“Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
The question of whether citizens in a democracy should have ready access to firearms suggests a more basic question, which has often been asked within the memory of man, usually by elitists and autocrats. It is, “Just who the Hell do you think you are?” Here then, a brief answer. I am an adult male; a sovereign political entity; a creation of the living God. I believe that God has endowed me with rights.
The Declaration of Independence agrees with this and that is why that I condescend to pledge allegiance to the United States of America. The Constitution or the government of the United States does not grant rights to me. The ninth amendment clearly recognizes this truth when it states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Indeed, I continue to maintain my rights if the Constitution or the United States ceases to exist. I am entitled to these rights even if I live under the subjugation of a cruel tyrant or a totalitarian government.
It is up to the individual to defend their rights by exercising them, by seeing them codified into law, by petitioning, protesting, or performing acts of civil disobedience when government attempts to curtail them. In the extreme, these rights are to be protected by using any means necessary, up to and including the taking of life or the sacrificing of one’s own.
History, right up until the present moment, has demonstrated to us that the governments, including the government of the United States, cannot be trusted to secure and preserve the rights of men. A conservative, Senator William F. Buckley said, “At the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, this country’s statesmen were concerned with the need to protect citizens from government itself, and the passage of almost two centuries has not negated the validity of this concern. The fact that Article I, Section 8, clause 16 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to organize, arm and discipline the militia clearly indicates a quite different intention for the Second Amendment.” (Congressional Record, S. 6889 (daily edition, April 28, 1975). In 1960, Hubert H. Humphrey, a liberal, said, “Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms…. The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against tyranny”(Lectric). The report of the Subcommittee On The Constitution of the Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, second session (February, 1982), SuDoc# Y4.J 89/2: Ar 5/5 stated that, “The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner.”
“A people is not any collection of human beings brought together in any sort of way, but an assemblage of people in large numbers associated in an agreement with respect to justice and a partnership for the common good. – Scipio in Cicero’s De Republica
Our government is a government of the people. By this, we mean that the sovereign power to rule is vested in the people. We the people have voluntarily delegated powers and responsibility to our local, state, and federal governments for expediency’s sake. While Thomas Hobbes, in his book Leviathan, stresses the need for government to provide order, the Constitution of the United States takes a broader scope in its preamble. The people act in order to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
The Supreme Court has read the preamble as bearing witness to the fact that the Constitution emanated from the people (Killian 53). In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) Chief Justice Marshal writes for the court that, “ The government proceeds directly from the people; is “ordained and established” in the name of the people” (Adler, 75). When we consider “the People” of the United States we are likely to think of them as a great mass of anonymous humanity. The people are rather, a vast group of sovereign individuals, each endowed with individual rights, who each have (albeit under a great deal of social and economic pressure) assented to be governed, yet with the understanding that that government has a limited sphere. While we have delegated responsibility and authority, we have retained to ourselves the right to reclaim those powers. In article V of the Constitution “We the People” have made provision that, “The Congress…on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention…” In this manner the sovereign states may, (certainly not without tremendous support and political pressure from the People) reclaim their authority to rule from the federal government. Clearly recognizing the possibility of more dire circumstances in 1776, the “Representatives of the united States of America…by Authority of the good People” declared for all time and for all mankind, “that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [to secure the rights of men], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…” How then are “the People” to ensure that they will be able to alter or abolish any government that becomes destructive to the security of the rights of man? The debate on gun control is about the relationship between the necessity of the retention of power by individual sovereign citizens as a guarantor of liberty, and the necessity of the state to have power to regulate the activities of the citizen for maintenance of public order and safety. (Spitzer, xii)
It is not within the authority of the Government of the United States to prevent citizens from bearing arms. The ten original amendments were in no way considered or designed to limit the rights of free men, but rather to limit power of the federal government (Schwartz). That is why arguments that the second amendment grants only a conditional or modified right to bear arms based on participation in an organized state militia are ludicrous. It is understandable that there are those in our midst that would want to limit the amount of firearms in our society or place restrictions upon their use, and many of them make credible arguments. Certain narrowly tailored limitations in the name of compelling public interest have been placed on the exercise of other guaranteed rights and it is logical to assume that reasonable limitations may be placed on the individual’s right to bear arms. Even those who would call for the repeal of the Second Amendment have their rightful place on the political stage. However, to deny that this right exists in the first place is quite another matter. One might assume that the people in power that attempt to make this argument are simply uniformed, but it is easier to reach the conclusion that they are disingenuous, distrustful of the ability of the people to govern themselves, and therefore enemies of liberty and their fellow man. They themselves provide an excellent reason why we must retain arms. The ACLU maintains that the constitutional right to bear arms is primarily a collective one, intended mainly to protect the right of the states to maintain militias to assure their own freedom and security against the central government and therefore does not confer an unlimited right upon individuals to own guns or other weapons (ACLU). The fact is that the Second Amendment uses languages that protects the “right of the people” to keep and bear arms, using the same phrase as the First and Forth Amendments (Strickler). All three amendments were framed at the same time as the Tenth Amendment, which expressly distinguishes between “the people” and “the states” (Strickler). The words “well-regulated” does not mean “subject to regulation” as it might if written today, but in the vernacular of the period means “effective” or “well-trained”. The grammatical structure of the amendments explanatory prefatory phrase, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”, cannot logically be read to alter the meaning of the amendments operative clause, which provides that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not (not “may not”, or “should not”) be infringed” (Strickler). The words “shall not” are an imperative phrase.
