Over 200 years ago, muskets got it done

As we all join together with family and friends to enjoy fireworks, BBQ, and this beautiful summer day, let’s all remember that we’re here for a reason: to celebrate our nation’s independence. However, two hundred years ago, our founding fathers didn’t win our freedom from a tyrannical king by staging sit-ins, or with strongly worded protests, or by waving a few signs. They won our freedom by fighting for it — by taking up arms against the world’s most powerful military. They took on what seemed to be impossible odds, and won one of the most impressive victories in human history to secure the rights we enjoy today.

As we celebrate our independence, though, let’s not forget the how and why that led to today. Over 200 years ago, when the Revolutionary War began, we were able to succeed in large part because the average citizen enjoyed access to the same type of firepower as the military. At the time, the idea of gun control must have seemed totally alien to our founding fathers — unlike, say, government oppression of freedom of speech or freedom of religion, with which they were intimately familiar. Nevertheless, they were wise enough to explicitly protect our right to bear arms in the Constitution, knowing that democracy could easily devolve into mob rule that was just as much a threat to our civil liberties as King George III ever was.

Today, of course, times are different, and even the most strident Second Amendment advocates are willing to accept that the average citizen shouldn’t have access to tanks, or nuclear weapons, or aircraft carriers. We’ve even been willing to accept restrictions on what kind of firearms we can own: contrary to what you may think, fully automatic weapons have been banned since 1934. The transport of firearms across state lines is regulated by the federal government, and certain individuals are prohibited from buying weapons entirely.

Indeed, the right to bear arms is already more heavily regulated than any of the rights enumerated under the First Amendment. There are reasonable limitations on all of our constitutional rights, of course, but those reasonable limitations already extend further to the Second Amendment than they do on the First. Most gun rights advocates are willing to accept those reasonable limitations that are already in place.

What they aren’t willing to accept, however, are any additional restrictions on a fundamental constitutional right. Just as our founding fathers didn’t trust King George III to rule the colonies, they do not trust gun control advocates to stop advocating for additional restrictions. Every further step along that path toward gun control is a step toward losing that right altogether, and there is every reason to believe that’s the ultimate goal of Michael Bloomberg and his minions. After all, they’ve never stopped asking for additional restrictions before, and there’s no reason to believe they ever will.

As a thought exercise, whenever a new restriction on gun rights is imposed, imagine applying it to the First Amendment. Should we have background checks to become a reporter or a priest? Should you lose your right to freedom of speech if the government places you on a secret list without justification or notification?

Over two centuries ago, our founding fathers gave us a new form of government: A republic — if we can keep it. A rag-tag group of citizen soldiers fought the most powerful empire in the world to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. Let’s not dishonor the memories of our revolutionary forefathers by giving away the rights they fought to establish. Let’s keep that Republic, for ourselves and our grandchildren.

Jim Fossel

About Jim Fossel

Originally from Alna, Jim Fossel has volunteered with a number of campaigns over the years, including for Peter Mills for Governor in 2006. He previously worked for U.S. Senator Susan Collins and House Republican Leader Josh Tardy.