Common Sense #3

Thomas Paine Jr.

Published:

In the long journey of history, many a quest to find, build, secure and realize an ideal way of life has been pursued and tried. What history shows us is that so far none of what has come before as forms of government are able to do so. In each case so far all governments have been or become the tool for an elitist few that use it for personal purpose and beliefs at the unwilling expense of others.

During this long march of time those that are oppressed often rise to resist this tyranny. Some fail in removing their oppressors and others have overcome their slave masters. Yet even those that have overcome the tyrants end up becoming what they battled against and the hope of freedom fades. Still this desire and quest to be free from these overlords of thought, economy, and social associations has never ceased.

There is a fundamental point in this struggle of history, and that is who am I and what am I given to myself that is not beholding to any other. Some want you to believe in and bow to the "smart / educated" ones who tell you and define for you what you are and what you are allowed. Some want you to serve them as master so you get a commission of what they acquire, you only need to give up your own dignity and sovereignty.

When this basic point is not resolved and understood, and the oppressed strike out in resentment because of the pain and suffering of their oppression, they then become the new slave masters, even if they overcome the current tyrants. History is full of this with one shinning exception.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, “ … Declaration of Independence 4 July 1776

These words from the proclamation sent to the King of England signaled the birth of a political system based not on the whims of men but rather the common rights and dignity of ALL men endowed by the creator of all, God himself. This is not a religious theocracy overseen by a select class of priests or a privileged priesthood. Rather it is clearly stated that the government is a servant to protect the God given rights of all people. The power (authority) of government only comes from the consent of those effected (governed) by it. This means the consent of the people, all of them, not a select few. This is the very birth of America and this is why the 4th of July is our National celebration

What this means in a practical expression is that each person stands upon their relationship and justification with God the creator personally (individually) and based upon this relationship the form of government among them is rooted. This is where the Constitution comes from and this is why to be considered for ratification (acceptance) the Bill of Rights are part of the original presentation. For without the Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments) the Constitution would not be placed in the position of servant and protector of Godly endowed rights of men, as laid out in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution alone, divorced from the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, is no different than any other form of government in history. It still would allow for a ruling elite to concentrate power to themselves and become tyrants over the "governed."

The Bill of Rights (first ten amendments) were presented as a necessity to the Constitution, for without them it was understood by all involved in the Constitutional convention that the ratification would never be possible. Clearly the first ten "amendments" are much more than tweaking of the Constitution based upon practice and experience; rather they are the very chains upon historical government to make it clear who is master and who is servant. As an example of this let us look at the first of the ten.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The very first statement is about a persons relationship with God. This is individual and personal. There is no concept of a collective relationship but rather it is about how an individual relates, and the term people is used in the sense of meaning each individual. This goes to the point that the very foundation of this government rests upon what is endowed from God to each individual and the government is to respect and serve those individuals. When taken in context of the Declaration of Independence, which is the root of all that has come after, it is clear what is the foundation for our "rights": God himself and no other.

I mentioned in my previous essay I would look at the development of the US Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. I have laid out in fundamental and broad view the foundation of the Constitution and the "Bill of Rights" presented with it that was ratified. Upon this foundation let us look at the 2nd Amendment.

“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.”

First is the mention of Militia. What concisely is a militia? The people who wrote this and ratified this amendment must have an understanding. So looking at the time and usage of this term we see clearly that militia was the term used for local and armed people. When the King issued a decree to raise the 'Militia' it meant for the local people to gather and bring their personal arms. They were to prepare and present themselves to do battle. Now if we refine this in light of the 13 colonies having declared and secured their "freedom / independence" from the Crown, we see that it was still the Local people who gather with their personal arms to prepare for battle. Yet there is one vast and basic difference. The militia (locally gathered people with personal arms) are NOT under the authority of the King.

What is even more striking is that the militia is NOT under the control of any entity. It only states 'well regulated'. This is intentional as during the military conflict of the struggle for independence it was local militia that formed a large part of the fighting force, and it was the militia under local control and initiative that stood their ground and took the first volley of Redcoat fire at the battles of Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.

So militia as used in the 2nd Amendment is clearly local people who are armed with personal weapons prepared and capable of doing battle. The phrase well regulated means they have organization and discipline to function as a fighting force. The leadership of this "well regulated" militia are locally chosen / approved. This is why even up to World War One you see in US army regiments that mustered from one area / town / state choosing or even electing their officers and commander. This was common practice and respected and honored by the Federal soldiers and officers.

With all that foundational ground work completed, it is time to address the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

We understand "the right" is from our Creator and "of the people" means individual and personal, not collective, when speaking of rights.

The next part "to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" I will let stand on its own here as the clarity of it is still apparent in this day and age.

So to conclude, I laid out the foundations and history of the 2ndAmendment and it is time for me to condense this down and make as concise as possible.

The very foundation for the purpose and justification of the "Right to keep and bear Arms" is inherent in the rights endowed to us as individual people from our Creator, God himself. The responsibility and regulation of this power of arms is provided by the individual on the local level. There is NO higher authority and all other government is in the position of servant to the individual and his God-given rights. Let me put it this way. The right to keep and bear arms is ONLY under the authority of you and God, and when you exercise that right you are fully responsible for all the actions and consequences of doing so.

Sincerely,

Thomas Paine Jr.

Your brother in battle