The Bill of Rights is quite probably one of my favorite documents in all of history. Not only are the BoR noble in purpose, they are also as close to perfection as we as a species has come to protecting the masses while allowing the greatest freedom possible. Over the last few years there has been a lot of dialog on the importance and how we view the first amendment. There are those that believe that, so long as you aren't initiating a violent call to action, than your rights to speak your mind are still valid, while still others opine that when you speak unfavorably about a marginalized group or person, your rights are null and void with regards to that group/person. There are many more intelligent than me who, given the sentiment surrounding the second amendment to the Constitution probably saw this argument coming a long time off. Personally, I believe that our collective thoughts on the matter are driven by what we're taught (or rather, what we're taught not to think) rather than by our ability to read them for ourselves and interpret the meaning contained therein. I believe this is very much what has happened with regards to the second amendment over the years. The intent of the document has been blurred, and we are suddenly in this interesting quandary wherein we are arguing over the intent of our nations founding fathers.
The argument has been- for lack of a better term- muddied by various factors derived from ignorance of the ideas supporting the position of the "for" side, and by deliberate obfuscation or mud slinging by both sides of the debate. I aim to do neither here, but rather to give, as succinctly as possible, my views on the second amendment from the reading and thinking that I have done with regards to the topic. I will be upfront and tell the reader that I am in favor of the second amendment, and that I believe that many of the restrictions placed upon law abiding citizens with regards to it stand in direct opposition to the intention of the amendment as written. As an example, the laws surrounding short barreled rifles (SBRs) and "silencers" are, to be quite honest, idiotic. This belief has only become reinforced as I venture into the profession of machining and realize that anyone with sufficient knowledge (or not) and access to simple metal working tools can make just about anything they want given time. Research into how items such as suppressors work (protected by our first amendment) and how to run a lathe and a mill (also protected by our first amendment) make laws outlawing such devices painful only to the law abiding citizen and not the wayward criminal. To be sure, I know a few felons and some have stated that given the opportunity to do the crimes that got them where they were again- they would without question. Laws- even with severe consequences if broken- are at times insufficient to stop the most intentional amongst us.
These arguments aside however, the real meat and potatoes of the argument in my mind stands thus: "The second amendment is outdated, and in need of being revoked. The founding fathers would never have been ok with fully automatic assault rifles, and our nation doesn't need an armed citizenry to defend her freedoms- we have the Army, and the National Guard is the Militia." I think this is the most reasonable of the arguments presented, but isn't the entirety of the arguments leveled against the amendment, but for the purposes of this post, we will deal with this argument specifically. I will admit, I have created a strawman here- but I want this to be known; that the ideas I am going to cover are theoretical for the most part (I know- "You're tanking your argument" some people are saying- but we have NEVER encountered in our nation what I am going to cover and I want to be intellectually honest) so please bare this in mind as I move forward.
The premise I put forward is that the second amendment is meant to protect the people of the United States from invasion from without and usurpation from within. Some people reading this just said, "duh..." And to those on the side of the second amendment it very well could be a "duh" statement. But to those who advocate for the removal of the amendment from the laws of the land, this idea may have been missed. My objective is to draw a "how" out of this, and present it clearly. That premise is really simple, and rather obvious once stated. Asymmetric warfare. Guerilla warfare. Unconventional warfare. Total warfare. There are many things we can call it, but the main idea is that the people, already diffuse and diverse and well armed, provide a hurdle to anyone wishing to take control of this nation and ride her into the dirt. Circumventing 80 million armed Americans (even if only 1% of them actually take up arms against any transgressors) is nothing to sneeze at. Couple this number of people with an estimated 300-600 MILLION firearms and you have a very potent force to contend with even if this force was a standup army. But it's not.
I don't view the Militia as being controlled per se, but the language within the amendment, "well regulated militia," seems to indicate just that. Many view this as meaning regulating the arms via laws in the forms of restrictions placed upon the populace, but I have to wonder if they missed the portion that states, "shall not be infringed." To me, this states that the government is meant to have no real regulatory authority with regards to the arms used by the militia, but that there needs to be some form of control within the militia. OR, to be more direct, the militia is to be armed at least as well as any army. It is also meant to be well drilled/trained. As in, allowed to practice BEING a militia. This wouldn't be a daily thing as the founders weren't too hot on a standing army or even a select militia (read, "National Guard"). They believed both were the first step toward tyranny, and wished to prevent them from existing as much as was possible. They knew that at times a regular army was necessary (they had just fought a war wherein they NEEDED one) but they also appreciated the ability of a government with a powerful army to suppress the people it was meant to protect. Just wars will have plenty of volunteers- why have a standing army?
The answer to them seemed obvious- place the burden of defending the nation on the backs of those most affected- namely, the people- and let militias do the bulk of the work. As Thomas Paine said (and I paraphrase) "The militia is the best force for providing a fast and ready defense to any attack." If Russian (or Chinese or North Korean) paratroopers were to drop in the fields around my house right now, who's going to respond first; A) The National Guard B) The Army/Marines C) Me. What Mr. Paine was stating is obvious to many of us who advocate for the legal carriage of concealed arms, and that is that the victim is ALWAYS at the scene of the crime when the crime is committed. Same holds true with a people facing being conquered. They are always at the front lines- why not let them fight for their freedoms? The second amendment protects (not allows) that right to defend oneself from transgression whether from a foreign invader, a criminal, or an out of control government. They are the ones with skin in the game- let them have the ability to influence the outcome.
And influence is the name of the game with regards to the theory I will put forward. The people- though they have much in the way of violent capital- are by themselves insufficient to defend against the myriad of threats posed by our modern world. Our military is the most powerful in history, but even the best defense can be overcome (Way to go Vikings- #1 defense and you guys got ROLLED). However, utilized in a supporting role, and integrated with regular forces and local law enforcement, the militia can have a multiplying effect on the capabilities of both, and allow for more options when dealing with situations that will remain unnamed. In part two of this series, I will delve deeper into the theory I wish to put forward, and in subsequent portions, I will show how this theory can be implemented to not only improve our national security, but reduce its overall cost (yes- I think this idea can save money for the country long term).