Now that we have seen that the Founders said the militia is the People, and that, as such, the militia is subject to but independent of the government, let us look at why the Founders were so concerned about retaining an independent militia. In other words, let’s see if the Founders told us what the Second Amendment is really supposed to be and why they gave it to us.
We will start by remembering that, at the time they wrote it, the Founders had just come out of the Revolutionary War, where they had to fight to free themselves from a tyrannical and lawless government. Next, we will look at just a small selection of what the Founders had to say on the issue of how best to preserve liberty:
“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.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787
“To disarm the people…[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.”
– George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adooption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. 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.”
– Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787
“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
– St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1803
“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
– Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833
“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.”
– Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, I Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789
“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
– Tench Coxe, Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789
The first thing the reader may notice is that they are unfamiliar with many of these Founders. There is good reason for this. If our schools and political leaders actually taught us about the 270-something plus men considered to be ‘Founders,’ and we read what all of them had to say concerning the issues of our own times, much of the current political agenda being pushed on us would fall apart. This is because, as we can see above, the founders did comment on the things that still concern us today, and they were clear and forceful in their opinion of them, as well as their intentions for how to deal with them in the formation of our governmental system. Or, in other words, if we looked at the whole of the Founders’ writings, they would utterly destroy the current political narrative!
In this case, the Founders would destroy the assertion that the Second Amendment was meant to protect the right to hunt and even for personal self-defense. These things are included under the protection of the Second Amendment, but it should be clear that the Founders’ primary aim was to preserve the ability to oppose the government and any army it may raise and turn against the People. Therefore, there is no reason to beat this matter any further: it is clear that the Founders intended the Second Amendment to be a threat the the government, and to preserve the Peoples’ ability to resist that government should it ever turn on them.
Now, in a rational world, this would end the debate over the purpose of the Second Amendment. But then, we no longer live in such a world…