The ACLU’s policy number forty-seven states that, “they agree with the Supreme Court’s long-standing interpretation of the Second Amendment [as set forth in the 1939 case, U.S. v. Miller] that the individual’s right to bear arms applies only to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia” (ACLU). Modern jurisprudence on guns stem from this case (Loughrey). Justice James Clark McReynolds’ opinion in the Miller case is in error because (for the reasons stated above) he reads the language of the amendment incorrectly. Because of this, his statement that there was no evidence before the high court to show that a sawed-off shotgun, the firearm in question, “is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense” was not germane to the issue. Even if it were, failure to give judicial notice that a shotgun could be used as a military weapon casts considerable doubt upon McReynolds competence and credibility. Even if that point were correct Title 10, Subtitle A , Part I , Chapter 13 , Sec. 311. of current United States Code defines the militia as “all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.” It further delineates the militia into two classes; “the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia”. Section 313 of Title 32 merely refers to those individuals who are already members of the National Guard. The nineteenth century Supreme Court in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886) flatly stated that the militia consists of all citizens capable of bearing arms (Brown). Therefore, if we were to agree that this right applied only to the militia, we would still be saying that it applied to the overwhelming majority of males in the country. But irrespective of this argument it is absolutely clear that this was not the intention of the writers of the second amendment. At this time of the founding, there was a widespread fear of standing armies, especially in the hands of a powerful central government (Strickler). I see no reason to not be afraid of armies of this kind today, especially in the face of legislation like the “Patriot’s Act”, recently passed by our Congress. Both the federalists and anti-federalists were well acquainted with the concept of “select militias” analogous to our modern national guard, made up of volunteers chosen for their loyalty to the government (Strickler). Nevertheless it was clear that some kind of standing army would be necessary because of military necessity. Specifically because it appeared that there would be an elite military force capable of threatening the personal liberty of the citizens, the founders inserted language guaranteeing that the people in general would have ready access to military arms, as a counter balance against tyranny (Strickler). This is irrefutable when the literature produced by the federalists and the anti federalists is reviewed, both before and after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, and when the legislative history relating to the passage of the Second Amendment is considered (Strickler).
The Supreme Court said in Miranda vs. Arizona “where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them” (Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491 ). In his farewell address, George Washington argued that citizens had an obligation to obey the government because they were the ones that had instituted government by constitution. We have a government consisting of a written constitution; laws that must be in agreement with that constitution, and judicial rulings that must uphold that constitution. Washington also warned against those who would “undermine what cannot be directly overthrown”. In Ulman v. United States, 350 U.S. 422, 427 – (1956) the Warren Court speaking about the right against self incrimination said, “If it be thought that the privilege is outmoded in the conditions of this modern age, then the thing to do is to [amend] it out of the Constitution, not to whittle it down by the subtle encroachments of judicial opinion” (La Pierre, 19). When legislators and Justices fail to acknowledge that the Constitution as it is currently written clearly guarantees the people the right to keep and bear arms, they fail in their oath to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed Miller for the past sixty years speaks to the dark side of bureaucracy and its unwillingness to give up control once seized. I prefer the opinion of an earlier Justice, founder of the Harvard Law School, Joseph Story, who was at the time of his death was regarded as America’s greatest jurist. He said, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
There are those who argue that in today’s world, the idea that common citizens could overthrow their own government is somewhat anachronistic and in any case would require weapons much more powerful than handguns or hunting rifles (ACLU). Yet political coups are often a matter of small arms and timing. One wonders what might have happened had armed rebellion broken out in the streets as a result of the incredibly close election for the president in 2000. Such activities could have conceivably created the political impetus to have forced a recount in the state of Florida. Recently the government of Venezuela was nearly toppled by such a coup. The Russians lost in Afghanistan, the United States lost in Vietnam, and the French lost in Indo-China and in each case, it was the poorly armed populace that beat the “modern” army (La Pierre, 20). I am not a citizen of Boston in the 1770′s, or a black man in America in the 1860’s, or a Jew in Nazi Germany in the 1940′s. Everything is relatively safe and secure in my environment, as it is in the lives of most Americans. Nevertheless, as a student of history, I cannot logically conclude that it will be so in twenty years, or even in five. So, I feel compelled as a sovereign citizen of a democratic republic to take what small steps I may to secure my liberties and rights and those of my family and friends, against the day that will inevitably come. An armed populace always creates a deterrent to government oppression by raising the potential costs of employing military force, as it did when the Nazis in fact refrained from invading Switzerland (Strickler). The very presence of deadly force in the hands of civilians requires the police and other government officials to seriously consider the possible consequences of their actions. When federal officers took the child, Elian Gonzalez, from the home of his relatives in Miami, in order to reunite him with his Cuban father, they were forced to storm the house in a very public manner. They came en masse, carrying automatic weapons, and wearing helmets and body armor. Obviously, they assumed that the innocent citizens within the Gonzalez household might be armed. In an unarmed society they would not have to take such precautions and would thus be able to enter that home, or any other, at will.
