Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Citizen Soldier

A monumental failure of local television news coverage can be summed up with the phrase: “if it bleeds, it leads”. Such egregious hyperbole adds fuel to the fire of the irrational fear of guns. It suggests that only crazed outlaws would ever think of owning a weapon. Another diversionary tactic of late is to couch ‘legitimate’ gun ownership in terms of licensed hunting. In an age of knee-jerk hysteria with respect to firearms, a little perspective is warranted.
Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms.

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 the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. James Madison's Federalist No.46
The Second Amendment is integral to the preservation of individual liberty; whether it is for the recreation of hunting or for the very act of self preservation. The right to keep and bear arms is as inalienable as any other natural right. Indeed, a well armed populous is the original deterrent.

There are undoubtedly those that scoff at such a notion because of the overwhelming size and force of the US military. I would remind them that the American armed forces are comprised of citizens that have sworn to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The presumption is that the soldier is a citizen first and warrior second…one that fights to protect individuals, not an oppressive government.