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I don’t think most people understand the Second Amendment.  I haven’t talked to most people, but I can read what is going on at least as the media report it.  We’re not teaching our children or the people who come here what this country is all about

Most people think that the Second Amendment gives people the right to bear and carry arms.  That’s wrong on two accounts.

First of all, the Amendments to the Constitution, at least the original ones, didn’t give rights.  They describe rights the people already had and that everybody knew they had.

The Founders even debated whether they should include a Bill of Rights to the Constitution.  They were concerned that people might think that these rights came from the government, that they might think that the government can take them away or modify them, like is happening today with free speech and guns, and they were concerned that people might think that the only rights they had were those spelled out specifically in the Constitution.

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They asked in the Federalist Papers, which were written to explain and encourage the people to ratify the new Constitution, why they should declare that the press should be free, if the Constitution didn’t give the government any power to restrict it   Some found this unnecessary and misleading.  They eventually decided to add them.  This is why they are Amendments and not a part of the body of the Construction.  Today we talk about repealing or changing Amendments.  When we do that, it shows that we are failing to understand what our Founders intended and gave us.

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Secondly, people often think that we have the right to bear and carry arms only because of the need for well-regulated militias.  “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.”  So if we no longer need well-regulated militias, we no longer have a right to bear and carry arms.

No.  The right to bear and carry arms is still there.  The Amendment is just reminding the federal government and the people why they should not try reduce those rights.  The right exists nonetheless.

And the Founders would not agree that we no longer need militias.  The Founders were students of history, and they certainly know European history.

In the Federalist Papers, our nation was described as an “armed” people, and that was considered a good thing, unlike in Europe where they were unarmed and ruled by tyrants and kings.  They considered guns in the hands of the citizens as their best protection against a tyrannical government.  They even present the scenario of the federal government sending troops to subject a state in a matter, and the state militia, every able-bodied person joining together, would be able to repel them.  It is said that in World War 2, the reason that Japan didn’t invade the United States was that everybody here had a gun.

Some of this may seem farfetched today, but there are people working very hard today to disarm the American people and to increase the power of government.  A few more generations, who knows?  At some point, we may find that the government wants to impose some policy on the whole country and one or more states says it’s not going to happen here.  And the federal government wants to force them, and the states say no;

The modern Webster’s dictionary defines infringe as an encroachment, so infringing the right to bear and carry arms would be the myriad ways that government tries to discourage and minimize gun ownership through taxes, zoning, the high number of gun laws and rules to weary all but the most ardent gun owners, and the imminent danger of being charged with a crime even if you use a gun in self-defense.

If you go back to the original Webster’s in the early 1800s, very near to the time of the Second Amendment’s writing, the definition is a little different.  Encroachment is not even mentioned as a definition of infringement.  They understood infringement as a breaking of a contract, a violation.  There is also the meaning of hindering, which is not too far from encroachment.

So the Founders weren’t thinking primarily of incremental infringements of the rights of gun owners, but they saw any restrictions as a violation of an unwritten contract that our nation would honor the unalienable right of gun ownership.

Guns have always been a major part of American life.  If now, after 240 years, we are having a problem with them, we need to ask what changed.  I answer that we have removed God from public life and education.  Secularism, which is essentially atheism, does not and cannot form or build a cohesive society where people care for each other.  This is not to say that an atheist cannot be a moral person, but the first atheistic countries in human history were responsible for the deaths of 100 million of their own people in the 20th century.  There just isn’t the same value of human life in secularism or atheism.

Our second President, John Adams, said: “We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition, Revenge or Gallantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In speaking about religion, Adams was referring to Christianity, because that was the foundation of their beliefs in human rights and freedom.  True freedom involves a good measure of self-restraint and high moral conduct, otherwise you will need a strong government to force correct behavior.

And this is what we are having more of today.  More and more laws and regulations in an attempt to reduce gun violence when for almost all of our nation’s history, this was done by individuals who respected the lives of others, because they believed that we are all created in the image of God and God tells us to love our neighbors.

The secular moral code is summed up in four words: tolerance, equality, fairness, and diversity.  Our only responsibility is to tolerate other people.  The government is responsible to see that everything is equal, fair, and diverse.  To tolerate somebody means simply to put up with them, or more practically, to ignore them.

If you don’t teach people to love their neighbors but just to tolerate them, you will not have a cohesive, united society where people are bonded with their neighbors and are eager to help them when needed.  Oh, yes, there are always people who respond in emergencies, but our society is becoming increasingly fragmented, and many places, like Chicago, have an epidemic of gun violence.

The court called supreme was wrong to remove the Bible from public schools, because that taught us the morality that keeps us from killing each other, or wanting to.  It taught people to love each other and not just tolerate them or ignore them.

Religion, specifically Christianity, believes that people are accountable for their actions, even those not seen by other people and gives other good reasons for moral behavior.  When you believe that God wants you to love your neighbor and that this is the most important thing you can do, it changes you.  When you believe and are taught that people are just intelligent apes, formed through chance chemical processes, there is less need to get involved with them, let alone love them.  When you see people as created by God and in His image, it changes everything.

The answer to gun violence in our country is to return to our roots.  God gave us rights, but He also gave us a lot more.  He showed us how to live.  Our Founders believed in the Bible, and the Bible was used for almost 200 years in our public schools to teach our children love, honor, purity, integrity, hard work, compassion, kindness, helping people in need, mercy, forgiveness, giving, sacrifice, honesty, responsibility, respect, courage, self-control, discipline, humility, and patience.  The Bible also taught our children to save yourself for marriage, not to have children out of wedlock, mothers and fathers loving, living, and staying together raising their children to do what is right, honoring and respecting them and other authorities, and working through hard marriages rather than breaking up a family.

They believed in the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  And, of course, Love your neighbor as yourself.  This gave our country a moral consensus and bonded us with others.

Our country is trying to solve a gun problem by spending billions of dollars on law enforcement, hiring thousands of more personnel, laws, regulations, rules, mental health, security forces instead of trying to make better people, which is what we did for the first 200 years of our existence.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Larry Craig

concerned citizen

 

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