By now you know me pretty well, I am constantly harping on how our rights are being infringed upon, and I am pretty sure you are getting tired of hearing it. The fact is that I simply can’t help myself. What would you do if something you cherished was being taken from you; wouldn’t you fight to keep it?
Both of our nation’s founding documents declare that the purpose for which government is established is to secure our Liberty and preserve our rights; “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” (Declaration of Independence), and “…in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” (Preamble to the Constitution)
These rights our government was established to protect predate it, they are not some arbitrary rights that they granted us out of the goodness of their hearts. The theory upon which our founders adhered to was of natural rights, or, “universal rights held to belong to individuals by virtue of their being human.” Therefore a natural rights requires no permission from any governing authority to be exercised, nor is it under their authority to diminish in any way.
Now the concept of liberty is much broader in nature in that it is the quality of being free, or, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, “a : the power to do as one pleases, b : freedom from physical restraint, c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control, d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges, e : the power of choice.”
The government we know today was agreed upon, (ratified) by the required number of states in 1790. A year later, in 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified. Are we to assume that prior to the Bill of Rights that none of those rights existed? Are we to assume that before our Constitution was ratified that we had no rights?
From his pamphlet the Rights of Man, Thomas Paine states, “for as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist…” Therefore, as our rights are natural rights, in that they are ours by our virtue of being human, and that liberty is the freedom from restraint, are we not free to exercise our rights as we see fit, as long as we do not infringe upon another’s ability to do the same? Jefferson thought so, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
Yet if you were to take a poll of the average person walking the streets, most would think it is a good idea to limit certain rights, particularly the right to keep and bear arms. We live in a nation which is motivated by fear. We are bombarded with stories about madmen who go on shooting sprees, killing innocent people, and we think that guns are to blame, and therefore nobody should be allowed to own them.
But you have to understand the reason why our founders included the Second Amendment as part and parcel of the Bill of Rights. Regardless of what you might think, the Second Amendment was not included in the Bill of Rights so that we might enjoy a bit of target shooting, go out and provide meat for our families, or protect ourselves from crime, although all of these are secondary benefits to being armed. No, the purpose of the Second Amendment was so that the people would have a last recourse against a tyrannical government, a fact attested to by this simple statement by Thomas Jefferson, “The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Yet Jefferson was not alone in his thinking, Even his arch enemy Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 15, stated, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms…” And think about this little gem by James Madison, “A government that does not trust it’s law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the atom. Yeah, the atom, that tiny little basic unit of matter. You know, the one smaller than a cell or a molecule? Atoms form the building blocks upon which all we know were built, including our bodies. In that way they are very similar to our rights.
Now, do you think the first men who ever walked upon the planet earth knew, or even cared, about atoms? However, just because they didn’t know about them does not mean that they never existed. The same goes for our rights, just because no one had written down on paper that specific rights shall not infringed does not mean that the fact that they had never existed.
So, how is it that government, be it local, state, or federal, which is a creation of man, take away or limit a right, which has existed long before government did, especially when it has been made abundantly clear that the purpose for which said government was instituted was to preserve and protect those very rights? How is it that if all Americans are equally protected by the Bill of Rights, that I, living in California, cannot exercise my Second Amendment right to the same extent as do my fellow countrymen in Nevada, Colorado, and Texas, to name a few states?
Now think about my atom analogy for a moment while I provide you with the following fact, the first firearm that historians have discovered dates by to late 13th century China. Now, since our rights have always existed, including the right to keep and bear arms, does that mean that prior to the 13th century the right to keep and bear arms, specifically firearms, did not exist?
Arms, as the word was intended by our founders, are a derivative of the Latin word armare, a conjugation of the word arma, which means weapons. No specifics mentioned, merely weapons.
Now, at the time our Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified we knew nothing of automatic weapons, yet there are those who would have us believe that those type weapons are NOT covered with equal protection under the Second Amendment. There are those who say nobody needs those type weapons to defend their home. There are those who say that they are do not like the fact that their neighbor might have a couple AK-47′s locked away in a gun safe with a couple thousand rounds. If you will give me a moment I will answer those arguments.
First of all, for those who say nobody needs an automatic weapon to defend their home, what about all these people who buy these monster 4-wheel drive trucks who never intend to take them off the pavement? Do they NEED them? What about your auto and medical insurance, do you PLAN on having an accident, or getting sick? No, but these things are good to have just IN CASE you DO need them.
As, has already been proven, the purpose for the Second Amendment is to protect us from tyranny in government, do you honestly think that had there been automatic weapons in the 1700′s that the founders would not have wanted the citizens to be on equal terms with any standing army they might encounter when defending their liberty? Of course not, they would have wanted Joe Blow farmer to have an AK or an AR for personal use.
Finally, to those who simply don’t like guns, and don’t want anyone else to have them, I have a few choice words for you. I don’t like professional sports, I don’t like reality TV, I don’t like rap music, and I don’t like broccoli. But does that give me the right to say you can’t watch whatever you want to on TV, or listen to whatever kind of music you want, or eat whatever food you choose? Of course it doesn’t. So simply because YOU do not like guns does not give you the right to say, or demand that your elected representative pass a law which infringes upon my right to own as many, and of whatever type firearm I choose…AS LONG as I do not infringe upon any of your rights, I am protected by the Second Amendment.
I hope I have cleared things up some. I know in the overall scheme of things that what I said isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference because people think the government is there to protect them from gun nuts like me. I can say this, there are enough people in this country whose belief is that any attempt to further disarm the people is their Rubicon, their line in the sand that once crossed will spark another revolution, just as it did at Lexington and Concord. So keep that in mind will you. There is a saying in Latin, “Permissum mihi existo quod ego mos permissum.” It means, leave me be and I’ll leave you be, or in terms you may understand better, don’t try to take my guns because I will not give them up without a fight.
September 23, 2012
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross can be reached for comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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