I published this as an op-ed years ago. It’s still true today.
In Defense of Homeland Security
By Doug Fiedor
In case anyone is wondering, I have my contribution to “homeland security” sitting within arms reach of my keyboard. And, if that’s not enough, there is another just a few feet away.
Besides being part of my birthright as an American citizen, they are 100% legal, too — in four different ways.
When the term “homeland security” is mentioned, I immediately think of the perceptive advice of Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of The Declaration of Independence, a significant kibitzer when James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights and our third U.S. President. As a senior statesman, Thomas Jefferson clearly recognized the need for an American citizen to have the means of security always at the ready:
“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.” (1)
And so was the original intent of all the Founding Fathers when they wrote and implemented our Constitution. Americans were intended to have the means of self defense. Put another way, the Constitution does not grant the federal government the authority to restrict American citizens from keeping and bearing arms. Rather, the Second Amendment clearly instructs those in government that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
Rep. James Madison, who presented the Bill of Rights to the first Congress, earlier wrote in The Federalist Papers #46: “Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
As late as the 1960s, members of Congress agreed that the American people have an inherent right to keep and bear arms. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey — later to become Vice President under L.B. Johnson — offered in an interview (2):
“Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be carefully used and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of the citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”
Humphrey was exactly correct. We do not have the right to shoot another human unless a life is threatened. Nor do we have the right to hunt down any person for wrongdoing, that being police work. We do, however, have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms for the instant protection of self, family and home against anyone who would do us harm.
Well . . . we’re supposed to, anyway. That was the Constitutional plan and, to date, no amendments on the topic have contradicted that rule.
Even in the 1980s, Senators were grudgingly admitting that a private citizen has the right to own and carry firearms. According to the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman, in the Report of the Subcommittee On The Constitution of the Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, second session (February, 1982):
“The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner.”
So, what happened? If these Senators knew perfectly well that the American people have a Constitutionally protected right to keep and carry arms, why did they turn against the American people and allow all those unconstitutional gun control laws to be enacted? Or, perhaps we should ask: Why is there no punishment for those lawmakers, judges and bureaucrats who knowingly and intentionally violate the Constitution? Are they now above the Constitution — the supreme law of the land?
As stated in The Federalist No. 45, James Madison, the “father” of our Constitution and the fourth President of the United States, wrote that he envisioned little or no role for the federal government in law enforcement because the federal government was to be one of very limited and defined powers:
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. . . . The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.”
President Thomas Jefferson later expanded on that thought:
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
Alexander Hamilton, a strong defender of executive branch power, agreed both with the Second Amendment and that the federal government should stay out of everything not specifically tasked to it by the Constitution. In The Federalist Papers No. 78, Hamilton wrote:
“There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”
Now we fast forward into the Constitutional “Twilight Zone” where the executive branch speaks of citizen involvement in homeland security but quietly bickers about allowing citizens the means. I, for one, both practice and suggest the “enterprise and independence” via the means suggested by Thomas Jefferson as being the surest method of protection in an emergency.
1. Encyclopedia of T. Jefferson, 318 [Foley, Ed., reissued 1967
2. “Know Your Lawmakers,” Guns Magazine, February 1