​To Keep and Bear Arms

​To Keep and Bear Arms

Posted by Matt Little on 3rd Aug 2022

“To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them.” - George Mason

There has been a lot of political drama in our country regarding the Second Amendment. There are strong emotions on both sides, but deciding where we stand on issues based upon emotion rather than reason is dangerous. Not just because it leads to poor decisions as a general rule, but especially because it makes us easily manipulated.

Anytime a person in power makes an appeal to emotion rather than using logic and reason I’m suspicious. There is a Latin phrase that perfectly captures the litmus test I use on emotional appeals. “Qui Bono.” This means “who benefits,” and asking yourself that question whenever you’re evaluating someone’s statements or actions is a powerful tool for discerning their true intent.

In the case of the Second Amendment, I see this through the lens of my experience. I have seen true repression and tyranny in other countries. I have seen those in power abuse it because there are no checks and balances in place to prevent it. Stateside, I have seen the aftermath of violence against the innocent who were powerless to defend themselves. Even in large municipal jurisdictions where you’re never far from a police officer, violence is sudden and unexpected, and the police often can’t get there in time to intervene. My understanding of violence and its cost isn’t academic, it’s real and personal.

The proponents of gun control in our country use emotion like a weapon in their arguments. They point to tragedies that understandably horrify good people and use that horror and outrage to shore up their position. But mass shootings, as tragic as they are, make a poor case for gun control when evaluated based on the actual data. The FBI data on active shooter incidents, which excludes gang violence and other crime-related shootings, shows that far fewer people are killed or injured in mass shootings than by either medical malpractice or vehicle accidents.

Thirty-eight people, excluding the shooters themselves, were killed in such incidents in 2020, the most recent year the finished report is available for. If you include all firearms deaths, even suicides which account for over fifty percent, the number for 2020 rises to 45,222. By contrast, the number of deaths related to medical errors is estimated at between 22,000 - 98,000 yearly, depending on which study you believe. You are at least as likely to die at the hands of your doctor than you are to be shot and killed by another. Compare this to traffic crash fatalities for 2020, which were 38,824, and once again it’s a higher risk of death than violence with a handgun if you exclude suicide. And although raw numbers of firearms related deaths have risen, per capita they are lower than in the 1970’s.

In my opinion though, these statistics are actually irrelevant to the debate. The Second Amendment isn’t about sport, or hunting. It isn’t even about self defense. The Second Amendment is about one thing, and one thing only. The ability of the people to resist and overthrow tyranny. The framers of the Constitution hadn’t just returned from a hunting trip. They had defeated an empire and earned our nation’s independence.

This understanding of the founder’s intent behind the Second Amendment nullifies much of the gun control rhetoric. It’s why their claims about “weapons of war,” magazine capacity, “assault weapons,” and so on are irrelevant. The Second Amendment is at its core about war. One of the incidents that triggered the revolutionary war was an attempt a gun confiscation by the British. In 1774, General Gage confiscated arms and ammunition throughout Boston via warrantless searches by British soldiers.

This triggered a series of events that led to the first Continental Congress, and eventually to the colonies successfully fighting for their independence. It was also the genesis for both the Second and Fourth Amendments. The founding fathers drafted the constitution and its amendments specifically to guard against our government becoming the type of tyranny they had freed themselves from.

The truth of the Founding Fathers’ intent and understanding has been born out time and again. One of the first things Hitler did when he rose to power was to put strict limitations on gun ownership, as did Mao, Stalin, and Lenin. In this century, we’ve seen strict gun control immediately precede genocide in Sudan and social upheaval in Venezuela. Australia confiscated firearms and during the pandemic changed from a free nation to an oppressive one.

The lesson is this. A disarmed populace is powerless to resist tyranny. This is a lesson our politicians understand, as evidenced by the fact that the elected officials pushing hardest for gun control here in the United States are the same ones advocating loudest for sending arms to the Ukraine so that it’s citizens can resist Russian invasion.

The counter argument against this premise is that resistance against a modern military would be futile with semiautomatic rifles and pistols. This is a faulty argument on a couple of levels. Any Special Forces soldier can attest to just how effective guerrilla warfare can be. And this argument on the part of gun control advocates, when looked at through the lens of the constitution and the founders’ intent, actually invalidates many of the current restrictions on firearms ownership such as the NFA. It also makes the “weapons of war” argument from gun control proponents immaterial on it’s face, as weapons suitable for waging war are the very items the Second Amendment is written to guarantee access to.

Another common assertion by the politicians who want to remove public access to firearms is that the Second Amendment is a collective right, not an individual one. This is based on the use of the word “militia” in the amendment, and claims that the Second Amendment was written to only apply to institutions like the National Guard. The problem with this argument is that it is historically inaccurate. At the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, no such institution as the National Guard existed, and the term “militia” meant every able-bodied male citizen of fighting age.

So if deaths by firearms violence are statistically far less significant than we have been led to believe, and if the intent behind the second amendment was to safeguard against our government devolving into tyranny through the guarantee of an individual right to keep and bear arms, then why the political push for disarming our populace? Once again, I believe the answer to that can be discerned by asking ourselves “qui bono,” and examining who truly benefits from such measures.

The people advocating hardest for gun control, despite the constitutional protections of the Second Amendment, are protected around the clock by people armed with guns. Their safety is reasonably assured. They aren’t worried that those in power will abuse it, because they are in power. How then would they benefit from our right to keep and bear arms being abolished?

The only logical conclusion is that they understand exactly the founding fathers’ intent behind the Second Amendment, and that the truth of it is exactly why they want to abolish the right. They don’t want the checks on their power that an armed populace creates. They themselves aspire to the sort of absolute power that the rulers of other nations enjoy, unfettered by accountability. And if we want to maintain any semblance of the republic our founding fathers envisioned, we must guard against that at all costs.