Burgers, BBQs and beer — these are the hallmarks of the upcoming Fourth of July celebration. This year as we honor our freedoms and occasionally remember the ones who fought for them, let’s keep in mind the value of those freedoms.
We’ve been given an up close and personal view of the importance of the values that the founding fathers built in to our Constitution with the Bill of Rights. The fact that you can read this paper without it having to go through a censor for approval is a benefit of the First Amendment. The fact that I can give my opinion on the performance of any politician in the world and not have to be interrogated is what keeps them as honest as they are.
The limits imposed on government were the driving forces for the Declaration of Independence. It was the crushing boot of British Imperialism that drove men like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to act. It was the strangulation of their voices that made them want to rise up and take their destiny into their own hands.
Many people know of the Boston Tea Party, and think excessive taxation was the prime complaint. It wasn’t. It was the lack of representation that was so intolerable. Not being heard is the most frustrating of human conditions.
It is the complaint I hear the most from my clients. Their soon to be exes don’t pay attention to them, they feel ignored and marginalized.
It is what we are witnessing in Iran. Why are the people revolting? Because their government didn’t hear them. And in this new world where we have blogs, Web pages, videos and our every thought is acceptable subject matter for a tweet, or is a reality show in the making, how can any of us be expected to just accept at face value what our government says?
This is why dictatorial governments like Iran, North Korea and Cuba, control the press and media so tightly. It is by keeping the outside world off limits and the citizens in the dark and unable to criticize “dear leader” that these dictators remain in power.
Those same countries also outlaw the private ownership of firearms. This is a crucial piece in the set of tools that a dictator uses to keep control of the population. It is by preventing an armed rebellion that any government can stay in power.
The founding fathers knew that, which is why we have a Second Amendment. The right to bear arms is an important right. It isn’t there to prevent a burglary, for the reality is that if someone wants to steal your television, they will. No, the value of the Second Amendment is the pressure it puts on the government to remember from whom they derive their power.
I believe the value of the Second Amendment in our society is the power it puts into the hands of the people. It acts like a check on the power of the government. I’m not a big gun fan. I don’t own a gun. I’ve shot them, and I’ve enjoyed the experience but I don’t see the need to have one in my house for my protection. For me, that is because studies have shown that most people get shot with their own weapon. Obviously, those who are properly trained, and practice regularly with their weapon have a much lower chance of getting killed by their own gun and I could do the training, but why take the chance?
Historically we had a much greater need for guns, particularly in the early days of the republic when it was unclear if we were going to succeed in breaking free from the British. It was those early years when the government had to step lightly, when it was making new law and the fragility of our system was still being tested, that was when we needed guns to make sure the government didn’t become a totalitarian state.
Today, we don’t need the guns, because we have learned the value of stability in our government, but we do need the idea that everyone could be armed. When I look to the events in Iran, I am reminded of the value of the Second Amendment. The mere knowing that the population could be armed, has a calming effect on the government, just as knowing that they aren’t, has an effect of making the militia in Iran that much more aggressive. Look at Cuba, and North Korea — also totalitarian states that don’t allow gun ownership.
You might not want to own a gun, but this Fourth of July, be glad that you could, because it is a major source of our freedoms, and a check on the power of the government.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.