A reading of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, The Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers and the practices of the time they were written make it perfectly clear with no reasonable allegation of a debate, that this was about power, and balancing power between the federal government (national army), the State governments (militias), and the Sovereigns (We The People) they serve.
Balancing power was a central theme of the day, and not entirely unlike the three branches of government the right to keep and bear arms was not only to be divided but explicitly retained by We The People. Amendment II to the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights was not just about hunting and personal safety, it was to protect Americans from a tyrannical and despotic government. The open essays (The Federalist Papers) and the ratification debates discussing the rational behind the Bill of Rights and Amendment II focus on this issue. References in The Federalist, The Anti-Federalist, and in the ratification debates warn of demagogues of the variety who through divisive appeals would aim at tyranny. The Federalist begins and ends with this issue.
When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. – Thomas Jefferson (unconfirmed)
History is replete with examples of what happens when central governments steal the reigns of power and disarm the people they are supposed to be serving. The video below has done an excellent job of identifying some of the worst examples in human history.
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams
Amongst those that appose the rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, there is an argument that infringing upon this right will reduce violent crimes and deaths by firearms. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Center for Disease Control and the FBI have found that when law abiding citizens are armed there is a reduction in violent crime NOT an increase.
The quest to disarm the American citizen isn’t about ending deaths by firearms, it’s about power. And unchecked power leads to totalitarianism with an all powerful central government controlling our lives. Which history has also shown leads to the deaths of millions of innocents.
Our founding fathers recognised this and that is why the Second Amendment addresses both State controlled militias as well as the individual right to keep and bear arms. Author and senior editor at the Mises Institute, Ryan McMaken, expertly addresses this in his article: “Why We Can’t Ignore the ‘Militia’ Clause of the Second Amendment” linked here.
“Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.”
– John F. Kennedy
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many — they are few.
– From “The Masque of Anarchy” by Percy Shelley