Question of the Day: Do Gun Rights Come from God?

It’s a pretty simple idea, really. Humans have a God-given right to self-defense. Despite what’s commonly called The Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t confer this or any other right. The first ten Amendments protect our “inalienable” rights from the government. Even if you don’t believe in God it’s a pretty compelling set-up; one that’s protected individual liberty for over three centuries. Not so says Norman Lear, the man who unleashed right wing straw man Archie Bunker into our cultural gestalt. His HuffPo screed Paul Ryan: God Says That I Can Carry a Gun? makes it clear that the founder of People for the American Way has a different view of the American way . . .

Religious Right leaders are excited that Rep. Paul Ryan, in accepting Mitt Romney’s invitation to be his running mate, said that our rights come from nature and God, not from government . . .

Now, am I crazy to suspect that his “God not government” usage is less an homage to Thomas Jefferson or John Locke than it is a rhetorical boost for the right-wing project to claim a divine mandate for the Tea Party’s radically restricted view of the role of government?

Trick question! It’s both. And the idea of a restricted government is no more radical today than it was when the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution. Or, more accurately, it’s just as radical as it was when the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution. And just as valid.

But that’s my take. Norman has other ideas.

Let’s celebrate the legacies from our founders, and at the same time maintain a healthy skepticism toward those who use the rhetoric of nature and God to deny the government’s role in promoting the general welfare or securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Oy vey. Anyway, do you believe our gun rights are God-given/”natural”?

comments

  1. avatar Silver says:

    Progressives are, by and large, more fanatically religious than conservatives. Except their “god” is government, and progressivism their religion (cult?).

    I believe rights come from the natural, neutral state of primal humanity. Humans are born free to do as they wish with their time on this earth. Any law or societal governance restricting that is oppressive (though, obviously, a pact is made between society and the individual such that some personal compromises are acceptable). The Bill or Rights, however, pretty well lays out those natural rights which are never, ever, to be compromised away.

    Rights are natural, and to believe they are gifted from a higher power, whether a god or government, is to contradict the untainted freedom that rights guarantee and symbolize.

    1. avatar JFP says:

      Exactly, they’ve shot down the “Sky God” and now working to elevate a new big G, Government. Bow before the tech-priests and our leaders the intelligensia.

  2. avatar Aharon says:

    Our ‘rights’ to defend ourselves come from God and/or nature, and not from some government that consists of human beings. Defending oneself and others is the way of things. It is what keeps a life alive just like taking the action to eat, swallow medicine, etc.

    Buddhism often teaches a follower non-violence or pacifism in response to a violent act to oneself or another. In taking such non-action the Buddhists still believe that they are ‘defending’ the purity of their souls by not fighting. That is their personal choice and I nether condemn nor condone it.

    My belief and choice it that I have an ethical responsibility to defend my life and others from the external violence of others. To not do so is a spiritual violation to me. To have a government organization attempt to limit me is a violation of my spiritual beliefs and an oppression of my physical person. In a sense the government has joined in partnership the threat to my person.

    I suspect that many that entrust in big government to their protection have discarded traditional religious identity and self-reliance, and have re-created the government in their minds as a religious institution. I also suspect that they are seeking a mommy-daddy entity to provide for and protect them.

    Since they are made up of mere peope, I don’t defer and obey the religious teachers and institutions within the general framework of my own spiritual belief system. Why should I defer to modern day government whose political-religious beliefs are opposed to rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

    Live free and strong.

  3. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    Tough to believe in god-given rights when you don’t believe in god. Somehow, this does not make my rights any less valid. 😉

    1. avatar ChrisH says:

      Or you could of course be, being too pedantic. Just substitute “god” for your method of creation that resulted in you having thought and the instinct for self-preservation.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        “Or you could of course be, being too pedantic.”
        ——
        Not looking for a religious debate; just answering Robert’s question in my own way.

