Defending Second Amendment Rights: Gimme Back My Bullets, Part 2

Jim Amrhein continues his article on Defending Second Amendment Rights, pointing out several flaws in the arguments of gun control advocates.

“When I hold you in my arms,
And I feel my finger on your trigger,
I know nobody can do me no harm, because…
Happiness is a warm gun,
Bang, bang, shoot, shoot.”

— The Beatles, Happiness Is a Warm Gun

IN PART I of this essay, I tried to put a human face on the issue of gun control with a real-life example of one man’s tragic attempt to fight violent crime in his community within the ludicrously restrictive, irresponsible, and completely unconstitutional laws of his city and state. For his valiant but foolhardy effort, he ended up shot to death on the sidewalk by a drug thug with an illegal firearm.

My main point was that had he been able (as was intended by his Constitution) to respond in kind with his own legally owned gun, he might not only still be alive, but his killer would very likely himself be dead — a cold, stiff example of a strong and utterly justified message sent to others of his kind by fearless, conscientious residents:

Push us, and we’ll push back. Hard.

In this second and final part, my goal is twofold. First, to offer some proof of the worth — rather, the vital, lifesaving importance — of an armed citizenry. Second, to truly advance the somewhat stalemated Second Amendment argument with an interpretation of the amendment’s wording I’ve never heard anyone else talk about.

Before I get started in earnest, however, I want to thank Whiskey & Gunpowder readers, regardless of their stance on the issue (though about 85% were in agreement), for their overwhelming response to Part 1 of this essay. Thanks for forwarding it all over the Web, where it has been picked up and run by numerous entities. And thanks for taking the time out of your lives to tell me what you think. Keep it up, please.

And now, once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Defending Second Amendment Rights: More Guns = Less Crime

It seems like everything I’ve ever read defending the Second Amendment is screaming with statistics. And indeed, the hard evidence supporting (more like exonerating) legal firearms is overwhelming, both domestically and abroad.

Not that you’d ever learn this from the mainstream media, which only report crimes committed with guns (the vast bulk of which are illegally owned) or gun accidents (which are far rarer than the left would have you believe). Never do you hear or read about the huge number of crimes prevented by the presence of a gun, the vast majority of which deter malfeasance without ever being fired…

However, the fact that most of the pro-gun articles and essays try to persuade using statistics is putting the cart before the horse, in my opinion. It puts the already righteous position on the defensive. I think the way to get the point across best would be to let people know not that guns SHOULD be allowed, but that they ARE allowed — and that anything the government does to limit your personal power to legally own, carry, and defend your life with a gun (that whole “shall not be infringed” part) is patently unconstitutional .

In other words: Even if the statistics didn’t bear out the wisdom and efficacy of the keeping and bearing — even if every city in the country were a Buckaroo Banzai shootin’ match like Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881 (still statistically far safer than Washington, D.C., by the way) — it would still be your right under the law, one we’d just have to deal with the consequences of, or else change the Constitution. Simple as that.

But thankfully, those “consequences” have been proven time and again to be a reduction in crime and a safer society, despite what the Michael Moores of the world say.

Not that any evidence to this effect should be needed with regard to the preservation of a constitutionally guaranteed right — but nowadays, numbers are exalted, not ideals. And since that’s the case, I offer these, just a spare few of the statistics no gun article seems possible or complete without…

In U.S. states forbidding concealed-carry (meaning states that don’t allow law-abiding citizens to pack heat without restriction):

** There are 89% more violent crimes than in states that permit concealed carry

** There are 127% more murders than in states that permit concealed carry

** There are 25% more rapes than in states that permit concealed carry

** There are 96% more aggravated assaults than in states that permit concealed carry

** There are 106% more robberies than in states that permit concealed carry.

Put another way, the argument in defense of unlimited concealed carry looks like this: In the seven-year period following the adoption of unrestricted (or virtually so) concealed-carry handgun laws, affects U.S. states saw an average…

** 27% reduction in violent crime

** 31% reduction in murders

** 16% reduction in robberies

** 26% reduction in aggravated assault

** 16% reduction in robberies

These aren’t tricks of statistics put out by gun makers or pro-gun lobbyists. They are from a scientifically conducted and methodologically rigorous study of public records of crime rates per 100,000 citizens across all 50 U.S. states, as compiled and analyzed by Yale legal research scholar John Lott and published in his book More Guns, Less Crime (a great read, as is his follow-up, The Bias Against Guns ).

