instead, is to forbid the bearing of arnweapon with the intention to kill.rnThus, natural law and common sensernmake it “morally right” to use deadh’rnforce to defend against a deadly attack.rnJames Wilson quoted the above words ofrnCicero, in full, in a lecture series he gavernto the law students at the College of Philadelphiarnin 1790. The lectures were attendedrnby President Washington, VicernPresident Adams, Secretary of State Jefferson,rnand other leaders.rnToday, more than half of all Americansrnlive in states where an adult with arnclean record can obtain a permit to earn’rna firearm for lawful protection. HandgunrnControl, Inc., opposes these laws, claimingrnthat they will lead to murder. But Cicerornpoints out the logical distinction inrnRoman law: Carrying a weapon for lawfulrndefense was perfectiy lawful; carr}ingrnwith malign intent was a crime.rnLater in that speech, Cicero declared,rn”Civilized people . . . learn that they ha’ernto defend their own bodies and personsrnand lives from violence of any and everyrnkind by all the means within their power.”rnThis lesson, unfortunately, is lost onrntoo many modern Americans, who lie inrnwhat attorney Jeffrey Snyder, in an essayrnin the Public Interest, terms “A Nation ofrnCowards.” The Founders greatiy fearedrnthe corruption of the citizenry fostered bvrnRome’s ever-expanding government.rnThe Roman free-bread program producedrna vast body of citizens too laz’ tornwork. Similarly, modern American policernchiefs who warn citizens not to usernforce to protect themselves from forcern”have created a population of millions ofrnpeople without the courage or characterrnto protect themsebes or their familiesrnfrom deadly assault.”rnLivy wrote a 142-volume history ofrnRome; 35 of the volumes have survivedrnand were available to the AmericanrnFounders. Livy tells us that, under thernRoman King Servius Tullius (578-535rnB.C.) in the days before the Republic wasrnestablished, “the right to bear arms hadrnbelonged solely to the patricians.” Butrnthen “plebians were gien a place in thernarmy, which was to be re-classified accordingrnto every man’s property, i.e., hisrnabilit)’ to provide himself a more or lessrncomplete equipment for the field . . . “rnThus, all citizens “capable of bearingrnarms were required to provide” their ownrnweapons.rnBut when Rome moved awavfrom thisrnmilitia system toward a mercenary standingrnarmy, the character of the citizenryrnbegan to decav. As Edward Gibbon, inrnThe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,rnexplains:rnIn the purer ages of the commonwealth,rnthe use of arms was resen’edrnfor those ranks of citizensrnwho had a country to love, a propertyrnto defend, and some share inrnenacting those laws which it wasrntheir interest, as well as duty tornmaintain. But in proportion as thernpublic freedom was lost in extent ofrnconquest, war was gradually improvedrninto an art, and degradedrninto a trade.rnAs the Roman standing army securedrnthe vast empire against barbarian incursions,rnthe people of the empire lost theirrncapacit)’ for self-government. “They receivedrnlaws and governors from the willrnof their sovereign, and trusted for theirrndefense to a mercenary arm},” Gibbonrnexplained. The once-great Romans became,rnmoralK’ speaking, “a race of pigmies,”rnand an easv target for the Germanrntribes whose conquest of decrepit Romernfinally “restored a manly spirit of freedom.”rnWhat lesson was drawn by Gibbon?rn”A martial nobilit}’ and stubborn commons,rnpossessed of arms, tenacious ofrnproperh”, and collected into constitutionalrnassemblies, form the only balance capablernof preserving a free constitutionrnagainst the enterprises of an aspiringrnprince.”rnIn an oration in 1772 in memory of thernBoston Massacre, Joseph Warren recalledrnRoman history: “It was this noblernattachment to a free constitution whichrnraised ancient Rome from the smallestrnbeginnings to the bright summit of happinessrnand glory to which she arrived; itrnwas the loss of this which plunged herrnfrom that summit into the black gulph ofrninfamy and slaver)’.”rnAs Carl Richard summarizes:rnThe founders’ immersion in ancientrnhistor’ had a profound effectrnupon their st}le of thought. Theyrndeveloped from the classics a suspiciousrncast of mind. They learnedrnfrom the Greeks and Romans tornfear conspiracies against that libert}’.rnSteeped in a literature whosernperpetual theme was the steady encroachmentrnof tTanny on libert)’,rnthe founders became virtually obsessedrnwith spotting its approach, sornthey might avoid the fate of theirrnclassical heroes.. .. W’Tiatever hisrnfaults, George III was hardlyrnCaligula or Nero; however illegitimate,rnthe moderate British taxesrnwere hardly equivalent to the massrnexecutions of the emperors. Butrnsince the founders believed that therncentral lesson of the classics wasrnthat every illegitimate power, howeverrnsmall, ended in slavery, theyrnwere determined to resist suchrnpower.rnThe Second Amendment helps to preserrne a “noble attachment to a free constitution”rnby teaching the people that resistancernto tyranny is not “insurrection,”rnbut the command of the Constitution.rnThus the ownership of firearms by modernrnAmericans is important not just forrnpractical reasons but for moral ones. Arnhomeowner who never has to use his gunrnfor self-defense still possesses somethingrnthat his unarmed next-door neighborrndoes not: He has made the decision thatrnhe will take responsibility for defendingrnhis family. That decision has powerfulrnmoral consequences, as does the disarmedrnneighbor’s decision to rely uponrnthe government for his family’s safety.rnThe character-building aspect of defensivernfirearms ownership is one reasonrnwhy Urants —as well as other people whornbelieve in the supremacy of the s t a t e -rnare so determined to disarm as many citizensrnas possible. Firearms ownership notrnonly interferes with government dominationrnof society; it creates a populationrnwhich is independent and self-reliant.rnWeapons bans have deadly practicalrnconsequences. Yet the moral consequencesrnare even worse, as our FoundingrnFathers learned from their study of thernsad fate of the Romans.rnDavid B. Kopel is the research director ofrnthe Independence Institute (www.i2i.orgj.rnM O V I N G ?rnend chanuc ol address and thernCHRONICLES Subscription Dtpt.rnP.O. Box 8()(>rnMount Morris, IL 61054rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn