The biggest reason I believe we need to protect our Second Amendment is because of what I was able to observe in my time in the military.
As a former Navy SEAL, I have seen with my own eyes the countless weapons systems and modern military machines held within the U.S. military. This statement might have you confused, but stay with me for a bit, and I will be happy to explain. I did a little surveying a while back and was disappointed to find that most Americans, even the patriotic ones, could not actually explain the spirit of our Second Amendment rights.
I went around asking friends, family members, and plenty of random strangers if they could tell me what the Second Amendment was about. The few that could recall anything of substance usually blurted out, “It is about our right to bear arms.” Noting the right to bear arms is a start, but when you read the Second Amendment in its entirety, one has to skip over some very important text before getting to the right to bear arms. Specifically speaking, those who rush right to the phrase about bearing arms pass over the mention of the militia.
The Second Amendment says: “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.”
Critics and gun control advocates focus on our right to bear arms then argue that nobody needs an AR-15. They argue that you do not need that kind of firepower to protect your home or go hunting for meat. In short, a shotgun or a bolt-action hunting rifle would be more than sufficient for that. I believe they do this because it is impossible for them to argue that we the people would not need such firepower to fend off a tyrannical, freedom-snatching government.
Now I understand that American History has been largely diminished in our education systems and that most students and adults aren’t able to draw the parallels here, but our Founding Fathers did not primarily write up the Second Amendment to afford us the ability to beef up the neighborhood watch. Nor did they write it primarily to protect our homes from thieves or go blast a herd of deer into kingdom come. Rather, our Founders had just finished defeating a tyrannical government, which was abusing them with the might of a larger, more well-equipped, and better trained military.
Our founders were smart enough to understand that history tends to repeat itself, and they did not want the citizens of this new country to ever be helpless or overpowered. Therefore, they hedged in the right to bear arms after first stressing the importance of maintaining a well-regulated militia, a militia ready to oppose and defeat both foreign and domestic threats.
Militias do not get together and form hunting parties or practice home-defense drills. Their function is to sustain a modern fighting force that does not consist of professional soldiers but of civilians who are able and willing to defend their communities. They are in fact a check and balance to an overreaching tyrannical government.
It should be noted that the need to be able to fight off a tyranny—and the right to use firearms to that end—is detrimental to those who argue against private ownership of firearms the left describes as “assault weapons.” They push to ban certain firearms on the mere basis that they resemble military weapons. But you will never hear this same crowd of leftists compare the weaponry held by our military in the 1700s to the weaponry they have today. And that is because a thorough look at the weaponry of the 1700s—whether civilian or military—shows that the farmer and the soldier were using similar guns and weapons at the time the Second Amendment was ratified.
For example, if you contrast the firearm that a soldier carried in the late 1700s with the firearm that a citizen of that same time was allowed to own, you will see a pretty level playing field. You would most likely see both soldiers and citizens armed with muskets, cannons, and swords. If you did that same comparison today, juxtaposing the weaponry that is inventoried in our military arsenals versus the firepower that private citizens can legally possess, you will notice how much this gap has widened in favor of our government.
Simply put, the message of the Second Amendment is not just our right to bear arms but our responsibility to bear those arms with an eye to banding together in militia if the need arises. This is the only way to defend the freedom for which our Founding Fathers risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Eli Crane is a former SEAL Team 3 member, the current CEO of Bottle Breacher, and a guest columnist for Down Range with AWR Hawkins.