My Turn: The real purpose of the Second Amendment

For the Monitor
Published: 7/16/2016 12:09:53 AM

The recent debates, in and out of Congress, regarding gun control fail to address a critical question: Why do we have the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution and specifically why do we have the Second Amendment?

The answer is one that we in today’s America, either intentionally or unintentionally, rarely discuss due to the conclusions that both sides in this issue would have to reach. These are conclusions that I reached as a public school student in the 1960s. Conclusions, by the way, that today’s public school students cannot make because the educational system has failed us, intentionally or unintentionally.

Both sides in this debate, the pro-gun and anti-gun crowds, are failing to address the real purpose of the Second Amendment.

Gun supporters stress the right of citizens to protect home and family, and maintain hunting rights. Gun control advocates respond with: Why do we then need assault-style weapons with 30-round magazines in order to protect our home or be able to go hunting? Without knowing why we really have the Second Amendment, it may be difficult to answer such a question.

The reason that our Founding Fathers included the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights was to give the citizens of this nation the ability to resist any tyrannical power that may want to deprive the people of their freedom, and thus “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The rest of the Bill of Rights would become meaningless if we were to be governed by a tyrannical power.

The right to keep and bear arms to protect oneself and one’s family, and be able to hunt, were a given during the writing of our founding documents. The right was never in question and would never have required a separate amendment to the Bill of Rights. But the right of the people in our newly formed republic to keep and bear arms to defend our nation against potential foreign or domestic powers had to be guaranteed.

We have to remember that the battle of Lexington and Concord, which started our Revolutionary War, was precipitated by the British efforts to confiscate weapons and powder from colonials. With that as a background, the Founding Fathers later drafted the Second Amendment in order to prevent any future power from attempting to confiscate weapons and ammunition from the people.

It follows then that the people must be able to keep and bear arms with which they would be capable of resisting and opposing a foreign or domestic power that threatens their rights and freedoms.

In Colonial days, those weapons were a musket and flintlock pistol. In later years they would have been a lever-action rifle and revolver. Today those individual weapons are the so-called “assault rifle” (with 30-round magazine capacity) and the automatic pistol. You cannot effectively oppose a modern day military force with a shotgun, musket or flintlock pistol.

Gun-control advocates often question the ability of any foreign power to attack our nation. They claim that we have the strongest military in the world and that no foreign power would dare to attack us. Yet today’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and our country’s military establishment at the Pentagon have concluded that we do have existential threats to our nation and they are, in order of priority, Russia, North Korea, China and ISIS. These are countries or entities that have the capability and /or potential to destroy our nation and our way of life, and to one degree or another they all may have the desire and will to do so.

If any of the above existential threats were carried out, it would be the duty of every able-bodied citizen to aid in the defense of our nation.

In today’s world that would not be, nor can it be, with muskets, bolt-action rifles, shotguns or revolvers.

To oppose a modern day power, when our existential survival is at stake, with hunting rifles and revolvers is not what our Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Second Amendment.

Today we can be attacked within our borders by a force of up to 15,000 to 30,000 strong within 48 to 72 hours and many more to follow within one week. The immediate responders to such an attack would probably be local law enforcement, an armed citizenry, a relatively small active-duty force and local National Guard forces, in that order. In such a scenario the advantage and initiative is always with the attacking forces but an armed citizenry would be invaluable and very decisive to the final outcome.

I believe neither side in the current debate wants to talk about the real purpose of the Second Amendment because the logical conclusions that would have to be reached do not fit the current narratives of either side.

Hard truths and reality are difficult concepts to deal with, especially when skirting or avoiding these discussions is so much easier. We can do what is right by supporting the Second Amendment and that which it is intended to do while also protecting our citizens from the criminals, felons, terrorists and the unstable among us who may want to use such weapons. It should not be a choice of one or the other.

Leaders in our country must have the willpower to do both, support the Second Amendment as it was intended by the Founding Fathers and protect our people, but with severe punishments for any felonious criminal acts committed with any type of weapon.

It is not that difficult.

(Bo J. Rudzinskyj of Sanbornton is a retired Army lieutenant colonel.)


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