Let Them Take Arms

Let Them Take Arms

By Raymond Shipley

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Since the murder of dozens and injuring of dozens more in a terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida there has been one constant coming from both the mainstream media and the politicians currently in power: gun control. But one must ask the obvious, to what end?

In the United States of America there exists certain amendments to the Constitution added as failsafes for both the states and individual citizens meant to safeguard the freedoms and liberty fought for in the founding of this nation. The first ten amendments to our Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. The following is the United States Bill of Rights in their full text.
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

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.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. 

Concerning the issue of gun control one must pay close attention to not simply the Second Amendment, which guarantees that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed, but also the meaning and context of these rights. I would also advise paying very close attention to the often overlooked Tenth Amendment, which states "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." In other words, the federal government does not have any powers not expressly granted by the Constitution itself, and the ability to enact gun control would clearly be a constitutional overreach.

The Second Amendment states, in plain terms, "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". There are no ifs, ands or buts in this amendment limiting who can bear arms, nor are there limitations as to what sort of arms are meant. In fact, the Founding Fathers made it crystal clear the intent of this right was not to go hunting, nor was it simply to defend the citizen's home, but rather to give the citizen, the people, the ability to defend against a tyrannical government. James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, made this evident when he stated "the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone" in theFederalist No. 46 January 29, 1788. Moreover, George Washington explained who the "militia" truly is when he stated, "I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people". Thus, we can see that the right to bear arms is meant to keep authority in the hands of the people, not the government. Is it not ironic the very government this amendment is meant to protect against is the entity that pushes to take away this right piecemeal?

But, again, to what end is gun control legislation claimed to be striving? In attempt to appeal to civilized man's desire for safety over liberty the claim is that without guns there would be less murder. The tears of Obama alongside the stern words of Hillary buttress this, while those on the Right make the claim simply owning guns keeps the murder rate lower than it normally would be. After all, criminals won't adhere to gun laws and will kill regardless, right? 

Unfortunately for both sides, facts are what they are and the boat has been missed time and again due to Left and Right attempting to appeal to safety rather than Liberty. One need not argue theory when the experiment has already been carried out and empirical evidence is available to be studied. 

In the United Kingdom a handgun ban was enacted in 1996. From 1990 until the ban, the rate of homicide fluctuated between 10.9 and 13 murders per million. Once the ban was enacted, homicides increased, eventually reaching a peak of 18.0 in 2003. It should also be noted the British government added 20,000 more police officers after this and the murder rate returned to a more manageable 11.1 in 2010. 
In Ireland firearms were banned in 1972. Preceding the ban the homicide rate fluctuated between 0.1 and 0.6 per 100,000 people. Post firearms ban the murder rate increased to 1.6 per 100,000 in 1975, only to eventually drop back to 0.4. The homicide rate did increase again over the years, reaching 1.4 per 100,000 in 2007.
Australia is another recent example, enacting a gun ban in 1996. True to form, immediately after the ban the murder rate increased and eventually returned to a similar percentage to what the numbers were before the ban.

In other words, banning firearms does absolutely nothing to curb the homicide rate in a given country, and in fact seems to be the catalyst for a temporary increase in murders. All the Obama tears and social justice screaming cannot change these facts. Whether a nation has guns or not seems to matter very little in terms of homicide rates.

But it must be reiterated, time and again until it is understood, the Second Amendment was written in order to protect the people of this nation from a tyrannical government. When the very government this right was written to protect the people from is trying to convince that facts are not facts, that inanimate objects are responsible for murder when not only does that lack any form of logic but the statistics simply do not support this, it should be painfully obvious the people are being systematically disarmed for nefarious reasons. 

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is the most important right any American possesses as it ensures the safety of every other right. If this right is taken away it sets the precedent for the next right to be confiscated, and the next. Which will it be? Will it be the right to free speech, which has been under fire lately, or perhaps the right to be secure in one's "persons, houses, papers, and effects"? Once the nation is deprived of its means of defense it lies powerless against the state. Once the people lose the right to bear arms lost will be the right to liberty. In summation, I shall quote Thomas Jefferson in his December 20, 1787 letter to James Madison:

"What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms."

A revolution in sentiments, manners and moral opinions