Though the following 2002 court case ended with the liberal Ninth Circuit ruling that, “the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does not guarantee individuals the right to bear arms,” at least one judge stood in dissent.
In his dissent, Judge Alex Kozinski argued with the very reasoning our founding fathers used to include the right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution to begin with.
It may be a decade since the Ninth Circuit attempted to rewrite our fundamental law of the land (a move that was eventually nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court), but Kozinski’s views on our right to bear arms ring as true to Americans today as they did over two hundred years ago when our founders argued the same.
But we shouldn’t take Kozinski’s views simply as opinion. His is a lesson of history, and one that the likes of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Franklin knew well. It’s not often discussed in our pedagogic institutions, nor in the political playing field, because it is considered too controversial of a topic, especially in today’s hyper-sensitive anti-self defense pro-state culture:
All too many of the other great tragedies of history – Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few – were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.
My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history.
The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late.
The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed – where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees.
However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Judge Alex Kozinski dissenting in Silveira v. Lockyer, 328 F.3d 567 (9th Circuit 2003) (full text)
We may live in a relatively peaceful and open society, but it is our right to bear arms that has made it possible.
Take that away, and in due time, a dark cloud of tyranny will inevitably descend upon the land of the free.
The storm clouds are already on the horizon.
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”
Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334