President Joe Biden’s ambitions to strip Americans of their constitutional right to bear arms should be seen as part of a wider campaign. Over the past several years, America’s oligarchy, comprising political and corporate elites and the national security establishment, has dismantled the constitutional order designed to bind Americans together as one nation under one law.
The ruins of that order are plain to see—from open borders to vaccine mandates, and open election fraud to the prosecution of political opponents. These are evidence not of a coming conflict but the reality that war is already upon us. What replaces that order will be decided by the victors, whose prerogative it is to forcibly disarm the losing side.
And this is the crucial point: Without a comprehensive victory, the oligarchy dares not try taking Americans’ guns without risking a catastrophic loss. And so at present, America’s warring sides are at a stalemate. It’s clear the authors of the Constitution foresaw this likelihood.
Gun opponents say that the historical circumstances in which the Second Amendment was written is long past. They fix on the first clause—“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State”—and argue that citizen militias are no longer relevant in an age when the United States is defended by a professional military.
But that’s a weak reading. The main clause—“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”—has to be understood in its proper context: Tyranny. The Second Amendment articulates Americans’ right not only to defend their lives but also preserve their liberty.
The Second Amendment was drafted shortly after the Founding Fathers had waged war for eight years against a tyrant. The Constitution they wrote, limiting the powers of government, and the Bill of Rights they added enumerating citizens’ rights, are evidence they believed the struggle against tyranny is endless. The war against the British crown was over, but it wouldn’t be the last time the new country would have to face down despotic rule. Any generation might be called upon to face it down, at home or abroad.
Tyranny is a constant throughout history because it’s in the nature of man, and also therefore the political institutions that men make, to seek more power. As author of the Second Amendment James Madison put it, “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”
To ensure that no man or institution became too powerful, the Founders created a system of checks and balances—for instance, dividing federal power into three branches of government, executive, judiciary, and legislative. The Second Amendment is best understood as part of that righteous design deterring the rise of tyrants. Should Americans govern each other unjustly, citizens’ God-given right to defend their liberty is enshrined in the supreme law of the land.
In the past six years, Americans have learned that the Founders’ concerns weren’t theoretical, or ideological souvenirs of a time long past. Tyranny is real. The assault on our rights has caused real casualties. The oligarchy has bled Americans while laying siege to the Bill of Rights.
The First Amendment enshrines the right to free speech, including religion, and freedom of assembly. And yet Jan. 6, 2021, defendants were charged with trespassing even when law enforcement invited them into the Capitol building.
Jan. 6 defendants have been forced to renounce their political views. Biden prosecutors have used political speech (Trump banners, anti-Biden “memes,” and so on) as evidence to obtain convictions of Jan. 6 defendants. Courts have conditioned the release of some Jan. 6 defendants on whether they accept Biden as president.
Social media platforms, in partnership with U.S. intelligence agencies, censored media reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. The same platforms and government agencies censored and deplatformed accounts promoting viewpoints on COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines not sanctioned by the oligarchy. Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests were criminalized under the pretext of COVID-19 guidelines, which were also used to shut down houses of worship.
In violation of the Second Amendment, the firearms of Jan. 6 defendants charged with nonviolent offenses have been confiscated.
Although the Fourth Amendment expresses the right of citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” the FBI spied on the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign and then the Trump White House. Biden tasked the FBI to spy on parents objecting to public schools’ campaigns to groom and radicalize their children. And the National Security Agency allegedly spied on opposition journalist Tucker Carlson.
While the Sixth Amendment guarantees that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,” Biden’s Justice Department has repeatedly delayed the trials of Jan. 6 defendants to gather more evidence while still holding the accused in prison.
The Eighth Amendment provides that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,” but Biden prosecutors have denied bail to Jan. 6 defendants charged with nonviolent offenses. Further, Jan. 6 defendants have allegedly been beaten by prison guards and denied medical care.
From Russiagate through COVID-19 lockdowns to Jan. 6 prosecutions, the oligarchy has used its serial operations against Americans and their chosen leaders as experiments to acclimate a free people to bitter subservience. And that’s why the Second Amendment is Americans’ most essential right: Without it, every other right belonging to a free people is vulnerable to the intolerable whim of tyranny.