By Nancy Smith
The Florida Democratic Party strikes me as a spotless leopard right now. Aren’t these the folks who in 2016 called themselves the Party of Intellectuals and joined Hillary in crowing about their superiority to “deplorable” Republicans?
Then, why, when it comes to the Second Amendment, are they so blithely ignorant about American history?
Why do they blow raspberries at the “gun lobby” — aka, the National Rifle Association — when in any historical context, the NRA has more right than it has wrong?
But on Monday, there they were again … Senate Democrats continuing to hammer away at the “gun lobby” after their amendment to ban semi-automatic weapons failed to pass the Senate Rules Committee.
FDP Executive Director Juan Penalosa fired out an angry press statement after the meeting: “While teachers, students and activists watched on, Republicans … once again proved to the world that (they) … stand against the courageous efforts of Parkland students to put an end to mass shootings in Florida.”
The FDP wants a ban on more than a dozen types of assault-style firearms and it’s using the deadly actions of a cold-blooded killer who was hiding in plain sight for years, to play on the raw emotions of Parkland students and families and further its agenda.
Now, my husband and I never owned a gun and neither did any of our kids. But we always understood why our Founding Fathers put the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and it wasn’t so we could hunt ducks and shoot clay targets.
What happened that the Party of Intellectuals cares so little about historical accuracy? Maybe it doesn’t really matter about the Bill of Rights anyway. It was written a long time ago in a textbook far, far away.
If they want to believe “well-regulated militia” means the National Guard — as the gun control crowd insists we interpret the Second Amendment — who’s going to look it up and prove us wrong?
We live in a world that has allowed history and the understanding of it to drown beneath a wave of other information. True, you don’t have to know who’s on a $100 bill to spend it. But the intellectuals and university eggheads know — or, should — exactly what drove our Founding Fathers to adopt the Second Amendment.
By all accounts, of all the powerful memories and emotions the Founding Fathers brought to the constitutional debates, none was stronger than their fear of standing armies. As David Young, author of “The Origin of the Second Amendment” observed: “The necessity of an armed populace, protection against disarming of the citizenry, and the need to guard against a select militia and assure a real militia which could defend liberty against any standing forces the government might raise were topics interspersed throughout the ratification period.”
In other words, the Founding Fathers didn’t want Americans powerless against their own government.
Read the James Madison Research Library and Information Center’s “History: A Drafting and Ratification of the Bill of Rights in the Colonial Period.” It’s not as boring as it sounds and it explains perfectly that “In colonial times, the term ‘well regulated’ meant ‘well functioning’ — because this was the meaning of those words at that time.
“…Even if the opening words of the Amendment, ‘A well regulated militia …’ somehow would be interpreted as strictly limiting ‘the right of the people to keep arms,’ nevertheless, a properly functioning militia fundamentally presupposes that the individual citizen be allowed to keep, practice, and train himself in the use of firearms.”
Here’s what Richard Henry Lee, a mentor to many who signed the Constitution, wrote on Jan. 25, 1788: “A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves … and include,” according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms …”To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
There’s no shortage of historical accounts of why the founders wanted us to bear arms.
A lot of Americans think fantasy baseball stats are more important than the timeline of the American Revolution. No one needs to remember the Proclamation Line of 1763 because Google can spit out the answer in a second on the Web. Only, who even cares to ask Google?
Try to imagine if one day the Left got its wish and the NRA board of directors suddenly “evolved” on gun rights. At a stroke they changed the focus of the “gun lobby” to gun safety, hunting, and target shooting; trap and skeet became more important than assault-weapons bans or concealed carry. Would America change?
Of course not.
Within days, millions of frustrated and angry gun owners would coalesce behind one or more competing organizations, the lobbying machinery would rebuild, and the country would be right back where it is today. Only thing is, a different organization would be leading the charge.
I keep trying to make this same point about the NRA and I will again here:
The NRA is powerful because it is an effective part of a larger community, because it persuasively expresses the will of its members and allies. It represents those who understand and adhere to the central truths of American “gun culture.”
As our forefathers insisted, each American possesses an unalienable and inherent right of self-defense, a lawfully armed citizenry is a free citizenry, and no government ever constructed has merited the total trust of its people.
That’s what the Second Amendment means.
The Left can challenge the NRA all it wants, but until it defeats those ideas, it will not transform American attitudes toward guns. Republicans, thank heaven, understand that. In the Left’s fight for gun control, the great bogeymen aren’t the leaders of the NRA or state and national Republican leadership, they’re the Founders of our country.
I support Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican leaders in the Legislature who look to limit the access of semi-assault weapons for minors and those, like Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, who never should have been near a deadly weapon.
Many organizations and people with hands-on power failed Cruz and the shooting victims. And I feel relieved that the Florida House has moved to scrutinize every last one of them.
Nancy Smith is the editor of Sunshine State News. She started her career at the Daily Mirror and The Observer in London before spending 28 years at The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News as managing editor and associate editor. She was president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in the mid-1990s. Reach her by email here, or follow her on twitter at @NancyLBSmith.