        “Just substitute “god” for your method of creation that resulted in you having thought and the instinct for self-preservation.”
        ——
        Hmm. “Evolution-given rights”? “Big-bang-given rights”? “Rational-thought-and-deduction-based-on-overwhelming-physical-evidence-given rights”? Doesn’t quite work out. I’ll stick with “natural rights”.

    2. avatar Tim McNabb says:

      “Tough to believe in god-given rights when you don’t believe in god. ”

      It’s far more important that “I” believe your gun rights com from God.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        I think you make a good point, Tim. It really does not matter why you believe my (or anyone’s) rights are to be held as inviolate, so long as you believe it. Cheers.

  4. avatar IdahoPete says:

    If your rights are granted by the government, the government is entitled to take them away whenever it feels like it. That is why the Founding Fathers used the phrase “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …” in the Declaration of Independence. Rights endowed in us by our Creator cannot (legitimately) be taken by the government. Governments can take human rights away by force, and have done so every chance they get. THAT is what the 2nd Amendment is about – not hunting or recreational shooting, but to make it expensive for the government to violate your human rights.

    The 2nd Amendment doesn’t guarantee victory in the human rights vs. government tyranny struggle, but it does make it more costly for the tyrants and gives the people some chance – if they are willing to put their lives on the line for freedom.

    And when Obama mentions that phrase, he omits the “by their Creator” part of it. The left has been trying to destroy Americans’ belief in God for the last 100 years. One of the purposes of this secularization of American society is to legitimize the left’s destruction of the Constitution and our unalienable rights.

    1. avatar Dru says:

      IdahoPete, the document states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” before your quote, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ”

      So as I have said before in this forum, a bunch of land holding white men decided that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Funny it was not self evident to everyone else. (were slaves allowed to own firearms/land/vote )

      In short, “Do Gun Rights Come from God?” No.

      Are they “Natural?“ again, No. If they were, why would be having this discussion?

      Gun rights or any other rights for that matter, come directly from men, agreed upon by men, about specific men. This is clearly visible in any research about either natural law or religion.

      It is a silly fairytale and intellectually dishonest to think anything else is true.

      1. avatar IdahoPete says:

        So it is OK if I can find enough specific men to agree that you have no rights, and we can then kill you? That’s how “People’s” governments work.

        1. avatar Dru says:

          exactly! look at our history as the human race. That is how “PEOPLE” work.

          read the diatribe on this or any other site. the “other” is almost always “less” human than we are, and we will not shed a tear when “they” are gone.

        2. avatar Greg Camp says:

          Dru, you’re confusing practicality with rights. A mob can exert force against someone, but that doesn’t mean that they are acting within their rights. A mob can decide to infringe on a right, but the right continues to exist.

      2. avatar Tommy says:

        The right to defend one’s self is natural whether against government tyranny or criminals. It is a natural progression to use the latest technology for that defense.

  5. avatar Jim March says:

    Sigh.

    OK. Here’s the situation. Back around 1776 the guys that started this whole USofA thing had a crazy idea. NOT that “rights come from God”, although that sounds radical enough today. What mattered most to listeners of that period was the idea that rights DO NOT COME FROM SOME A$$HOLE SITTING ON A THRONE as was the dominant view across Europe. Or from any other human form of government. The radical part was that rights are “inalienable” – part of what we are as a species.

    If rights were not going to come from a king or parliament, then they had to come from someplace else. In 1776 the only other “someplace else” they could wrap their heads around was “God”…because a gent name of Charles Darwin hadn’t come along yet.

    Some have claimed that an atheist cannot fully appreciate the American view of civil rights. Wrongo. The other possible source of our rights is “they’re part of what we are as a species, created from our nature”. We can actually see efforts among animals to protect civil rights. Try this: go to Alaska, find a wolf pack that’s just downed a caribou and is settling down for dinner and try and take away said meal. You’ll find out right quick that they have a very advanced notion of “property rights”.

