Celebrating the Second on the Fourth

Janet M. LaRue

7/4/2008 12:01:00 AM - Janet M. LaRue

Imagine this call occurring on April 18, 2008, in Washington, D.C.:

9-1-1 Operator: “What is your emergency?”

Paul Revere: “The British are coming! The British are coming!”

Operator: “Stay on the line. Do not arm yourself or you will be subject to arrest.”

Thankfully, Revere’s armed countrymen answered his midnight call on April 18, 1775, to resist British troops marching to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Minute Men on Lexington Green defied the British order: “Disperse you damn rebels—Damn you, throw down your arms and Disperse.”

The Revolutionary patriots, who prevailed at gunpoint, understood that their posterity must have the right to keep and bear arms to preserve the blessings of liberty. They included the Second Amendment in the Constitution for that reason.

Nonetheless, in 1976, the constitutionally comatose Washington, D.C. city council banned residents from keeping a handgun in their homes for self-defense. The Supreme Court declared the ban unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision last week in District of Columbia v. Heller, ruling for the first time that the Amendment secures an individual right to keep and bear arms unconnected to service in a militia.

The Founders, who risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to secure their liberty and ours, trusted peaceable people to be armed because they were one with us, not sovereign over us. Comparing their convictions with those of current government officials reveals a striking contrast in character and common sense:

After 232 years of liberty, the constitutional bedrock of our freedom hangs precariously by one vote on the Supreme Court. It has yet to decide if the right secured by the Amendment applies to states and municipalities.