Again, these are only a few of the myriad of statistics — among these an October 2003 CDC report summarizing studies that found no conclusive evidence that gun control laws reduce crime or suicide — that prove without any possible doubt that the framers of our Constitution had it right when it came to packin’ heat.

Which brings me to my next point, that infuriating Second Amendment…

Defending Second Amendment Rights: Once More Into the Breach

As a gun owner, I’m thrilled with the framers of the Constitution for laying down on paper the Second Amendment, which reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Now, as happy as I am that they committed this most basic right to defend one’s own life to parchment, I’m a little irked at the way they chose to word it. After all, it is the only Amendment in the Bill of Rights that includes a justification for itself in its text, and from where I’m sitting, it’d be a whole lot better if they’d been a touch more concise…

That’s because the justification clause — the part that reads “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” — leaves the Amendment vulnerable to a lot of misinterpretation, intentional or otherwise. This starts with the term “Militia,” which many erroneously take to mean government-run entities like the National Guard, but which actually refers to the entire fit-for-service citizenry that is currently NOT enrolled in any standing force.

In other words, the militia is you and I — not anyone who’s issued their clothes, weapon, orders, or paycheck by the federal or state government.

But many use the phrase “well regulated” to contest this notion, implying that the framers intended that the government should oversee, direct, and impose rules and limits on armed citizens (the militia)…

This assumption, however, shows just how indoctrinated to the idea of big, invasive government we’ve all become. Every other Amendment in the Bill of Rights is aimed at the same overarching goal: Limiting government’s power over the populace. Amendment 2 is no exception; hence, the phrase “well regulated” couldn’t possibly refer to any kind of governmental oversight of armed citizens. So what does it mean, you’re asking?

Well, I’ve got a theory — one I’ve never heard discussed in gun circles before, but one that should be obvious to anyone who attempts to view the Second Amendment through the lenses of our Founding Fathers’ eyes. Quite simply, it’s this:

The phrase “well regulated,” given that it can’t mean government-run, must more or less mean “equally equipped.” Think about it: No force of Minutemen would be able to mount any kind of coordinated or effective defense of anything at all if only every third member had a gun, while the others brandished pitchforks, sickles, or blacksmith’s hammers. A force of this type isn’t “well regulated” in the least…

No, I think the framers meant that all citizens should be able to bring to any brewing fight the most up-to-date weaponry — namely, guns — so they can make a proper account of themselves and defend their state, country, and selves adequately in the absence of a regular army.


I also believe that in simplest terms, the Second Amendment means this:

Because no army can protect individuals at all times and from all threats — animals, criminals, foreign invaders, or the government itself — your right as a citizen in good standing to defend yourself using any means in existence shall not be compromised.

Now, I’m not pretending to be a better wordsmith or thinker than the framers themselves. And it’s entirely possible that someone else has come up with this interpretation, or one like it, before. After all, I’m not a Second Amendment scholar, historian, or authority on the Constitution. As I’ve said before, I’m just a regular guy who’s not afraid to toss aside the lens of political correctness and look at things for what they are and talk about it…

So consider this a disclaimer to anyone who’s more educated on the subject than I am (I’d love to hear from you, in fact): The argument and interpretation you’ve just read may exist in print elsewhere. I’m arrogant, but not enough to think that I’ve originated a new line of reasoning on what surely must be the most debated Amendment in history. I’ve just never read it anywhere before. Enough said.

Like I said in Part 1, there’s enough out there on this one issue of civil liberty for me to make a career writing about it. I could produce essays arguing your right to guns from now until I retire and still not make every point that could be made on the subject…

But the bottom line is this: The reason such a passionate and elaborate debate exists is because most opponents of gun rights pick their point of view based on how it feels to hold it, not whether on not it’s fair, right, lawful, or what was so clearly intended by those greater than they are. This, plus the fact that their sheltered lives and bought-by-tuition-dollars idealism has never put them at odds with a drug-crazed, gun-toting mugger in a dark parking lot…

Ask me how it feels sometime, and you’ll be in the gun shop yourself the next day.

Fighting hollow points with hollow points,

Jim Amrhein,
Contributing Editor
Whiskey & Gunpowder
September 7, 2005


P.S. As always, forward this to friends and foes alike, write back with comments, criticisms, or kudos, but remember: Don’t cross the line and show up on my stoop, you critics, crazoids, or hotheads. There’s a little sticker on my door that says:

“If you can read this, you’re standing where two other guys got shot.”