statistics which the NRA loves to quote include:

  • Number of gun owners in the United States : 80,000,000
  • Number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups): 1,500
  • Accidental deaths per gun owner: 0.0000188
  • Number of physicians in the United States : 700,000
  • Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year: 120,000
  • Accidental deaths per physician: 0.171

Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners. And while not everyone has a gun, sooner or later everyone has a doctor. The moral of this tale is that gun's don't kill people; doctors do.

Then there is the Gun Refresher Course -- allegedly based on history and "our wise old founding fathers":

  • An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
  • A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.
  • Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.
  • If guns are allowed, can we use swords?
  • If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.
  • Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.
  • If you don't know your rights… you don't have any.
  • Those who trade liberty for security… have neither.
  • The Constitution for the United States of America , © 1791. All Rights Reserved.
  • What part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand?
  • The 2 nd Amendment is there in case they ignore the others.
  • A call to 911 is a “government sponsored” Dial-A-Prayer.
  • Assault is a behavior; not a device.
  • Criminals love gun control; it makes their jobs safer.
  • Only a government afraid of its citizens tries to control them.
  • You only have the rights you're willing to fight for.

Finally, Lew Rockwell.com has an intriguing article posted by Sharon Harris entitled "They Pry Them from Our Cold Dead Fingers." Note the fascinating connection to Education.

The gist is of all of this is that self-defense is the first of the three basic instincts, i.e. survival (which in fact precedes all else -- food and sex doesn't have a lot of appeal if you're dying).  Gun control, in any form, is therefore anti-human in the strictest sense.  It’s not necessarily a happy thought, and may be politically incorrect.  But frankly, my dear...  it’s a fact of life.  Live with it.  (Pardon the pun.)  And/or, Get Ye Over It.



[1] Karen Tumulty, "Why No One Shoots Straight on Guns," Time Magazine, 2003.


The First Amendment         Constitution for the United States of America 

Benjamin Franklin         Justice        Liberty         Justice, Order, and Law

Forward to:

Missing 13th Amendment?         The (9) Supremes

Counting Votes         A Case for Free Elections

Redistricting         Privacy         9-11-2001         Free Speech



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