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January 27, 2016

The First Civil Right — To Keep and Bear Arms

“The palladium of the liberties of the republic…”

“The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. … [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any…” —James Madison, 1788

In October of 2015, Barack Obama revealed his final year’s key agenda item — deconstructing and dismantling the Second Amendment on the recurring pretense of “solving” America’s “gun problem.” Understanding this agenda is important because it will provide the template for a substantial portion of future socialist Democrat Party efforts to undermine the First Civil Right, the first line of defense to sustain American Liberty.

Obama directly referenced confiscation of guns as the centerpiece of that agenda: “We know that other countries [which] have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.” Great Britain and Australia have indeed confiscated guns — but with dubious results.

Notably, Obama boldly insisted, “We should politicize this,” and he set about to do just that with more vigor than at any time in his previous seven years.

His resolve to target guns began with a highly promoted faux “town hall” meeting to launch his anti-2A agenda. Contrary to his previous prompt to “politicize” the issue, he lamented that gun control “has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates.” He claimed, “The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage. … We can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do.”

A “sensible country” and a disarmed citizenry are mutually exclusive terms.

Despite the Leftist bluster, here is a reality check on both the violent assailants who use firearms and their victims: As we have [documented consistently](https://crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov/pages/explorer/crime/crime-trend), if you don’t have a violent criminal record, and are not associated with the violent sociopathic thug, drug, or gang subcultures that commit the vast majority of crimes in America, your chances of being shot or killed by an assailant are extraordinarily low — as low as in most Western European nations, where handgun ownership is outlawed. Oh, and in Switzerland, which has a higher concentration of “assault weapons” per capita than any nation in the world, the murder rate is one of the lowest in the world. If you’re a law-abiding citizen, your statistical probability of being killed by a drunk driver is much higher than being murdered by an assailant with a firearm. (Oddly, no one is organizing marches to ban automobiles or ask for a federal background check before purchasing a beer.)

However, make no mistake, confiscation is their ultimate objective – removal of the most fundamental defense for Liberty.

“In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the ‘fierce urgency of now,’” Obama declared, launching his latest assault on the Second Amendment and calling for another round of “common sense” executive orders to subjugate the legislative branch and the American people. The irony of invoking the words of a civil rights leader in his quest to undermine the pre-eminent civil right — that of self-defense — with orders in defiance of constitutional Rule of Law did not pass unnoticed.

Ever the Alinskyite, Obama deceitfully insisted his incremental gun control diktats were not “the first step in some slippery slope to mass confiscation. … This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns.”

I would agree only in that this was not “the first step” toward confiscation. We are well on our way down that slope. But as Edmund Burke wrote in his 18th century admonition against incremental encroachments on Liberty: “The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts. … The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.”

Indeed, as noted by UCLA law professor and constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh in The Washington Post, “These aren’t calls for restricting supposedly narrow categories of guns that are allegedly used predominantly by criminals. These are calls for banning the sorts of guns that tens of millions of law-abiding Americans have in their homes.”

Curiously, a week after his town hall confab, Obama only referenced “gun violence” once in his final State of the Union address, opting instead to don the mask of a statesman. But, predictably, his aggressive gun control rhetoric recommenced the very next day.

Why would Obama devote his last year to gun control when the Republican-controlled Congress has repeatedly blocked his leftist legislative efforts?

A well-placed source connected to billionaire leftist Michael Bloomberg advised me that Obama cut a quid pro quo deal with Bloomberg, the gun confiscator’s biggest benefactor, to keep the gun control agenda front and center. In return, Bloomberg promised to be a major funder and fundraiser for Obama’s future presidential library.

Obama and his heir apparent, Hillary Clinton, assuming the aging and cognitively deteriorating Joe Biden does not rise, are on the same gun confiscation page.

While Obama, Bloomberg and Clinton, et al., frame their agenda as nothing more than “common-sense gun safety reform,” political moderate Jonah Goldberg observed, “None of the proposals on [Obama’s] gun-control wish list … would help bring down the homicide rate. It’s not just a tautology to note that most gun crimes are committed by criminals — with guns obtained illegally.”

Fact is, those areas of the country historically under socialist Democrat Party “leadership,” the generational urban poverty plantations they have created, have the highest crime rates. America does not have a “gun problem,” but a “Democrat problem.”

