To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws
of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia,
and for governing such Part of them as may be employed
in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively,
the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority
of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by
Congress; (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8)
In the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, arms are carefully presented as the means to an end, which is to preserve “the security of a free state.” The means first mentioned as contributing to the end is “a well-regulated militia.” The people’s possession of arms is thus instrumental in the third degree, as necessary to assuring the functional existence of the militia, on the way to securing the perpetuation of the liberty of the American people.
We are now faced with an immediate class of threats against the safety of our citizens. All of them might be regarded as acts of terrorism, though they differ in character and composition. The recent shooting in a Florida school has one character, in which contemporary approaches, based on common psychiatric treatments and psychological therapies, either contribute to or fail to deal with troubled souls, whose anger and anguish eventually explode into violence. The collapsing moral ethos of family life also appears to be an important contributing factor.
The other important source of threat is, of course, religious- or ideologically motived terrorist attacks, perpetrated by individuals or groups that are the trained cadres, or psychologically seduced recruits, of terrorist organizations at war with the people of the United States.
As they purport to address these threats, America’s elected or appointed officials have all of them been willing to focus on what they claim is the obvious common feature of all the threats — firearms. Of course, this neglects the fact that bombs and motor vehicles have also been deployed in the attacks; and that biological and chemical weapons have occasionally been in play.
Even if the obsession with guns is understandable, however, it still fails to address the actual source of every threat, which is the people motivated to use them. It also fails to address the fact that once the shooting starts, the presence of firearms is a fait accompli. Every terror attack involves stealth. Each attack where firearms comes into play is an armed ambush. Once it begins, the question isn’t “How did they get the arms?”; It’s “Are we prepared to deal with them before a massacre ensues?”
The generation that founded the United States routinely experienced the need to deal with armed ambushes. They also had the good sense to act on the motto “Be prepared.” Unlike present generations, they did not pretend to have the omniscient, omnipresent power to police the possession of arms. So, they trusted instead to the natural passion and character
of the American people, which still displayed the good will and courage required to respond to any attack, so long as they had the means (arms) and had taken the time to practice the discipline, required to do so.
This explains the second Amendments primordial focus on “a well-regulated militia”. Only by preparing proper provisions (including provisions of law) can the people be prepared quickly to respond to an outbreak of violence against them, wherever they happen to be. Even today, we still practically understand this. We make provisions to assure that, in work and public places, people know what procedures to follow in the event of fire, or some other such danger. But our emphasis is on evacuation, otherwise known as running away.
Against non-human threats, this may be the only immediate response that limits the toll of death and injury. But against the threat of armed humanity, the only way to limit the damage to unarmed people is to answer arms with arms. Armed human beings, prepared to stand their ground against the attackers, are the only firebreak likely to prevent the spread of gunfire. Instead of targeting unarmed people at will, attackers have to shift their focus to the danger that now threatens their lives, and thus inhibits their movement.
We have to admire the gym teacher who threw his body in the way of a hail of bullets, desperately hoping to save the lives of some of his students. But we must unequivocally condemn the lack of prudence and foresight that left him with no other alternative. There he was, a Naval reservist trained, and therefore disciplined, in the use of arms. Instead of throwing his body in the way of death he should have been armed and acting in prearranged concert with others like himself, throwing well targeted bullets into the body of the attacker.
The agenda of disarmament, otherwise known as gun control, will inevitably result in more attacks and higher death tolls. Malicious people, willing to defy and circumvent the law have and will always find ways around speciously effective laws. To reduce the death toll, every place where our people gather must be leavened with elements of a well-regulated militia — otherwise private citizens, going about their business, but organized and trained by law to accept the discipline, discernment and properly drilled skill to be the first line of immediate defense against any threat to innocent life in their vicinity.
Finally, the constitution makes it clear that this is not just about some national force, acting as an adjunct to our armed forces. At present, Federal law provides for the National guard and Reserves, for that purpose, specified in law as the first two tiers of the organized militia. We now live in a time when the local militia, presently unorganized, must be revived and brought, by law, under a uniform regulatory discipline. Of course, it must be implemented, officered, and manned, as the Constitution requires, by people of the States, through their State governments. Properly done, this uniform national code for the third tier of the organized militia will assure a leaven of first-responders armed, vetted, drilled and disciplined to represent the American people’s responsibility, as private citizens, for the safety of all the environments in which we live and work together.
This is not a new idea. It reflects the willingness to revive and respect the prudence of our founders. It will demonstrate in action that Americans in this generation, like those who came before us, begin by being brave at home (i.e., where we actually live, work, play and pray)—thus bringing to life the meaning of our national anthem, when it proclaims this ‘sweet land of liberty’ to be “the home of the brave.” As the 2nd Amendment assumes, liberty and well-ordered bravery must always go hand in hand. If our elected leaders refuse to act on this assumption, it will just be more proof that they no longer care if our liberty survives.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.