For Second Amendment advocates, the right to keep and bear arms is paramount. It’s a bulwark against encroaching tyranny from a government that forgets that it serves the people and that the people do not exist to serve the government. Advocates for that right also understand it’s under assault and has been for quite some time.
However, various leaders of the past knew what the Second Amendment was for, including a couple held in high esteem by the left.
A post at the Foundation for Economic Education highlights some of these.
The Second Amendment was not limited in scope at the time of inception, in part because it was put in place as a bulwark against the despotism and tyranny that could arise out of an all-powerful government and standing army. Any cursory review of the writings of many of the founding fathers would support that.
However, we don’t need to hearken back to the colonial era to understand the importance of the Second Amendment. One of America’s most revered Democratic Presidents, John F Kennedy, stressed the importance of an armed citizenry during a commemorative message on Roosevelt Day in 1961:
“In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men―citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment’s notice. Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of America, cannot succeed with any lesser effort.”
It’s important to note that JFK preserved the link between the “Minute Men” of America’s Revolutionary period and ordinary modern-day American citizens. Unfortunately, that linkage tends to be broken whenever there is a debate over the “true meaning” of the Second Amendment.
With that in mind, securing our individual rights has always been inextricably linked to our ability to collectively defend them. We need look no further than Samuel Adams.
“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can,” said Adams.
This sentiment has become even more relevant today as we struggle through draconian lockdowns and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State governments around the country have taken extreme actions that include closing businesses, infringing upon the right to worship, and even restricting the amount of people allowed inside one’s own home.
The great American social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who having escaped the horrors of (government-sanctioned) slavery, understood the vital role firearms played in preserving individual freedom.
“…the liberties of the American people were dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box; that without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country, Douglass wrote in his autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
It has been said that these three boxes, combined with the “soap box“ of free speech, make up the foundational rights of a free people.
Now, I don’t actually disagree with any of the quotes by these men. I may think JFK was a scumball as a husband, but he was right with regard to the need for armed individuals to be prepared to sacrifice their lives for the cause of freedom. It’s the surest way to make damn sure our rights aren’t erased.
All around the world, gun rights are essentially non-existent. While at least one other nation pays lip service to gun rights, no one else actually acts as if the right to keep and bear arms is actually a thing. What’s more, that right is under constant attack, an attack that will intensify in January to unprecedented levels.
Yet people like JFK, Sam Adams, and Fredrick Douglas knew damn good and well that our rights matter. They’re the very thing that preserves our liberty.
Take a look at the UK. They gave up their guns and then what happened? Slowly but surely, they’re losing their right to speak up as well. Folks are being investigated for hate crimes because they misgendered someone. A man was prosecuted for teaching a dog to raise its paw as part of a joke. Numerous other examples of people not really being free to speak, and they can do absolutely nothing about it.
And some want that to happen here.
The thing is, as long as Americans have the ability to resist, there will always be an unspoken threat. Lawmakers have to consider that even if the courts were to uphold some bit of tyrannical law, the American people may not be interested in allowing it to stand. It’s an additional check and balance on the government.
Our Founding Fathers weren’t fans of standing armies or of government in general. They recognized that if one isn’t very careful, the fire that keeps you warm can also burn your house to the ground. They wanted the citizens of this great land to be prepared to resist the government if it goes too far.
And men like Douglas and Kennedy understood that. They understood that governmental authority is not automatically good and decent and that we may need to fight back against that governmental authority.
The same governmental authority some who claim to be their spiritual descendants say we should capitulate to now regardless of what is demanded.