D’Agostino: Defining the Second Amendment the right way

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This is a piece written by a guest columnist, Santino J. D’Agostino.

It seems America is under fire. From Las Vegas shooter Steven Paddock to crazed and troubled, mentally-ill – according to Fox News – Texan Devin Patrick Kelley, it seems that guns have reached a level of no return. Vox.com released an article entitled The Texas shooting shows why “a good guy with a gun” isn’t enough. At first glance, perhaps this seems reasonable.  However, what other solution could possibly have prevented this event?

While gun control hawks pounce on the opportunity to prove gun lovin’ Republicans wrong, their argument tends to lack any sort of logic in accordance of the Second Amendment. While the “right to bear arms” seems a use of severely loose phraseology, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison further explicate its imperativeness in the preservation of freedom through The Federalist Papers. Surely, a mass shooting is a devastating, disgusting act. As the nation spends its days in despair and grievance for the twenty-six lives lost at the hands of an evil man, according to CNN, it is time to set the record straight apropos the Second Amendment.

Here’s a quick list of common misconceptions regarding the Second Amendment:

  • The Second Amendment allows me my hunting rights
  • Machine guns count under the Second Amendment
  • Everybody can own a gun

There are a plethora of things wrong here. The basis of the Second Amendment is a far catch from “hunting rights.” Actually, it has absolutely nothing to do with the taking of game, however, it has been tradition for humans to hunt in the wild with firearms. I guess you can think of it as a perk that comes along with the Second Amendment. As for machine guns, Sean Davis over at The Federalist states, “Under the NFA, it is illegal for any private civilian to own any fully automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986” (2017). The process of purchasing a firearm (legally, of course) ensures that not everybody can own a gun in America, as explicated by Corinne Jones of CNN. However, the basis of the amendment is often clouded and relatively unknown to most of the American population who fail to examine the writings of those who pushed the ratification process. The Second Amendment 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” (1791). It is obligatory that these terms be defined thoroughly as they were in Federalist Paper No. 29 written by Alexander Hamilton.

The term “well-regulated militia” seems to be the most controversial among citizens as well as well-educated intellectuals and politicians; yet “free country” is clearly explicated in one of Alexander Hamilton’s fifty-one articles within the paper where he defines the militia as “the guardian of the national security” (Hamilton, 1788, No. 29). Transversely, the militia Hamilton speaks of is composed of citizens whom, in essence, are – contrary to the duty of the National Guard which is generally an Army Reserve which just happens to take action in the midst of national disaster – not militarily trained. Hamilton makes note of this: “A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it” (Hamilton, 1778, No. 29). To the untrained mind, it may seem that Hamilton is proposing we hand arms to civilians and wait for tyranny to rise and then attack without a plan, yet with further reading, Hamilton vindicates his claim: “Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year” (Hamilton, 1778, No. 29). Clearly, we don’t necessarily enact upon the wishes of Hamilton and neglect to practice what he preached.

So, why do we have the Second Amendment? Why did James Madison find it as a significant element of the Bill of Rights? Perhaps a look back in history can aid the justification of such an amendment. Stephen Halbrook of National Review writes, “In 1933, the ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power and used [firearm registration] records to identify, disarm, and attack political opponents and Jews” (2013). By allowing American citizens the right to bear arms and assemble the establishment of a well-regulated militia, tyrannical government will not have the time nor the power to do as Adolf Hitler and his regime did; which was to unarm citizens and annihilate them. James Madison writes, “Many considerations, besides those suggested on a former occasion seem to place it beyond doubt, that the first and most natural attachment of the people, will be to the governments of their respective states” (Madison, 1778, No. 46). It is here that there forms a palpable dichotomy; the contrasts of federal and state powers. Contrary to popular opinion, the liberty to bear arms is quite democratic; perhaps even liberal when put into the context of modern-day society. Clearly, when Big Brother gets involved with the right to bear arms, there seems to be an inevitable defeat of society; communism, perhaps. As our houses, cars and health require insurance, so does liberty. The right to bear arms is our “liberty insurance,” if you may. God forbid we shall be left to face the arms of the federal government, which is the last thing any nation should have to do, we will find insurance in our arms. Citizens and state governments who refuse to acknowledge the imperativeness and obligatoriness of the second amendment are welcoming a direct threat to the liberty of all Americans.

As our beloved past-president Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” has, a “War on Guns” will fail epically and only drive America’s crime-rate up a wall that reaches the heavens. It is our duty as Americans to care for and nurture each person we encounter, destroying any possible manifestation of evil inside that individual. There are no legislative actions that can be taken which would eliminate evil; it is our human duty to instill moral values in our peers and our family members. Whether this be through faith, community involvement or simple friendships, you can play a part in making America a safe, hospitable environment. Don’t rely on government to cover our moral obligations; that’s not their job. Gun control will not solve that.

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