President Obama has called for more restrictions on the possession of firearms in spite of the fact that guns did not commit the Newtown massacre, Adam Lanza did. The chief purpose of the Second Amendment was to guarantee that well-armed citizens might enjoy some degree of parity with a powerful, central government or with foreign invaders. To our Founders, the notion that individual citizens had access to modern weapons was a strong deterrent to the government infringing upon constitutionally protected liberty. This continues to be the primary purpose of the right to keep and bear arms. Of course personal defense and the freedom to hunt with firearms are also important, secondary purposes.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, “... in a constitutional government the fighting-men have the supreme power, and those who possess arms are the citizens.” He also wrote that tyrants mistrust the people “... and therefore deprive them of their arms.”
Of course, Aristotle was writing of swords, bows, and spears, which were the state-of-the-art weapons of his time. Today modern weapons, at a minimum, consist of handguns and semi-automatic rifles with large magazines.
This ancient Greek idea articulated by Aristotle exists today in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, a document specifically designed to limit the power of central government in order to preserve the liberty of the people.
The Communist paper Peoples World, announced that it agrees with this anti-gun-rights frenzy. We should remember that the Communist Party disarmed its own Russian citizens when it took over, right before they massacred them or starved them to death.
The National Rifle Association transformed from a marksmanship training organization into a civil rights organization to defend gun rights from similar attacks, such as the gun bans for African-Americans contained in the post-Civil War “Black Codes.” As recently as 1946, the NRA granted charters to African-Americans in the South who sought to defend themselves from KKK violence. The NRA also defended immigrant groups from anti-gun efforts in the 1920s, when the Progressive Movement was again on the attack, targeting African-Americans, Catholics, and immigrants.
Tragedies like Sandy Hook are only excuses to accomplish the aims of those who would restrict the right to keep and bear arms. The true causes of Sandy Hook and like incidents are being ignored by liberals. These anti-gun critics see American citizens as untrustworthy, as President Obama remarked in 2008: “...it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…”
Most modern liberals scoff at the idea that citizens need effective firearms to ward off some imagined future government tyranny or foreign invasion. However, Democratic Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey disagreed, and said so in 1960: “... the right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.”
Keeping and bearing arms in this context means, at a minimum, possessing handguns and semi-automatic rifles with large capacity magazines, because those are what would be needed today to defend liberty if the “tyranny which now appears remote”, as Sen. Humphrey put it, should ever, God forbid, appear.
James Denney, a local attorney, is writing on behalf of the Mahoning County Republican Party.