The primary and unique purpose of firearms is to provide an efficient means of destroying people, animals, and objects (Spitzer, 6). There is absolutely no question that the world would be a safer place without personal arms as well as weapons of mass destruction. It is equally apparent that it is impossible to remove from the economy that which can be produced with relative ease and for which there is a ready demand. The prohibition of alcohol is the classic proof for this, as is the ready availability of any illicit drug one desires, even in as conservative a city as Jacksonville, Florida. Illegal pornography of the basest kind is available for the true aficionado in spite of federal, state, and local government’s best and concerted efforts. Guns are a commodity in continual production for use by the police and the military. They are in demand worldwide by terrorists, freedom fighters, revolutionaries, and the inhabitants of developing countries. Their design is relatively simple and can be manufactured by any first class machinist. Guns will go away when someone comes up with a less expensive, more compact and easier way of killing people. Until then they are here to stay. The question then becomes whether only the military and the police will have legal, ready, and unfettered access to these weapons or if the general citizenry will as well.
“Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of arms.” –Aristotle
We often hear the term “legitimate” used in connection with firearms. Both pro and anti-gun groups talk about legitimate hunting and sporting uses of firearms. Groups like the NRA (National Rifle Association) shy away from discussing the “legitimate” political use of firearms to resist tyranny, for fear that others may mistakenly assume that they are referring to the government currently in power. Some time ago when the NRA sent out a fund-raising letter in which they described federal agents as “jack-booted thugs”, some prominent political figures resigned their membership in the NRA, including former President Bush. By its very nature, armed resistance to tyranny must be both legitimate and illegitimate at the same time. Legitimate because free men should always resist tyranny by any means, and illegitimate because to do so by force makes one a felon and a rebel against the government currently in power. This is why Benjamin Franklin, said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
“You shall not murder” Exodus 20:13
The ability to take life is a necessity. Although I occasionally perform the act of killing myself, most often I delegate this activity to the dozens of butchers who kill the chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, and fish that I eat. There are vegetarians, who would say that we do not have to kill in order to survive. Theoretically, they seem to be right, but I have made a conscious decision to kill in order to eat and survive. Most of my fellow citizens do not seem give much thought to the idea that part of the Big Mac they are eating was once a peaceful cow that was killed in a quick and violent manner. Most of the populace has not seen what the reality of killing a defenseless animal is. It is an unpleasant, perhaps horrible act, and sad, but necessary.
Government has obviously decided that killing humans is a necessity. Government differs from all other social institutions in that those citizens within its influence acknowledge that government has the authority to use lethal means to enforce its policies and laws. Governments kill in self-defense, to mete out justice, and to implement foreign policy. There are pacifists who say that governments do not have to kill in order to continue to exist. I do not yet know if they are right, but I do know what I see in the world’s political economy today, and in its history. I have decided that my government must have the right to exercise deadly force by political necessity. Even as I accede to that right, I do not by any means acknowledge that I have completely relinquished my own ability to take human life or to resist the government for that matter.
It has been stated that there is a natural right to self-defense, that one may if necessary, take human life, in the defense of his or her own life, or the life of another. Again, philosophical and theological arguments can be made against killing even for self-preservation. But given the choice I will kill rather than be killed. While government concerns itself with issues of public safety, no government agency is charged with my personal protection. This fact is clearly stated in Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. App.181) where the court rules that “a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen”. Because of this, I need ready access to weapons that will enable me to protect my life by enabling me to expeditiously take the life of another. The handgun currently is the best weapon for this purpose. John Adams wrote, “Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would” (Adams) .
