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The Second Amendment: The Linchpin of National Security

By David A. Liapis, ALPF Senior Fellow & Board Member

In the United States, our defense budget and military resources (to include personnel, serviceable aircraft, tanks, ships, munitions, etc.) are finite. The U.S. military is currently the most powerful in the world. As the National Defense Strategy concedes: "the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions."

What this means for the average American is that we must immediately and significantly increase our military budget, manpower authorizations, and the rate and extent to which we develop and field technology. We must become more advanced than our competitors. It's only a matter of time before we, as a nation, will be at risk of finding ourselves outmatched by aggressive and determined adversaries.

There is, however, one foundational freedom that serves as a deterrent to anyone who would consider something as bold as an occupation of the U.S. mainland – our right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says, "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." China, for example, has the world's largest military, with approximately two million soldiers. That seems like a large number until compared with the number of guns owned in the United States. Granted, not all of the 393 million guns in this country are owned legally, or by responsible individuals. So, I don't dare state that number as a completely good thing.

Regardless of the caliber (no pun intended) of people who own the guns in the U.S., the fact there are more than enough guns for every able-bodied person to serve as an armed member of a militia, albeit rudimentary, is sufficient to give any belligerent nation pause. This condition seems to be, at least in part, what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they inserted the Second Amendment into our Constitution.

The source of the Second Amendment is one argument against those who would point to mass shootings, like the ones in El Paso and Dayton, as just cause to disarm law-abiding U.S. citizens. I would not go so far as to say Russia and China are somehow behind the uptick in mass shootings in the past few years. However, I would not

hesitate to say that they are watching with keen interest as their arch-rival edges ever closer to willingly removing one of its primary means of deterring them from acts of


I am not trying to trivialize the tragic loss of life or ignore the need to enforce appropriate gun control laws. Gun violence is a significant problem we need to confront as a nation, but at the end of the day, violence is violence. Taking away a means of committing a violent act will not prevent a determined person from acting violently. And, as we saw in Dayton, a righteous person with a gun was able to intervene and prevent more casualties quickly. Sure, that was a law enforcement officer, but someone with those credentials is not always nearby. Thus, we can see the continued and expanding need for responsible, trained good guys and gals to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms to protect themselves (and in some cases, others) and defend against everything from violent extremists to deranged criminals to foreign aggressors.

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