If the Second Amendment is about anything, it is about protecting America. The first part of the amendment (“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”) clearly indicates that the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is designed to safeguard our nation’s freedom. I cannot imagine any of my friends who wouldn’t agree that they are all, in some measure, the modern-day equivalent of that phalanx of riflemen who have guarded our freedom since Concord and Lexington. But freedom from what? Freedom from whom? Freedom for who?
I am profoundly uncomfortable making a big a deal of racism in America. But I believe that racism betrays the principles upon which this country was founded. Principles clearly stated in the opening line of our Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Black, Jew, Hindu, Arab, Chinese, Latino, whatever. The inalienable rights bestowed by the Creator flow to all men. Yes, the “all” part was muddy in the minds of some if not most of our Founding Fathers, whose views reflected the racism of their day. But equality is the core value that creates and informs the “free state” that the Second Amendment was designed to defend from enemies both internal and external.
The history of the Second Amendment has a profoundly racial component. The landmark Supreme Court case Chicago v McDonald hinged on self-defense issues faced by newly emancipated blacks in antebellum America. Discussions about the Second Amendment will inevitably touch on crime, punishment, liberty, culture and the like, all of which also touch on race. These issues deserve a robust and fearless discussion.
But I do not consider racialist declarations a discussion. Those who come to this forum who are not fully dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal blame the bad behavior they observe on collective failings of race rather than individual flaws in character. In my opinion, this view is both shameful and un-American. It goes against the spirit of our cherished right to keep and bear arms.
I believe that anyone claiming their Second Amendment right who treats another man as part of a collective rather than as an individual is betraying the very ideals the right was designed to protect.
But I put it to you: while it’s possible to support and defend the Second Amendment and hold racist views, doesn’t that view undermine its credibility, validity and, ultimately viability?