I think if George Washington were alive today, he’d own a tank, maybe even more than one.
Every time I read some anti-gun crusader rail on about the evils of gun ownership, I just shake my head and remind myself that it isn’t their fault we have such a terrible public school system. Anyone who knows even the tiniest background of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States knows it isn’t just about owning a gun to hunt. It isn’t even just about owning a gun for personal protection. Those are bonuses.
What we have to remember is the when of the Second Amendment. Keep in mind the Founders had just waged a war against the largest military power in the world at the time—all with a bunch of farmers carrying shotguns and pitchforks! The founders of the United States truly believed that the people should rule the government and not some tyranny, in particular, the King of England. But, they were prepared for any form of tyranny, including a bad government.
From the Declaration of Independence (you’ve probably read the words, but didn’t really read them. I’ve included a little more here for perspective’s sake, but focus on the bold words):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The early Americans believed it was their right to get rid of a government that had ceased to work for their benefit. Wikipedia calls it the “right of revolution: people have certain rights, and when a government violates these rights, the people have the right to “alter or abolish” that government.”
We know this, right?
BUT…if none of the “people” owned guns, just how do they expect to win? They remembered that it was very, very hard to beat a well-organized army with pitchforks and guns.
Much of our constitution is all about protecting people FROM government. The whole purpose of the Second Amendment was to arm the population to protect itself from the United States government—yes, the government they had just formed—should that government cease to do what it is supposed to do.
That’s one of the reasons I always laugh when someone says “well, the founders couldn’t have imagined we would have machine guns and tanks.” Well, no, I agree with that.
But, if they had, they would have inserted that into the Amendment so that the power of the government wouldn’t outstrip that of the people. If the government has tanks, the people should too. If the government has machine guns, the people should, too.
And I believe if George Washington were alive today, he’d have one of each.