The Second Amendment stands out from all other parts of the Constitution in one aspect. It is an external restraint on federal government. The other parts of the Constitution are internal permissions and prohibitions on the actions of government officials. Despite this “charter of negative liberties” and cross-governmental checks and balances, we have largely left government officials room to comply with the Constitution’s mandates on their own. We’ve trusted that they retain an internal moral order that compels them to externally comply with the Constitution.
We’ve set up some checks and balances to encourage government officials to voluntarily comply with the rules of the Constitution. But, largely, we have hoped they seek the virtue necessary to be public servants. Supporters of our American War for Independence understood the need for private virtue to govern public officials. John Adams affirmed “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” British statesman, and defender of American independence, Edmund Burke stated “What is liberty without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils…madness without restraint. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites….”
Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence charged “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid on the foundation of religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments…But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament.”
Noah Webster later declared “The virtue which is necessary to preserve a just administration and render a government stable, is Christian virtue, which consists in the uniform practice of moral and religious duties, in conformity with the laws of both of God and man.”
The pillar of internal moral restraint, however, is crumbling under secular humanism. A true belief in God has been replaced by a ceremonial deism that only pays lip service to God but ignores his commands. Obama and his administration have laid a sledge-hammer to the source of virtue with promoting same-sex “marriage,” refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, making abortions more frequent, removing Christian influences from the Armed Forces, mandating businessmen defy their consciences or risk fines, and on and on.
The Second Amendment, however, does not anticipate that government officials will always voluntarily comply with the mandates of the Constitution. The Second Amendment embodies a Judeo-Christian understanding that human nature tends toward evil and not toward good. James Madison understood this point when he penned Federalist No. 51:
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Those who will not be governed by an internal moral restraint will be ruled by an external one. This principle applies to government officials as well as to citizens. The Second Amendment is the only external restraint on government officials if they reject an internal moral restraint. The Second Amendment provides for an arsenal in the hands of the people to keep our government officials in fear of proper, authoritative violence. All the other provisions in the Constitution rely on the virtue within the hearts of government officials to restrain themselves.
My next point I want to address a particular misunderstanding among my Christian kin. Too many of my brothers and sisters in Christ live as if they are subjects of a monarchy rather than citizens of a republic. They have a misunderstanding of scriptures like Romans 13:1. Paul writes “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” With this, my genuine, but genuinely incorrect brothers and sisters believe that government officials must be given a deferential respect as the “higher powers” and that Christians should not resist oppressive rule. For example, they would argue taxation is a proper power of government and, therefore, Christians should not resist oppressive taxation.
Two things these fellow Christians do not consider is that First Century Christians lived under the rule of the Roman Empire. They were subjects of the Caesars, not citizens of self-government. The “higher powers” were powerful dictators. Christians were a small minority, with little influence and little ability to use force to change things. Paul’s world was governed by a different system. Active resistance would most certainly mean death. Jesus used the First Century, and those following to build his Church from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. The Church now, however, is a more influential structure.
The other thing Christians ignore is that the American form of government is based on popular sovereignty. We, the People are the higher powers in America. Government officials are our servants. They are our subjects; we are not theirs. When government officials ignore the limitations on their authority, like in mandating businesses and citizens to pay for abortions or in demanding every citizen purchase health insurance, they are not being subject to the higher powers and are disobeying God. When government servants do not obey the limitations on their authority, Christians have the right and the obligation to resist such oppression.
The abuse of power by the Obama administration is a clear demonstration that the Second Amendment’s external check on runaway federal government is still needed. As the only source of the virtue needed for good government, Christianity, is being summarily removed from positions to influence government officials, the internal restraints are nearly gone. With internal moral restraints gone, only the external restraint will protect the higher powers, the People, from the tyranny of rebellious government officials.
 The “auxiliary precautions” Madison referenced is the system of internal checks and balances built into the Constitutional structure.