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The Security of a Free State

The tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook is still fresh in the minds of parents around the country, and rightfully so. A classroom full of Kindergarteners was gunned down by a deranged, psychopathic killer in the days before Christmas.

Within this great tragedy lies a smaller, more personal one for me. On the day of the massacre, I was busy at work and didn't hear until the afternoon. My first response should have been sadness and sympathy - and indeed, I felt those emotions. Tempering them, though, was an anger at those in the political sphere who I knew would use the deaths of two dozen innocents as an opportunity to lessen my own ability to protect my family.

It was only a few hours between the murderer killing himself and my coming upon the news online, but in that time the left's calls for gun control were already in full force. There was evidently no period for grief required for them - there were press conferences to hold, offensive messages to tweet, and accusations to be made.

In contrast, the NRA's response was silence. They said nothing, and closed their Facebook page to comment when it became clear that the discourse there would not remain civil. Nearly a week passed before a public statement was made. In that time, they put together a strategy to lessen the possibility for this to happen again, and to limit the death toll when it does.

Notice I said "when it does" - because it will happen again. It will happen again because there is evil in this world, and that evil will never be eliminated. Instead, we face a choice - to curtail the freedoms of the just, and to limit their ability to effectively defend themselves and their families; or to do all that is possible to be sure that the next time it does happen, the potential victims of the attack are defended as well as reasonably possible.

Unmolested Slaughter

To date, America has chosen the first path. We've passed laws like the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act and Connecticut's own "Assault Weapon" Ban. They have had no measurable impact on violent crime, and have instead rendered our children undefended.

Consider the recent extreme case in Norway - despite very onerous firearms law, an individual (who I will not name, there is no need to make him better known than he is) went through a lengthly legal process to apply for an own a rifle and handgun. He trained, gather materials, and planned his massacre for many, many months. Not one of the laws managed to stop this monster - indeed, he seemed to take a perverse pride in following them, in order not to arouse suspicion. After detonating an explosive device in Oslo, he arrived in Ut√łya and slaughtered dozens of children and met no substantive resistance.

Limiting access to firearms does not help prevent mass murder.

The Alternate Path

The second path is one of proactive defense. Instead of limiting access to weapons, we could do the opposite, and be sure our children have armed security protecting them. This is a sound concept - as NRA President Wayne LaPierre said on Meet the Press, "the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Still, this path is one that we should tread very, very carefully. Armed guards in schools will certainly help deter and limit the scope of these events in the future - but at what cost? Do we really want the next generation of Americans to grow up accustomed to leaving home and entering an armed compound, with uniformed agents of the state standing guard? What will that do to the culture of this country? I shudder to consider. If we aren't fully aware of this threat and prepared to defend against it, we will first see the rise of the "TSA for Schools", followed by a generation of voters who look to government as a legitimate provider of their most basic needs - including the protection of our children.

If not a government program, then what is the solution? Let us look at our Constitution for the answer. The Second Amendment, specifically:

"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."

For decades, advocates for firearms freedoms have pointed to the second part of this statement as the meat of the Amendment - "the right of the people...". This is well and good, because those who sought to limit those freedoms pointed to the first half - "A well regulated militia..." - in an effort to say that this was the only use for arms.

Today, America needs to take another look at that first half. As Americans, we have the right to keep and bear arms. If you ask why, you'll get a variety of answers, ranging from "hunting" to "to provide the People the future ability to throw off their government". These answers are all true, at least partially - but the fact is, there is one use for arms that is explicitly laid out for us - to assure "the security of a free state".

What we face today is a security problem, there's no question. We have tried to ensure that security by limiting access to weapons, and that hasn't worked. Now we are discussing attempting to ensure that security by looking to government to provide armed guards in schools. Before we do this, let's try the simple solution to the problem, laid out in plain English over two centuries ago by the very men who created the single most successful system of government to ever grace the face of the Earth - let's rely on a "well regulated militia."

A Well Regulated Militia

In 18th Century parlance, "well regulated" meant something akin to "regulating" the flow of water through a pipe. It meant to make something uniform and reliable.

Further, Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution gives Congress the power:

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

So then - we have a mechanism already in place to deal with this type of thing. Certainly providing security within the local community is something best dealt with within that community, and Congress clearly has the power to establish and organize a body of individuals within our communities to employ in those occassions where there is a need for them. State governments are reserved much control over this group, in that they are responsible for choosing its leadership and training regimen. Who, then, are the Militia?

The Militia Act of 1903 defined three classes of American military forces, with the "unorganized militia" among them. Per the Dick Act, the unorganized milita consists of "all able-bodied men between 18 and 45". Taken together, the solution to the problem of security in schools (and other areas, including the role currently played by the TSA) is simple: Congress should set aside funds for a civilian militia, and develop a high-level training doctrine against which the states much implement specific training.

Our schools, our airports, and our nation in general should be protected by the very people whom the government is in place to protect - the citizens. There is no need for a Federal agency, a new branch of law enforcement, or even a program to train a class of citizens as professional armed guards. Instead, we must re-assert that the individual citizens of this nation have the power, ability and authority to protect their own, and are indeed responsible for the defense of their own communities.