    All of our ancestors were “pack animals” that just like those wolves, banded together for mutual protection of civil rights – in this case the right to property. Gray whales do group defense – when travelling up or down the US west coast between Alaska and Mexico the pod not only travels together, they send out pairs of scouts (usually young males but others will fill in if needed) up to 20 miles ahead of, behind and to the sides of the pod, checking out potential threats and reporting back in by communication through the water at that range. They don’t defend territory or property, only the lives of the pod members.

    This is also a theory as to the origin of rights that doesn’t rest on rights being handed to us by some other human agency, and is just as valid as the “God thing”.

    Either way, it’s not the actual source that matters, it’s what the source -=isn’t=-.

    1. avatar Matt says:

      Well written.

    2. avatar Doctorscorry says:

      I don’t think that Darwin is an exact opposite of God, yet he is always portrayed as so. He himself was a Christian, a very active one at that, and cited that he studied the things he did so he could find out how God made things work. People always say that Science and God are arch rivals, but why can they not understand that God is the greatest Physicist or the best chemist. He created everything in a working order, in a manner that we are still figuring out and studying.

  6. avatar Mr. Pierogie says:

    Really? You need a god to have rights, any rights? Seriously? Look, I’m not trying to offend anyone here who holds religious beliefs, but since I don’t believe in a deity, does that mean that I have no rights? You can practice your religion in your choice of congregation and denomination, but must we mix god into everything for everyone?
    Two words baby, religious freedom. That also means free NOT to believe in any religion.

    1. avatar IdahoPete says:

      You have a mistaken impression of most of us who share the Judeo-Christian belief in God. We don’t care whether you or not you share our beliefs – we believe that human rights are endowed in ALL humans, no matter what their beliefs. That includes atheists, Muslims, animists, Buddhists, whatever – freedom of religion (one of the fundamental freedoms) includes all religions and no religion.

      Admittedly, a fairly large percentage of the world Muslim population has a problem with that freedom, but if they live in America they will have to at least pretend to be OK with it.

      It is interesting that the greatest numbers of the 100 million(+) citizens who have been murdered by their governments over the last 100 years have been ruled, and murdered, by atheists. Atheists acting under the authority of their officially atheistic communist governments. Or do you think the governments of the USSR, Red China, and Pol Pot were believers in God? Religious wars over the last 5000 years have been pikers in killing people, compared to the atheists under communism.

      Do I blame American atheists who are not communists for that democide? No. As long as you are not trying to destroy my human rights by claiming the government has given them to me (and can take them away), I don’t care what you believe. I’m in the LUTHA Party, hombre. Leave Us The Hell Alone.

      1. avatar Mr. Pierogie says:

        This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read this week. Look up the stats on prison population in the US. Tiny fraction are atheists, majority are religious. You could infer from that sample that it’s also true for most other countries. I’m not here to defend atheists (but thanks for attacking them anyway). You really think all those governments were run by atheists, huh? Good luck with that.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          having worked in a prison i can tell you, any religious conversion an inmate has is mostly to look good in front of the board so he can get out early. most moves they make are to get released early, once outside they have a tendency to “backslide”

      2. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        “It is interesting that the greatest numbers of the 100 million(+) citizens who have been murdered by their governments over the last 100 years have been ruled, and murdered, by atheists.”
        ——
        Why only count those in the last hundred years? Because going back the last two thousand would destroy the argument, that’s why.

    2. avatar Tim McNabb says:

      So, how is the track record of atheist societies in protecting the rights of individuals the last century or so?

      Feel free to not believe, but let’s show a little respect if for nothing else practical reasons. Inalienable rights endowed by a creator works for atheists if the theists take it seriously.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        “So, how is the track record of atheist societies in protecting the rights of individuals the last century or so?”
        ——
        In a word, terrible. It is my opinion (and you’re certainly free to disagree) that this results more from the fact that people in power inevitably come to abuse that power if allowed to hold said power long enough, and less from any disbelief in a supreme being.

