2nd Amendment Rights —What We Must Do for Ourselves


There was a time when, if someone called themselves a conservative I could be reasonably sure they were committed to upholding the Constitution of the United States. In these trying times, I am forced to conclude that this is no longer the case. One sign of respecting the Constitution is the unwillingness to abandon its terms. Conservatives seem as willing as others to forego the use of Constitutional terms. They too act as if preserving the sense words have in that document is no longer part of upholding it, and protecting the form of government it was established to perpetuate.

In the wake of the Florida high school massacre, I’ve been writing a lot about what the 2nd Amendment plainly intends to achieve. As a result, I’ve renewed my call for Congress to heed the Amendment’s stated purpose. The only way to do so is to make sure the people of the United States have “a well-regulated militia,” as the Constitution says. It was to secure their free state that the American people fought against the increasingly despotic (we would say, dictatorial) rule of King George III’s government.

Reading the comments written in response to my recent articles, I’ve been led to conclude that even people who profess to support the 2nd Amendment haven’t bothered to read and think it through. If they did, they would notice is that it isn’t simply about “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” It explains, first of all, why doing so is a species of unalienable right. People must be morally spiritually and practically prepared to secure the free state in which they exercise such rights, or it will not endure. In pursuit of this preparedness, their right to keep and bear arm must not be infringed.

But the ultimate purpose, to quote the old Boy Scouts’ motto, is to be prepared. Preparedness requires planning, training, and self-discipline. Emergencies can arise at any moment. A state of readiness has to be achieved before such emergencies arise. Such readiness requires a regular discipline, such that people know where to go and what to do; and are ready to do it effectively, at a moments notice.

The events in Florida, and in every other such episode of sudden mayhem, prove as much. Isn’t this why the members of the militia who bore the brunt of the first battles of the Revolutionary War, went by the name of Minutemen?

That quality of momentary readiness is just as crucial now as it was then. In the recent Florida attack, it only took a few minutes for 17 people to lose their lives. Unless, as Barack Obama ominously desired, we are ready to tolerate a domestic security force as numerous and powerful as our regular armed forces (including the state and local police forces), we must find amongst ourselves the character, courage and skill the task requires.

The Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) makes it clear that the implementation of this task, including the choice of leaders and other personnel to carry it out, is for the governments of the states, respectively, to undertake, on behalf of the people they are supposed to represent. It is not for the President of the United States to do so. But the security of our free state is a matter of concern to the whole people of the United States.

So the Constitution charges our representatives in Congress with the task of legislating a standard of discipline the militia in all states must maintain. So that all will enjoy the same security, all must be challenged to apply the same standards of practice and proficiency. All must be tasked to demand, from the militia members involved, the same fidelity to the Constitution of the United States and the people whose free condition it aims to secure for us, and our posterity.

Such is the challenge for Congress. Such is the responsibility of our State and local governments. But the greatest challenge falls to us, the citizens-at-large o the United States. No matter their Party or ideological persuasion, these days we have leaders who seem all too willing to let the words of the Constitution lose the meaning they must have if we are to sustain our liberty. If they forget, we must remember for ourselves. Elected officials are all too willing to let people in our cities, towns, and suburban villages lose the conviction that our own good faith and courage is the first line of their defense. Though they want us to forget, we must remember for ourselves.

They are all too willing to pretend that when all guns are taken from us and left only in the hands of people they pay and control, no duty will remain for us but to be grateful for the safety and security they provide. When they have thus redefined our security in terms that confirm our subservience to their power and ‘noblesse oblige,’ will we remember for ourselves the pride of decent liberty that once kept such feudal notions at bay, in the land of the free?

Will we remember for ourselves the grim determination that allows a people, blessed by God, to live in rightful liberty, to turn to Him in thanksgiving for the hardy goodwill to defend it, for themselves? Or will we no longer care to remember the trust in God which allowed us to achieve what no nation before us ever did to our degree?

Strive for justice, and a union of all souls fit to be free—and do it, by the grace of God who made us, not just for ourselves, but for all people of goodwill.

Dr. Alan Keyes

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