This past Friday, I was lucky enough to exercise my right to bear arms with UR’s College Republicans as we celebrated our own club holiday, Second Amendment Appreciation Day.
While firing various firearms at pumpkins and paper targets with close friends brought me great joy, the purpose and meaning of the Second Amendment goes beyond shooting fruit at a gun range.
At the time of its ratification, the framers of the Constitution reasoned that protecting the right to bear arms and the right to have a civilian militia were essential to the defense of the nation.
The exact wording of the amendment in the Bill of Rights, is, in fact, “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.”
Obviously we do not regard maintenance of a civilian militia vital to our national defense in the present day.
However, the Second Amendment remains relevant in America and in every other nation as governments will always have the ability to tyrannize their subject if certain rights are taken away from the people.
Without the Second Amendment, we the people of America would lose one of the ways in which we can check and defend our liberty against intolerable acts of oppression by the government.
As stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “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.”
Despite not specifically defining it, Jefferson was referring to the right of revolution, a key justification for the American Revolution. Though this was used to substantiate an overthrow of British rule over 200 years ago, this right is still near and dear to the hearts of Americans familiar with the country’s revolutionary roots.
America needs to be legally able to own guns so that if the government ever usurps its power and subjugates us, we possess the basic weaponry to “throw off such Government,” as is our duty.
If the military has guns but the people are denied them, such a rebellion against tyranny would be mowed down in the planning stages.
Seeing that even the angriest mob or most organized group could be killed in moments, no person would realistically predict success and join the cause. Yes, the military also has missiles and nuclear weapons, but if facing a domestic rebellion, the government isn’t going to fire these armaments on its own people, in its own territory.
Additionally, the Second Amendment remains relevant so that we can evade the lifestyle-repressing policies of a nanny-state government.
We don’t need the government to tell us how to live safely and healthily — we’re both smart and capable enough to make those decisions on our own. We are, in fact, worse off when they do force these decisions on us.
It is not the government’s purpose to protect us from ourselves. Yes, guns can be used for despicable acts of violence, but they can also be used peacefully for recreational purposes — Only through the protection and support of the right to bear arms are we able, as a nation, to fight to defend our own freedom.