It would seem to me that honor might also require the taking of life, my own or that of another. In the 1800’s dueling was an accepted practice and many of America’s most notable citizens defended their honor on the dueling grounds (PBS). The practice of dueling was designed to minimize the damage that would incur from gentlemen who might have otherwise been obliged to fight to the death over matters of honor. It seems that few of us live lives that allow us the pretense of an appeal to honor. It is quaint to speak of it. C.S. Lewis wrote “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” It is personal honor that enables men to die for their country. It is personal honor that enables men to die for the cause of liberty as they did in Tien An Men Square. It is true that many lives have been taken unnecessarily in the heat of passion or over some imagined slight, but it seems to me that there are still social situations for which mortal combat remains the only acceptable remedy, especially where government fails or is unwilling to provide one.
Depression is a serious malady that causes people to reach artificial emotional lows that may induce them to commit suicide where otherwise they would not. Nevertheless, there are social or medical situations that people may find themselves in for which suicide is the only acceptable solution. An argument might be made that the Supreme Court has opened the door to a right to suicide by any means in Cruzan v. Missouri, 497 U.S. 261 by affirming an individuals right to refuse treatment for a terminally medical condition. Nevertheless, in his 1991 book Point Blank, Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck analyzes suicide rates and gun laws in every American city with a population over 100,000 and concludes that there is no evidence that any of the gun control laws had a statistically significant effect on suicide rates (Kopel). While some gun control laws did effect the rate of gun suicide, the total suicide rate remained the same as victims substituted other, equally lethal, methods (Kopel).
While a 1988 Gallup poll said that 70 percent of their sample felt that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be tightened, a 1989 Time CNN poll indicated that eighty-four percent of those queried believe that they “have a right to own guns” (Landau, 93). The statistics regarding violence and gun ownership are numerous and complicated. Noted statistician Dr. Theodore Stumm of the University of North Florida agrees that in general, unless you are familiar with the principles and correct applications of statistical instruments and well informed on the subject being measured, statistics can cloud the issue as often as they clarify (Stumm). Professor Stumm went on to say that both pro and anti-gun groups have a tendency to design statistical instruments to support their own positions, rather than to achieve scientific impartiality (Stumm). In 1994 the Police Foundation conducted the National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms (Sugarman 22) . They determined that there were 70 million rifles, 49 million shotguns, and 65 million handguns in America (Sugarman 22). One out of six Americans currently owns a handgun (Sugarman 23). There were 14,772 homicides in the United States in 1998 and nearly seven out of ten were committed with firearms (Sugarman) . Nearly three of every five suicides in 1998 (57%) were committed with a firearm (CDC). However in two other nations with the toughest gun bans in the world, Russia and Brazil, the number of people killed with firearms is four times higher that the United States (Lott) . In 1996 Australia instituted strict gun control and confiscated over 640,000 hunting rifles and shot guns (NRA ILA). During the two years that followed, the murder rate did decrease by eleven percent but other forms of violent crime went up including an increase of attempted murder by twenty percent, manslaughter by twenty-five percent, kidnapping by eighteen percent, and armed robbery by twenty percent (NRA ILA) . In the United States, there is evidence to support the argument that guns deter crime. After a string of rapes in Orlando, Florida, over 3000 women were trained and outfitted with handguns and the program was highly publicized (Landau, 34) . Following the training period, the total number of rapes committed decreased by ninety percent and there was a twenty-five percent decrease in assault and burglary in the same area (Landau, 34). According to the National Crime Survey administered by the Bureau of the Census and the National Institute of Justice, it was found that only twelve percent of those who use a gun to resist assault are injured, as are seventeen percent of those who use a gun to resist robbery (Kleck). These percentages are twenty-seven and twenty-five percent, respectively, if the victims passively comply with the felon’s demands. Three times as many were injured if they used other means of resistance (Kleck). Crime is virtually unknown in Switzerland, yet most Swiss males are required by law to keep in their homes what amounts to a portable, personal, machine gun (La Pierre, xiii).
