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 — undermining the Second Amendment on the pretense of “solving” America’s “gun problem.”
He 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 New Year’s resolution 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.
“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.
Though Obama and his most likely heir, Hillary Clinton, are on the same gun confiscation page, Bloomberg is now testing the waters for a third-party presidential run in the event Clinton is busy answering federal indictment charges. (Run, Mike, run!)
While Obama, Bloomberg and Clinton, et al., frame their agenda as nothing more than “common-sense gun safety reform,” conservative columnist 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 Democrat “leadership” 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’s guarantee is not negotiable for what the Left claims are “common sense” infringements, ostensibly for “public safety.” In fact, this most fundamental of all unalienable rights is the most sensible 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.”
The upcoming primary contests will determine the contenders for the next executive branch occupant — an election hyper-critical to the composition of the Supreme Court and, by extension, the protection or potential infringement of the Second Amendment. Our next president will likely make at least three Supreme Court appointments, thereby determining the balance of the High Court for decades to come. If the Socialist Democrat Party and its Leftist cadres prevail, 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 you need to learn more about the history the constant assault of statist tyranny on Liberty.
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.)
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis