“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”—PATRICK HENRY
Our forebears intended for their progeny to individually keep and bear arms in defense of their freedom. That is beyond argument. Even some leftists grudgingly agree the Second Amendment guarantees the general right to own firearms. The law of Salus Populi goes even farther in defense of self-defense.
But what sort of weaponry—mainly firearms, of course–did our forebears intend for us to possess? Leftists often resort to the absurd argument that the Founders, if they were alive today, would never consent to American citizens owning military-grade weaponry. After all, hunters and sport shooters have no need of such firepower; only the military and law enforcement do.
As the Founders made explicit, however, the right to keep and bear arms is not really about hunting and sport shooting. Rather, it is about the citizens—the militia—having enough firepower to control their government if it should fall into the hands of tyrants. It was clear to many in this generation that those who are without the means of self-defense are powerless to oppose those who would subjugate them.
When our forebears acknowledged the right and responsibility of self-defense in the Second Amendment, they did not lay restrictions on what weapons the citizens might possess for the task. In their day, the musket was the equivalent of today’s AR-15s (the semi-auto version) and the M-16 (the full-auto military version). But some 18th-century citizens were armed with more lethal rifled muskets, which had a longer range and better accuracy—the sniper rifle of its day. There were also plenty of larger weapons and weapon systems in the hands of private individuals and groups. There were numerous privately-owned cannon as well as warships, known as privateers. That’s what letters of marque and reprisal were for.
So, when answering the question: “Would the Founders think it permissible for us to own a bazooka?” the answer is “Yes, of course…if the military and law enforcement own them, too.”
RED IN FANG AND CLAW
Now, what would prevent private armies and fiefdoms, armed to the teeth and set chaotically one against another, from springing up all across the land? For one thing, it just isn’t practical. If I want an Abrams tanks and I live in a suburban neighborhood, where am I going to park it? More importantly, where am I going to drive it? Most of our roads, even the vaunted Interstate Highway System, don’t have surfaces designed to accommodate large, tracked vehicles.
If I live out in the country, however, and have plenty of space to conduct tank maneuvers, then why shouldn’t I have one? It would be jolly good fun to get some friends together as a crew and spend a weekend running over and blasting things. Oh, and if the bad guys came, we’d be able to deal with them. Same argument goes for all of what we may term “weapon systems” (e.g. aircraft, ships, larger artillery pieces, SAMs, etc.).
Another common prohibition for most folks would be cost, of course. Only a few individuals or even groups would be able to afford to purchase their own tanks, aircraft, or ships. But other military-style individual weapons, as opposed to weapon systems, are themselves quite expensive. Machine guns, sniper rifles, grenades, rocket launchers—you name it—aren’t cheap.
What you’d likely witness with such freedom is honest, law-abiding citizens having nothing more menacing than a full-auto weapon or two that they shot occasionally at the range until the novelty wore off. Otherwise, the weapons would stay in the gun cabinet until needed.
But what about criminal gangs such as the ones run by the drug lords in Mexico and increasingly in our own streets? Oh, you mean the same gangs that are supplied military-grade weapons by the US Department of Justice and the BATF&E? My answer to that is the same one I’d give if asked about a common thug and a gun: the two will find each other despite the laws on the books. We already have ways of dealing with that.
DRONING ON . . . AND OTHER THREATS
If you trust that your government will never infringe your rights, then I suppose you’ll find my argument senseless. But if you fear, say, a future when drones fill the skies for the purpose of surveillance, intimidation, or worse, then you might see the need to own a couple of hand-held rocket launchers.
But what about that liberal canard that says that no matter how well armed the citizens are, they will never be able to defeat the modern military in a toe-to-toe confrontation? First, that presumes that the US military would fire on its own people, a question whose answer we do not know. And, second, it presumes that the fight would be a conventional one. More likely, it will be Fourth Generation Warfare, which is just another way of saying guerrilla war.
In 4Gen Warfare the lines between the military and the political, economic, cultural, and social are blurred past the point of recognition. To oversimplify, the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.
4Gen Warfare doesn’t require that the populace be armed equal to the military and law enforcement. In fact, having such firepower, with few exceptions (such as full-auto “assault weapons,” silencers, and a handful of other esoteric toys), would be a logistical and tactical burden to the common 3- to 5-man group so common in this type of warfare. Stealth and the concentration of firepower at certain points for a short time are the keys to successful Gen4 Warfare, whether it’s busting up a traffic roadblock, ambushing a gun confiscation raid, or taking down a high-profile tyrant. If you want more from an historical standpoint, read about Michael Collins. If you want more from a modern, practical standpoint, read Joseph P. Martino’s Resistance to Tyranny: A Primer
So, both we “gun nuts” and you bed-wetting, anti-gun leftists can rest easy about those bazookas in everyman’s closet. You don’t want us to have them and we really don’t need them. We’ll manage just fine with what we have now. But if we need more, as an old friend is wont to say: “We’ll be able to literally pick them up in used condition—dropped only once.”
As the great 19th-century Southerner and premier legal scholar once wrote:
“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”—ST. GEORGE TUCKER
Come and take it.
“Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.”—Psalm 144:1