"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." --George Washington, First President of the United States
A couple of months ago I had the enormous privilege of hearing Rafael Cruz, father of Senator Ted Cruz, speak. During his speech Mr. Cruz said so many things that energized me! He said so many things that I agreed with; so many things that encouraged my right-wing, crazy, conservative heart!! However, toward the middle of his speech, he was rocking along when suddenly he busts out with, "the second amendment doesn't guarantee you the right to bear arms". Well, being that we were attending a Republican fundraiser in the conservative, great state of Texas, it wasn't surprising that the room fell VERY silent. I wondered to myself, "where is he going with this"? And then, just as my mind began to stray, he did what all truly gifted communicators do--he quickly drew me back in with an amazing, eye-opening explanation!!
Mr. Cruz opines, and I now agree, that the 2nd Amendment was written under the assumption and should therefore be interpreted with the understanding, that the Founders believed that American citizens WOULD possess and bear arms. Think about that realization for a moment. Still thinking? Yeah, I know...it's deep and profound. And therefore, the entire purpose of the last portion of the 2nd Amendment would have been intended to prevent the government from restricting the arms assuredly already possessed by the people. I like that interpretation. And more importantly, I think it makes perfect sense.
But unfortunately, not everyone is easily persuaded. So, I offer these further explanations:
Consider the time in which the Constitution was drafted and ratified. A much different time from the present; a time where a man's word was his bond and his reputation, everything. A time when life was simple but very, very hard. A time of hunting for food and killing for survival. A time when people settled disputes outside of courtrooms and in the absence of police officers. A time when men took offense and disrespect seriously and would have killed or be killed rather than be dishonored.
Consider the ramifications of the bloody Revolutionary War. The newly born nation was not only being constructed but also recovering from the war and grieving the heavy losses sustained. Consider the personal reflections of these men; these revolutionary heroes and Founding Fathers, who would have been deeply and desperately invested in the creation of a document outlining a democratic republic. These men weren't strangers to each other or to the idea of freedom; they weren't novices to the American plight. Many had been signers of the Declaration and fought as soldiers in the war. They had pledged their lives, liberties and fortunes to each other and their noble cause. These men successfully revolted against a controlling, out-of-touch monarchy in England...and I think it is safe to conclude, that in the immediate aftermath of their revolution, they would have erred on the side of freedom, not imitated monarchical restriction. Taxes on tea had pissed them off (excuse my language, but seriously, they were really mad); think of what taking their guns and ammunition would have done!
Think for a moment about the passion they would have felt as they set out to design a country and compose a defining national document based on inalienable rights and God-given liberties. These future-forward thinkers were embarking upon uncharted waters. No country existed like the one they were purposing. There was no template, no international example, no foreign diplomat to answer their questions, guarantee success or guide the young nation during its growing pains.
The Constitution was written by astoundingly intelligent men. It was constructed in such a way as to provide certainty and yet evolve with times and circumstances. Now don't get me wrong, I am a strict constructionist and therefore believe that the Founders said what they meant to say and addressed the issues they deemed worthy. And I am therefore led to believe and happy to conclude that the Founders would not have been upset by me "clinging to my guns and my faith". I think they would have considered me wise and patriotic. I think they would have assumed that I owned a gun and ammunition and that I would know how to use it. I think they would have advised that I clean it often and cling to it daily.
So, yes, I think it is safe to assume that Mr. Cruz's interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is correct. Our Founding Fathers were pretty darn clear and remarkably insightful. Their wisdom laid the foundation of our great nation and their sacrifices secured freedom for their's, our's and future generations. Their impact on the world and history is immeasurable.
So, I'll leave you with this for today...
If the Founders and our revolutionary forefathers were upset enough to wage the most effective insurgent war ever known to mankind due to over taxation on tea (I know I am over simplifying, but please indulge me), I shudder to think what their patriotic responses would have been to someone or some government attempting to limit or contest their right to bear the arms of their choosing and ammunition in whatever quantities they saw fit. Oh, blessed be the poor soul that would have had the unfortunate duty of posting that notice or announcing that order. Based on historical facts, I think the messenger would have been killed. I don't think our Founder's would have been compliant or quiet in the face of this infringement and therefore, I don't think we should be either.