      2. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

        Your belief in this supernatural being baffles me. And the idea the somehow god is a prerequisite for all these rights…even more perplexing. We should be talking about the social contract, the limited role of government and the general equilibrium that the society at large is trying to achieve in order to sustain itself. Not about some imaginary friend for adults…

        1. avatar Bill says:

          You must need a ladder to stand on as everything in this discussion seems to go right over your head.

        2. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

          Really? How’s that? I think the opposite is true. I should duck and cover to avoid being hit with the nonsensical premises about how there can be no rights, unless first approved and distributed by some higher power. We should try to determine what the laws should be based on what is good and moral in itself, not because some guy in the clouds decides for you. Reason over dogma my friend.

      3. avatar int19h says:

        Any society with an “official” religion and/or ideology is always bad for rights of individuals. This includes those societies where atheism was such an ideology (or really rather part of something bigger – e.g. in USSR state atheism was a part of communist ideology, not a thing in and of itself). This also includes those societies where Christianity, Islam etc are such an ideology. People need a moral excuse to trample over the rights of others, and “my way or the highway” ideologies let them do that with impunity while proclaiming their moral superiority. Whether it’s Stalin or Mullah Omar or Rick Santorum, all these people know that they’re right, and you’re wrong, and they have a divine right to fix your wrong and make it right, by force if necessary.

  7. avatar Hinshelworld says:

    The idea that god or any sort of religion provides the right to carry a gun is simply a ludicrous notion.

    1. avatar jkp says:

      Indeed.

      But what scares me more are the religious nuts who deny the right to self-defense in the spirit of ‘turning the other cheek’.

      If your religion commands you to give up your rights to enter heaven…that’s probably a sign that you need to consider a different religion.

    2. avatar Darth Mikey says:

      Well, if you go by scriptures, the Old Testament actually goes so far as to mandate the Tribes to commit genocide for land, and the Koran allows bending of certain mandates in order to protect yourself and your people. The New Testament is more like the Buddhists in the whole putting aside violence thing, which was darn radical for it’s time. (The Romans feared the pacifism bred by early Christians would weaken the empire.) But the Buddhist “warrior” monks agree that self defense and defending others is necessary if you want to revere life.

      Me, I’m kind of fond of the Shinto take: Weapons can be beautiful things, divinely inspired, and don’t necessarily have to be used to slaughter. On the other hand, killing isn’t wrong because it’s “evil”. It’s “messy”, destructive, dirty, wasteful. So either avoid it or be well prepared to “clean up after yourself” (literally and metaphorically: make it right).

  8. avatar BLAMMO says:

    … The first ten Amendments protect our “inalienable” rights from the government. …

    Correction: The first 10 Amendment require the government to protect those rights from infringement by anyone. The Constitution is the people speaking to the government.

    All rights are universal and self-evident. None are conferred by God nor man, and none may be revoked. Every living being has the right to self preservation. Even plants have defense mechanisms. Humans have large brains, which provide for the use of technology (e.g., arms) in self defense.

  9. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    The differences in semantics between “God-given” and “naturally inherent” are irrelevant. What matters is that no individual (or group of individuals) can justly initiate aggression against another. “Gun rights” specifically are a property right. “Self defense” is a life right. An honest person recognizes those rights as sacrosanct through the if-it-happened-to-me rationale.

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      +1 and well said, Hank.

    2. avatar Aharon says:

      Thank you Henry!!! The semantics are irrelevant. IMO, a person (at least in this discussion) can define ‘God’ or ‘Natural’ and their relation in any way they choose. I could just as easily defined God as a non-entity, non-conscious natural force to describe how the universe and all life within it exists. OK, it’s too early for this stuff. I’m going to take a break and go make a large bowl of cold gazpacho soup since today is going to be another hot day.

      1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

        Gazpacho?? Fancy Pants! 🙂

    3. avatar Darth Mikey says:

      Perfectly put!

