Supporting the Second Amendment

It protects the individual right to self-defense in a way analogous to the First Amendment’s protection of speech.

Some suggest that protection is best left to professionals: the police, the military and the “government.” The police are not always where they are needed, and their response time isn’t always on-the-spot. Even when they do arrive, they are often in the retaliatory and not the prevention business.

Criminals know that in gun-free zones, they will encounter no resistance, and can wantonly commit crimes, including murder at will.

The problem is that gun bans disarm only citizens who obey the law while leaving criminals free to prey on the populace. A gun makes the most petite woman the equal of the largest thug, the oldest most venerable professor with the most callous killer-student.

In 1976, Washington, D.C., enacted the strictest handgun ban in the United States. What resulted was quite surprising: murder rates increased from 32 per 100,000 (1975) to 80 per 100,000 (1991), a rise of 150 percent. It has since fluctuated, and was 10 percent higher than pre-ban slayings at 35 per 100,000 in 2005. Washington and other cities that have the nation’s strictest bans are cities which rank highest in number of murders and violent crime. There is enough correlation, in time and government actions, to suggest causation.

The intent of the Second Amendment was not merely to protect hunters, but to serve as a final deterrent against tyranny by the government. It protects the individual right to self-defense in a way analogous to the First Amendment’s protection of speech, or the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. The Amendment guarantees to “the People” the right to bear arms. The “People” should take the chance that one person will violate other’s rights while retaining individual liberty, rather than in surrendering our hard-earned freedoms to fearmongering.

Some will argue that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to small-arms, semi-automatics and pistols will not, when compared to the arsenal of the modern-state, provide any reasonably persuasive check on tyranny.

The resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 demonstrate otherwise. A well-armed population is a deterrent often far more powerful than its usefulness as a fighting force.

James Madison summarized: “Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust their people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to throw off their yokes.”

The Amendment was designed to prevent private lawlessness and governmental depredations. Modern history has proved the necessity of maintaining popular checks on despotic government, and the lawlessness at Virginia Tech, the necessity for citizens to be able to defend themselves with something more effectual than a ballpoint pen and chalk erasers.

We all know what happened in Germany and Holland during Hitler’s rise to power: All private gun ownership was outlawed and all firearms were rounded up. The people had no way to overthrow the Nazis when things became overtly tyrannical. It was far too late. They were stuck with a dictatorship.

This precedent has been repeated around the world: in China, in Cuba, in Bosnia and now in Zimbabwe. Those people trusted their governments and leaders to not betray their trust.

We cannot trust one leader with a complete monopoly on force. Let us be careful not to allow that tragic history to repeat itself on these shores.

Jonathan Kuipers is a University dental student. Please send comments to [email protected]