The 2020 presidential campaigns have begun and Democrat candidates have plans for “common sense gun regulations.” The most strident was California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who just shuttered his weakly supported campaign. He advocated confiscation if federal buybacks didn’t work. The new Democratic scaremongering mantra is that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t protect anyone’s right to own “assault rifles” or “weapons of war.” Per usual, they’re wrong, as any plain reading of America’s founding shows. American colonists used the 1689 English Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right to bear arms for personal security, personal liberty and private property facilitating their natural right of self-defense. It enabled people to organize as a militia, participate in law enforcement, safeguard against tyrannical government, repel invasion and suppress insurrection. This early Bill of Rights had been in response to previous tyrannical British kings using soldiers to impose law, disarm citizens and engage in widespread religious persecution.

Writer-editor Dan Zimmerman states, “The 2nd Amendment unambiguously protects our right to own ‘weapons of war’ … weapons suitable not just for sport, but for combat. … James Madison wrote the 2nd Amendment in the aftermath of a bloody war for independence from a tyrannical empire. The first shots of the American Revolution were fired to resist disarmament.”

The Federalist Papers, promoting and explaining our Constitution and Bill of Rights for ratification, uses the term “arms” 27 times. In every instance they’re used in the context of combat and warfare, not recreation. For example, in Federalist 29, Alexander Hamilton writes, “If circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.” Zimmerman observes, “This statement simply wouldn’t make sense if Hamilton envisioned the militia being armed with categorically inferior weapons compared to those carried by the state military.”

The 2nd Amendment was demanded by the states and their citizens not because they feared white-tailed deer and turkeys but because they agreed that the federal government shouldn’t have the power to infringe citizen’s rights to keep and bear arms, any more than it should have the power to abridge their freedom of speech or prohibit the free exercise of religion.

Some argue that the amendment isn’t needed today as they allege we can blindly trust big, all-knowing government and politicians. But that hasn’t been the case throughout history. Tyrants and dictators have disarmed their populations in China, Russia, North Korea and Cuba. Or perhaps ask Venezuelan citizens how it’s working out for them without modern “assault weapons.”

You usually don’t have to worry much about clay pigeons or white-tailed deer infringing on your rights but beware of scaremongering pols. The 2nd Amendment protects your right to own “assault rifles” and weapons suitable for combat. It’s your inalienable right (and responsibility) to self-defense while safeguarding the country against tyrants – foreign and domestic. 

Greg Beck is a Leavenworth Times columnist.