The United States has a very interesting approach to our history with gun control. On the one hand, Massachusetts residents proudly assemble in April to reenact the battles that occurred at the historic sites of Lexington and Concord. Patriot’s Day is even set aside as a legal holiday in honor of the battles. State leaders do not ever wish the world to forget who fired the shot heard round the world. Yet, the same state shudders at tying their own history to the debate on gun ownership, the Second Amendment, and the current battles to protect these rights with their celebration of these historic events.
However, there is no denying the purpose of those battles. The seven hundred British soldiers dispatched to Lexington and Concord were not there to collect tax revenues. British leaders ordered the elite British infantry to Concord to confiscate and destroy weapons and ammunition the colonists had been storing. British leaders hoped to quell further rebellion by setting an example. They would seize weapons and round up local leaders for trial in England.
British leaders recognized that gun control was a powerful weapon for population control. Occupation troops sent to quell rebellion and restore order already intimated citizens in Boston. Many feared there was little colonists could do against one of the most powerful armies on the planet. However, the British government saw things differently. As long as residents remained armed, there was a potential threat of citizens uprising against the King’s troops. Seizing guns and powder left locals unable to defend themselves and far more likely to relinquish even more of their rights as British citizens.
The residents of Massachusetts had broken no laws in possessing weapons. On many occasions, the British leaders in Massachusetts had demonstrated they had no issue with trampling on the colonists’ rights as English citizens. Sending armed troops into the country to seize legally owned weapons was just one more statement that the British government did not see any need to respect the colonists’ rights when they felt there was a crisis that justified their actions.
When modern Massachusetts residents participate in celebrating the battles of Lexington and Concord, it is important to remember that the British did not come to stop the residents from having a local militia. They brought no orders ordering the Minutemen to disband. They came for the guns and powder. Without weapons, the Minutemen were not much of a threat to the British government. That is why the second amendment is not about supporting a modern National Guard loyal to the government. The Second Amendment harkens back to citizens who chose to stand and defend their rights as citizens.
The experiences of the Revolution made gun ownership so important that the writers of the Constitution made it the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. They left no confusion in their writing about the value they placed on gun ownership. The experiences with British gun control efforts at Lexington and Concord, had taught them the importance of making gun ownership a Constitutional right. It then became the citizens’ duty to make the new government respect it.