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Keefe Report: Gratitude for Our First Freedom

Keefe Report: Gratitude for Our First Freedom

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all that we have. It is a time of family, reflection and gratitude. Those of us celebrating it in the United States need to remember that it's not about cardboard cutouts of cartoonish pilgrims and sweet potatoes.

Those that came to the New World and landed in Massachusetts Bay were not coming for plunder or for wealth. They were coming for freedom. Freedom that was not provided to them even by what was likely one of the most progressive states in western Europe at the time.

Thanks to the English monarchy's need to have access to the wealth of the kingdom, there were the House of Parliament and House of Lords, and one of the most important documents in the history of mankind, the Magna Carta. But it was still before the glorious Revolution of 1688, and the Declaration of Right and the Bill of Rights of 1689. One of the freedoms that the English settlers brought to the New World was the Right to Bear Arms. You notice I did not say the Second Amendment. That would not happen until a Constitutional Convention more than two and a half centuries after the Mayflower put into a stony shore in North America. The Right to Bear Arms is one that is endowed by the Creator. It is a natural right, one that was not created by government, by law or royal fiat.

The right to self-defense, of little worth without the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, is a natural right and one of the basic tenets of human freedom. Without the right to self-defense, to defend yourselves and your family from evil, are you truly free? Without the right to self-defense, to defend yourselves and your family from evil, are you truly free?

Those settlers in what would become Massachusetts, as well as those that actually preceded them in what became Virginia in 1609, believed in the right and had the need to Keep and Bear Arms. They needed arms for protection in a brave new world. They needed protection from marauding people and animals, and to put meat on the table. They would not need those arms to protect themselves from their rulers until 1775, when Major Pitcairn was dispatched to Lexington and Concord to seize all arms, shot, powder and cannon he find might find there. The American Revolution became a shooting war, not just a series of protests, when the King's men set out to deprive the colonists of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

And those that fought for that freedom ensured that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was one of the conditions of accepting a new form of government through the Bill of Rights.

Charlton Heston called the Right to Keep and Bear Arms "America's First Freedom." So on this day of Thanksgiving, be grateful for the creator who granted that right to all free Americans. Be grateful for the men who protected that right through one of freedom's most important documents. And be thankful for all those that protect our freedom today. Especially the one that protects them all.

(Library of Congress image)

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