Dangerous and disingenuous is President Biden’s mocking of Americans, saying they have no constitutional right to bear semi-automatic firearms, as they would need “F-15s,” “nuclear weapons,” and now “F-16s” to stop the government.
This kind of statement is exactly why we have the 2nd Amendment. Biden’s remark is appalling. He is either ignorant of history, or content to mock our Founders for his leftist base.
Our Founders were not advocating mass firepower for capricious challenges to government, nor authorizing the reverse – use of mass firepower against the citizens by our government.
Stop for a moment. Beyond the 2nd Amendment, our rights against any overreaching federal government are expressly preserved in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Amendments.
Beyond the rights to which we commonly refer –free speech, worship, gun ownership, safety in our homes, and fair trial – the 9th Amendment assures: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Likewise, the 10th Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Always, the emphasis is on the people, us individually and collectively, not government.
All of this makes an ironclad case for individual sovereignty, our Founders’ faith in us, as individuals. The right to exercise power on behalf the people belongs to the people. The people delegate it – in limited form, with reluctance, and guardrails called the Bill of Rights.
This is also why, in 1878, we got the Posse Comitatus Act, a big rule: The President can never use the federal military against the people, as that threatens democracy and liberty.
Nor was the 2nd Amendment meant to assure a “right” to hunt, sport, or for personal security. It was always bigger.
The 2nd Amendment, Mr. President, is about “We, the People” securing ourselves – free society and free individuals – against a potentially coercive, violent, too powerful government.
The 2nd Amendment was a right given to each of us individually – to deter a “someday” threatening, violent, aggressive bunch of leaders, to keep them controlled and accountable.
Moreover, the Founders said so – and Mr. Biden knows it. Consider their sentiments.
In the draft Virginia Constitution, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” He offered and contemplated no limitation.
Jefferson wrote to his friend James Madison ten years later: “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery,” referring to the unlimited right of men to bear arms.
The same year, Jefferson wrote his son in law, William Smith: “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance … Let them take arms,” no limits.
As early as 1759, Ben Franklin concurred in unlimited citizen rights to guns. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Thirty years later, the Founders ALL agreed, passing the Bill of Rights. One appraisal was offered by George Mason. “To disarm the people…is the most effectual way to enslave them.”
Noah Webster, in 1787, explained citizens armed without limit as a reliable deterrent to government overreach, violence, assuming sovereignty to itself, or seeking to dominate.
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed … The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed… and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
If one wishes to look – before, during, and after the Constitutional Convention – our Founders were crystal clear: Any limits on firearm ownership were suspect, never their intent.
The 2nd Amendment, in relevant part, reads: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” an individual right, extended to formation of militia’s by states.
As Jefferson wrote in late 1823: Interpreting the Constitution, “let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it … conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
Never would any of the Founders think the shape or “style” of a firearm would allow infringement of the 2nd Amendment; nor would they condemn a semi-automatic firearm.
What they would condemn is a president mocking the Bill of Rights, specifically the 2nd Amendment, suggesting it dies in an era of fighter planes and nuclear weapons. Biden knows it.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.
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