Again, though their pretext is an appeal to sensibility and safety, they are nibbling away at the most fundamental assurance of the transfer of Liberty from this generation to the next. And they are doing so with a clear motive to disable that assurance — “the right to keep and bear arms.”

For those of us who are “keepers of the flame,” engaged first and foremost every day in the fight to preserve Liberty, this persistent encroachment is the direst threat of all.

The Second Amendment is not negotiable, period. The Left’s perennial claims of “common sense” infringements, ostensibly for “public safety,” are a smokescreen for their statist agenda. In fact, this most fundamental of all unalienable rights, the First Civil Right, and the most powerful assurance of public safety. As Benjamin Franklin warned, “They that can give up Essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Unable to win 2A concessions by way of the ballot box, leftists have resorted to the tyranny of executive and regulatory measures. These means will have to suffice until they can resort to Second Amendment alterations as decreed by the “despotic branch,” Thomas Jefferson’s term for an unchecked judiciary that could treat the Constitution as “a mere thing of wax … which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

If the Socialist Democrat Party and its Leftist cadres prevail in 2016, they will advance the so-called “living constitution,” and the most fundamental assurance of Liberty will be in greater peril than at any time in American history.

For the record, here is the authentic and enduring context for the Second Amendment’s proscription against government infringement of “the right to keep and bear arms.”

~The Declaration and Constitution~

The foundational assertion of our Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator [not man] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among [not over] Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed [not the government].”

The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence refers to “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” which informs the “unalienable rights” as “endowed by their Creator” in the second paragraph.

On the occasion of the Declaration’s 50th anniversary, James Madison (our Constitution’s principal author) wrote to Thomas Jefferson (our Declaration’s principal author), affirming that the Constitution was subordinate to the Rights enshrined in our Declaration. Madison noted, “On the distinctive principles of the Government … of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in … The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.”

In other words, although the Articles of Confederation and its successor, the U.S. Constitution, were the contractual agreements binding the several states into one union — E Pluribus Unum — the innate Rights of Man identified in the Declaration are the overarching act of that union, and would never be negotiable by way of “collective agreement and compromise.” Nor are those Rights negotiable today or tomorrow.

Thus, the “innate and inalienable right” to Liberty is enshrined in our Constitution, the latter establishing Rule of Law in order to protect those rights. And the Rights of Man are only as sustainable as they are defensible.

~Bill of Rights~

Two years after the ratification of our Constitution in 1789, a Bill of Rights consisting of Ten Articles was attached to the new Constitution — but only after great disagreement on whether the enumeration of these “innate and inalienable rights” was required. Alexander Hamilton aptly summed up the basis for this disagreement in Federalist No. 84: “I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. … For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?”

Indeed, when read in context, the Bill of Rights is an affirmation of inalienable rights and a clear reiteration of constraints upon the central government in regard to infringement of those rights. Nowhere does it suggest that such rights are amendable.

These rights were enumerated, according to those who favored inclusion, in order to explicitly recount the rights of “the people,” as noted in the Bill of Rights Preamble: “The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…”

In other words, our Founders argued that they enumerated both “declaratory and restrictive clauses” in order to “prevent misconstruction or abuse of [central government] powers” that would infringe on the inherent rights of the people.

~Article Two, The Second Amendment~

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” —Article Two of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

In context, “a well regulated Militia” refers to “the People,” as defined by the Virginia Declaration of Rights (June 12, 1776) Article XIII, which refers to “a well regulated militia” as “the body of the people.” Our Founders believed “that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty” because those armies could empower the central government to overthrow the Liberties of the Republic. Thus, an armed populace ensured a check against such usurpation.

As Madison wrote, “The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any…”

Those words ring truer today than ever — and it is precisely that “barrier against the enterprises of ambition” that leftists would most like to demolish.

History is replete with tragic examples of what happens when that “barrier against the enterprises of ambition” is not there. Tyrants have risen and tens of millions have perished as a direct result.

The Second Amendment’s assurance of the right, nay, the responsibility to keep and bear firearms, empowers our ability “to Support and Defend” our Constitution against the usurpation of Rule of Law from “enemies, domestic and abroad.” For that reason, any discussion about the Rights of Man is nothing more than hypothetical unless it includes the ability to defend those rights — which is why our advocacy for the Second Amendment is utterly inseparable from our advocacy of Liberty.

