It has been absolutely shocking, and sickening, the shooting of the 20 helpless children and the adults that bravely tried to protect them. It is not surprising in the least that in the emotion of the horror there has been a demand for Gun Control. I too am disturbed from the evilness of the act, but I thought as a counterweight I would post this article to expose both Americans and Canadians to the rational that brought about the 2nd Amendment.
Disclosure: Inasmuch as I live in Canada and also feel secure in my life, I don’t feel personally that I need a gun for protection therefore I do not own any form of weapon. Likewise, in the past a friend invited me to go hunting with him. I had a deer in the cross-hairs, by couldn’t pull the trigger to kill the critter. No sense to have a gun. So as I write this, I assure you that I am not biased because I have a weapon.
As I write I recognize that this is a very hot topic and I could lose half of the readers either side of the line. As always, I write to get information out that is not generally known or reported on. In the purest sense, the Athenian sense, democracy is a conversation by anyone that wishes to add a voice, and then the people can decide for themselves what they believe and/or what they will vote for. Is this not the path of an informed and intellectually maturing population.
Thomas Jefferson’s Reasoning for “The Right to Bear Arms“
As the issue of Gun Control explodes in America, and spills into Canada, it is time to look back in history to understand the intent Thomas Jefferson had in the writing of the 2nd Amendment. It seems that Americans do not know their history, and it is rather sad that it is a Canadian that has to bring this to their attention.
Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress therefore he, with the other delligets were front and center to the American rebellion against Britain and knew very well that their actions were worthy of treason and if unsuccessful their/his neck would be stretched by the hangman’s noose. Was he brave and a risktaker? Yes. Was he a man of action? Here is his take on that: “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you”.
The Congress was the organization that made preparations to fight the British Empire (the governing body for the the then 1%) for independence and freedom. This surely effected his opinion on the need for weaponry to throw off tyranny. He saw the tyranny of men so quick to capitalize on the populous for their own advantage and overindulgent prosperity. Freedom was his answer to oppression. He saw this all close up and personal.
Another thing you have to understand about Jefferson, it was the order of the day for the Congress to design a new model of a democracy. This required that the Founding Fathers study the democracies of the Iroquois, Athens and the Republic of Rome. Perhaps it is not surprising, seeing the results, that they favoured the Republic of Rome model. They also came to the conclusion that democracies were fragile and susceptible to those that would try to take over the government. Would others try to take advantage of the fledgling government? Likely. So built into the Constitution was safeguards for the Republic.
So Jefferson wrote the Constitution with strong wording in the 2nd Amendment to protect the rights of the people to bear arms. In an 1824 letter Jefferson wrote to J. Cartwright states “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” He also wrote “A free state relies on its people to defend it when necessary and at all times to keep it free.” This is perhaps the reason that Americans look to the Right to Bear Arms as the defining principle of whether or not they have freedom and democracy. This is the gauge of their trust of the government. This is the reason Americans run to buy guns, despite the mass killing of Newtown, at the mention of Gun Control.
There are 2 reasons for Jefferson’s reasoning. Reason 1. “For a people who are free and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. It is, therefore, incumbent on us at every meeting [of Congress] to revise the condition of the militia and to ask ourselves if it is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our territories exposed to invasion…(Thomas Jefferson: 8th Annual Message, 1808. ME 3:482 )
Reason 2. As before mentioned, Jefferson recognized that democracies are fragile organizations, susceptible to leaders that will misuse their power, and he also anticipated the day that an American leader might try to seize control of the Government. Here is a quote that forms somewhat of Jefferson’s view, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” Jefferson But here is the strongest quote I have found on Jefferson’s thoughts of a future tyrant in Government “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”. There is no mixing words there. Source: http://www.fightthebias.com/quotes/thomas_jefferson.htm
Jefferson’s as a matter of fact thoughts on the protection of freedoms, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Conversely, Jefferson warned of the apathy of the people that would pave the road to tyranny, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Looking at these 2 quotes of Jefferson’s it seems most sensible for the people to pursue a course to keep their Government honest and working for the people. Pressuring your representatives is far preferred to leaving it to the call to arms.
Who knows IF or WHEN that day will come. But the fact that that day might come is enough for us to keep this thought on the top of Gun Control decision criteria.
I will interject into this conversation, that I had a friend who was a young boy who grew up in Germany, in the early days of Hitler. He relayed the horrors which the German people suffered as Hitler took control of the once free Germany. He said one day the Gestapo came for their guns, and after they had collected the weapons, they came for the vehicles, then they came for the bikes, then the boats. Each trip was an act of intimidation, and in the end the German people preferred to look away because they couldn’t do anything to stop the militarized Nazi Regime and at the same time they couldn’t even escape if they were to resist. The lives of the German people were at constant peril. Yes, these gun incidents are horrific and traumatizing, I don’t mean to minimize the terrible event of Newtown, but the horror of a dictatorial American puts these isolated incidents in perspective.
In the knee-jerk fix of “we need gun control” we eliminate what would best prevent the bullied loners from going over the deep end – a more compassionate world where we consciously seek out those who are hurting and needing a friend. But that would require real work and caring wouldn’t it? We need to learn to take care of each other better. It would be worth it, a kinder and more compassionate world would be a reward in itself and a blessing to the givers and the receivers.
An update one week after my posting of this blog. Some of the States are moving toward the idea of arming their teachers. In Utah, 200 teachers learned to use a weapon, and to carry concealed in school. This is Dec 27, 2013. Good? Bad? We hopefully will never have to find out.
Postscript: One of the great things about writing blogs like this is that others read it and I find out that they too have an appreciation for the topic and add incredible thoughts to my own. Such is the case in the link below: Another Year: the Fight Continues. I read his post and he like I loves the writings of Thomas Jefferson. His post is worth a read.
Read more Jefferson quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomasjeff120901.html#Po1C1JcDs76xsjU3.99