On the 18th of April in 1775, the government’s standing army made a midnight march to seize the weapons of the private militia, organized and funded by patriots like Sam Adams and John Hancock. Instead of surrendering their arms, the Minutemen fired the shot heard around the world, setting off an outright rebellion.

Fast forward to 1789. The first Congress created by the new U.S. Constitution adopted 10 amendments and sent them to the states for ratification. In recognition of the role played by militias in the Revolutionary War, and to keep them available to serve in national emergencies, the Second Amendment prohibited the government from infringing on the right of the people to bear arms.

One potential national emergency the Founders feared was the government trying to take for itself more power than they intended to give. In such a case, armed citizen militias would be required to defeat the standing army of the government, just as happened at Lexington and Concord and many other battles of the Revolutionary War. They also deliberately kept the size of the standing army small because a large standing federal army was considered one of the greatest threats to freedom.

As Patriots Day approaches, let us remember that the Second Amendment is not about being able to go deer hunting. It is about American civilians being able to defend life and liberty.

Roger Sproul