Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's Not about Guns

"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."

The discussion about "gun control" has been quite vigorous, even accompanied by presidential histrionics of late. But the discussion should rightly be about "arms control" because the second amendment says nothing about guns. It does not even contain the word "gun".  It says "arms" and quite deliberately so.

The public discussion has been limited to guns, perhaps at first, because it was convenient. But the second amendment refers to arms because it wasn't about guns. It was about defending the nation from a tyrannical government. A government that had " becomes destructive of these ends"

What ends? The ones outlined as the purpose of government by the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

It was not the government granting a right to the people, it was the government being forced to recognize a natural right the people had. Not just to defend themselves, but to choose their government.

That is what the American Experiment is: an experiment that required a personally responsible and self reliant people. A people who could take care of themselves, thank you. A people who just wanted to go about the business of living without being burdened by one law, regulation or ordinance more than was absolutely necessary to the creation of a stable society - and the government was not to interfere in that without the consent of these same people. Could such a people survive and thrive without a government nanny or tyrant? That was the experiment - by the consent of the governed, not just their hollow acquiescence, but their consent - informed and responsible consent.

The Constitution is not a list of governmental powers - it is a list of restrictions of government.

And the discussion today is not about gun control - that is a convenient ruse which also serves to restrict the thinking of Americans to just guns, rather than arms.

From Webster's 1828 Dictionary:"Arms'ARMS, noun plural [Latin arma.]

  1.  Weapons of offense, or armor for defense and protection of the body.                   
  2.  War; hostility."Arms and the man I sing.To be in arms to be in a state of hostility, or in a military life.To arms is a phrase which denotes a taking arms for war or hostility; particularly, a summoning to war.To take arms is to arm for attack or defense. Bred to arms denotes that a person has been educated to the profession of a soldier.                                                            
  3.  The ensigns armorial of a family; consisting of figures and colors borne in shields, banners, etc., as marks of dignity and distinction, and descending from father to son.                                                                                         
  4.  In law, arms are any thing which a man takes in his hand in anger, to strike or assault another.                                                                                
  5. In botany, one of the seven species of fulcra or props of plants, enumerated by Linne and others. The different species of arms or armor, are prickles, thorns, forks and stings, which seem intended to protect the plants from injury by animals.                                                                                                                                                                         Sire arms are such as may be charged with powder, as cannon, muskets, mortars, etc.                                                                                                                                                                                                       A stand of arms consists of a musket, bayonet, cartridge-box and belt, with a sword. But for common soldiers a sword is not necessary.                                                                                                                                 In falconry, arms are the legs of a hawk from the thigh to the foot." 

The idea of arms is markedly different than the idea of guns. When the media tells us about gun control, it is easy to think in terms of self defense or hunting because a gun is the tool of an individual. It cannot be used by a group. Were the media and others to talk about restraining us from the bearing of arms, it would reshape the dialogue. 

The intent of the second amendment was not to codify the right to self defense or hunting. The very idea that the right to bear arms was about such such self evident rights would have been seen as absurd in a time when most, if not all, hunted for the table and dueling was legal. The intent, then, was to assure the people that they had the self evident right, as codified in the the Declaration of Independence, to determine what form of government they would have and further, that they had the right to take up arms to achieve such government 

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. "

This current dialogue between conservatives and communists is not about guns. It is about control. Communists cannot allow the people to be armed, because an armed people is a people who can resist the tyranny of the appalling utopian visions of the communists whose ideology depends on absolute power over the people. (Which explains a lot about the attacks on the Christian religion too, but that's a post for another day.)

Free men and women cannot allow their arms to be taken away, because then they can easily be made into slaves.

That is the current struggle. The two positions are irreconcilable, because these things cannot co-exist. It is not that the free men and women would deny their communist counterparts the ability to live under that tyrannical system, should they so choose, but rather that communism cannot tolerate dissent or deviance from the free men and women.

Communism does not allow for the right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. It only allows for rigid conformation to the dictates of the government. If you disagree, you will be eliminated because you are not fit to live and the good of the many outweighs the rights of the individual. 

There are communist and socialist nations out there already. China and North Korea spring to mind. If you want to live under that ideology, no one will keep you from moving to those nations. But, if you want to live here in the US, if you want the freedom to dissent openly and to worship freely and all the other self evident rights and freedoms of this experiment in self government, then you, too, must undergo the fatigues of supporting it. That means you must allow others to speak and worship and act freely, within the natural limitations of those natural rights. That means that responsible ownership and use of arms is a duty. But if that particular duty is not one that you can fulfill, at least do not hamper your fellow citizens in doing theirs.
“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

Just as the second amendment is about arms and not guns, the current dialogue is not about guns either. It's about control.

Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken." ~ Amos 5:14

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