The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

The Second Amendment in history


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Nov. 24, 2017 - 8:06 AM

With each mass shooting, discussion centers on the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.

Commentators opine people have a right to defend themselves and the assumption is “against criminals.” In the practicable this may be true, but the reasoning behind the Second Amendment is more pointed.

One of the precipitating events of the American Revolutionary War was the British Crown attempted to confiscate munitions. This “was the primary instigation of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the Revolution… when the British were trying to capture the colonists' weapons and ammunition stores at Concord.”

The Revolution was born of opposition to a domineering government, and there was no guarantee the new American “experiment” would not evolve into a similar situation. In the Preamble to the Constitution, Jefferson wrote “…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, 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…”

Noah Webster wrote (1787): "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed… The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops."

After victory, the Continental Congress wanted to ensure the people were not again rendered subservient to government. George Mason – referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith – echoed: "To disarm the people...[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them." (1788)

And in his first annual message to the Congress, George Washington said, “A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined…” (1790)

While there were practical reasons for men to be armed – sustenance hunting, protection from marauding groups, and, yes, criminals – the over-riding reasoning for the Second Amendment was to constrain government from oppressing the people.

It’s no secret the Democrats favor a burgeoning government and oppressive taxation. This history, in and of itself, should give thinking people concern when Democrats want to restrict weapon ownership.

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home … Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. … and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams

The Second Amendment isn’t protection against malefactors; it’s protection from government.

Ken Schaefer

Sharpsburg