The “American Way” has always been based around the idea that man is more capable of ruling himself than someone in power is. The original pilgrims to this nation came to flee a tyrant that was forcing them to live lives in the way that he saw fit instead of men themselves deciding. This is why America is a unique and grand experiment that has never before been designed in history. One key component that makes the United States stand out even more, is the Bill of Rights. Based off the writing of Montesquieu, Locke, and many others, the Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of American principles that truly gives the power to the people, not the government.
The idea is simple. The government should be extended to the absolute necessity and then not be allowed to grow any further. This is accomplished through a few steps. First the idea of “checks and balances” on the power of government secures that no branch should become more powerful than the other if because of anything it would be for the will of each branch to not want another to be more powerful than itself. The second is the idea of the separation of powers. This idea is that each of the three federal branches will all have specific jobs that will weigh into each other to keep power balanced. Thirdly, and to me, most importantly, there is the idea that the power ultimately belongs to the people because if it did not, government would eventually abuse it. This is due to the idea that Thomas Jefferson states that, “experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
We see the arguments for limited government all of the time. There seems to be today a never ending conflict between conservative and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, libertarians and socialists. One of these prime examples would be of gun control and the second amendment. The second amendment reads “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.” This can be interpreted in many ways, but if we look at the original quote by Thomas Jefferson, we would see that he believed in a way to keep government from becoming too powerful. Some would argue that this is one of the many reason for the existence of the second amendment.
A recent work from the National Review talked about how many people just do not get the argument that an armed public is what is needed in order for people to stay free. They believe the founders would not have believed in such a thing. This is where they are wrong. Alexander Hamilton himself said, “But if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights.” Hamilton is arguing for the idea that the notion that an armed public is one of the last resorts to a growing government of tyranny. The presidential candidate Ted Cruz in the National Review says, “the Second Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty.” This is exactly correct.
There are still arguments against the second amendment, such as in the article by The New Yorker. The article argues that the only way to keep Americans safe is to enforce gun control. In fact, the author would go as far to say “Gun control ends gun violence as surely an antibiotics end bacterial infections, as surely as vaccines end childhood measles—not perfectly and in every case, but overwhelmingly and everywhere that it’s been taken seriously and tried at length.” This idea is surely not anything like what the founders would have argued for, and I am sure that there were murders with guns in their day as well. The bottom line is simply that if someone wants to commit a crime, there is nothing a regulation can do to stop them. Knives, bats, pillows, swimming pools, and marshmallows could all be potentially violent weapons.
Going off the idea that the original purpose of America was for man to achieve and have the freedoms that are given to him naturally, there is not a better way, in my opinion, to achieve this than with the second amendment. Time and time again, people try to take away the right to bear arms in the name of safety, where if they would just listen to what the original argument for the second amendment was, they would understand that it is the single most powerful thing they can use in order to be safe and free.
Image Sources: National Review, Library of Congress