The Second Amendment as a Prophylactic

A common argument from those who are in favor of more stringent gun control laws is that the necessity of firearms in the hands of citizens as a “check” against an out-of-control government is simply not needed in this day and age.

America has a mature, stable government, they say, and the possibility of it suddenly going off the rails and needing to be “taken back” by its citizens is simply preposterous. They cite history as showing that the government has never been that overbearing, and there’s never been a need in over two centuries for the armed citizens to rise up. Therefore there will never be such a need.

This view is very shortsighted and misses out on the prime role of the Second Amendment. I’ll leave it to others to defend the concept that a citizen militia can force an out-of-control government back onto the right track. I want to concentrate of the Second Amendment as a prophylactic.

Merriam-webster.com defines a prophylactic as:

1: guarding from or preventing the spread or occurrence of disease or infection

2: tending to prevent or ward off: preventive

It comes from the Greek words prophylaktikos and prophylassein; to be on guard, from pro- before + phylassein to guard, from phylak-, phylax guard.

The best known use of the word in the general public is probably when it is referred to in birth control. An example would be when a condom is referred to as a prophylactic.

Medical staff use the concept on a daily basis, as many medicines are used as a prophylactic to keep diseases away. A smallpox or measles vaccination is an example. Sterilizing the equipment used for patient treatment is a prophylactic measure, along with washing hands frequently.

The Founding Fathers well remembered the Battle of Lexington when colonists defended their rights with their firearms.
The Founding Fathers well remembered the Battle of Lexington when colonists defended their rights with their firearms.

The Founding Fathers were very aware of the concept of prophylactics. Their use goes back centuries and are amoung some of the most basic forms of health care and treatment.

And so they built just the same concept into the Constitution with the Second Amendment.

The primary task of the Amendment and an armed citizenry is not to “put the country back together.” It is to keep the country from an aggressive, overbearing government in the very first place. It is a preventative. A guard that wards off beforehand.

Yes, it is absolutely true that the Second Amendment has apparently not been needed in the past 200 plus years to overcome a tyrannical government. That’s because it has been doing its job quietly all along. It has prevented the rise of a tyrannical government. It is far easier for a government to consolidate all power and authority within itself when there is no viable opposition… no “guard” to prevent it from doing so.

No one has really needed to pay close attention to the Second Amendment over the decades any more than one pays close attention to the vitamin pill that is taken each morning. Or the antiseptic that is put on a scratch to prevent infection. They are just “there” doing the job. But as the pill guards the body… as the antiseptic guards the wound… the Amendment has guarded our nation all these years.

It is not a “front of mind” awareness. No politician needs to remind himself of the power of the armed citizens. It is just “there,” always working and always just a thought away.

The proper medicine delivered when the problem is small and insignificant is much more important than medicine when the problem is big and major.
The proper medicine delivered when the problem is small and insignificant is much more important than medicine when the problem is big and major.

Unfortunately, because it has always worked behind the scenes, the respect for the Second Amendment has fallen away from many. We have lost sight of the prophylactic nature of the armed citizen against the power of the government, and that is going to lead the nation down a dangerous path.

The man who regularly uses the services of prostitutes who protects himself with a condom can, at some point, wonder why he is wasting his money buying the condoms when obviously he has not come down with any disease. The moment he decides to stop “wasting money” on condoms is the moment he has guaranteed himself a venereal disease at some point in the future.

When the American society weakens or abandons the Second Amendment we are guaranteed that we are going to have a government at some future time that is far more tyrannical that what we can now believe. Those that believe the Amendment is outmoded because it has never been needed or used are no different in philosophy than the person who has quit using condoms with prostitutes because he has never caught a disease from a prostitute yet.

[And yes, if you want to argue the point, I did just compare prostitutes with the federal government. Certainly an apt comparison at times.]

Many of those pushing against the protections of the Second Amendment know full well the prophylactic nature of the armed citizen. That is exactly why they would see the Amendment weakened, or regulated out of business. Some of our leading politicians and journalists have expressed contempt for the American system and have outright wondered why we as a country cannot be more like Communist China, where “things get done.”

At some point in time, there just may be a clash to see which philosophy wins out. I, personally, would bet on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

If you like this essay I encourage you to post links to it on your favorite firearm forum or other websites. If you “like it” on Facebook or other social media it will help spread the article around.

