The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For me, what the Founders provided in these words is clear: the American people have the right to arm themselves and no law or government shall ever deprive us of this right.
Many people, when asked which amendment they think is most important, can quickly respond with an answer. Among those you would probably hear are the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech, the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits illegal search and seizure, and the Fifth Amendment, which provides due process to the accused. Others you might hear include the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the Nineteenth Amendment, which guarantees the right to vote regardless of gender.
I have sworn an oath to protect and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, but the Second Amendment has always stood out to me as special. The Founders understood governments almost inevitably become more powerful over time, mostly at the expense of state and local governments and even by infringing on the rights of private citizens. They also understood a necessary step in the slide toward authoritarianism was the disarming of law-abiding citizens who could stand in the way of this consolidation of power.
As we respond to atrocities like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida – and we should – let us do so in a thoughtful way which does not compromise the American people’s Second Amendment rights. There are many ways for us as a nation to respond to these events, including improvements in community policing, training for teachers and staff to identify and respond to active shooters, and better security for our schools. Like many challenges we face, the best response is one which is carefully considered and widely supported.