Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

July 26, 2012

COLUMN: Tragedy doesn't define Founders' gun intentions

— In the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Colorado, both sides of the political aisle are fighting a raging online battle over the ever-lurking issue of gun control.

As always, gun-control advocates are arguing for stricter gun laws, while pro-gun rights advocates are advocating for looser gun laws. The pro-gun debaters posit how many lives may have been saved had a single person inside the Aurora movie theatre been carrying a firearm, while their opponents argue that the return fire would have killed more people.

There are plenty of statistics to fuel the arguments. In some cases, outlawing guns leads to equally gruesome if less efficient murders; in many others, it leads to rampant lawlessness and an open flaunting of military-grade hardware.

Some countries with harsh gun restrictions, such as Mexico, are now practically in a state of civil war, as drug runners and other outlaws stare down the police. The disarmed citizens merely try to stay out of the way.

But when we engage in arguments about how effective gun control is, we often forget the real point of our right to keep and bear arms, as intended by our founding fathers, and enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

That is not to say that those arguments have no place, but sometimes they eclipse the real point of the right to keep and bear arms.

I am sure the Founding Fathers were all proponents of the right to defend one’s house and home from thieves, murderers and the like. But one must remember that the weapons of the day were not the efficient killing machines of today’s world.

Even the military carried bayonets as a secondary weapon because one man with a musket would easily be defeated by two men with tomahawks. Simply put, the Founding Fathers did not institute the right to keep and bear arms because of their fears of lone, deranged gunmen.

Rather, the Founding Fathers instituted the right to keep and bear arms because of their fear of tyrannical oppression. Remember, the opening shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington to stop the seizure of military supplies by British Redcoats.

Today, it is easy for us to believe that such an amendment is out of date. Today, we have the world’s most formidable military, and our security in that fact often causes us to forget that the Americans who fought at Lexington were also protected by the world’s most formidable military: The armed forces of Britannia. Remember, the American Revolution was not fought against a foreign invader, but against the colonial’s own government.

Today, it is hard for us to imagine our own government could turn against us. But is has happened countless times the world over, and disarmament of the people often serves as a prelude to murder on a massive scale.

We should not, in our arrogance, dream that we are somehow superior to the Germans who fell for Hitler’s ideological rants, or the Communists who aided Stalin as he slaughtered Ukrainians by famine. We are all human, and what has happened once in other parts of the world may happen again here.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”

Far be it from me to characterize any loss of human life as an “inconvenience,” yet the costs of those dead in gun violence in the United States pales before the specter of those killed by their own government after willingly surrendering their arms. And when the government ceases to obey the law, the only law it recognizes is force. To quote Mao, “power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Chairman Mao, probably the worst murderer of the century, knew exactly what he was talking about.

That is why gun ownership must persist. As beneficial as it might seem to rid the streets of guns, it only opens the door for a worse evil. Until the day that mankind’s worst enemy, human nature, has been conquered, each one of us must do our duty to ensure that power is not concentrated in the hands of a few.

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