By Marvin Marroquin • Updated: 01/23/2023 • 7 min read
The founders of our nation debated and considered many ideas on the rights individuals would have moving forward. So, why do we have the right to bear arms?
The reason we have the Second Amendment is to preserve and guarantee the pre-existing, natural law of self defense. The founders understood that when rulers confined or prohibited this right, liberty was destroyed. They felt that armed citizens were a moral check on ambitious and unprincipled rulers who would trample on the rights of people.
Now, let’s examine some of the events and circumstances of that era so we can better understand the significance of this right.
It is a pre-existing, natural right
Throughout history, man-made governments decided what rights the citizens have or didn’t have. Ultimately, governments would keep its people on a short leash. They would never give people enough power to become a threat to their reign. The founders just fought a war against such a government, and that fueled the creation of our Constitution.
The premise behind the Bill of Rights is that there are certain unalienable rights given to us by our Creator, or through natural law. The idea is that the natural law of self defense is inherent to all men and women. This isn’t something that was arbitrarily pulled out of thin air. They recognized that the right pre-existed man. It’s a product of the laws of nature.
The reason this was so significant is that for the first time in history, government recognized the rights of citizens were not granted to them by men. If men could give people their rights, it could easily be taken away on a whim. But, if rights came from an external source, from the laws of nature, then men could not take them away since it was never theirs to give in the first place. This is the brilliance behind the Second Amendment.
Let’s put guns aside for a moment and focus on self defense. We can put the laws of nature to the test using an easy example. Let’s say an adult man punches an 8 year old boy, and the boy fights back. No one would say the boy had no right to fight back. In fact, the boy isn’t old enough to understand the concept of rights. At that age, no one even needs to teach him it’s ok to fight back when attacked. The laws of nature takes over, and it says it’s okay to defend ourselves.
So how does this apply to firearms? As long as there are law breakers out there looking to do harm to good people, naturally good people must have a way to defend themselves. Good people should be able to use the same weapons that are most likely to be used against them. Firearms are simply the best efficient way to defend yourself when facing great bodily harm or death.
It is a deterrent against criminals
Unfortunately, there will always be law breakers who are hell bent on violating the rights of others through force. We hear about it all to often. Mass shooting events that spontaneously happen in public places can bring fear into a community. But what isn’t discussed very often is how often firearms are used to save lives or prevent crimes altogether. Despite what you may hear on the news, guns are used for good exponentially more often than they’re used for evil.
The estimated range of defensive gun uses in America is between 60,000 and 2.5 million each year. Those are incredible numbers. But why is the range so large? According to the CDC, estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the questions asked, populations studied, timeframe, and other factors related to the design of studies. Even at the lowest estimate, guns are used for defense 5 times more than they are used for killing.
Think about this for a moment, 98% of shootings happen in gun free zones where the victims are prohibited from using a gun in self-defense. So when you hear about mass shooters, these cowards are intentionally attacking people in places (malls, theaters, schools, etc.) where they know no one will shoot back. Why? Because they aren’t looking for a shootout, they’re looking for defenseless victims.
Therein lies what isn’t widely talked about. When criminals feel there’s a good chance that someone can defend themselves with a gun and stop them, they think twice. Again, 98% of shootings happen where people aren’t allowed to bring a gun. That is very telling on how well guns serve as a deterrent against criminals. They will rarely attempt to commit a crime if there’s a chance you can use deadly force to defend yourself.
It is a moral check on tyranny
Tyranny is probably the most controversial reason why we have the right to bear arms. Gun control advocates make the argument that tyranny in America is a foreign concept. They would like us to believe that it could never hit our land. They mock gun owners by saying we’re so paranoid. To that we say, the Second Amendment is the reason why there’s no tyranny in America.
As I write this article, there are elected politicians calling to repeal the Second Amendment. In the same breath, they call our president a bigoted white supremacist. Some have even gone so far as to compare him to Adolf Hitler. These accusations begs the question, if a white supremacist is truly in power, is now the time to be talking about repealing the Second Amendment? Are you sure now is a good time for strict gun control? To the reasonable person, the answer is a loud, NO!
Alexander Hamilton said something very interesting that would especially apply even during the most peaceful of times . It was more of a cautionary statement than anything.
“To model our political system upon speculations of lasting tranquility, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character.”
Hamilton, as well as many other founders, understood that man is fallible and corruptible. We should never take times of peace for granted. Tyranny can always rear its ugly head when we least expect it. According to him, it would be foolish to assume that peace would endure forever in world ruled by human ambitions.
Another founder, James Madison, explained that the Constitution provided many checks and balances to prevent tyranny. He also reassured that the ultimate check on tyranny is found in the hands on the people, speaking about arms.
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”
Perhaps the most controversial part of the Second Amendment comes from its preamble, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state.” The idea here is that if our primary line of defense is made up of armed citizens, then government violence can’t be used against the people. This is how they ensured the security of a free state. Today, we continue this system via an armed citizenry, a military made up of citizens, and the National Guard.
When we look at all the great reasons to keep and bear arms, anyone can see that it far outweighs any negative reason to own guns. Sure, there will be people who seek to do harm with guns. But just look at any other nation with stricter gun control laws, violent crimes are much higher. Americans are uniquely safer from not only common street criminals, but from tyranny as well.