By Skip Coryell
For years I’ve tried to understand why many well-intentioned, otherwise intelligent political leaders try so hard to disarm their constituents. It just never made sense to me. Then I started reading the founding fathers and it all became clear. Denying citizens the right to keep and bear arms has less to do with intelligence and more to do with virtue. Benjamin Franklin made that clear with this statement:
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
Most of our founding fathers believed that the best way to ensure the right to keep and bear arms as well as our other civil rights was for Americans to elect virtuous people as their leaders. In fact, it was George Washington, the Father of Our Country who pointed out that the United States Constitution was the palladium of human rights, but it could only survive so long as there remained any virtue in the body of the people.
In order to get a better handle on it, I looked up the definition of the word “virtuous” just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding.
Virtuous (adjective) - conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright:
Yep. That’s what I thought it meant. So that must mean in order to maintain our Second Amendment freedoms, then we have to elect leaders who know the difference between basic right and wrong. That means no bribing, no lying, no stealing, no cheating, and no selfishness. Oops! We just lost half the government on both sides of the aisle.
And then I got to thinking about it some more. Who is responsible for the dishonest people we elect to office? It’s us. We did it, either through action or inaction. The buck stops here. So, if we elect people to office with no virtue (over and over and over again) why should we be surprised when they assume we don’t care about right and wrong? One of my favorite sayings is: “What we allow, we teach.” In short, by re-electing them every cycle, we have taught our leaders that it’s okay for them to lie, to cheat, to steal, to accept bribes, etc.
And that begs the question: “What happens if we teach them that it’s okay to disarm us?”
Because they have little or no virtue, that would be a plum unable to resist, because once we are disarmed, then they have total control and no longer have to worry about re-election. They would achieve the corrupt politician’s perfect dream – total and perpetual lack of accountability.
On the other hand, recently I have a felt a groundswell, no, not groundswell, that’s the wrong word. I think the word I want is “revival”. The past few months I have felt a revival of interest in virtue. I think Americans are finally waking up and getting sick and tired of being led by selfish crooks. They want something more; they are demanding that our leaders be held to a higher standard. And according to our founding fathers, we can only maintain our right to keep and bear arms if we once again elect leaders who know in their gut that taking away our God-given right to defense is more than immoral; it is an abomination. Those aren’t my words; they come straight from Thomas Jefferson who authored our own Declaration of Independence, which says:
“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.”
Of course, he’s talking about the principle of Natural Laws, which are not man-made, and which transcend space, time, and even Congress. The concept of Natural Law was advanced early on by Roman Philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero who lived in the first century BC as the Roman Republic gave way to the dictatorship of the Caesars. When writing about justice and Natural Law, Cicero said:
“But the most foolish notion of all is the belief that everything is just which is found in the customs or laws of nations. What of the many deadly, the many pestilential statutes which nations put in force? These no more deserve to be called laws than the rules a band of robbers might pass in their assembly.”
So what am I getting at with all this talk of people who’ve been dead for centuries and millennia? I’m getting at the root of the Second Amendment and the only way to preserve it. The heart and origin of the right to keep and bear arms is Natural Law which was espoused by our founding fathers and by John Locke and William Blackstone and Montesquieu before them.
But perhaps there’s a silver lining here. If our leaders truly don’t know the difference between right and wrong, then maybe it’s time we enlightened them? Of course, we can only do that via the ballot box if, as George Washington suggested, there is enough virtue remaining in the body of the people.
My grandfather used to call it “common sense”, but now it’s called “rare sense”. Knowing the difference between right and wrong, between travesty and justice, between freedom and bondage have become paramount in our struggle to keep and regain our Second Amendment freedom. (So many of us have forgotten the past and can no longer discern these once-common truths.)
I would like to encourage all of you to rediscover Natural Law, which at the founding of our nation was nothing more than common sense. Back then, even the simplest of farmers knew that the right to keep and bear arms was given to them at birth and could only be taken away at death. They believed so fully in Natural Law that they fought, bled and died to protect it. I wonder now if they had something we no longer possess.
If not, then Benjamin Franklin may be right and we are about to get a few more elected masters. I’m praying otherwise.
Skip Coryell is a gun safety educator and the author of six books. To read more about Coryell, click here.