    4. avatar jwm says:

      gotta say +1

    5. avatar Michael B. says:

      +1

      Saving this comment.

  10. avatar Hunley says:

    Our founding was based on the concept of the sovereign individual. What seemed common sense at the time of the drafting of The Constitution has been deemed “right wing nut job” today. Were it not for Paine and others pushing for the Lee Resolution, a requirement that the Constitution contain verbage to RECOGNIZE (not grant) these inalienable rights, we would probably be up Ye Olde Creek sans Ye Olde Paddle. The popular election of Senators, the New Deal, and Socialism in its many flavors eroded the sovereignty concept more and more every generation. Now we’re worrying about STATE sovereignty as well.

    Maybe Roberts was right. People get the government they ask for.

  11. avatar jwm says:

    correct me if i’m wrong. isn’t norman lear a jew? still another jew for gun control. that makes as much sense as mlk joining the klan. must be something in the water in hollywood.

    1. avatar Aharon says:

      jwm,

      There are a surprising number of modern orthodox and libertarian leaning Jews (like me) that own guns. However, it the large community of loud liberal anti-gun Jews who are the vocal face to the public. Many Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jews support the right and responsibility of a person to defend against an attacker yet their near obsession in life is in their spiritual practices. Those guys usually don’t own a TV set or a pair of blue jeans.

      Why Jews Hate Guns
      http://jpfo.org/articles-assd02/why-jews-hate-guns.htm

      1. avatar jwm says:

        interesting site, aharon. i’ll spend more time there in the near future.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Pardon me for being prosaic, but our “natural” rights — such as the RKBA embodied in the Constitution — do not emanate from a deity. In fact, there is no reference to any deity in the Constitution. That’s very telling, since the Founders had no qualms about invoking god when they chose to. So, no, the RKBA does not come from the almighty; it comes from a more earthly source, namely English Common Law.

    1. avatar Edwin Herdman says:

      There’s a lot of interesting comments throughout this article, but I wanted to talk about John Locke instead, and the gradual alteration of what is believed by philosophers and legal scholars (as well as many people of common sense) in the years since the Constitution was written.

      John Locke is considered the paramount inspiration for the form of government in the United States. His two arguments for the existence of God are very famous, but no longer seriously considered – partly because they do not really address the skeptic’s problems (like those of David Hume). He is currently best regarded for his work on human rights, but in a form that is arguably different from how he understood it. A phrase he uses, the “state of nature,” is seen earlier in works by Thomas Hobbes and others, and even earlier in St. Thomas Aquinas (more on that in a moment). Locke seems to track Aquinas (Catholic, natural law) better than Hobbes (“natural law,” but not optimistic about God’s ability to reveal right to men in a state of nature). (The Catholic natural law tradition is not often referred to in American legal scholarship, but it is a reasonable and consistent position that more people probably ought to be familiar with.)

      For Locke, the state of nature has many good aspects. Life is not “nasty, brutish, and short” as in Hobbes, but rather people are a law onto each other, balancing each other out, and using reason to discern (with some help from God’s laws) right and wrong. During John Locke’s lifetime, the policing of London was an evolving affair (see http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Policing.jsp ) and arguably the mainly citizen-backed nature of policing (how do you think one Sheriff kept a town under control? With lots of citizen help, of course) was closer to Locke’s state of nature than what followed after. Whether this disturbed Locke I do not know.

      In the years after Locke’s time, of course, Cartesian-style and other logical arguments for God have been mostly abandoned, and the Christian backdrop for Locke’s ideas has been all but forgotten. For their part, the Founders had more to worry about, including reintroducing the sectarian nightmares that preoccupied Locke when he argued that people could overthrow a government that failed them.

      Two of the most influential legal theorists today, John Rawls and Robert Nozick, differ significantly from each other in how they interpret the Constitution and Locke: Rawls uses the “state of nature” as a thought experiment; Nozick is a libertarian who appeals to the law of nature, and developed Locke’s ideas into the so-called “Lockean proviso;” crucially, neither relies upon any religious grounds to make their cases.

