In 1759, before the Declaration of Independence was conceived of, and before the American Revolution began, Benjamin Franklin made what would seem to be an obvious observation: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
Old Ben knew what he was talking about, I think: The right of human beings to self-defense with arms is inalienable, given by God. The point of the Second Amendment, as so clearly stated in numerous texts attributed to Founding Fathers like Ben Franklin, is to enable a peaceable citizenry to protect itself from tyranny and oppression. It is the right of human beings everywhere to be able to stand in a militia, if needed, in defense of self and country.
Who are the militia? A Virginian put it best. In 1788, George Mason, who urged passage of the Second Amendment before he would ratify the U.S. Constitution, said: "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."
The very possibility of citizens standing in defense of self and country keeps us free. The fact that every man and woman in this country is part of the militia protects the United States of America. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why Japan didn’t invade us during World War II. Might it have had something to do with millions of hunters and millions of guns behind every door in America in the 1940s?
It is inarguable that hunters play a key role in defense of our country. Few segments of our society handle firearms as regularly or as adroitly as hunters; next to self-defense, hunting is the primary way Americans exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Hunters were the first members of American society to stand in our militia. The arms they carried at Lexington and Concord, muskets popular in colonial America, can rightly be called the first “assault weapons.”
Of course looking back, no one would think of a musket as an “assault weapon.” So what gives now? Why is the most popular rifle in America being demonized? What makes the AR-15—popular with collectors, recreational and competitive shooters and yes, even hunters—so dastardly? Nothing, really. Its design is rooted in military history, same as every sporting arm in use today.
If you are a hunter who doesn’t own a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and never wants one, someone who thinks the present debate about banning so-called “assault weapons” doesn’t apply to you, think again. As a member of the militia you have an obligation to be prepared to use any and every arm available to civilians to defend yourself and your country. You have an obligation to fight against tyrannical calls to ban such arms as the militia may need to defend our free state.
So the next time you hear someone say, “I support the Second Amendment; I don’t have a problem with hunting; I understand many folks in America hunt and would like to keep their guns,” remember such thoughts have no relevance to today’s debate. The Second Amendment is about a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. As such it does not mention hunting, but there is no doubt hunters play a key role in our security. The Founding Fathers knew that when they wrote the Second Amendment. American hunters would do well to remember it.