Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Second Amendment, Rights and Liberty

Say Uncle has a co-blogger now, a guy named Thibodeaux. He wrote to his (Democratic) Senator, asking him to vote against the Assault Weapons Ban in Congress. The Senator wrote back and Thibodeaux does a pretty good fisking of the letter.

There was one point I think he missed, though. The Senator writes:
I believe that the Second Amendment gives law-abiding citizens the right to own a gun.
It does no such thing. People today have a bass-ackwards view of what the Constitution is and how it works. Rights are things granted by governments. They are the province of kings, despots and dictators. America was conceived in liberty, in the idea that all power is in the People and is given by them in limited doses to their government. People who talk about rights are slaves; a free people talks of liberty.

The Second Amendment doesn't give anything. The Framers presupposed that all rights remain with the People unless otherwise delegated. The Constitution was intended to delegate some powers from the People and some from the States. The Second Amendment specifically intends to warn future generations of legislators that gun ownership -- for whatever reason-- is a right retained by the People. It doesn't give, it takes: from government the power to take our guns.

It seems a simple point, and it always surprises me how many folks get it backwards, forget that the Constitution isn't a license for the Federal government to do what it pleases unless the People stop it. It was always intended to spell out the only powers the Federal government could have. It was a limiting document.

Remember: When you are born in America, you are an individual with full and complete liberty. You can do as you wish. You agree to give up some of that liberty to the Federal government in exchange for it doing some jobs you could never do by yourself. Same for the State constitution and your City or County charters. You only give up certain, specific liberties in exchange for certain specific protections. Everything else stays with you.

Somewhere in the early 19th century that got turned around, just as the Founding Fathers feared it would. Government developed the arrogance of believing it could do anything it wanted to, if the Constitutions at various levels didn't prohibit it from doing them. It's a natural process, as the Founders knew, which the Constitution and all their writings spelled out. It finally happened to us, and has progressed ever since.

A great American once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." He wasn't kidding. This is why you need to know your history. So as to prevent the abuses of those who would take your birthright from you for their own enrichment and security.

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