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Time to Choose Sides; It's not about Guns

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I must confess I’ve never been much of a ‘joiner’. Most of my life I’ve been an independent thinker, some might say a loner. I rarely feel compelled to join a group or organization, even if I agree with their stance. Whatever descriptor you like, I’ve never been one of the “insiders” regardless of my endeavors. My lovely spouse might credit this situation to my inability to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself.

Not that I have never declared allegiance, I did so twice with the United States Marine Corps when I took the oath of enlistment and then re-enlisted. I took various oaths of allegiance when I was sworn in as a State Certified Peace Officer. If you want to take a trip back in time with me, I swore an allegiance to God when I was confirmed into the Lutheran Church at age fourteen. These oaths and promises of allegiance were not made to objects, but to principles and ideals.

It is no secret that the hottest topic on the minds of ‘gun owners’ across the United States is “2nd Amendment Rights”.  When the topic of the 2nd Amendment comes up, I’m want to reply that I am fond of that entire Bill of Rights and by extension the United States Constitution and the principles upon which this nation was founded.

Make no mistake; this nation was founded upon a deliberate set of principles. Whether or not your public school education glossed over that information or you were asleep during that part of American History class, that fact still remains. Today there are factions that would attempt to convince you that the United States of America was a happy accident or a fate accompli that was going to happen regardless of the individual men at the helm in 1776. Even a freshman student of history can tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Historical Perspective

It was not only James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the Adams boys who laid the course for what became the greatest nation in the history of mankind. There were hundreds, nay thousands of other men and women who put their lives, reputations and ‘sacred honors’ on the line to steer the ship of state that would become the United States of America. While these founding fathers and brothers did not always agree upon the exact course of action, they were all united in principle. Go back and read the founding documents, the speeches, pamphlets, letters, quotes from sermons, et al.

Hard core 2nd Amendment supporters might assume that the founding literature was laced throughout with references to firearms or guns, the truth is these papers largely were not. Why? Quite possibly, because in the minds of the framers, the right bestowed by the Creator to possess ‘arms’ was a given and not something that needed to be explained in detail or at great length.  The original colonists counted as their ‘arms’ not only muskets and cannons, but swords, the lance and pike. Were gunpowder never invented, I believe that the 2nd Amendment would have contained the word “sword”. 

Decades before the Declaration of Independence or the “Shot Heard ‘round the World” on April 19, 1775, those who inhabited the colonies in New England formed themselves into “training bands”. These were the original militias made up of citizens, not formalized military branches. Our forefathers understood intrinsically that it was the responsibility of every man of able body to not only possess arms for defense, against interior and exterior threats, but to be skilled in their use. Most every town or township had a designated ‘drill field’ where the training bands would come together to practice. They didn’t do this as a ‘job’ or ‘occupation’ they did it out of a sense of duty.

Allegiance not Objects

Today many in the 2nd Amendment choir have fallen for the simple trap of supporting the ownership of an object as proof of purpose. It’s a seductive trap, “the more gun owners the better” they argue. “The more people who own guns, the more people on our side”, is their assertion.

We’d like to think that the aforementioned reasoning is valid and that would indeed seem to be the logical outcome. However, when you juxtapose the fact that there are an estimated eighty million plus gun owners in the United States of America with the fact that our Constitution hangs by a fragile thread that simple argument falls flat.

If the ownership of firearms somehow indicated an allegiance to the founding principles of the United States, a strict adherence to the Bill of Rights and Constitution, there would be no arguments over magazine capacity, pistol grips and folding stocks, FOID cards, Government issued handgun permits, firearms registration, etc. Were eighty million Americans locked in purpose and  demanding a strict faithfulness to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and a true republican form of representation, the words “gun control” and “reasonable restrictions” would not exist in our modern political discourse.

Intellectual Dishonesty

"What about liberal gun owners or gun-owning Democrats?" You might be asking that question and then assert that we cannot afford to alienate them or ignore their opinions. To that I would retort, who do you think offered up the highest office in the land to the socialist crusader formerly known as Barry Soetoro? Who do think has sold out the founding fathers in the interest of “reasonable restrictions” and “legitimate sporting use” if not the liberal gun owners?

For those who might place themselves in the liberal gun-owner camp and have had the courage to have read this far in the piece, I’d offer the following observation. Claiming to support the 2nd Amendment while continuing to lend your support and money to parties, politicians and organizations who favor the ‘collective’ and ‘the state’ over the individual liberties of the citizen is the height of intellectual dishonesty. Every election cycle you swallow the lies of “hunting purposes”, “reasonable restrictions”, and “legitimate sporting use”. Those are the moral excuses you use to cover your nose and mask the stench of elitist politicians and the party of ever-expanding government. It is selfish and dishonest, but it makes you sleep a bit better at night.

Parting Thoughts

The debate over who may possess weapons of warfare was going on long before the invention of gun powder. I suppose the term ‘debate’ is a bit generous. Up until the establishment of the United States of America, whether or not the peasant would be allowed to possess a sword, bow, lance, or firearm was left to the arbitrary discretion of the state. The issuance of edicts forbidding the possession of tools of war (instruments of defiance) was the rule not the exception.

While we may be distracted over magazine capacity, gun permits, and reasonable restrictions in the interest of ‘safety’, the issue we face is as old as man himself. Are we going to cling to what little there is left of self-governance or are we destined to relinquish any independence and liberty that remain for the hollow promise of ‘security’? The gun debate is not about guns, it’s about allegiance to principle, claiming to be “Pro 2nd Amendment” notwithstanding.

It is far beyond time you choose a side. You are either on the side of limited government, personal responsibility and individual liberty or you are on the side of unlimited government, the collective mindset and strict limitations on the rights of the citizen. This choosing of sides is not necessarily meant to be a formal declaration to a specific group, but instead it is a mental choice, an internal commitment to a core set of principles and ideals.

Failing to choose a side does not make you enlightened, it makes you unreliable to either cause.

The choice to be a citizen is the most difficult as it requires that one accept responsibility for their failures as well as successes. That same path also requires that difficult choices be faced and sacrifices be made. The role of the peasant or comfortable slave is far simpler; declare allegiance to the state and fall in line for the promise of “safety and security”. Today, the choice is yours to make, tomorrow that may not be true.

Source Material

The Federalist Papers: Hamilton, Jay, Madison 

The Political Thought of the American Revolution: C. Rossiter

Founding Brothers: J. Ellis

Paul Revere's Ride: D. Fischer

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