by Rod D. Martin
July 3, 2015
The question is sometimes asked, “why have other nations failed to follow the United States in providing their citizens with the right to keep and bear arms?”
The first and foremost answer, of course, must be that the right of self-defense — and all that is included in that, which most certainly includes arms — is unalienable: it is bound up with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So the question is flawed in its premise: countries cannot “provide” their citizens with a right they already possess.
The second answer is that many nations do have such rights. Israel and Switzerland leap immediately to mind, and note well: they are safe, well-governed places, terrorism in the former aside (but note: all of Israel’s neighbors have strict gun control regimes, and you see how well that’s working out for them). Indeed, “out of control” gun crime is often cited as the reason why America must ban firearms ownership, but that is a red herring: the United States is first in the world in gun ownership, but not even in the top 100 countries for its murder rate.
No one ever said the left was honest.
So perhaps the better question is, why did the Founding Fathers think we ought to have a Second Amendment in the first place? When we examine what they said on the subject (it is not actually open to speculation), we discover they not only had very strong feelings about the subject, but that none of those opinions had to do with squirrel hunting.
The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of every other nation. – James Madison
Our great object is that every man be armed. – Patrick Henry
The mind that aims to limit arms from the whole people, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle. – Richard Henry Lee
Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of arms. – Thomas Paine
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. – Benjamin Franklin
The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed. – Noah Webster
The strongest reason for the people to keep and bear arms is to protect themselves against tyranny in government. – Thomas Jefferson
Interestingly enough, our fellow revolutionaries in India, also in revolt against the British but almost 200 years later, agreed:
Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. – Mohandas Gandhi
Shocking as it is to modern Americans, gun control arguments were well known and understood in the 18th Century, because as Madison pointed out, every government in Europe refused its subjects the right to possess them (and indeed, this is one of the reasons they were subjects, whereas we are citizens). But Jefferson spoke to our more modern arguments regarding gun control as well:
Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. – Thomas Jefferson
As did these men:
I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied. – Segregationist Florida Supreme Court Justice Rivers H. Buford, 1941
Ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State. – Heinrich Himmler
One man with a gun can control 100 without one. – Lenin
America’s heritage is liberty. Those seeking to remove firearms from among us generally fall into three categories: those who want to take everyone’s freedom, those who want to take only a few people’s freedom (in America, blacks; in Germany, Jews), and those who think free people are too childlike to be “trusted” with responsibility, and must (in effect) be parented by their government.
With our Founders, I trust the people over any government, any day. And as to the criminals, inevitable in all systems, all I can say is this: when seconds count, the police are mere minutes away.
A version of this article originally appeared as an answer on Quora.