Biased media using out of context statement to defame Army Secretary nominee

Former Army officer Mark Green was nominated by President Donald Trump to become the next Secretary of the Army in early April.

The nominee for the position of Army Secretary is coming under fire from some media publications for his pro-Second Amendment comments., sparking both an interesting debate on gun control and offering troubling insight into the lack of historical research done by many journalists in regards to American military history.

Special Operations veteran, physician and Tennessee State Senator Mark Green has come under scrutiny yet again, this time for saying that American citizens should be armed with weapons equivalent to what is possessed by the American military.

“Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R), President Donald Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, strongly believes that citizens should be armed ― and not just with any ol’ guns,” Huffington Post Politics Managing Editor and former Amanda Terkel penned in a May Day op-ed scathing the twenty-year veteran, politician and healthcare worker. “They should be able to possess whatever weapons the military has, because an armed citizenry is the ‘ultimate checks and balances’ against the federal government.”

Terkel took note of a quote from a 2013 Second Amendment rally that took place in Clarksville, Tennessee (the literal “backyard” of the 101st Airborne Division, 5th Special Forces Group and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment), where Green said that “the citizenry should be allowed to maintain whatever weapon the federal government has. If they can have an aircraft carrier, I ought to be able to have an aircraft carrier.”

For some reason this raised alarms (and immediately jumped to the “but can the people own nuclear warheads?” argument) with the general readership demographics of the Huffington Post. Who knew?

With that said, Green is technically -and historically- correct. And I should know- not only was I present to cover the 2013 rally, the very topic of discussion happens to be both a professional subject specialty and personal passion of mine (if you haven’t figured out that this is an op-ed, here is your sign).

Since the founding of this Republic (and even before), the citizenry has traditionally put up for its own arms and ammunition, equipment often far superior to that of the nation’s military wing.

In regard to a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a citizen could technically own one, if they had the means to A) provide upkeep and B) operate it in accordance to guidelines and regulations not covered under the Second Amendment, such as how the nuclear material used for propulsion is handled.

In fact, the American Navy and Army relied on private ships, cannon and small arms, from the revolutionary era well into America’s earlier years. In the War of 1812, less than 5% of the American Navy’s power stemmed from government-owned vessels, with over 95% of the high-seas firepower belonging to private vessels with privately owned cannons. As American privateers captured British ships, the number of weapons only grew.

At the same time, the states of Kentucky and Tennessee were rife with volunteer forces who opted to march down to New Orleans to drive off the British, often armed with their own weapons.

The tradition continued well past the Civil War, when populations often had superior rifles (a good example would be the lever-action rifle, which would have been the terrifying “assault rifle” of its day) to American troops on the frontier. If you could afford it, you could have it- but states were left to decide how or when you could utilize it.

The Founding Fathers, who had just fought the most fearsome army of the time, were understandably mistrusting of standing militaries. From the Federalist Papers to correspondences between lawmakers piecing together the sacred Bill of Rights, this is easily apparent to anyone who actually takes time to read such anecdotes, rather than make assumptions on what the Founders intended.

So how horrifying is the idea that American citizens -who essentially comprise an “unorganized militia” of sorts- could own automatic weapons, grenade launchers and howitzers? If it sounds like a nightmare, I have bad news for you- it is -and has been- a reality for a long time.

While the (arguably unconstitutional) National Firearms Act of 1934 made ownership of such weapons and ammunition a pain, anyone with enough money, time and willingness to deal with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on an intimate level can own anything from anti-tank weapons to an automatic pistol. They can own them, store them, carry them and even, yes, have a ton of fun with them and charge others money to partake in such roistering.

Heck, gun control advocate of Microsoft fame Paul Allen owns a Soviet-era Scud missile and launcher. If he can, so can you.

Verily, the citizenry could likely even possess a nuclear weapon if they wished, provided they met the very extenuating guidelines, national economy-sized cost, maintenance and storage requirements of the United States (good luck), it could be argued that it could be done- though it would be wasteful, impractical and let’s face it, nigh-impossible.

In the words of Green at the 2013 rally, “The men who penned and ratified this document gave us the right to keep and bear arms as an ultimate checks and balances against the federal government. When considering magazine size and weapon type, comments like, ‘You don’t need a 10-round magazine to hunt deer’ completely misses the point of the Second Amendment.”

While this quote prompted a request for comment on Green over “when it would be appropriate for a citizen to take up arms against a federal official,” even this disingenuously loaded question missed the point.
The Second Amendment is the stalwart defender of all rights in the same manner that it (and the Constitution itself) does not give you rights. You had those rights all along. What it does do is clarify what the Federal government can and cannot do in regard to your rights. The Second Amendment takes this one step further, adding teeth to these protections -in the form of a physical deterrent of an armed and often culturally obstreperous population- and dissuading government bodies from overstepping their boundaries (though they still do this every day, just not as much as they might like).

The Second Amendment has proven itself in doing so, even as recently as 1946, when (as I’ve mentioned before) a group of small-town Tennessee victims of police brutality, voter intimidation and political corruption (who had just happened to just come back from fighting fascism overseas) overthrew their local government -with civilian-owned and “borrowed” military small arms- to restore fair elections and constitutional rule of law. Many Tennesseans, such as myself (and most likely Green as well), were raised upon this cautionary tale of what can happen when the needs of the people are not met.

Despite general press criticism of the revolt at the time, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt penned a stern warning to those who thought tyrannical rule -at any government level- would go unchecked.

“In this particular case, a group of young veterans organized to oust the local machine and elect their own slate in the primary,” she wrote. “We may deplore the use of force but we must also recognize the lesson which this incident points for us all. When the majority of the people know what they want, they will obtain it.

Any local, state or national government, or any political machine, in order to live, must give the people assurance that they can express their will freely and that their votes will be counted. The most powerful machine cannot exist without the support of the people. Political bosses and political machinery can be good, but the minute they cease to express the will of the people, their days are numbered.”

In fact, this anecdote recalled in me a memory of when I was asked by an armed government official -who had just expressed his disdain of warrants and the Fourth Amendment- why I “needed” an AR15.

“Do you have one?” I asked.

When he responded in the affirmative, I replied with, “That’s why.”

While we simply (with mild discomfort) laughed the matter off, was this a threat towards a law enforcement officer by a then-member of the military? Did I have ill-intent toward this man or intent to break laws, even commit to harm? Of course not- I myself am an ardent supporter of Law Enforcement, the majority of whom understand their roles and limitations as outlined in both Constitutional and case law. But that response showed the spirit of the Second Amendment- the true deterrent against those who would wish to unjustly project unauthorized power against those who gave them that power.

My personal politics aside, I have always believed that if we are to endure as an American people, the birthright to deter tyranny of our own leaders by means of small arms -and whatever we can afford- must be kept intact. We the people have always been the frontline of freedom- for we are the military, we are the voters and we are the heart and soul of this Republic. Why deprive such a people of small arms?

No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment- or any part of the Constitution for that matter, the truth of the matter regarding its purpose is well-documented and seemingly well-shielded against revisionism. If one took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” then one is morally obligated to carry out such a sacred duty with all aspects of the Constitution, not just the parts they agree with. Regardless any of his alleged merits or faults, Green understands this and continues to carry out his duty- well into military retirement, well into the political stage and possibly as Secretary of the very Army that belongs to the people.

After all- it is only in death that such duty ends.

(The opinions and ideas presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Popular Military)

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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