Justice Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison, wrote in his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States” (1833), “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

While many Americans choose not to be gun owners, they are dangerously misinformed if they do not understand that their rights are assured by those of us who shoulder this obligation.

Let me reiterate: The Second Amendment is not a “negotiable right.”

The bottom line: When debating the Second Amendment, there are three points that are often neglected.

First, possession of firearms is a deterrent against countless millions of crimes, as made clear in studies of convicted felons, who tell researchers that they choose victims who are least likely to be able to defend themselves. Second, there are more than a million crimes thwarted every year by those who defend themselves with a firearm.

And finally, the Second Amendment is, first and foremost, about protection of our Constitution and the Liberty it enshrines. As I have oft noted, handguns are for personal and home defense. But semi-automatic rifles, mislabeled by Socialist Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists as “assault rifles,” are for protection of those who would infringe on the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” If you find that notion unsettling, then I encourage you to learn more about the history the statist tyranny assault on American Liberty.

And for the record, despite claims to the contrary, banning the sale of those guns has had dubious results in terms of reducing the rare but sensational use of such firearms by mass murderers.

Again, “The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any…” –James Madison (1788)

Our Patriot Post mission is “advocating individual Liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values.” That mission, which embodies core principles of generations of American Patriots to this day, is only as sustainable as it is defensible.

(I recommend for your review the extensive commentary I have devoted to our Second Amendment, and its role as “the palladium of the liberties” of our Republic. Read more here and visit our Patriot Post Shop to purchase our Second Amendment items.)

References:

Quotes on 2A and Self Defense
Ronald Reagan: The Gun Owner’s Champion
Charlton Heston: The Second Amendment
2016 Presidential Field on Guns and Liberty

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

Follow Mark Alexander on X/Twitter.

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NOTES:

What follows are a few key notes that all defenders of American Liberty and its foundational guarantor, the Second Amendment, should be prepared to articulate, in order to refute the rhetorical gun control agenda disinformation propagated by Democrats and their Leftmedia publicists.

While some of this data is based on annual findings, most of that data does not vary significantly year over year.

FOOTNOTE 1: Regarding so-called “gun violence,” there were approximately 19,600 homicides involving firearms in the U.S. in the latest year of record, which you can view state by state. Fortunately, there are indications that homicides may be declining after the significant surge of violence unleashed by Biden and his Democrat agitators in 2020. The 2022 homicide rate was 30% higher than in 2019.

The Demos ubiquitously and falsely label the generational murderous contagion they have seeded as “gun violence,” and they focus exclusively on the infrequent high-profile “mass shootings,” which account for only a tiny fraction of all homicides. More than 99% of murders in the U.S. are not the result of mass attacks. (Notably, guns don’t commit violence, thugs and sociopaths commit violence.) The oft-cited Gun Violence Archive defines a “mass shooting” as any incident that involves a “minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed.” The vast majority of those violent attacks are the result of drug and gang violence committed in Democrat-controlled urban centers.

In a country and culture that ignores the rising generation of sociopathic murderers — mostly thugs in violent urban centers who are saturated with cultural violence and indoctrinated with mass-media glorification of violence — it is fortunate that the incidence of mass murder is not 10 times higher. Arguably, the only thing keeping that number from being higher is that 125 million Americans are legal and responsible gun owners.

Democrats don’t focus on the vast majority of murders, particularly the epidemic of black-on-black murders on their decaying urban poverty plantations, because they want to avoid the “inconvenient truth” about race and violence, which is the direct result of failed Democrat social programs. In fact, black people (13% of the population), are 12 times more likely to be murdered, per capita, than white people (62% of the population).

That gross racial disparity in murder rates isn’t useful for the gun control narrative Democrats invoke to evoke emotional reaction from mostly wealthy white suburban women, who form the Demos’ largest voter constituency.

FOOTNOTE 2: Regarding so-called “mass shootings,” for the record, murders of multiple people by one assailant are very rare in our nation of 335 million people. Less than 1% of all murders nationwide are classified as “mass shootings” and high-profile attacks, such as the 2017 mass murder in Las Vegas, are extremely rare.

The FBI defines “active shooter incidents” as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” In 2022, the FBI reported 50 incidents resulting in 313 casualties (100 killed and 213 wounded). That number was up significantly from 2020 when the FBI reported 40 incidents resulting in 164 casualties (38 killed and 126 wounded).

