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The Second Amendment: the linchpin of the Bill of Rights

Photo of AWR Hawkins, Ph.D.
AWR Hawkins, Ph.D.
Conservative Writer

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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a linchpin as a pin “that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.” Such pins are quite common on axles of automobiles and other vehicles, where they literally hold a nut in place behind the hub and thereby keep the wheels from flying off.

If you’ve never thought about the value of a linchpin, imagine driving down the road at 70 mph with one missing from the hub behind one of the front wheels. After hitting the right bump in the road or making a sufficient number of turns to jar things loose, you would find yourself in a car with three wheels: which means you could also find yourself injured or killed in a terrible accident, at worst, or stranded on the side of the road, at the least. Suffice it to say, linchpins are important.

Not surprisingly, it has been said that the Second Amendment is the linchpin of the Bill of Rights. In other words, if removed, the remaining amendments might stand for a time or they might fall suddenly beside it: either way, they certainly will fall.

Our Founding Fathers knew this, and that’s why they made it crystal clear that the right to keep and bear arms is the one right that is necessary to the security of a free state:

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In short, what this means is that if there’s no Second Amendment, the wheels fly off: freedom as we’ve known it in this country comes crashing to the ground and this great experiment in liberty is over.

I heard Dr. Walter E. Williams express this perfectly a decade or so ago, when he was guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh’s show on a Friday. He was referencing our right to own our own things in this country — specifically, our right to be secure in those things as outlined in the Third and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution — and he said: “Whatever you do, don’t give up your guns.”

In other words, the protection of the property addressed by the Third and Fourth Amendments comes from the guns we keep and bear, as outlined in the Second Amendment.

Williams then talked of how quickly our property rights could disappear if we were unarmed. He said that all it would take is for the EPA to discover a rare spider in someone’s backyard, after which the agency could swoop in and forbid that person from mowing his yard ever again, or from using it for summer parties, or from constructing a swing set, etc., all in the name of protecting a spider. Williams’ central point was that government officials are not as likely to do that if they know the property owner is armed: thus private gun ownership changes everything.

Guns are tools. Moreover, they are the tools of free men. And because it protects the right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment is the linchpin that holds the Bill of Rights together.

Without it, the wheels of liberty would undoubtedly fly off.

AWR Hawkins is a conservative columnist who has written extensively on political issues for HumanEvents.com, Pajamas Media, Townhall.com, and Andrew Breitbart’s BigPeace.com, BigHollywood.com, BigGovernment.com, and BigJournalism.com. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. military history from Texas Tech University, and was a visiting fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in the summer of 2010. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.