You might like other articles that I have posted such as Assault Rifles: Evil Black Rifles and Ban Gunowners

More by this Author


Comments 12 comments

RoryColgan profile image

RoryColgan 3 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Well put! Though I do not have a firearm, I support freedom. My "firearm" is my education, and I go about educating those around me if they are willing to listen. Good title too.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Voted up, interesting and useful.

I kind of think about the Civil war, yes the war was horrible, but just think if Lincoln had been trying declare a federal "taking" of all lands owned by slaveholders. Then the concept of the Southern Militias would have been lauded by all.

Is a regulation of an industry a dilution of the right to have what they produce? Yes I think it is. But that does not make it a bad thing. Prostitutes come to mind as you aptly referred to our gov't at times. But clearly our "right to the pursuit of happiness" may be infringed thereby ;-)


Jayfort 3 years ago

Voted up, interesting and useful.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

Jack,

Enjoyed as usual.

I cringe at the thought of the government you say could exist. I already complain about a corrupt government but I your version would be much, much worse. I would like to think that that could never happen here in America, if true, then we really are a vulnerable people. Is it ignorant to think that we could never get to that?


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 3 years ago from The Midwest Author

History tells us otherwise.


christinekv profile image

christinekv 3 years ago from Washington

Interesting perspective and a valid one. I will indeed share this with others I believe will also appreciate it.


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

I can see logic in this argument in the days when you had to saddle up your horse and ride for hours to the nearest saloon before searching your saddlebags for your thick, re-usable condom and hoping a lady would be available when you climbed the stairs.

In those days, news took a long time to travel. Town by town, state by state, perhaps the government in historic times might have managed to flex their tyrannical muscle.

But with the invention of so many forms of instant communication (and the invention of thinner, throw-away condoms), it seems appropriate to let go of the old and embrace the new alternatives.

With the internet and twitter and sms and all those other instant tools of communication, there's no way any government could hope to effectively disarm legal gun-owners. And with a database reflecting just how many millions of Americans had guns and were skilled enough to use them, I can't imagine any government would be stupid enough to try.

At the first hint of a threat, word would spread .... instantly.


Salvienation profile image

Salvienation 2 years ago

Jack I will say this, it was an interesting hub to say the least. Seriously, I must have been asleep during all of the American History or Social Studies classes from my youth, but I think not. It's missing or lacking the point of intent for our Constitution, a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That's why there a three branches of Government; Executive, Legislative and Judicial, they're built in checks and balances within our democracy.


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 2 years ago from The Midwest Author

and what enforces those "checks and balances" eh. Do you think they are followed just by the good nature of people in general?

Do you absolutely, positively, 100 percent guarantee that these checks and balances will never, ever, be disrupted by a rogue government?

You are one of those folk that I described in the hub... you believe you've wasted all this money on condoms because you've never come down with a STD, so you want to quit using them alltogether.


Salvienation profile image

Salvienation 2 years ago

A rouge government in theory isn't highly impossible, but we elect the members of the Executive, Legislative and some Judicial members on the state as well as federal level. Legislators write or draft the laws on both a state and federal level but Governors and the President signs them into law. The Judicial Branch has the power to overturn laws that are deemed unconstitutional thereby creating the very system of checks and balances. By no means am I saying the system is perfect or without flaws buts it's the way the founding fathers of this nation envisioned our democratic government.


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 2 years ago from The Midwest Author

First, we don't have a "democratic government." Again, your lack of study and education betrays you.

The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The 2nd Amendment has much to do with why we have "kept it."

It's easy to understand how your educational shortcomings can lead you into the idea that the 2nd Amendment is somehow outdated or needs to be changed. You think people follow the rules out of the goodness of their hearts. Some do, perhaps even a majority, but it only takes a minority to highly damage or even overthrow a government.

When that minority is constrained by the sure knowledge that the "people" have equal power to the government then it takes away from making an overthrow a cakewalk.


Michael Loranzan profile image

Michael Loranzan 3 months ago from Eaton, OH

Very well said. I am a firm believer in the Constitution especially the 2nd Amendment. This was definitely worth the read!

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