Parker’s orders to his men, “Don’t fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here,” have immortalized the moment.
The British soldiers, the best army in the world at the time — highly disciplined and fully equipped — regarded the citizen-soldiers with utter contempt.
Roughly 100 Minutemen were standing on Lexington Green, facing the oncoming 700 British redcoats. The British officer ordered the “rebels” to put down their arms; no one is certain which side fired first, but “the shot heard around the world” unleashed what is now known as the Revolutionary War.
Parker’s men were defeated, but citizen-soldiers, the “militia,” armed civilians inspired by Parker’s brave stand and now in open rebellion against their government, poured out of every house and hamlet. The haughty British had their morale severely shaken – to the shock of their arrogant commanders – when their ranks were decimated by Minutemen shooting them to pieces while hiding behind trees and bushes along the road leading back to Boston.
The British had marched on Lexington and Concord to disarm the civilians. Their spies told of a large store of arms there, and their orders were to capture that and disperse the rebels.
With that as the backdrop of the American Revolution, and with this same generation of men writing the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and its first 10 amendments — the Bill of Rights — is it really that difficult to understand the original intent of “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”?
“Militia” means the entire body of free men; security of a “free” state can only be preserved if the “people,” meaning you and I, can own arms to do so.
While past Supreme Court justices were able to extract from the First Amendment a “right” to burn our nation’s flag, four of them on this past Thursday were unable to find a right of the people to own firearms in the Second Amendment.
Fortunately, five were able to correctly read the plain words, and for the first time officially in our history the right of the people to keep and bear arms is an individual right protected by our Constitution. The liberty earned through the blood of Captain John Parker and his brave civilian soldiers has officially been recognized.
Our government – unlike most governments around the world – has been largely kept in check from dangerous usurpations for more than 200 years. Many see the Second Amendment as now unnecessary due to this fact, without realizing the amendment and its inherent philosophy of rebellion is what has preserved the peace so well. Even today, a nation of more than 80 million firearm owners is a formidable force.
Friday is Independence Day, July 4, and with fireworks lighting up the sky to remind us of our battle-born heritage, we should all give thought to the great blessings preserved for us by our brilliant and remarkable founding fathers. Firearms are one of those blessings, and as they knew so much better than we, no unarmed man is truly free.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks, owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing and his radio talk show can be heard Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. on 99.1 FM.