When referring to the early colonial days, some people conclude that since the colonists had to fight to gain independence from the tyranny of the king of England, patriots now must have home arsenals to fight our current government. They believe that the Second Amendment to the Constitution requires that there be no limits to the amount of armor they collect and prepare to use.

There is a different way to think of the Second Amendment and the way it relates to the Declaration of Independence. As an exercise toward understanding “freedom” on one Fourth of July, a group of us reenacted the colonists’ deliberation for the Declaration of Independence. We were assigned opposing positions, those agreeing to separate from English rule and those who were reluctant to change the status quo. As the group read the historical document, we noticed that the phrases at the beginning of the document were, and still are, used frequently:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Fourth of July group read through what seemed a never-ending list of grievances against the king of England. Sure, the colonists were against paying taxes to the king because they suffered extreme abuses by the dictator king. The king’s soldiers were the controlling power in the colonies even during times of peace. Just read the long list of abuses listed in the Declaration of Independence and you will appreciate our freedom today.

The Declaration of Independence is a powerful reminder of the reasons our founders wrote the Constitution as they did. Those ideas or concepts form a contract structuring the U.S. as a free country. We citizens are free from tyranny and authoritarianism because the patriots who designed our Constitution made it a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

As a result, the lives we live today are far different from the oppression the colonists experienced. We have civilian control of our government. We vote for our representatives and let them know what we want in our country. Our representatives raise taxes to maintain the government services we want or need. At least that is the way our government is designed.

We disagree with one another, but the majority rules. The majority rules by a system of Law and Order that is dependent on the loyalty, responsibility and education of the people. But, a country is successful only when a majority of its citizens believe in those basic foundational rules and accept their citizenship responsibilities.

I believe that by understanding the reasoning of the Constitution builders, we should have no need to be suspicious, fearful or ready to fight our government. With a system of Law and Order that supports freedom, men and women of goodwill have no need to be armed with high-powered military equipment and ammunition to protect their homes, property, families. Muskets were enough for the patriots in 1776 and they ought to be enough for patriots in 2021.

Freedom requires responsibility, not home arsenals.


Evelyn Swart is a retired educator who lives in Joseph and believes education is an important solution for understanding the issues we face.

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