Self-defense? Yes, but not just for personal defense. As I said here, I often run out of time in commenting on others’ posts. Here, Kevin Williamson (whom we have interviewed in the past) talks about the real reason that the Second Amendment exists – the very uncomfortable reason, for Progressives and Big Government types that believe Government can only be for good, is that the Second Amendment is to be able to fight Tryanny – from without OR from within:
Brett, like practically every other person seeking to diminish our constitutional rights, either does not understand the purpose of the Second Amendment or refuses to address it, writing, “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.” The answer to this question is straightforward: The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions. The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person — let alone a Harvard Law graduate — believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity.
There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court justice Joseph Story — who was, it bears noting, appointed to the Court by the guy who wrote the Constitution:
The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.
“Usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers” — not Bambi, not burglars. While your granddad’s .30-06 is a good deal more powerful than the .223 rifles that give blue-state types the howling fantods, that is not what we have a constitutional provision to protect. Liberals are forever asking: “Why would anybody need a gun like that?” And the answer is: because we are not serfs. We are a free people living under a republic of our own construction. We may consent to be governed, but we will not be ruled.
Because we are not serfs. Progressives hear this kind of answer and think it nonsense. After all, this is America, the home of the Free and the land of the Brave! The Freest Nation on Earth! Yet, we see more and more surveys and analyses that say we are not the freest any longer – and that rate of lesser freedom is increasing. Progressives are refusing to acknowledge that they are hearing it from more and more people from more and more places – I as well and from folks that I never thought would be stating such – but chalk it up to idle chatter, redneck mumblings, and TEA party idiocies (we who are bitter clingers to our Bibles and our guns) – the great unwashed and uneducated. Certainly, those that refuse to see the Big Picture of the Security and Safety that their policies will soon give us. Yet, ask them about what our Country was founded on, Freedom, and all you get is either a very confused look on their face – or anger in their eyes (“How DARE you think you know better than we, the educated, the nuanced, the Evolved – we who have Progressed far beyond the idea of Liberty of opportunity to the equal results for all”!).
The Big Government for which they wish will always ends up in the diminution of individual Rights – for them, a speed bump and not a feature. The Founders knew this and laid down the Constitution not to be a guide for Citizens but as a stricture for the Federal Government – for they knew that the likes of this ilk would soon appear on the scene. The Second Amendment, plainly stated, was written for that time in the future when those-that-would-be-Rulers had gone so far past those strictures that Liberty itself would be in jeopardy. It was the Gift to their descendants to be able to defend that which the Founders had given – and to defend it.
Certainly, I have heard these complaints, that Tyranny is on the rise, for a while – but never so loudly and never so often these last few years. We see obvious signs of the Rule of Man taking over from the Rule of Law during this Administration. We see the diminution of the Principles of contract law (the auto bailouts), of the expression of religion (the HHS mandate), that Government can force the purchase of a product not predicated on a need but for the simple action of drawing a breath. We see the abandonment of our duly elected Legislators in DC to do what they were elected to do – and what little they do, refuse to do the hard work and make the difficult decisions of actually governing. We see a President issuing Executive Orders that mandate changes (and thus, Law) that our Legislators refused to pass (e.g., immigration reform, energy industry, financial regulations). We see the rise of unelected, unaccountable, and off-budget boards that can levy their own funding over those they are “overseeing”. We see a Government that cannot control itself financially – putting the entire country at risk even as the President and Progressives want more for those in the cart and putting targets on the hardworking folks that pull the cart. “You didn’t build that” – but Government can grant you that. That is, it is who you know and no longer how good you are. Enforced “all together” versus a respect for the individual; the common good is primary over Joe and Jane Six-pack. Unemployment checks are good – wanting to spend the money you earned on your family is selfish. The building block of Society of the nuclear family where kids are born to committed mothers and fathers are disappearing as illegitimacy rates soar and Government social workers smoothly say “no problem, we have a check for this and a voucher for that”.
And Progressives see nothing wrong in any of this; the normal folks are scared in this new topsy turvy world they are creating. The future is uncertain – and Progressives are saying “The Future Is Bright!”. The country is being shorn of its footings these past few decades: traditions trashed, faith mocked, the culture runs to the ragged edge in the search for the adrenaline rush or shock value, societal institutions are being dissolved and absorbed into Government and the space that used to be Civil society (the buffer where private individuals were to live their lives of their own volition) is being more and more controlled by regulation and zoning. What used to be right is now wrong, what used to be accepted as good behavior is belittled as “so old fashioned”.
As with a diesel engine, The TEA Party arose because Obama and Progressives so compressed the political air in the cylinder of politics, all it took was a single spark to explode the political scene. Once again, I see that happening as Progressives are now compressing the air that Government NEVER used to enter: Society and private lives. They will push and push, and compress and compress that air – and finally there will be a spark.
And the result will not be just a political movement. And Progressives will have no clue as to what they have done. Or what they have forgotten: votes are the Citizens way of controlling Government. But since we are now seeing the capture of the Democrat Party by the New Left with the aid, time and $$, of the public sector unions, the Second Amendment (and the NH Constitution’s 10th Article) provide for a last resort “parachute ripcord”.