Conservative’s understanding of the Second Amendment needs to change. Radically.
The emphasis on self-defense, without reference to the amendment’s original discussion of a “well regulated militia”, is ultimately contributive to social breakdown as we allow, and even laud, the rebels of right order, especially those seeking to corrupt our children, in their “exercise of their Second Amendment rights.”
This is becoming especially apparent in snaps, instas, and tweets of armed antifa members. Clothed in black bloc, armed with assault rifles and shotguns, rainbow hair sticking out from their bandanas and ball caps, these promoters of chaos can be found protecting the demonic drag shows multiplying across the country.
In the replies, you’ll find their allies praising them while some sane voices call for them to be stopped. But you’ll also find some ostensibly sane voices, our fellow conservatives, defending their use of such arms. “Fair is fair” you’ll hear, as they post a two-arms-clasped meme. Or perhaps “Gotta give credit where credit is due” and commend them on what appears to be proper discipline of the weapon.
These sorts of responses are, first of all, absolutely insane. You may commend enemy soldiers for their honorable conduct and bravery in the midst of battle, but you do not commend rebels and partisans, men who dream against the social good of their fellows, for becoming dangerously armed so as to make their dream a reality.
Second of all, and what I want to discuss, such comments are founded on a weak, pitiful vision of the Second Amendment as some guarantee of self-defense. Such a vision is woefully inadequate to the needs of today and actually contrary to the robust freedom the amendment affords.
Think with me for a moment. Why would a constitution, of an ostensibly well-regulated and peaceful society, believe its members needed some special assurance of self-defense? Yes, even in the most high-trust of societies, there will be some bad apples who may threaten citizen health and livelihood, but then this is a law that seeks to address a rare case – and rare cases, as any student of law can tell you, make bad laws.
It is not my contention to say the Second Amendment is bad law. It is good law. Very good law.
So it cannot be founded upon a rare case.
Some may wish to say the current state of our society makes this case far more common – we have more aggravated assaults occurring and anyone walking through a densely trafficked street or mall knows the experience of fear that something may break out at any minute.
But the Second Amendment was not written for the possibility our society would descend to near barbarism and savagery. It helps address that situation, but it is not for that situation.
Then what is the Second Amendment for? It is gestured toward in the amendment’s discussion of a “well regulated militia”.
Such a militia, while useful in times of war or civil strife, is assumed to exist even in peace times. A militia is a means of disciplining the citizen body to their duties as citizens. Every successful society has such means. In Ancient Sparta, this was the Agoge, wherein every male citizen was made to conform to that society’s mores and learn the art of self-sacrifice for the community, especially the art of arms. In Classical Rome, the farmer was expected, if he wished to attain and maintain proper citizenship, to keep weapons and armor at the ready. In Medieval Europe, serfs may populate the army in large battles, but it was the knights – truly the citizen class of the Middle Ages – who were expected to have trained extensively and practiced the codes of chivalry.
Even beyond Europe, such a thing was expected of those who were fully citizens of a society. Samurai and Kshatriya were renowned in their use of arms, each practicing a code of self-discipline. Even among the less developed tribes in more savage locales, it is the chieftain and his guard who exercise full citizenship, marked by their use of spear and bow.
What does this small overview of history show? It shows that to bear arms is to be a citizen.
We know many stories of old men, men who can no longer fight with a sword or a gun, proudly bearing their arms in parade or keeping them near at hand at home. This is not for protection. They are of an age where, save in some exceptional and inspiring occurrences, a weapon will no longer be much use in helping them against a more youthful and determined attacker.
For these men, the weapon is a mark of their citizenship.
This is what the Second Amendment really is. It makes explicit the constitution’s recognition that all members of the republic are citizens and so participate in that most time-honored mark of citizenship, the bearing of arms.
How does one mark a lack of citizenship? Strip one of his arms. If a Spartan was stripped of his citizenship, he was denied his arms. If the Roman lost his arms, he lost his citizen class. A knight was demoted by the breaking of his sword.
This understanding of bearing arms is absolutely essential. Even the scriptures attest to this. In Revelation, the great sign of Christ’s dominion is the bearing of arms – the sword which comes from His mouth and the bow with which he conquers.
This authority is one He shares with others. The angels appear with swords of flame, riding chariots of war, bringing violent chastisement upon the enemies of God.
And in the psalms, such is shown to be shared by all the citizens of the heavenly kingdom, even the human faithful:
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
to wreak vengeance on the nations
and chastisement on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
The sign of God’s dominion, first in Himself and then in His people, over creation is the bearing of arms. Such is the sign, quasi-sacramental even, of true and full citizenship.
Thus we return to lauding those rebels to right order, those monsters seeking to corrupt our children in preparation for even worser crimes. Such must be decried for their bearing of arms, for in acting against the good of society, they are traitors to us all. They are no longer full citizens and can be, in fact must be, stripped of their arms. They have no abstract right to bear means of violence against the commonweal. They have no abstract right to defend themselves against righteous citizens correcting them in their ways.
We must recognize that the Second Amendment is making explicit the sign of citizenship. Those who reject citizenship – and perverts who seek to ruin the innocence of children, to defile the lifeblood of our republic, have rejected it wholeheartedly – those who reject citizenship must be stripped of the sign.
They must be made defenseless, so that, for the good of society and the good of their souls, they may be made subject to correcting discipline. Such discipline is in the hands of the true citizen alone, the one who has a true right, by his care and support of the society’s good health, to the bearing of arms.
And as always we end in prayer
Lord, help me to cultivate in my heart the holy and righteous anger that You desire I have. Help me to discern between what is sinful and what is righteous. May this passion and all my passion always be directed at achieving Your holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.