Do you have to register your freedom of speech?
A few days ago, in discussing the now-famous Cpl Joshua Boston’s meeting with the ever-repellent Piers Morgan, I pointed out that while Boston did well, he did miss an opportunity to make a broader point about why we have the second amendment in the first place. It is a point that, once made, obviates the need to discuss things like the amount of rounds we can have in a magazine or the kinds of guns we can own. I pointed out, in no uncertain terms, that . . .
The Second Amendment was put into place not for hunting or self-defense or skeet-shooting, though all those things are implicit and understood. Rather, the amendment was put in place to provide the citizenry a means of defending themselves against a tyrannical government. That is its EXPLICIT purpose. This concept is explicitly stated in the amendment itself (“necessary for the security of a FREE state”); in the commentaries from the Framers on the subject; in the Federalist Papers; and in early acts of Congress defining the “militia” as an armed general populace.
Boston mentions this briefly, but what he needed to do was stand atop it, proudly. Because at that point, the question, “Why do people need assault weapons that can kill large amounts of people?” is answered simply by a proper understanding of the amendment. The Second Amendment is not there to give you the legal right to own a gun that can allow you to hunt geese. It is there to secure your right to own the kind of gun you’d need to fight a tyrannical government. With that understanding, AR-15s are entirely reasonable.
Needless to say, at this point, most people like Piers Morgan would immediately write you off as a wacko, but when doing so, they also have to write off James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and the rest of the gang. But at least it would end the stupid “Does the 2nd Amendment give you the right to own a gun that can kill so many people” debate. At that point, maybe we could get on to the much more interesting, and much more historically valid debate, “Does the 2nd Amendment give you the right to own rocket launchers, attack helicopters, and fully functional tanks?”
Today, I read a piece by one of America’s most prominent natural-rights libertarians, Andrew Napolitano, that discusses the subject of preexistent human rights and gun rights in that context. It is cogent and brilliant, and you should read the whole thing. It is especially effective when Napolitano points out that
We also defeated the king’s soldiers because they didn’t know who among us was armed, because there was no requirement of a permission slip from the governmentin order to exercise the right to self-defense. (Imagine the howls of protest if permission were required as a precondition to exercising the freedom of speech.)
Imagine those howls indeed. Napolitano begins . . .
The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and a hallmark of personal sovereignty. It is specifically insulated from governmental interference by the Constitution and has historically been the linchpin of resistance to tyranny. Yet the progressives in both political parties stand ready to use the coercive power of the government to interfere with the exercise of that right by law-abiding persons because of the gross abuse of that right by some crazies in our midst.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, he was marrying the nation at its birth to the ancient principles of the natural law that have animated the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West. Those principles have operated as a brake on all governments that recognize them by enunciating the concept of natural rights.
As we have been created in the image and likeness of God the Father, we are perfectly free just as He is. Thus, the natural law teaches that our freedoms are pre-political and come from our humanity and not from the government. As our humanity is ultimately divine in origin, the government, even by majority vote, cannot morally take natural rights away from us. A natural right is an area of individual human behavior — like thought, speech, worship, travel, self-defense, privacy, ownership and use of property, consensual personal intimacy — immune from government interference and for the exercise of which we don’t need the government’s permission.
The essence of humanity is freedom. Government — whether voted in peacefully or thrust upon us by force — is essentially the negation of freedom. Throughout the history of the world, people have achieved freedom when those in power have begrudgingly given it up. From the assassination of Julius Caesar to King John’s forced signing of the Magna Carta, from the English Civil War to the triumph of the allies at the end of World War II, from the fall of communism to the Arab Spring, governments have permitted so-called nobles and everyday folk to exercise more personal freedom as a result of their demands for it and their fighting for it. This constitutes power permitting liberty.
The American experience was the opposite. Here, each human being is sovereign, as the colonists were after the Revolution. Here, the delegation to the government of some sovereignty — the personal dominion over self — by each American permitted the government to have limited power in order to safeguard the liberties we retained. Stated differently, Americans gave up some limited personal freedom to the new government so it could have the authority and resources to protect the freedoms we retained. Individuals are sovereign in America, not the government. This constitutes . . .