VITAL SIGNSrn.; j^a&s&fci ••Arn/*^rnj ^ – ^ ^ ^ 3w^ ^…nfr^rnK .4’4 M^. tkrnJB -^•^^^’*–rn^0^ ^^rn^^iiMlHMHL – fvJMttMMiibiirn«^;Vrnl i i j j K j M ^ »^~rn^BJI^llr -rn^ H p ‘ f’.-^^^^K^rn- 9^BP^rn2P^^^ CLrnn m ^ ^w^^^^^^^g^^rnW^ _ , ^Wr^rn»,,!*,*!-Sf^x.v, …rn%rn^,.rn.^»rnf^rnReal IndependencernDayrnby Richard J. DavisrnThe Meaning of the SecondrnAmendmentrnThere is no national holiday on Aprilrn19 (or April 18), though the BostonrnMarathon is run around this time.rnWhen I was in college in the East thisrnmeant not only mid-spring but midterm,rnand when exams were finished,rnthe anniversary of Paul Revere’s ridernseemed a perfect excuse for a party.rnThough I’ve celebrated this date habituallyrnover the years, the party spirit hasrnfaded a bit with age, and I’ve begun tornreflect a little more on those events andrnpeople of 1775. What went on in thernminds of these small-town farmers thatrnmade them stand up and challenge thernarmy of “their” government—coincidentallyrnthe most powerful one on earthrnat that time? Were they pushed to it accidentally,rnor had they already drawn thernline beyond which they would stand andrnfight?rnIt’s a question that may relate to todayrnmore than we realize. Our governmentrnis, at least for now, undoubtedly thernmost powerful in the world. It holdsrnpower that those Massachusetts farmersrncouldn’t have imagined. It intrudes inrnour lives to a degree that would have astonishedrnand appalled them. Are werndrawing a mental line of how far we’ll letrnit go? Are we waiting until somebodyrnunintentionally pushes us too far? Arernwe past standing up for our rights altogether?rnIt’s hard to tell.rnThere are several movements, bothrnwithin and without the government,rnaimed at disarming the American population.rnThe argument seems to be thatrnwe are so civilized that we have no goodrnuse for such things as firearms. In 1775,rnthe goal of the British troops marchingrnon Concord was similar—to disarm therncolonists. They weren’t after individual,rnpersonal weapons; they were after cannonsrnand large stores of gunpowder rumoredrnto be at Concord. (With the limitedrntechnology of the day, cannons werernthe largest technological advantage thernBritish had over the colonists.)rnThe government today has numerousrnlarge technological advantages over therncivilian population. There remain a substantialrnnumber of heavily regulated, registeredrnweapons in private hands, butrnthe closest thing to technological parityrnis the common semiautomatic weaponrnavailable to the general public. It is thisrnclass, mislabeled “assault weapons,” thatrncurrently comes under the most vigorousrnattack from gun-control advocates bothrninside and outside government. The usualrnattack centers around the “fact” thatrnthey have “no sporting uses.”rnIgnoring the inaccuracy of this “fact,”rnthe truth is that the Second Amendmentrnmakes no reference to “sportingrnuses.” In fact, it seems most unlikelyrnthat “sporting uses” were a considerationrnfor those who framed the Bill ofrnRights. Unfortunately, even the NationalrnRifle Association skirts timidlyrnaround the real issue, as if it were toornmuch for Americans to deal with. Thernpoint of the Second Amendment is torngive American citizens the capability tornassemble rapidly as an armed militia forrntheir own collective defense. This hasrngenerally been thought of as defensernagainst an invading foreign enemy, butrnrecent events in Los Angeles and Wacornclearly point out that other situationsrnmight also create such a need. To thernKramers of the Bill of Rights, the mostrnrecent “foreign enemy” was the perceivedrntyranny of their own governmentrn—in England, but nonetheless atrnthat time (1775) their own. A great concernrnof the writers of the Bill of Rightsrnwas that the government they were thenrnforming might eventually becomerntyrannical, and that the citizens neededrnprotection from that possibility—hencernthe entire Bill of Rights including thernSecond Amendment.rnThere are past examples of armed citizenrnresistance to the perceived tyrannyrnof the U.S. government: the WhiskeyrnRebellion, Shays’ Rebellion, and mostrnnotably the War Between the States.rnThe fact that none of these was successfulrndoes nothing to alter the principle ofrnarmed resistance as a last resort. Thernfact that a large number of citizens exerciserntheir Second Amendment rights unquestionablyrnadmits the possibility of futurernarmed resistance and can properlyrnbe a sobering thought for those inrngovernment. The amount of supportrnfor gun control within the governmentrn(those sworn to uphold and defend thernConstitution, including the Bill ofrnRights, including the Second Amendment)rnperhaps indicates that this is indeedrnthe case. As the existence of ourrnnuclear missiles served as a brake to Sovietrnambitions for 45 years, so a wellarmedrnpopulace must serve as a brake onrnthose in government who might abuserntheir authority.rnThe removal of firearms from civilianrnhands removes this restraint fromrngovernment. However small the actualrnpossibility of revolt, whatever the theoriesrnthat we are “too civilized” to need orrnwant firearms, the fact remains that thernultimate guarantor of political power,rnhere as anywhere else in the world, is thernpossession of (and willingness and abilityrnto use if necessary) Hrearms. Withoutrnthat, not only is resistance to unjust lawsrnor abuse of power impossible, but enforcementrnof just laws is impossible.rnDoes this mean that we need to planrnfor armed resistance? Hardly. The oddsrnare far less even than in I860. Only massivernpublic support for resistance wouldrn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn