By Brandon Williamson
The founders didn’t know we’d have guns like AR15s.
The Second Amendment is about the militia.
Weapons of war have no place in civilian hands.
These and other arguments from the left are often used to justify stripping you of your right to keep and bear arms, but they are all incorrect and easily dismissed with just a little historical knowledge.
First, we need to ask why we have the right to bear arms. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure that the citizenry has the ability to resist a tyrannical and oppressive government, with force if necessary. We had just fought a war against the most powerful empire in the world. American victory would have been impossible without having firearms comparable to those used by the most powerful military in the world at that time, Great Britain.
The necessity of arms comparable to the ones used by government forces to resist tyranny should itself be sufficient for everybody to understand the purpose of our Second Amendment rights, but leftists will point to the “well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state” line as proof that the right was intended to apply to military forces.
They somehow manage to be correct and incorrect at the same time. They are incorrect in their insistence that this line refers to state-sponsored military forces. They are correct that it does relate to military forces, just not in the way they want it to mean.
We can look at laws written around the time of the Constitution to understand who the framers meant when they referred to the militia. The Militia Acts of 1792 made it clear that all men are part of the unorganized militia, that is a militia force composed wholly of the citizenry, without government control. The Militia Acts required all men to maintain personal arms sufficient for warfighting as well as a specified amount of ammunition for the same purpose.
This law was updated in the 1860s to include men of African descent. Unfortunately, these laws have been ignored for some time. But if they were to be updated for the modern era, in keeping with historical precedent, they would include all men and women because we the people are the militia that the Second Amendment references.
Following that line of thinking, the leftist arguments about the technological advancements of firearms being more than the founders could conceive, or that weapons of war have no place in civilian hands, are laughable.
The founders were well aware of the fact that technology advances with the years. In 1780 the Girardoni air rifle, a 20-round repeating firearm, entered service with the Austrian army in limited numbers. It later went on to be one of the weapons that went on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
There were several other examples of weapons that far surpassed the standard musket from the era such as the Puckle gun and Ferguson Rifle. The founders were well aware of these weapons and to claim they didn’t know arms technology would advance is, simply put, idiotic.
The final argument about how civilians should not be able to own “weapons of war” is painfully contrary to the intent of the Second Amendment. If you’re not convinced, consider the numerous privately organized militias, including artillery sections, which were funded by private citizens, not the government. That is the equivalent of a private individual today buying a Howitzer or other piece of field artillery.
Cannons and small mortars were the artillery pieces of their day. In addition to that, it’s a simple fact that the flintlock musket that one might use for hunting in the late 1700s was for all intents and purposes equally capable to the muskets in use by state-sponsored militaries.
In summary, Americans should have the ability to own any firearms they might need for warfighting. It should make no difference if that person chooses to arm themself with a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle fed from a five-round magazine with an effective engagement distance of 1,100 yards or an M240 belt-fed general purpose machine gun with an 875-yard max effective range against a point target.
American history is clear on this – the Second Amendment included, and includes, the right to keep and bear all arms necessary for self-defense, as well as to provide a check on a tyrannical government. To pretend otherwise is to mislead the American people, which may be the intent of these arguments all along.
Brandon Williamson is a U.S. Army veteran, and the Director of Social Media at Young Americans for Liberty. He lives in Wyoming.