A PERSPECTIVE ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT
Michael N. Goldberg
There is no debate among intellectually‐honest Constitutional scholars that the Second Amendment was intended to ensure that the American People, both individually and collectively, would always maintain the means by which to defend themselves against the tyranny of government. This principle has been well‐established in the writings of the Founders and has been upheld by the Supreme Court time and time again. Any arguments to the contrary are simply disingenuous and inconsistent with the facts. The Founders, through their intimate knowledge of history and understanding of the nature of mankind, recognized that the newly established government would evolve over time, with power eventually concentrating and ultimately becoming repressive. Thus, by means of the Second Amendment, the American People were guaranteed the God‐given right of defense against the abuses of an authoritarian government and the ability to provide for their own security without impediment.
Those who would abridge the Second Amendment claim that there is no justification for the People to possess high‐capacity magazines or so called "assault weapons" (which are, in fact, undifferentiated from other legal firearms in their lethality—they only look more intimidating). But if the People are inadequately armed relative to the forces of a tyrannical government, then they have no effective defense against such tyranny. For instance, had George Washington only been able to avail himself of bows and arrows to oppose the King of England’s muskets and cannons, we would still be subjects of the British Empire and would never have known the freedom and prosperity of the past 240 years. If the colonists had been required to provide the British government with an inventory of the firearms in their possession, such weapons would have undoubtedly been confiscated, thus rendering the People impotent in their ability to resist the abuses of the British Crown. The tactic now being employed by the government to achieve its thinly veiled goal of disarming the American People is to surreptitiously implement legislation that erodes Second Amendment rights incrementally, for should they endeavor to confiscate our firearms abruptly, massive insurrection would most assuredly result. But let us not be deceived as to the intentions of those who would deny us our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms; REGISTRATION IS REQUISITE TO CONFISCATION!
Many government officials seem to place little value on the right of ordinary people to provide for their own defense, while they themselves benefit from the protection of heavily armed bodyguards concealing high‐capability weapons. Most of us who are not members of the elite ruling class are prohibited from carrying concealed weapons, and even within the confines of our own homes, we are relegated to the possession of firearms having limited capabilities. But if your home were to be invaded by a team of 2 or 3 violent intruders (as has been the recent trend), are you willing to bet the lives of your children that an inferior weapon loaded with a clip containing just 7 or 10 rounds of ammunition is sufficient to thwart multiple attackers in such a circumstance? Do you believe that your marksmanship will be good enough in a moment of terror that every shot will hit its target to stop the invaders in their tracks? Is an armed intruder who may only be wounded incapable of killing you or your family? Personal security is the solemn responsibility and sacred right of each and every American citizen, upon which the government has no legitimate authority to impinge.
Undeniably, our government is shifting precipitously to the extreme left under the current administration in Washington, DC. Leftist governments throughout the 20th Century, including those of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Mao Tse‐Tung, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro, among many others, effectively disarmed the people in order to seize power. I must wonder how many of the 20 million Russians murdered by Stalin’s socialists could have been spared had they the means to defend themselves. I must wonder if the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto could have avoided annihilation had they been sufficiently well armed in their heroic uprising against Hitler’s National Socialists. I must wonder how many of the nearly 150 million people who died at the hands of Socialists and Communists throughout the 20th Century could have been saved had they only been able to avail themselves of adequate defenses against the despots.
The only reason such events have not occurred in the United States (thus far) is because of the protections provided by the Constitution, and it is only the Second Amendment that ultimately secures that Constitution and the freedoms guaranteed therein.
Through alarmist and specious arguments, many politicians are attempting to convince Americans that surrendering our constitutional rights will somehow render us safer, however, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates otherwise. To wit, virtually every study undertaken by the Center for Disease Control and other government agencies have clearly established that gun control measures, including registration, are not only ineffective, but actually contribute to higher rates of violent crime, whereas criminals can act with virtual certainty that their victims will be unarmed and are, therefore, unable to defend themselves. Although dozens of precious lives were tragically lost in Newtown, Connecticut at the hands of a deranged madman, the government’s own statistics clearly indicate that gun control measures only leave us more vulnerable to criminals who, despite the prohibitions of law, manage to obtain firearms through illegal global networks. But even more insidiously, history has repeatedly revealed that thousands or even millions will lose their lives or their liberty as a consequence of unconstrained governments acting with impunity against unarmed civilian populations. Such is the nature of government. Such is the nature of man.
Many currently in power, in direct violation of their oaths of office to “protect and defend the Constitution,” are instead attempting to subvert the Second Amendment and deny us the constitutionally‐protected civil right to keep and bear arms, despite their false claims to the contrary. Nevertheless, the Constitution remains the supreme law of the land. Shortly after its adoption, the several States chose to add further declaratory and restrictive clauses to the Constitution in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers. These are known as the Bill of Rights, and consist of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Now mind you, the Bill of Rights is not known as the Bill of Suggestions. Neither is it known as the Bill of Recommendations. But rather, the Bill of Rights, without qualification, places specific limitations on the powers of government and enumerates certain absolute freedoms that the government is powerless to deny to the American People, among which is the Second Amendment, which simply states: “…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed…PERIOD.” This inalienable right is not subject to laws that may be promulgated by Congress from time to time. It is not subject to the whims of the legislature or governor of any state. Nor is it subject to any executive order that may be issued by the President of the United States.
The Constitution contains a built‐in mechanism for its modification should the People choose to amend or repeal any portion thereof. But until and unless the American People repeal the Second Amendment in the manner so prescribed by the Constitution, it shall remain the law of the land, and, therefore, any action on the part of the government that violates the Second Amendment is simply unlawful and illegitimate! For presidents, governors, legislators or bureaucrats to usurp powers not granted them by the Constitution, most particularly when attempting to render asunder specifically enumerated and guaranteed constitutional rights, is contrary to the most fundamental of our legal tenets and establishes a highly dangerous precedent. If today we allow this government to undermine the Second Amendment without due process of law, then how can we stop them tomorrow from abolishing the right of free speech, or of the press, or of religion, or of protection from unreasonable search and seizure? If we allow this government to act in a mannerinsubordinate to the Constitution for any reason whatsoever, the American People will henceforth be at the mercy of whatever regime happens to be in power! It is, therefore, our sacred obligation to those who fought and died for our freedom, and to those who will some day inherit out great nation, to resist and to disobey any unconstitutional mandate that this government may attempt to unlawfully impose upon the American People!
Of course there are life‐safety risks connected with being an armed society, just as there are even greater risks associated with being an automobile‐owning society. But once Pandora’s Box was opened with the invention of firearms some 900 years ago, it can never again be closed, no matter how hard we may wish it to be so. Considering this ostensible truth, the most dangerous course is for a disarmed people to be left prostrate before an imperious government, which history has shown will eventually force its will upon the People at the point of a gun. Or to be vulnerable to criminals, who through a robust black market can easily obtain any class of firearm available worldwide for use against decent people whose ability to defend themselves has been mitigated by autocrats.
Do you really think such events could never occur here? That is precisely what the Jews of Europe thought when Hitler seized absolute power in 1933. Anyone who believes in the benevolence of this or any government has simply chosen to ignore 3,000 years of recorded human history.