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Brave New World

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Essay title: Brave New World

Brave New World

"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." second amendment to the United States Constitution, 1791. Within this famous paragraph lies the right that Americans both cherish and fear, the right to have a gun. Of all the civil rights endowed by Bill of Rights and it's amendments, none has been as been opposed so hostile and defended so staunchly as the Second Amendment.

Besieged in courts, bogged down in legislation, the Second Amendment as our forefathers intended it is constantly in limbo. "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." (Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.) "The great object is that every man be armed ... Everyone who is able may have a gun." (Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on ratification of the Constitution.) "The advantage of being armed ... the Americans possess over the people of all other nations ... Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several Kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." (James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in his Federalist Paper No. 26.) The Second Amendment was not the first of it's kind. Under the laws of Alfred the Great, whose reign began in 872 A.D., all English citizens from the nobility to the peasants were obligated to privately purchase weapons and be available for military duty. Under the Assize of Arms of 1181, freemen between the ages of 15 and 40 were required by law to possess certain arms. They were required twice a year to demonstrate to Royal Officials that they were appropriately armed. In 1662, Gunsmiths in England were ordered to deliver to the government lists of all purchasers, as has been the case in recent years. In 1623, Virginia outlawed its colonists to travel unless they were "well armed"; in 1631 it required colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to "bring their pieces to church". In 1658 Virginia required every householder to have a functioning firearm within his house. In 1673 its laws provided that a citizen who claimed he was too poor to purchase a firearm would have one purchased for him by the government. In Massachusetts, the first session of the legislature ordered that freemen and indentured servants own firearms and in 1644 it imposed a stern 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed. Quite a change compared with today's liberal view on gun laws. Freedom of the press and the right to keep and bear arms became the two individual rights most prized by the colonists. In the Militia Act of 1792, the second Congress defined "militia of the United States" to include almost every free adult male in the United States. These persons were obligated by law to possess a firearm and a minimum supply of ammunition and military equipment. This statute remained in effect into the early years of the present century as a legal requirement of gun ownership for most of the population of the United States. Thomas Jefferson proposed that "no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms," and Samuel Adams called for an amendment banning any law "to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." When the British marched toward Concord in 1775, it was not to collect taxes or suppress the press; it was to institute gun control. They were not after hunting or target shooting guns; they were after military cannons (clearly "assault weapons, with no sporting purpose"). How did the citizens of Concord and Lexington respond to this reasonable, moderate gun control proposal? With their guns! With a battle that killed hundreds of people and began years of vicious war! Why were our ancestors so "unreasonable"? Because they knew that once their guns were taken, the rest of their rights would soon follow. History has proved them right time and again; the citizens of Hitler's Germany and Soviet Russia allowed themselves to be disarmed, and suffered the consequences. The entire Soviet Army was unable to successfully impose gun control on the small country of Afghanistan. In Germany in the 1930's, as people who did not support Hitler and his Nationalist Party were speaking out against him, Hitler took action to pass legislature to ban private ownership of firearms. Hitler said "The most foolish mistake we could possible make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms…". Following

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