Looking at the feedback we get here at TTAG, it’s hard not to notice how passionate the discussion has become regarding the Constitutionally-protected right of individuals to bear arms. Even the previous sentence is enough to get the blood boiling of any card-carrying Progressive on the issue – because the left and right fundamentally disagree on the very meaning of the words of the Second Amendment. It’s that troublesome subordinate clause at the beginning that has triggered the same kind of furor that Christians and Jews find when arguing about the true meaning of the Sixth Commandment (Thou Shalt Not Murder vs. Thou Shalt Not Kill). For the record, here’s the complete, verbatim record of the 2nd Amendment:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
27 words that might as well be carved out of a tablet made from C4 when it comes to soothing the troubled waters of political discourse. But never having been one to run away from a fight, nor avoid using a can of gasoline to put out a blaze, I have a modest proposal that I think might change the entire landscape vis a vis gun issues. We should consider passing a law that requires each citizen to own – and be trained in the safe operation of – a firearm. Are them’s fightin’ words? Hear me out…
So I’m thinking the other day, how much better would the world be if we were free of violence and crime? Never gonna happen. But along the same vein, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that the countries that are the safest and free from attacks by their neighbors are the ones that have defensive weapons. Come to think about it, the people that generally don’t get the crap beat out of them and their stuff stolen are the ones that can defend themselves. I wonder if there’s a connection?”
I’m not being facetious. Much. You see, the Founding Fathers recognized something that had been a part of American life before there even WAS an America. Ultimately, we must each take personal responsibility for our own safety.
This takes many forms. We don’t blow dry our hair in the bathtub. We don’t leave our doors unlocked at night. We don’t drive through bad neighborhoods at night in expensive convertibles, wearing a lot of bling, and expect to get outta there alive. That sort of thing.
But we also have to realize that, despite the fact that we have entrusted our various governments with the task of “keeping us safe,” the us we refer to is the “general” us. Not the “royal us. In other words, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or to be more blunt – the police and military have a job to protect “the People” – not individual people.
The Colonists knew this. They realized the cannon of personal responsibility. Everybody was expected to be responsible for defending their own property and person. If you didn’t take responsibility for yourself, you’d have a hard time laying the blame on “society” or “the government” if something bad went down.
This ‘tude was formalized in several seminal documents that had a huge influence upon the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Essentially, this doctrine required every citizen to own a gun, know how to use it, practice shooting regularly, and be ready to defend his property – as well as his village, hamlet, town, or city, should the need arise.
Back then, they called this a “militia.” Essentially, the term referred to all able-bodied citizens, who would report for duty should it be deemed necessary to defend life and limb.
Individually, each citizen was expected to defend their own turf. Common sense was the rule of the day. If somebody tried to steal your horse, you could shoot them. On the other hand, if you went around shooting people that walked across your property for no better reason than they were trampling your grass, you’d get arrested and tried for murder.
The founders recognized that if there was a police force, constable, sheriff or other law enforcement dude around, they likely wouldn’t be able to get to you in time, should the need for self-defense arise.
They also realized (having just come out from under the thumb of an oppressive government – see: England), that governments are not to be trusted. The only way to trust a government and ensure that they have your best interests at heart – and not their own – is to be able to defend yourself against their wretched excesses.
And so, we have the 2nd Amendment, that reserves for us the right to own weapons with which we can choose to defend ourselves, our property, and our Earthly goods.
Now, stay with me for a second. What if that was not just a right, but a responsibility?
In the Nation of Israel, every citizen must serve a hitch in the military, to do their part to defend their country. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. I mean, if I lived in a country the size of Rhode Island, surrounded on all sides by countries and nation-states that wanted to erase me and mine from the face of the Earth, I think mandatory military service would be a peachy idea.
Everybody in that tiny nation presumably knows how to handle a gun. They’re ready, willing and able to do so, to defend themselves against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Cool idea. And I think we’d be better off if we adapted their attitudes over here, at least from the standpoint of self-defense.
Think about this . . .
If everybody were required by law to undergo gun training, we’d likely reduce accidents caused by stupidity with guns. I don’t have any hard data on that, but it’s a theory and I’m gonna go with it for now. I acknowledge that, as Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.” But you can at least give the people with working brains the skill set to avoid doing stupid things through ignorance.
If everyone over the age of 18 knew how to handle a gun, own one, and regularly practiced with one, I’m betting we’d reduce the number of people who are afraid of guns and find them revolting to a statistical insignificant factor. Fundamentally, a gun is just a tool. A machine. No more, no less. How many people do you know that are afraid of hammers or monkey wrenches? Yet both have been used to kill people.
If every citizen was required to own a gun and defend their own property (and had the prerequisite training/regular practice to do so), I suspect many crime stats would g fall precipitously. Sure, you can argue that domestic violence might go up (I disagree). But we’re looking at big picture things here.
Arm a community and fewer bad guys are gonna wanna run the risk of a home invasion, burglary, or carjacking. Famed bank robber Willie Sutton, when asked “why do you rob banks,” replied “because that’s where the money is.” I’d bet most criminals would avoid armed communities because “that’s where I’m more likely to get a cap in my ass and be forced to take a premature dirt nap.”
Now, of course, there would be people that, by their actions, would lose the right to own/operate firearms. Criminals. Mentally unstable people. NBA thugs. That would be prudent. And enforceable under the law. Commit a crime (or get yourself committed) and you lose the right to own a gun. And under this plan, you could put some real teeth into those prohibitions, with mandatory sentences for illegal possession.
So what if we passed a Federal law (or Constitutional Amendment) that required citizens to be proficient with guns and to be ready, willing and able to defend themselves? You can no longer argue it’s unconstitutional for the government to force citizens to buy something, now that Obamacare is the law of the land. And a self-protection doctrine would likely result in a reduced need for a visible police presence in neighborhoods, which, in turn, reduces the strain on municipal budgets.
I realize that this sounds like a radical plan, but I’m wondering if “radical” wouldn’t just be the best solution here. Instead of disarming the good guys and allowing the bad guys to own guns. I think it’s worth debating. I’d love to see a test case – say try it on a statewide basis. I have the perfect state where we can start: Texas. The home of personal responsibility, can-do attitudes, and self-reliance. And then maybe, just maybe, we could life in a slightly safer world.