Guns Don’t Kill People, But Governments Do – Part 1

January 29, 2013

by Matt Wyers


In the recent debate over gun control, a simple fact has been forgotten.  While those on the Left are always ready to limit the access of private citizens to firearms and often latch on to the latest tragedies as excuses to impose their preconceived worldview on others, the discussion of what the 2nd Amendment is and why it was written often gets lost.

Many do a fine job of defending the principles of the 2nd Amendment, but still, too many don’t know what the original reasoning behind it was.  Often, there are calls for “dialogue” and “discussion” on the issue yet the foregone conclusion of such discussion is to alter the 2nd Amendment in the end in order to provide greater “safety.”  Changes are needed, the argument goes, and it’s only a matter of what changes need to be made.  Such a perspective only puts on a pretense of open-mindedness, however.  The end result has already been decided and it is claimed that anyone serious about public safety and preventing senseless deaths will begin the discussion at this point.  The “extremists,” however, will fight tooth and nail to preserve “outdated” laws because they have an infatuation with the days of the wild west more so than with a civilized and peaceful society.  Such doubletalk and feigned sentiment is common among the Left though so we shouldn’t be surprised.

What is important to discuss is the reason the Founding Fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment.  Why the 2nd Amendment is as necessary today as it has ever been should be the topic of discussion.

Now, let’s look at the amendment itself:

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.

First, the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with protecting the right to hunt.  Any politician that refers to such an idea is a fraud when it comes to actually protecting the 2nd Amendment.  If the 2nd Amendment, written in the late 1700s when hunting was the only way for the vast majority of families to procure meat on a regular basis, refers to the government not having the right to infringe upon the people owning hunting rifles then the 3rd Amendment should have referred to the right to farm.  Guess what?  It doesn’t.

Second, while this amendment can be used as a foundation for the idea of personal self-defense, it doesn’t even primarily refer to that.  The right to defend one’s self from an intruder or some other hostile person is an important one, no doubt.  It can be easily extrapolated from the principles of the 2nd Amendment, but that concept is more intuitive and it is uncommon for governments to restrict someone’s ability to defend one’s self although this sort of thing has become more prevalent in modern times.

The guarantee of the 2nd Amendment comes down to protecting against one threat…tyranny.

It has been said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  That is true, but for the purposes of the Founding Fathers they weren’t worried about just anyone taking up a gun to kill an innocent.  They were worried about governments killing people.  They were worried about governments using the power of firearms to impose its will upon the common people.  They were worried about the people not be able to defend themselves from frail, immoral human beings occupying positions of authority.

Ever consider why they would have bought into such an “absurd” idea?  One might point to March 5th, 1770 for some of that inspiration.


Engraving by Paul Revere depicting Boston Massacre


That evening was the date of the infamous Boston Massacre, a day when Royal British troops fired on unarmed civilians and murdered 5 people.  This event has often been called the first incident in the American Revolution and while the death toll was small, it was still an example of what could happen when the government wielded totally unchecked power over the populace.

Despite the dismissal of the fear of tyranny that the Founding Fathers had and conscientious Americans have today, it is something more common throughout human history than not.  The American Republic was called a “great experiment” by many in the early days because it was such a different form of government than had ever been common before.

Even today, it is an exception to the typical manner in which governments approach their people.  The majority of the world’s population does not enjoy the degree of liberty we do.  Many countries “allow” their people certain freedoms while our system is designed to put the government in a subservient position as in comparison to the people.  While Western-style democracies have become more common in the world today, modern history is still full of examples of these very types of governments devolving into tyrannical and murderous regimes.

You may be familiar with the example of Nazi Germany imposing gun registration on the populace and banning the ownership of weapons for Jews and others, the undesirables as it were.  While gun ownership was never the cultural trait in Germany that it is in the USA, one still learns the lesson that an armed people would be a detractor to the capabilities of any tyrannical leaders.  Consider this quote:

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms.  History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.  — Adolf Hitler, April 11, 1942

Hitler made this statement in the aftermath of conquering Russian territory during World War II.  The truth of it is stark.  A people deprived of a means to defend themselves are vulnerable to any who would wish to control and manipulate them.

That bring us to the original purpose of the 2nd Amendment.  It is preventative in nature.  If unencumbered, the culture created through popular firearms ownership is a discouragement to any would-be tyrant.  Even if the arguments about greater public safety being the result of gun control laws weren’t fallacious, it would still be worth considering that the big picture of widespread gun ownership is the lesser of two evils.

There are some who say such a dystopian reality could never occur here.  That tyranny could never swallow this country up, our leaders are and will always be decent people.  We would never need to defend ourselves in such a way, the argument goes.  That sort of argument misses the point.  If our people ever experience a time when we need an armed rebellion to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government then it will already be too late.

We will never see that sort of reality though if we adhere to the admonition of the 2nd Amendment(Read it again if you don’t believe there is an admonition within it).  It is necessary to have an armed populace in order to secure our liberty for the future.

More to come in a new series about the 2nd Amendment and gun control…










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