Many may not remember from their basic U.S. history courses why the Second Amendment was adopted and still exists.
Certainly, when enacted, there was no thought of restricting the type of firearm one could possess or where or who could carry one. Its placement as the second most valued freedom in the Bill of Rights had nothing to do with personal safety or hunting; these were already assumed. It was specifically placed right after the freedoms of religion, speech, press, and assembly to make certain that these freedoms were never taken from us.
Our Constitution was founded with a healthy fear of government. Historically, it was always a government that took away liberty.
One must remember that early patriots did not ask the existing British government if they could revolt. They argued in the Declaration of Independence that they were "endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" coming from a much higher source than mere man, and 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."
God is referenced five times in this document and thus, they believed, He sanctioned their rebellion. They were expected to suffer evils while sufferable, "but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
The right of revolution requires the means of revolution, and this is the reason the Second Amendment exists. Normally, the ballot box is the only self-correction needed, but they had no intention of forfeiting the right of revolution they had exercised to give us liberty in the first place. Nor did they assume that future generations would never need the more serious self-correction they used.
So passionate were they over this issue that they double protected it, first by making it a constitutional amendment. And no presidential decree or congressional statute can alter an Amendment -- only another amendment submitted through the states as per Amendment V. This requires a vote of three-fourths of the states in support. Second, this is the only amendment, that itself, specifically forbids change. "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." No piece of law is more secure. As far as we can ascertain, America's Constitution is the only national constitution in world history that specifically prohibits its government from removing the right of the people to keep and bear arms and thus the means to resist government tyranny -- as was exercised against the British.
An armed populace twice proved its value to liberty in the Revolutionary War. Many do not remember why Lexington and Concord were so important. The Americans learned that the British planned to go door-to-door to confiscate their firearms, so they gathered and hid them in these two villages. Now the British night gun raid and Paul Revere's desperate midnight ride warning the Americans en route so they could retrieve their guns to use against the British make sense.
Second, the Battle of Saratoga, preventing the conquest of the northeast by General Johnny Burgoyne was stopped, not by the military, but by angry farmers with their own military-style "assault" rifles. This American victory encouraged other countries, notably France, to enter the war on our side. We would not have won the war without an armed citizenry.
The Founders' attitude regarding guns -- even military-issue -- was clear. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." And George Washington said, "A free people ought not only to be armed," but also, "they should promote such manufacturies [sic] as tend to remind them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies" (Gun Control, Freemen Report, May 31, 1975, p.1).
Many fear our government today. We fear when tyrannical governors condemn to death thousands of senior citizens by sending covid-19 infected patients into nursing homes, or when the Bill of Rights was openly defied and First Amendment protection rights denied their people. We fear when statues of our Founding Fathers and great former leaders are torn down and those doing this are leaving our inner cities aflame, when a majority believe election integrity no longer exists, when a president rules almost entirely by executive decrees, when a one-party rule is largely established, when our borders previously secured are no more, and when one side of the political spectrum is largely censored or canceled.
We fear Congress when it seeks to pass an Equality Act that ensures inequality or a Bill For the People Act cements permanent fraud in elections favoring one party in particular, or when it pushes to pack the Supreme Court or make D.C. a state -- all to install one political party rule in America. This fear is demonstrated when people are fleeing for safety from tyrannical states to freer states like Idaho, Florida, Texas and Utah. How can anyone in his or her right mind agree to give up the right to resist the government should it become tyrannical? In some places it already has.
The Second Amendment is the Constitution's final check on tyranny. We have the same right of revolution the Founders used, fully expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Widespread gun ownership has never been a threat to truly free societies. An armed citizenry keeps the government on short notice of the governed's ability to resist should God-given inalienable rights be taken from them.
A popular slogan states: "I love my country but I fear my government." Given the unconstitutional antics and fear noted above, perhaps we should hang on to the Second Amendment, as designed, as our own final option against tyranny -- an option we hope never to have to use again.
Harold W. Pease, Ph.D., is an expert on the United States Constitution and a syndicated columnist. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 30 years. To read more of Pease's weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.