False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. – Cesare Beccaria
For all of the years when I had small children in the house, I practiced gun safety. Unless I was actually wearing the weapon or it was near at hand, I kept all ammunition and firearms separate, and under lock and key. Additionally, I made sure that my two sons were trained in the safe use of firearms, and were familiar with the damage they could do. It was not until my youngest son was sixteen that I began to relax these rules. Aristotle viewed the age of fourteen as the age of accountability with good reason. I myself was living independently at the age of fifteen and married at seventeen. My son appeared to me to be very mature and not given to depression or violence. I checked my weapons daily and had never noticed them disturbed. I also kept close tabs on my son’s acquaintances, and the contents of his bookbag, pockets, and room. Nevertheless, one day I received a call from the police who told me that my son had been shot by one of his friends in my home with my handgun. They were playing with it! Fortunately, it was just a flesh wound and healed quickly. No charges were brought because at the time of the accident, he and his friend were of legal age. The police seized and then returned the revolver. I put it back where it had been, where it is today, loaded. My son is a few years older now. If he were to again live with me, he would know where the weapons were, just as he would know where the fire extinguishers are. He has his own small children and firearms now. Had he been killed, I would have mourned, but my position would be unchanged. Trust is a matter of risk and judgment. We want to be able to trust, and often have little choice but to do so. I trust my neighbors and their older teenage children to have ready access to firearms much more that I trust the police department or any other agency of government. Accidents happen. The number of children between the ages of five and fourteen who die each year in automobile accidents is 1781 (CDC). No one would even begin to suggest that children be prevented from riding in cars until age fifteen. In the year 2000, the number of people killed riding motorcycles was approximately 2800 (CDC). Two hundred and sixty-four of them were under the age of twenty (CDC). If we are so interested in saving even one life, why is there no outcry to ban motorcycles, a vehicle whose existence for which there is no defensible reason? Teenage deaths from firearms are not greater than teenage deaths from motor vehicles (Sugarman, 111) and yet no one would seriously suggest that automobiles be banned or even that teenagers be prevented from using them. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking, a practice for which there is no constitutional guarantee, but it does not appear that smoking is going to be banned anytime soon (CDC). The underlying assumption must be that motorcycles, automobiles, and cigarettes serve a necessary purpose in society and that firearms do not. Tracey Martin, manager of education and training for the National Rifle Association said, “More children die by drowning than from gunshot wounds, but do we demand that the government ban swimming pools? No, we teach water safety (Landau 78). “One of the many responses of the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations to the tragedy of firearms accidents has been to redouble their efforts in the area of firearm education and safety, especially with children. There is evidence that this strategy may be working. In 2000, the number of accidental firearm fatalities in the United States fell to an all-time low, according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts report (NRA). The preliminary total of 600 firearm fatalities in 2000 is twenty-five percent fewer than in 1999, reflects a fifty-eight percent drop since 1990, and is the lowest number of fatalities reported since records were first kept in 1903 (NRA).
Across the country zero-tolerance policies against violence have been instituted at schools from kindergarten through college. In the lower grades, not so much as a nail file is permitted. If our civil servants are telling us that they cannot ensure that students do not carry guns, then they are admitting that they cannot prevent students from carrying knives, or alcohol, or drugs into the schools. However, this is not the case. Ensuring that students do not have contraband is an admittedly on-going but relatively simple matter and students that are found to be carrying guns, may be prosecuted, and their parents. Bureaucrats would prefer to eliminate freedom rather than responsibly manage the consequences of it, because it is easier to do so. During the 1980’s Congress passed laws that mandated jail terms of five to fifteen years for gun related crimes, but in one three year period, 90 percent of all arrests made in connection with these laws were either rejected or resulted in short prison terms as a result of plea bargaining (Landau, 37). It is easier to enforce gun-control regulations that apply primarily to law-abiding citizens.
Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’ – Mao Tse-tung, 1938
It will always be unpleasant to discuss the use of deadly force as an instrument of politics or personal protection. However, the ability of the sovereign to wage war against tyranny is the sine qua non of any democratic republic. The right to self-defense must be considered the first of the natural laws, for without it we are at the mercy of those who would prey upon us. There are many ways we might reduce violence in this country, firearm injuries and fatalities in particular. Government can partnership with the media and other stakeholders to embark on campaigns extolling civil virtues such as honesty, honor, fair-play, civility, solidarity, personal responsibility and compassion. Government can institute social programs to teach non-violent conflict resolution, and provide additional social services for troubled youth and others who fall prey to suicide. Government can strictly enforce laws against violent offenders who use guns to commit crimes and against those guilty of negligence. Government can require that the whole militia receive training in firearm use and safety. However, disarming the public can never be an option because the right to self-defense is a non-negotiable, inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution. Along with other non-negotiable issues embodied in the Bill of Rights, the right to bear arms will be one of the defining issues of the politics of globalization in the next millennium. It remains to be seen to what lengths free citizens will go to preserve them.
Adams John, Boston Gazette, Sept. 5, 1763, reprinted in The Works of John Adams, Page 438 (Charles F. Adams ed., 1851)
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