Ever since our annual trip to South Dakota in an attempt to help control the state's prairie dog population I have been thinking about how much fun we had defending the land from those varmints. We spent three days expelling round after round of various calibers of ammunition at the little pests. I shot close to 500 rounds through my .223 and the guys were closer to around 1,000 rounds with their larger calibers. I don't know how much we helped to control the population on this particular rancher's property, since I may have damaged one for every five rounds I fired, but it sure was a lot fun.
Then as Independence Day came and went I was thinking about how wonderful it is that we have the right to help defend the land from prairie dogs.
I love our country's amendment rights. I particularly like the second amendment. It says, "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."
It's a simple statement that speaks volumes. It was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, sometime after our forefathers declared independence from the tyranny of British rule. The amendment was necessary because in our new country where men fought and died for liberty, we wanted to be sure we had the means to maintain that liberty if necessary.
Let's look at the second amendment more closely and break it down into parts and put it back together. The second amendment basically contains three ideas.
The first is "a well-regulated militia". In today's society many people have lost the real meaning of the word "militia". Our forefathers never imagined that over 200 years later that the word "militia" could be construed to mean anything else other than the privately armed whole body of the people in a free state. The words "well regulated" denoted discipline and education in the safe and competent use of firearms. So the whole phrase "a well regulated militia" means all people who are safe and skillful in the use of firearms, which usually includes level headed law abiding citizens.
Some people claim that the militia was a normal military force of some type, which is separate from the people. This misinterpretation would limit the keeping and bearing of arms to armies and the police, which is the very thing the framers of the constitution wanted to avoid.
The second idea in the second amendment is the security of a free state. This simply means that to secure our freedom we must have the right to protect it when it becomes necessary. This means from criminals who would invade our lives as well as terrorists who invade our country.
The third idea contains two rights of the people that cannot be infringed upon. The right to keep arms and the right bear arms. The right to keep and bear arms is an individuals right guaranteed only to citizens of the United States.
The framers of the constitution understood "arms" to mean weapons for the use of offense or defense. That includes those weapons commonly owned by the people such as rifles, shotguns, pistols, swords, knives, and clubs. Today that would include those items and more. Arms are vital to our liberty. They give the individual citizen the right to protect himself, to hunt, to defend his state against foreign invasion and, however unlikely, to keep his rulers honest.
The phrase "shall not be infringed" means that this right can never be taken away or even changed. It guarantees our right to always be able to keep and bear arms.
The framers chose to have this right guaranteed even though they were aware of crime. They decided that whether or not they guaranteed this right they would never be free of crime. Crimes were to be handled by the penitentiary and gallows instead of depriving law abiding citizens of their rights.
It seems absurd to think that people in our present society would try to disarm all law abiding citizens and make them targets for criminals, which have no regard to whether or not they are obeying the law.
In complete disregard of the lessons of history these same people accuse all Americans of being dangerous potential criminals. These same people probably would have encouraged Americans to turn their guns into the British. These are the same people who seem to think that the police can protect us all from criminal attack. What they fail to see is the effect of an armed citizenry would have on criminal attacks from anyone, whether it is an individual felon, a tyrant, a world aggressor, or a cowardly terrorist who hides behind innocent people.
The right to arms may not be undercut just because a few people consider it an annoying or outdated amendment. We still need the right to protect and defend ourselves when no one else is there to do it for us. I don't see a politician standing guard at my door to protect my family. I also don't see those who would have our right taken away, feeding my family.
In these times of terrorism and in light of the hatred terrorists have for our country, the second amendment is more important that ever to protect our right to defend our country and freedom.
The second amendment or any other amendment cannot be changed or made depending on a popular belief that there may not be a continued need for it. Even though the Bill of Rights can be expanded to meet the needs of the times, it cannot be shortened to fit the needs of the moment. If it was too restrictive the right would be brought to such an absurd point that our protected rights would no longer exist.
It is pretty hard to defend the land from prairie dogs, in pursuit of happiness, without the right to keep and bear arms.