Brad Denny’s commentary (“Second Amendment reality,” Sept. 5) in Thursday’s Herald made a number of claims. Chief among these was his premise that the sole reason for the Second Amendment is to “quickly assemble an army if one is needed.” He then adds, “But that need no longer exists.” And why exactly has that need faded away?
Mr. Denny explains that the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and other national armed forces have us well-covered which, therefore, preempts any need for a citizen’s army (i.e. a militia). The Founding Fathers, however, would have referred to our modern military as a “standing army” and they took a very dim view of such organizations.
Consider the words of George Mason, “No man has a greater regard for the military gentlemen than I have. I admire their intrepidity, perseverance, and valor. But when once a standing army is established in any country, the people lose their liberty. When, against a regular and disciplined army, yeomanry are the only defence [sic], — yeomanry, unskilful and unarmed, — what chance is there for preserving freedom?” And here are the thoughts of Alexander Hamilton, “If circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”
James Madison simply noted, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”
At the moment, we probably have little to fear from the U.S. armed forces but that may be due, in part, to the protections afforded by the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. If we surrender the “unalienable right” to bear arms, will our own government turn against us? Certainly not today. And perhaps not in 10 years, but in 50? The Second Amendment has not yet outlived its purpose.
Lawrence Kirby is a Rutland resident.