A broader record of “mass shooting” data is maintained by the Associated Press and Northeastern University, which uses the Department of Justice definition of mass public shooting: “A multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms.” These numbers fluctuate significantly year over year, and they range between 20 and 40 incidents. But notably, over the last 30 years, the number of black mass assailants is almost as high as the number of white assailants.

Democrats focus on these rare instances of multiple murders because these high-profile tragedies are political fodder to foment fear — most notably when they can toss out their oft-repeated but erroneous claim that “gun violence is the leading cause of death for children.” If by “children” they mean gang and drug-associated murders of those primarily between the ages of 16 and 21, then yes. Democrats are experts at fomenting fear and division.

The fear and angst Demos intentionally propagate are taking a toll on Americans’ mental health. Psychological researcher Dr. Riana Elyse Anderson observes: “Watching it time and time again on your phone or on the headlines can really impact you in ways that I don’t think we knew before to be as impactful. It’s so ‘in our face’ all the time and we have access to so much footage, so many pictures, so many videos, so many accounts that we’re ingesting it in ways that’s really unhealthy for us.” The result for many mothers, in particular, is an irrational fear that their children will be shot. That is precisely the fabricated fear Democrats want to perpetuate, especially among their female constituents, in order to advance their gun control agenda.

FOOTNOTE 3: Regarding what Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists ubiquitously and falsely label “assault weapons,” an actual assault weapon, commonly known as a “machine gun,” is select-fire and can rapidly cycle rounds in fully automatic sequence. Very few select-fire weapons are in civilian hands, and only then subject to stringent licensing requirements.

In fact, civilian firearms in common use, like the AR-15 and other semiautomatic sporting and hunting rifles, are not “assault rifles.”

For much the same reason the Demo/Media talkingheads focus only on rare high-profile “mass shootings” to generate fear and angst, they also call semi-automatic rifles sometimes used in those attacks, “assault weapons.” Predictably, Demos then call for what Hillary Clinton framed decades ago as “common sense gun laws,” inevitably followed by calls for an “assault weapons ban.”

In 1994, Bill Clinton banned the sale of “military-style assault weapons,” but that ban was not renewed 10 years later because it was determined the ban had no effect on crime reduction. According to Rand Research, “We found no qualifying studies showing that bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines decreased any of the eight outcomes we investigated.”

The fact is, rifles and shotguns combined are used in less than 3% of all homicides, but Democrats never let facts get in the way of their “assault weapon ban” political agenda.

Both the Clintons were prolific prevaricators, masterful obfuscators of the truth. And Joe Biden has followed their template, establishing himself as the standard bearer of the “lying dog-faced pony soldier” cavalry.

FOOTNOTE 4: Regarding firearms and violent crime, researcher John Lott reports, “Over 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms.” Again, the only thing keeping that number from being much higher is that 125 million Americans are legal and responsible gun owners.

FOOTNOTE 5: Regarding firearms and suicide, almost 60% of all deaths involving firearms are suicide, most also involving drug or alcohol abuse. But the big numbers promoted in “gun violence” reports do not distinguish between murder and suicide, thus implying that homicide rates are much higher. And does this mean that Demo support for assisted suicide is in conflict with their support for gun control?

FOOTNOTE 6: Regarding alcohol versus firearm deaths, if Democrats are serious about protecting Americans, they should outlaw alcohol. Alcohol abuse is far more deadly than firearm abuse. More than 178,000 people died from alcohol abuse last year — that’s NINE times the number of homicides associated with firearms. Drunk drivers are responsible for 37 deaths per day. And notably, it is estimated that alcohol is a key factor in at least 30% of homicides where the assailant uses a firearm. (Include drug dealing or use as a factor and that number jumps to about 60%.)

Of course, the vast majority of alcohol users possess and use it legally and responsibly. Likewise, the vast majority of firearm owners possess and use them legally and responsibly. Enacting a prohibition on firearms is tantamount to enacting a prohibition on alcohol. In both cases, only law-abiding users obey the laws.

BOTTOM LINE: Let me restate this point — only law-abiding citizens abide by the law. Only outlaws perpetrate acts of violence. Making good people helpless won’t make bad people harmless.


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