And for a time, including my tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, my view of gun laws and regulation was largely shaped by that experience.
But in more recent times, my views have been shaped by factors much more broad…and much more serious.
I’ve been in government. I worked in the Department of Justice. I know the force government has at its disposal. I’ve also watched, both as a public servant and as a private citizen, as government has steadily and inexorably increased its reach, its control, and yes, its abuse of its powers over our daily lives.
As I’ve watched this loss of freedom at the hands of an ever-growing government, my reading of the 2nd Amendment has, in fact, grown into a more basic, straightforward view. It is not, as many gun control advocates suggest, an outdated protection of 18th century militias that should be interpreted in the context of a time long past.
The 2nd Amendment is not, as some would have us believe, a relic that today only applies to my right to shoot ducks from a blind or a target at a range. The right of Americans to “bear arms” if necessary to protect ourselves, our families, and yes, our freedoms from tyranny has not somehow disappeared or been rendered academic by the passage of time.
The right to bear arms is real, and its meaning has not morphed into something less than it was 227 years ago. We still have the right to protect ourselves from tyranny, from those who would do us harm, and those who would threaten our Liberty.
Disarming citizenry has, throughout history, been a part of the tyrant’s handbook. Hitler’s Nazis did it. The Soviet Union did it. Uganda’s genocide of the 1970’s was prefaced by disarming Christians and political opponents. The list goes on…
Let us not forget, our own government confiscated the weapons of many Native Americans — while forcing them off their land.