Not long ago, I was in a conversation with a Democrat who commented that it was OK for people to have handguns to protect themselves, but that the country should ban all assault rifles because no one needs them. She said the word “assault” made her case. I didn’t want to leave that without a response, so I asked her what “defend the Constitution … against all enemies, foreign and domestic” meant. She responded that we have an army to defend against foreign enemies and that we are a “first world” country so we don’t have to worry about domestic enemies. We talked a little further until another Democrat who was there wouldn’t let us continue. I don’t know whether the second lady thought we were arguing (we weren’t — it was a very civil conversation), or she didn’t like the topic of guns, or she was afraid I was making sense.

The crux of our all too brief conversation was my co-worker’s claim that as a “first world” country, we don’t need to worry about defending ourselves from the government. That presumes that our governmental leaders are all virtuous, that no one in the government is trying to destroy our economy and turn us into a socialist country, that no one is trying to commit a backdoor coup against our legally elected president, that no one is leaving the back/southern door to our country wide open so that thousands of people who have no respect for our laws can come in at will, and that no one in the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, or the Pentagon is willing to order out the military against the people who disagree with certain liberal philosophies. (That only happens with the IRS, right?) We can see daily — if we just open our eyes — just how close we are to crossing a once unthinkable line. So to say that we have no need to protect ourselves from domestic enemies is naïve at best and criminal at worst.

The founders of our country did not want a large standing army. We were to have only a small federal army for immediate defense that would hold the line until the militias could be called up to enter the fight. We were doing pretty well until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. We had an immediate and huge buildup of federally controlled armed might — that has yet to reduce to its pre-World War II size. The military industrial complex has developed some massive weapons that could be used on those who don’t conform to the whims of a government gone rogue — and by “rogue” I mean a government that disregards the Constitution when it doesn’t allow those in power to do what they want to do. So frankly, we need to go back to the idea of citizen soldiers. Those were the citizens who came out of stores and factories and off of farms to fight for their homes and families during all of our armed conflicts up to and including World War II. They added the muscle that our small standing army needed to win the war. Then they went home, even though they were prepared to come back and fight another war if necessary. That is the model that we had for the first two centuries of this country, and we are leaving that model at our own peril.

The Second Amendment reads, “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.” Understand that “well regulated” in colonial times did not mean a “tightly governed” militia; it meant and therefore continues to legally mean that the people who might band together to form a militia must have adequate arms, ammunition and other supplies readily available to them so that they are able to fight “at a moment’s notice.” Therefore, if the people who wish to defend themselves are to be “well regulated” then they need to possess whatever weapons are necessary to defend themselves against well-armed (well regulated) foes. If being “well armed” means keeping “assault rifles” in their closets, then so be it. The Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the Second Amendment protects the individual’s private right to have arms for their own defense rather than the right of each state to maintain a militia. Some opponents then claimed that the Second Amendment only relates to federal infringement of the right to bear arms. But in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from infringing on that same individual right to own weapons.

Now our own Governor Northam and his socialist cronies want to infringe those very rights with gun control laws none of which would have prevented the tragedy in Virginia Beach, which is the impetus for this week’s special session of the General Assembly. The only law they need to pass is one that overturns the law that prevented the victims with concealed handgun permits from carrying weapons at their workplace so that they would have been able to defend themselves. That is, after all, a right guaranteed by our Constitution.

Not only do we need to know and exercise our Constitutional rights, but we need to protect those rights. Never forget that the Second Amendment protects the other 26 amendments. Therefore, the Second Amendment is the one that we must at all costs protect from anyone who would diminish it to anything less than the right to maintain the full range of equipment necessary to defend ourselves, our families, our property, and our liberty.

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Steve “Doc” Troxel, who lives in Lynchburg, is a columnist for The News Virginian. He is a retired university professor who writes a weekly email on political issues. To subscribe to his email, contact him at His column is published every other Monday.

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