‘Don’t Tread On Me’

by VINCENT GIOIA January 4, 2013

Few things rile liberals more than the word "guns". It's not clear why this is, but perhaps it is because of the liberal's belief that ‘people don't kill people, guns do'. In their utopian liberal world we must all live in harmony, even if it kills us, and guns prevent us ‘from all getting along'.

If liberals had their way, all guns would be eliminated, including guns used by the military. Certainly, no one in this country should have a gun, nor should anyone be able to buy one. In fact, the city of San Francisco has an ordinance that would do just that; upon entering the City there could easily be the sign - ‘no guns allowed'.

Unfortunately for liberals, the United States Constitution doesn't help their cause. It inconveniently states, in the language of the time, that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. So, what to do; the answer is simple to a liberal, just interpret the wording in the Constitution to change the intended meaning. To a liberal, the Constitution doesn't mean what it says, it means whatever they want it to say because "it is a living document", and times have changed since the country was formed.

However, the meaning of the right of citizens to own guns as expressed in the Constitution is entirely clear when viewed in the light of the historical time the country was founded. You see, early Americans had a spirit not recognizable in most citizens today, (who among us would fight a battle with bare feet and little clothing in a cold, snowy New Jersey?). The only place this spirit still exists, thank God, is in the military. The country's young men and women in the armed services still have and exhibit the patriotic fervor that was common to most all Americans, not just the military, in 18th century America.

Few things express this American spirit better than the "Gadsen Flag', a banner with a coiled snake and the words "Don't Tread On Me". Colonel Christopher Gadsen was an American patriot if there ever was one. He led the Sons of Liberty and later was an officer in the Continental Army. Gadsen was one of three members of a ‘Marine Committee' that decided to outfit an early American vessel, the Alfred. He thought the ship's commodore should have an appropriate banner and designed and offered him the "Don't Tread On Me" flag. It was first presented to Congress as a standard to be used by the Commander in Chief of the American Navy. To this day it is used as the ‘Navy Jack' and flies on the USS Kitty Hawk.

Why is this important and what does this have to do with guns? Well, the American spirit embodied by the Navy Jack was imbued in all the founders of our country that met to create the Constitution. They possessed the early American character of independence and self-reliance, and no one or country was ever again going to take away their freedom. The only way this right to freedom could be assured was to mandate that Americans would always have the ability to defend themselves by being able to own and possess arms. As James Madison said:

"[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... (Where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." --James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46

A desire to be and remain free was paramount and possession of arms was necessary to this end.

"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787. ME 6:373, Papers 12:356

"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."-- Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334, [C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950]

Samuel Adams made quite clear the meaning and intent of the Constitution:

"That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms ... " -- Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at 86-87 (Pierce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850)

Liberals choose to ignore what those responsible for the Constitution of our country had to say about what was written; this simply doesn't fit with their desire to make us "safe" by taking away ‘arms', i.e. guns, from all of us. It never occurs to them that disarming Americans doesn't make anyone safe because it denies the right of self-protection. Trite though it may be, it is nonetheless true that if peaceful citizens don't have guns, only criminals will.

Early Americans were self-reliant, and patriotic; many of their present day counterparts are neither. What do you suppose the likes of Madison, Jefferson and Adams would think about what Americans today assume is their birthright, "the government will take care of me", therefore I don't need a gun"? That's fine if you liberals want to believe that, but I don't. I want to do as the early great Americans did, and provide for my own defense.

If you want to see how much liberals have deteriorated over the years, here is what a one-time liberal icon had to say about the subject over 50 years ago:

"Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms ... The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard, against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible."-- Hubert H. Humphrey, Senator, Vice President, 22 October 1959

Current day liberals are not the first to think gun ownership by the citizenry is bad. They have this in common with one of history's notables:

"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing."-- Adolph Hitler, Hitler's Secret Conversations 403 (Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens trans., 1961)

Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California. His blogs at www.vincentgioia.com and he may be contacted at gioia@gte.net.

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