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AWR Hawkins at YAF Conference: ‘A Well-Regulated Militia’ Is Foundational to ‘Shall Not Be Infringed’

  AWR Hawkins/BNN Columnist AWR Hawkins delivered a speech Saturday to attendees at Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF’s) High School Confere...


AWR Hawkins poses during the first SIG Freedom Days event, held May 6-8.
AWR Hawkins/BNN

Columnist AWR Hawkins delivered a speech Saturday to attendees at Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF’s) High School Conference at The Reagan Ranch.

The title of Hawkins’ speech was “Shall Not Be Infringed,” and it focused on explaining how the first and last phrases of the Second Amendment harmonize and complement one another.

He juxtaposed “a well-regulated militia” and “shall not be infringed” to show that the Founding Fathers’ focus on the militia, far from being detrimental to individual gun rights, is actually the basis for protecting those rights.

Hawkins explained that the militia, in the minds of the Founding Fathers, was an ad hoc collection of farmers, shopkeepers, mechanics, bar owners, doctors, etc. — men from all walks of life who would come together to repel tyranny. He noted that the militia is not successful without two things, the first of which is order (must be “well-regulated”) and the second of which is arms (thus the phrase “shall not be infringed”).

He explained the difference between the militia and the military by noting that when the military is called to duty, the federal government supplies personnel with guns, ammunition, combat gear, night vision, thermal scopes, grenades, etc. However, when the militia is forced to muster, it has only the guns and ammo people bring from home. This is a stark difference between the militia and the U.S. military.

Hawkins read from Federalist 46 to show James Madison’s belief that even in a situation where the militia is pitted against the military, the militia has the upper hand because the people are armed.

Madison wrote:

Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger.

Hawkins looked to attendees and reminded them that members of the militia “are not sponsored by the federal government,” rather, “they come together to stop the federal government, in Madison’s mind.”

He said the complementary relationship between the two phrases — “a well-regulated militia” and “shall not be infringed” — should be clear in light of the foregoing. That is because everything changes if the people are relieved of their arms. Without personal, privately owned firearms, the militia lacks teeth when it comes together, and militia members are only left with the option of throwing rocks or swinging rakes and sticks at the forces of tyranny.

Hawkins paraphrased Madison, “Look folks, we have to have a militia. It is necessary to the security of a free state. But the militia won’t work if the people don’t have guns, so their right to have guns shall not be infringed.”

He pointed to examples in world history when leaders like Mao Zedong (China), Adolf Hitler (Nazi Germany), and Vladimir Lenin (Russia/Soviet Union), made sure the people whom they wanted to eliminate and/or control were disarmed. Once disarmed, any hope of banding together the way Madison wanted Americans to band together proved futile.

Hawkins stressed that people’s right to keep and bear arms must be defended and preserved at all costs because an all-important check on federal tyranny disappears if the citizens cease to be armed.

He said, “The need for that militia, its ability to form and come together, that is foundational to the demand that the people’s ‘right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'”

YAF has been a guiding light for young conservatives for more than 60 years. It provides support for conservative students on campuses around the country, encouraging a deeper commitment to individual freedom, free enterprise, a strong national defense, and traditional values. Read more on YAF here.

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