What It Means To Keep And Bear Arms
By Shari Spivak
New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- Within the last two of years, I became a firearms owner.
I have enjoyed learning how to safely shoot, build, and clean my guns as well as how to teach others to do so.
However, it isn’t just about the recreational enjoyment – I maintain my firearms to protect myself and my family. I go to the range regularly to practice with my guns. I am one of the many women who are purchasing guns today for home protection and self defense. Through responsible firearms ownership and proficiency, I have worked to create an “equalizer” should I ever be confronted by an attacker.
However, when I decided to purchase my guns, I did not anticipate the education I would receive in what it means to “keep and bear arms”. As I went through the unreasonably long process of obtaining a Firearms Identification Card in order to purchase guns in my home state of New Jersey I felt at times as though I had to defend myself and my interest in owning a gun time and time again. I learned how difficult it can be to exercise the right guaranteed to me by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. I also learned how easy it can be for the State of New Jersey to make a peaceful, law abiding citizen such as myself into a criminal for something as simple as stopping to pick up a carton of milk on my way home from the firing range.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads as follows – as stated in the Bill of Rights and ratified by the States in 1791: “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.”
I understand that there are those that would argue that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to bear arms, and I respectfully disagree. I am not a constitutional scholar or a historian, but I am a US citizen and a woman, and this is my observation and opinion regarding the Second Amendment in general and how it relates to me. In fact, I admit I am a person who has not been very vocal at all when it comes to politics. However, my perspective has certainly changed.
If one agrees that indeed firearms ownership is an individual right, guaranteed to the people of this country (and there are many compelling arguments to prove that this is a proper reading of the text), then that includes all citizens, regardless of their gender.
I find this distinction fascinating because even before women secured the legal right to vote in this country, in 1920 – recognized in the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, they were clearly exercising their right to keep and bear arms and not necessarily as part of a well regulated militia. Instead they were defending their farms and families, banding together with their neighbors to protect their towns, as well as hunting to feed their children and in some cases, shooting for sport.
Throughout history there have been female gun advocates. One of the most famous was the sharp shooter, Annie Oakley. During her life in the 1880s, it is believed that she taught over 15,000 women how to use a gun. She believed it was important for women to learn this skill, not only as a form of physical and mental exercise but to defend themselves as well.
If one takes into account the history of firearms in this country, it serves as further proof that the Second Amendment is a right of self protection for the individual, and not solely the right to maintain a militia. Research has shown that the majority of women would carry a gun if they felt threatened, even if they knew it was illegal.
Why should we have to make the choice to either become a criminal or to go like sheep to a slaughter?
It is important for all of us, men, women and children, to become active and offer support to the organizations that are working to hold onto the right to bear arms, legally, across the country. For gun owners, we should not hesitate to find a way to become involved and make a difference in defense of our rights. Even if you are living in a state that is very accommodating, it is important to lend support to those whose state governments are restrictive. And for those individuals who have chosen not to own guns, you do not have to be a gun owner to support maintaining this right of the people. Your support of the Second Amendment allows the choice to remain.
And as women, we understand the importance of having choices available to us, even if we decide not to take advantage of them.
This is not an antiquated law, the situation today is no different than in the past when citizens could not expect full security from the state, law enforcement cannot be in all places at all times. Individuals should have the choice to protect themselves.
Of course, one way to become involved is to exercise your right and go out and buy a gun if you haven’t already. There are other ways to lend your support. It is always helpful for people to speak up by writing or calling their legislators, but it can be as simple as donating to or joining organizations like the National Rifle Association (www.nra.org), The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org), the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (www.nj2as.com) or your local range or state organizations.
‘Guns, rifles and pistols are of many styles,' she once said, ‘and to declare that any one make is superior to all others would show a very narrow mind and limited knowledge of firearms….Nobody should trust their lives behind a cheap gun.' Annie Oakley (1860-1926)
New Jersey Second Amendment Society – Our mission is to promote the free exercise of Second Amendment rights within the community and Legislature of New Jersey, to educate the community regarding the enjoyable, safe, and responsible use of firearms, and to engender a sense of camaraderie and fellowship among the members and their families. Visit: www.nj2as.com