Issues beyond Second Amendment
The national security importance of the Second Amendment informs the current debate.
The republic’s founders saw two existential risks: an armed foreign invasion and the armed installation of a monarch from within.
While the external threats were obvious, the internal threats were less so.
(George Washington actually declined several attempts to install him as monarch.)
Ratified in 1791, the Second Amendment states “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 phrase “being necessary to the security of a free state” — clearly meant the United States.
Compare the National Security of the United States with its Second Amendment with some other countries without one during the 20th century.
Russia gradually disarmed its populace at the end of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918.
Stalin subsequently executed, murdered, and starved between 6.6 million and 20 million unarmed citizens. Hitler disarmed the Jews between 1933 and 1938. He murdered more than six million during the Holocaust.
Other examples of unarmed civilians being “purged, liquidated, or ethnically cleansed,” include Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur, and Bosnia — just to name a few.
Although totally hypothetical to consider, how many lives would have been saved with some type of Second Amendment protection?
I would hazard a guess — millions.
The United States faced its own existential threat during World War II — from the West.
Japan opened the war at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and moved quickly from its homeland in what was described as an island-hopping strategy.
The Japanese commander of the Pearl Harbor battle, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, predicted “In the first six to 12 months…I will win victory upon victory. But if the war continues…I have no expectation of success.”
Why not invade the American West Coast?
Yamamoto: “You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”
The Japanese were ferocious fighters and notoriously cruel to captive and conquered people. A Japanese invasion of the U.S. mainland would likely have inflicted millions of civilian deaths.
Our Second Amendment deterred a great military strategist from doing so. That deterrence to threats from within and without continues to this day.
The Second Amendment serves our national security interest well, but we are all saddened by innocent deaths by firearms.
These tragedies began at Columbine in 1999 — 23 years ago.
The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. No honest social scientist would assert that a phenomenon present 23 years ago was caused by a constitutional amendment present for two centuries.
Why nothing prior to 1999?
Instead of focusing on the Second Amendment, deal with other contributing factors: namely, the shooter’s mind, the safety of schools and the social environment in which these tragedies take place.
There is much to learn and much to be done with each.
Christopher Gable resides in Altoona. He is a frequent contributor the Mirror’s Opinion page.