I am a precinct election official, so this past Tuesday my team of officials sat in our polling place watching how few people bothered to come in to have their say as to who their party’s nominee would be in the fall. I can do several columns on how important the nominating process is when it comes to actually draining our governmental swamps, but that is not today’s topic.
Because our turnout was so low (only about 8 percent at my precinct), we election officials had lots of time to talk among ourselves. One of the officials, a Democrat, made the comment that she thought it was okay for people to have handguns to protect themselves, but she thought the country should ban all assault rifles because no one needs them. She said the word “assault” made her case. I didn’t want to leave that comment without a response so I asked her what “defend the Constitution… against all enemies, foreign and domestic” meant. She responded that we have an army to defend against foreign enemies and that we are a “first world” country so we don’t have to worry about domestic enemies. We talked a little further until another Democrat election worker wouldn’t let us continue. I don’t know whether the second lady thought we were arguing (we weren’t – it was a very civil conversation), or she didn’t like the topic of guns, or I was starting to make sense.
The crux of our all too brief conversation was my co-worker’s claim that as a “first world” country, we didn’t need to worry about defending ourselves from the government. That presumes that our governmental leaders are good, that no one in the government is trying to destroy our economy and turn us into a socialist country, that no one is trying to commit a backdoor coup against our legally elected president, that no one is leaving the back/Southern door to our country wide open so that thousands of people who have no respect for our laws can come in at will, and that no one in the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, or the Pentagon is willing to order out the military against the people who disagree with certain political philosophies. (That only happens with the IRS, right?) I think we have seen just how close we are to having those things happen. So to say that we have no need to protect ourselves from domestic enemies is naïve at best and criminal at worst.
The founders of our country did not want a large standing army. We were only to have a small army for immediate defense that would hold the line until the militias could enter the fight. We were doing pretty well until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. We had an immediate and huge buildup of federally controlled armed might – that has yet to reduce to its pre-World War II size. The military industrial complex has developed some massive weapons that could be used on those who don’t conform to the whims of a government gone rogue. So frankly, we need to go back to the idea of citizen soldiers. Those were the soldiers who came out of stores and factories and off of farms to fight for their homes and families during all of our armed conflicts up to and including World War II. They added the muscle that our small standing army needed to win the war. Then they went home, even though they were prepared to come back and fight another war if necessary. That is the model that we had for the first two centuries of this country, and we are leaving that model at our own peril.
The Second Amendment reads, “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.” For starters “well regulated” in colonial times did not mean a “tightly governed” militia; it meant and therefore continues to legally mean that the people who might band together to form a militia must have adequate arms, ammunition and other supplies so that they are able to fight. Therefore, if the people who wish to defend themselves are to be “well regulated” then they need to possess whatever weapons are necessary to defend themselves against well-armed (well regulated) foes. If that means keeping “assault rifles” in their closets, then so be it. The Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the Second Amendment protects the individual’s private right to have arms for their own defense rather than the right of each state to maintain a militia. Some opponents then claimed that the Second Amendment only relates to federal infringement of the right to bear arms. But in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from infringing on that same individual right to own weapons.
Not only do we need to know and exercise our rights, but we need to protect our rights under the Constitution. Never forget that the Second Amendment protects the other twenty-six amendments. Therefore, the Second Amendment is the one that we must at all costs protect from those who would diminish it to anything less than the right to maintain the full range of equipment necessary to defend ourselves, our families, our property, and our liberty.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.