on the Militia

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

As the Senate proceeds to debate on limiting yet another of our Constitutional rights, I cannot help but wonder if any of this would be in discussion if more Americans had a real understanding of the history of our nation’s relationship with guns. Long before our current military was created and expanded, there was an understanding that keeping arms for self-defense was a natural right. Our Founders knew that the combination of an armed citizenry and the natural desire for self-preservation would not only be a check on those seeking conquest from the outside, but on those seeking power at home. Local militias were merely ordinary men, armed to preserve the lives and liberty of their families and their local communities. And when necessary, to be called upon to do the same for their state and their nation.

Our military has long relied on ordinary citizens to help them do their job, not only when it comes to filling their ranks, but also providing them with advanced weaponry. In fact, most advancements in gun making were in response to American citizens’ demand for more efficient hunting and self-defensive weapons, after which the military decided to use them as well. Historically, there has been no separation between “military style” weapons and weapons used by ordinary citizens. Why?  Because in America there was a deep understanding that individual citizens were the real military, charged with the final defense of liberty, either on an individual or a national basis. The act of personal self-defense and self-preservation were so natural, only someone bent on tyranny would question why someone would want to improve their ability to do so.

Over time though, as our nation became more industrialized, fewer citizens felt the need to be familiar with weapons. In fact, the National Rifle Association was founded in 1871 out of concern that American citizens were losing their ability to defend themselves and their country. The poor marksmanship exhibited by the Union Army during the Civil War highlighted the dangerous effect of having a citizenry unskilled in the use of arms, and they wanted to change that.

Even today, our own military has stressed the importance of citizens being comfortable with weapons. They have noticed that those who grew up with little familiarity with guns take far more time to teach how to shoot than those that were raised around weapons all their lives. Not only that, these new recruits also have to overcome a lack of comfort that just does not exist with those that grew up hunting. Our military leadership in the field found that the best sharp shooters, the best snipers, were usually those that grew up with a gun in hand. These same military brass have even observed that allied troops from gun control nations had significantly less flexibility around weapons during battlefield conditions. All these things could make the difference between a soldier living or dying. So, if our gun culture actually strengthens our military prowess, why would anyone want to change that?

America’s citizen-military relationship should not be severed or feared, but embraced and appreciated as the essential component to not only the preservation of personal liberty, but that of our nation as well. Right now our leaders are contemplating removing the very thing that has made this nation a force to be reckoned with around the world. Can you imagine a foreign enemy being successful in conquering a nation where every citizen is armed? Like any violent thief, they would look for far easier prey. Which makes me wonder: why are some of our political leaders pushing so hard to make us into just that?

“In my experience, a lot of training time in the Special Forces is used to teach those who don’t have gun experience. To put it plainly, the Special Forces is in the business of creating country boys.” Greg Stube, a former Special Forces sergeant, who fought & was severely wounded in Afghanistan

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