Personal firearms have shaped American history

As a boy, Charles Lindbergh used to parade around his Minnesota farm with a six gun strapped to his hip “cowboy style.” Firearms were a way of life in the Northern Midwest in the early twentieth century. Boys were boys and men were men, and even the literature, art, and film of the period reflected the manliness of American history, a history forged by citizen-soldiers and by brave men and women who were willing to risk life and limb on a rugged frontier. Men like Audie Murphy and George Patton became great soldiers, in part, because they had experience with firearms as youngsters. Patton, famous for his personal ivory-handled .45s, was perhaps one of the best marksmen in the world at one point.

Of course, today’s anti-gun advocates will assert that the modern National Guard has made the need for personal, “military grade” firearms irrelevant. The Guard, they argue, is the “militia” described in the Second Amendment. But that is not how the founding generation would have viewed it. George Mason of Virginia called the militia “the whole people” of his state, and as Pennsylvania’s proposed Second Amendment explained, these men were for the “defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States.” Elbridge Gerry made clear his support for an armed citizenry in 1789 when he thundered, “Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” By “militia,” Gerry meant citizen-soldiers with personal firearms.

The Second Amendment exists to ensure that this militia exists. All attempts to seize or prohibit firearms violate the Constitution and infringe on our natural rights. The heroes of American history would agree.

Brion McClanahan holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of South Carolina. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History with Clyde Wilson (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes (Regnery, 2012).