Friday, January 2, 2009

What the Second Amendment means to me

Last year’s Supreme Court decision that the Second Amendment included people’s rights to own firearms for personal protection elevated the rhetoric on both sides of the issue.

Over the last eight years of the Bush Administration, I came to see the Second Amendment from a different perspective. I believe the founding fathers intended that we should be armed as part of a well-regulated militia to protect our rights against a government that might try to deny them like the King of England had.

These men had just put everything on the line to stand up to a government that imposed taxes on the middle class to support the extravagant lifestyle of the rich without any representation by that middle class – a government that stifled individual freedoms and small businesses and used the military to control the public's right to dissent. They were driven to an armed revolt against a rich imperialist monarch who cared only about making himself and his cronies richer.

I believe that’s why they included the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It had little to do with hunting, sport shooting or self-defense. It was primarily about protecting democracy from tyrannical leaders.

Tyrants count on the citizenry being complacent and obedient. They can’t risk things getting out of hand. And that risk is precisely why we need a strong Second Amendment – to make sure that our leaders have second thoughts about taking away our rights.

That said, there’s a simple reason to insist that all those guns be registered. It puts the ultimate responsibility for every firearm in the hands of its owner. If a gun is misused or improperly safeguarded, its registered owner should be held accountable. No excuses. No second chance. Just heavy fines and possible jail time.

With every right comes a responsibility.

1 comment:

  1. This echoes my own beliefs. Thanks for a well written summary. I'll be teaching a seminar on the Second Amendment either this coming spring or next fall, and it helps to have "man in the street" or perhaps "man in the blogosphere" quotes like this.