NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 5, 2013

Column: Right to bear arms keeps us a free people

“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.”

The Bill of Rights, United States Constitution, Amendment II.

I never thought much about the Second Amendment, just took it for granted while growing up in western Pennsylvania, then traveling around as a Navy wife. I never heard the phrase “gun control” until I moved to Massachusetts in my late 20s. I had no idea what that meant and was shocked when I found out.

For those who also hadn’t thought about this much: first, read the actual amendment, above. Note that there is a main phrase — “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Our Founding Fathers understood that we have certain rights given to us by God or by the nature of being human; the right to have arms for hunting and defense is one of them and always will be.

The qualifying phrase about a well-regulated militia seems to me just a reminder to all able-bodied men to be always prepared for bigger battles. They had just fought a war against Great Britain, a country well-armed enough to have accumulated its own world empire. Our new country had won its independence only because we had our own arms to bear.

We don’t use the word militia much now, but the concept is the same: If our other freedoms are threatened, we all have the right to grab our guns and run to the battlefield.

The Colonial-era weapons they grabbed, combined with their revolutionary attitudes, were a match for the superior firepower of the better-funded professional redcoat military. No one should argue that, had the latter carried more modern “assault weapons”, the colonials didn’t have a right to bear that same category of arms.

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