      This more or less mirrors the modern development of thought, which is less interested in the traditional question of “what hath God wrought?” and more with “what is the world like?” It is a reasonable standpoint – but still troubling. Although many people do not believe that arguments that appeal to God are convincing enough, it is universally recognized that if the traditional God could be appealed to, God would provide a very stable source of knowledge of right and wrong. Alas, this is a confusing universe we live in.

      The pugnacious Alexander Hamilton – one of the Federalists and so, during the split Democratic-Republican and Federalist two-party system period, one of the group derided as something like a “big government advocate” by Thos. Jefferson and co. – had this to say about the origin of civil rights: “Bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was “Magna Charta”, obtained by the Barons, swords in hand, from King John.”

      What Hamilton says, and Ralph and myself too (I think), is common sense. However, it is very reasonable to respond to this by saying that this is only the appearance of an origin. Most people will feel that a person’s powers do not spring from themselves, but somehow come from the universe (even this can be questioned, of course) or how it is made up. A person’s motivations and nature may be thought of as self-contained (David Hume, again), but they still must exist in the real world, and depend upon the way things are. Ultimately, it has been much more convenient for Hamilton, Jefferson, and most other legal scholars to state that there simply are some natural laws or self-evident truths, without asking or presuming to know where they come from. So far, this seems to be the best we can ask for.

  13. avatar Dave says:

    There is no God. My right to self defense, along with all the others, exists simply because I exist and not a soul upon this planet is greater than me or has the right to harm me or deprive me of my rights. Personally, I think Christianity is totally not in line with the right to self defense. Yeah, sure Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy a sword, but he also said to turn the other cheek, to offer a thief twice as much as what he orginally stole from you, to obey your masters and remain weak (or meek) because you’ll inherit the earth and all of Heaven’s glories one day.

    1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

      Aren’t those the personal choices of each Christian? Are they not free offer no resistance to an aggressor?

      As long as they aren’t forcing you to do the same (which they aren’t), why do you care what they do? Since you own your own life and body, aren’t you free to defend it or not?

    2. avatar Doctorscorry says:

      Jesus also said that God would help those who help themselves. While yes most teachings point to leaving the outcome in Gods hands, that does not mean he wouldn’t want us to defend ourselves. He gives all Free choice and agency to do as they please. Surely he knew that people would try to harm others, that is why violence was a last defensive resort. Even the apostles carried weapons as when the centurion had his ear cut off and then healed by Christ.
      I think the subject is very much up for discussion but I would say personally that God approves of the use of violence in defense.

      1. avatar Greg Camp says:

        Actually, God helps those who help themselves comes from Benjamin Franklin, not the Bible.

        1. avatar Doctorscorry says:

          Does that make it any less true, God doesn’t believe in free handouts. The prophets and apostles of old had to work. God didn’t just hand Noah an Ark, or hand the holy land over to Joshua, and despite the teachings of some churches I believe that man has to work for eternal life, it isn’t simply handed to him, only made easier and possible by Christ.

      2. avatar Tim McNabb says:

        Feel free to cite where Jesus said “God helps those who help themselves.” I’ve not found it yet.

    3. avatar Bill says:

      There is no God. My right to self defense, along with all the others, exists simply because I exist and not a soul upon this planet is greater than me or has the right to harm me or deprive me of my rights.

      You state there is NO God. Then you state every soul on this planet. Which is it? You don’t believe in God but you believe people have souls?

      1. avatar int19h says:

        A “soul” is often used in common parlance – including by atheists – to mean the sum of all physiological processes in a human being that make him conscious. In other words, soul is what makes body a person. This does not imply that soul is not physical in nature, or that it is immortal.

  14. avatar إبليس says:

    Rights come from whatever your muscles and neurons can make or take. We have gun rights because we won the War of Independence.

  15. avatar Don says:

    Hahaha!

