Many on the radical Left, who have a dream spokesperson in President Biden, are pulling out a familiar playbook regarding gun control. The ongoing surge in crime, especially violent crime, is being used by the current Administration as an excuse to crack down on gun ownership, rather than as a clear reason to empower our police departments and assert the rule of law.
In times such as these, we should recognize what our Founders knew when they wrote the Constitution: that liberty necessarily depends on self-defense. That is as true today as it was then, and it applies both on a national level and an individual level. Just as America cannot be a free nation without the ability to competently defend itself against its enemies, so too its people cannot be free if they have no rights enabling their own self-defense. That is why such a freedom was placed squarely in our Bill of Rights – second only to the freedoms of speech, religion, press, and assembly – thereby protecting it from government infringement – because the right to bear arms is essential to preserving our freedom as individuals.
Alexander Hamilton stated in Federalist No. 28 that our Founders also saw the right to bear arms as “that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government” – and essential to the preservation of the freedom of the American people against the risk of an overbearing, or even tyrannical, government at home.
As a young officer in the U.S. Army, I was stationed in then-West Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. You can bet that nowhere on the other side of that wall and beyond, in the Soviet Union’s “evil empire,” were the people permitted to own firearms.
This remains true today of repressive regimes worldwide. As Secretary of State, I led America’s diplomats in our dealings with our most powerful adversaries – authoritarian states such as China, Iran, North Korea, and others. It should come as no surprise, and serve as a powerful reminder of the necessity of our Second Amendment, that in those nations controlled by authoritarian regimes, people are denied the right to bear arms. This is because the right to bear arms empowers a people and is the last safeguard of their liberties – the necessary freedom allowing for self-defense and the ultimate check on authoritarianism. That is why I have been a proud member of the NRA for many years, and why I am committed to working with the ACLJ on this important issue.
When terrible instances of gun violence are committed, we hear a common refrain from the far Left. They claim such tragedies prove that guns cannot be trusted in the hands of the American people, and that if guns were made illegal – either totally or de facto through ever-stricter reforms under the guise of “gun control” – such violence would cease to occur. But this is plainly wrong-headed. You cannot legislate away the darker sides of human nature. All this legislation would ever accomplish is taking a vital means of self-defense out of the hands of legal gun owners committed to owning them safely and responsibly, while those who wish to obtain guns by illegal means would continue to do so, inflicting their malevolence on a now weaker populace.
To curb gun violence, we need to empower law enforcement and the American people, not defund the police and take away the ability of the American people to defend themselves and their families against violent criminals. Yet, sadly, this misguided logic is a hallmark of the radical Left today.
The current surge in violent crime was created by the far Left’s insistence on delegitimizing our police and turning a blind eye to looting and rioting – for an entire year – in an effort to score political points with their base, who by and large do not suffer the consequences of these broken policies.
Now, in response to the crisis they created, they want to take even further steps to infringe on the rights of responsible, law-abiding Americans. We cannot let this happen. Our Founders considered the right to bear arms a personal and fundamental right. The threats this freedom now faces cannot be overstated. We should heed the wisdom of our Founders by electing officials at the federal, state, and local level who are committed to defending the Second Amendment, and by supporting those civil organizations and institutions dedicated to keeping this crucial liberty uninfringed.
Mike Pompeo is the former Secretary of State and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
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