Recent debate regarding the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution has been heated, with many on the left calling for its repeal. Detractors of the amendment are quick to oversimplify with statements that “the British are not coming” or that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to duck hunt.Lost in the discussion is the behavior of governments towards their citizens or the civilian population of countries that have been conquered over the arc of recorded history and the logic that informed our Founders to include the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution.
With the exception of the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, the ideas of individual freedom and the rule of law were not recognized until the Magna Carta in England. With the rise of the Italian city-states during the Renaissance, particularly Florence, individuals began to secure limited individual rights, freedoms, and protection by law; this was by no means the norm.
In Colonial America, the British occupation army was charged with, among other things, enforcing the taxation of American colonials without their consent. As part of the occupation and enforcement of English tax laws, British troops were sent to Lexington and Concord to find and confiscate military supplies stored by the colonial militia.
When the founders drafted the Constitution and its amendments, the Boston Massacre and the reality of their own rulers taxing them without representation as well as confiscating the means to protect themselves were recent memory.
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