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The Second Amendment: American’s Guarantee of Freedom


The Supreme Court has agreed to decide the gun-control case arising out of Washington, D.C.’s, ban on handguns. You know — the city in which there are no murders with handguns because criminals obey gun-control laws. (Sarcasm!)

The major issue in the case is whether the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right or whether it pertains instead to the National Guard.

Hopefully, the Court will bear in mind that the primary purpose of the right to keep and bear arms is so that people will be able to resist violently the tyranny and oppression of their own government. Unfortunately, all too many Americans have lost sight of this, believing that gun ownership is about shooting deer and burglars.

Our American ancestors had a direct and personal experience with the tyranny and oppression of their own government. People often think of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as great Americans. They weren’t. They were great Englishmen. When they signed the Declaration, they were as English as you and I are Americans. Their own government had become tyrannical and oppressive and would not correct its ways. These Englishmen decided that their government had left them no choice but to resist the tyranny and oppression with violence, and that meant the use of weapons. Most of us consider them patriots because they had the courage to oppose the wrongdoing of their own government.

The reason that King George and his minions tried to disarm the colonists was that they knew that a disarmed citizenry is an obedient citizenry. And as history has shown, oftentimes a disarmed citizenry is a dead citizenry. Historically, governments, not terrorists, are the biggest killers of their own people. And when people have no means of resistance, they have little choice but to succumb. The Jews in Nazi Germany are just one example.

Many Americans believe that democracy is a protection against tyranny. Oh? Then what about Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela who not only has been exercising dictatorial powers but is also now trying to expand such powers through democratic vote. Democracy ensures a peaceful transition of power, but all that ordinarily means is the democratic substitution of one dictator for another.

The right to keep and bear arms is a society’s finest insurance against tyranny and oppression. As long as government officials know that the citizenry is well-armed and well-trained, they will tend to think twice before becoming tyrannical and oppressive.

If the Supreme Court holds that the Second Amendment pertains only to the National Guard, then everyone should understand the logical consequence of such a decision: The federal government will be empowered to do to private Americans what the D.C. government did to its citizenry — prohibit them from owning weapons, even in their own homes. If that were to happen, not only will the American people’s primary protection against burglars and robbers will have disappeared but also their primary protection against tyranny and oppression.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.