Subject: Christianity & the Constitution Part 4: The Origin of the Second Amendment
Numbers 26:2 “Take a census of all the congregation of Israel from 20 years old and above… who are able to go to war.”
When people argue for gun control, what generally are they arguing for? They believe that widespread gun ownership increases the danger of gun “violence” (which is violence committed using a gun). In America, gun “control” refers to laws or policies that regulate within a jurisdiction the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification or use of firearms by American civilians.
People who argue against gun control usually give two reasons: 1) gun control does not reduce crime, and 2) gun ownership is an American individual liberty granted by the Second Amendment that guarantees the right of citizens to defend themselves. The Second Amendment, included in the 1791 Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to our Constitution) is easy to interpret: “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.”
Most Americans don’t know where this notion of the right to keep and bear arms originated. Our founding fathers designed America’s structure for government, laws and society, including gun ownership by citizens, on the Bible’s teaching. Why don’t we know this? Because as I have so often said, our schools have removed the use of the Bible as the key reference to educate our children on American history.
Let me introduce you to Professor David B. Kopel. He is Research Director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado. He was Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University and former Assistant Attorney General for Colorado. In July 2013, Professor Kopel wrote a piece for Denver University’s Sturm College of Law entitled “Ancient Hebrew Militia Law”. In it, he explains how Americans’ right to own guns originated with the founding fathers’ analysis of Israel after God freed them from slavery in Egypt.
Professor Kopel begins his paper this way: “The American Founders were assiduous students of history. While the well-educated among them read Roman and Greek history in the original languages, some history was well-known by almost everyone, namely the Bible. New Englanders intensely self-identified with ancient Israel… ancient Hebrew militia law is part of the intellectual background of the American militia system, and of the Second Amendment.”
Our verse this week from Numbers is one of the cornerstone verses used by our founders in creating the first American “Minutemen”: civilian colonists known for being ready “in a minute’s notice” to organize into militia companies self-trained in weaponry, tactics and military strategies during America’s Revolutionary War. As Professor Kopel further explains, “Israel’s military system was based on the duty of every able-bodied male to bear arms and serve. Israel relied on a militia, in which citizen soldiers would spend most of their time cultivating their farms… and would fight only for limited periods… and only when necessary.”
But there was a second reason behind the founding fathers’ creation of the American militia: to ensure the decentralization of power in American society – to prevent government tyranny and preserve individual liberty. Professor Kopel again: “God did not intend that the Israelites maintain a standing army, at least not one of significant size. Instead, they are to have a civilian army, or militia, mobilized at times of need and commanded by officers appointed for the occasion. Reliance on a militia rather than a standing army for military needs is another example of God’s design for dispersal of power among different officials. These similar concerns are pervasive in the ideology of the American right to arms, including the Second Amendment, and its many state constitutional analogues: ‘No government should have a monopoly of force; a well-regulated militia can deter or fight either foreign or domestic tyrants.’”
Western civilization is said to be founded on the two pillars of Athens (Greek philosophy) and Jerusalem (biblical doctrine). Both pillars come together in recognizing that the responsibility of a free society to preserve their own freedom against government tyranny belongs in the hands of its citizens. And this preservation of liberty is through well-armed militia made up of free and able-bodied men.
Again, we see how American culture is firmly rooted in the Bible. When will we recognize the Bible’s critical role in shaping the nation we all so dearly love? The easiest way to change a culture is to make future generations oblivious to its roots. Our schools have an obligation to educate our children on the Bible.