This essay was part of the application process for the 2017 Texas Youth Education Summit, which is hosted annually by the NRA. I was not ultimately accepted, but I formed a solid defense of my views on the Second Amendment.
The right to keep and bear arms is one of the foundational principles of American society. It distinguishes us from most of the other nations in the world, whose governments systematically infringe on this right. Attempts have been made to do this in these United States, and though they have made some progress, there is one major obstacle in their path: the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment was ratified by the first United States Congress and the several states in order to prevent the federal government from trampling on the rights of the people, as the founders had seen governments do throughout history. Every government of men that has ever existed has taken away the rights of its citizens, and ours is no exception. However, America has been more successful than most at keeping those violations to a minimum. No doubt this is in part due to the presence of an armed populace, which is guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
As long as the people are armed to a similar degree as the government, the civilian force will ever be superior to the military. This ensures that the government will at all times be wary of upsetting large numbers of the populace, as there is always a threat of revolution.
In addition to protecting the people from government overreach, the right to bear arms also protects people from civilian crime. From a woman defending herself against a potential rapist to a father protecting his family from robbers, there are countless ways in which firearms can enhance the safety of society. Taking away the fundamental right to self-defense would be the greatest restriction of freedom a government could impose; short of killing its own citizens, as Nazi Germany did to recently disarmed Jews in the Holocaust.
The gun is the great equalizer: no matter how much bigger, stronger, or smarter an opponent is, a single shot can take him down. If gun ownership and use was greatly restricted, we would return to a time when the strong could prey upon the weak: men upon women, adults upon children, rich upon poor, police upon civilians, and criminals upon law-abiding citizens. Of these, the last may be the most obvious: criminals will not abide by gun laws, but most law-abiding citizens will. Restricting gun rights would simply disarm the general populace, affecting little the amount of criminals able to get their hands on a firearm. It would create a massive black market, causing gang activity, government-sponsored crime, and cartel-related crime to skyrocket, similar to how Prohibition caused the mafias to rise to power and how the War on Drugs has caused drug cartels to rise in Central America. Banning something does not eliminate its availability: it only makes it more dangerous to acquire.
The Constitution of the United States must either matter in whole or not at all. If a person believes that the Constitution does not matter at all in today’s society, they are welcome to that opinion; but they must realize that their opposition to the Constitution cannot stop at the Second Amendment. All parts of the Constitution, including protections for freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion, privacy, and prohibitions on warrantless searches, cruel and unusual punishments, ex post facto laws, and even slavery must all be irrelevant. Women, minorities, and all citizens over 18 would no longer be guaranteed the right to vote in all 50 states. Indeed, every system put in place by the Constitution, including the federal government itself, could simply be done away with without so much as a vote. We can argue whether this would be a good or bad thing, but the fact remains that it is the only logically consistent position against the Second Amendment. Any partial application of the Constitution results in a concession of its legitimacy, and it must therefore extend to all parts of the document.
If the government was to begin enforcing gun restrictions, how would they gain the funding for that enforcement? Would they solicit donations like a beggar on a sidewalk? Would they go to a charity or a church and ask for help? No. They would, just as all governments have done in the past, fund their regulations through taxation, which is simply a politically correct term for the mandatory funding of government at the point of a gun. In the shorter run, they would fund their endeavor through debt, which would be laid at the feet of the future generation: my generation. We cannot allow our future to be mortgaged away, and the massive costs involved in the enforcement of gun control laws will do just that.
The best person to stop a criminal with a gun is a good person with a gun. Whether it be a populace defending itself from the government or a woman defending herself against a man, the right to bear arms is the best safeguard of liberty there is. The Second Amendment has helped protect this fundamental right for over two hundred years, and it will continue to do so with our help and support.