    Rights in the most basic sense do not exist. An animal pretty much only has the “right” to do whatever they can get away with. You have the right to whatever you can take and for only as long as you can hold it against being taken again.

    When society came along rights became whatever the collective agreement allowed. The animal can take whatever the society agrees they all want to be able to take, and if you take something you aren’t allowed to take, you broke the social contract the transgression is reversed by the collective force of the society, and you are either punished or exiled.

    The idea that rights are innate is really a totally abstract philosophical one. That is why the debate is about what rights a person should or shouldn’t have. What are good rights to define vs one’s that will have net negative consequences. The only evidence of a real natural right which doesn’t depend on everyone agreeing it exists is the right that comes with the ability to exert your will.

    Defining abstract rights within a social contract is still good though even though it is ultimately all made up. The net benefit to people’s net happiness is positive with ideas like the golden rule, with rights that essentially state if someone uses power against you in a way that is too overly selfish to their benefit, then society will get your back and exert overwhelming force against the guy who is forcing your hand. This is because for all the competition lore and gross misreading of Ayn Rand, we really prefer a cooperative society and it really does work better. Competition between cooperating entities is a necessary accelerating element to progress, but that I’d different and significantly more complex than the blunt notion that the more competition the better. Because sometimes it is better to ensure no one wins if you can’t, then your energies are spent on destruction rather construction. Selfishness is not something that is good for society, however self interest is. Egoism is good and egotism is bad. Being motivated purely intrinsic desire to be superlative at what it is you are passionate about, uninfluenced by extrinsic motivators such as money and status will indeed serve yourself and society better. This is Rand’s egoism. Greed is are not, as it depends on the extrinsic motications of wealth and status.

  16. avatar Sammy says:

    Paraphrasing a quote from the bible : Jesus said that if a man had no sword “let him sell his garment to get one.” So, I don’t remember chapter and verse, I’m neither a christian nor a religious scholar, but, I would deduce the advise there in to be that you are better off naked than defenseless. I consider that sound advise and from a man that, according to his legacy, displayed violence only once in his life, no less.

    I think we got a fairly accurate view of a defenseless society by the massacre in South Africa a few days ago. And that was considered legal. Where is the U fn N now? Why aren’t they disarming that “police” force for being irresponsible and having no concern for human life. I guess protesting inhuman working conditions is a capital offense in S/A.

    Keep fighting for our 2a rights while we have them.

  17. avatar Chris says:

    No they come from a flying spaghetti monster.

    The right to own guns is rooted in the right of self defense which a conclusion developed from the principle of self ownership.

    Those who wish to take away guns, can only do so by arming some people for the purpose of disarming others. Thus their argument is internally inconsistent and therefore invalid.

  18. avatar Doctorscorry says:

    this is why I think that religion is the only thing that can save America. If people think No god exists than why should we even do anything, we would stand idly by as our rights got trampled on, technically we wouldn’t have any inherent rights!

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Religion might be responsible for more wars and murders than anything else. So I don’t think that fear of retribution in the afterlife will save America. Fear of retribution in this life, well, that just might.

      1. avatar Doctorscorry says:

        yes I agree that everyone from the early Jews and the middle aged Catholics killed a lot of people. That is because they were led by wicked men. Those religions at the base of belief teach people to be selfless, loving, and kind. Surely those can’t be bad things, I personally believe heaven will be heaven because everyone cares about the person next to them more than themselves. If people can believe in the core of those religions, whether it be Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, or Mormonism, I think the world would be better off in the long run. (not to say some atheist are great people, some can pull off being a great person, but most people need a more pronounced moral compass.)

      2. avatar Pascal says:

        The founding fathers understood that you cannot legislate morality and that was to be left to religion. That a God fearing person would not to try to harm others and would try to instead help his neighbors. Religion has its place but we have come to place where people believe they are more enlighted and have a self moral code.

        Having lost any moral code is society, thus, “God made man, but Samuel Colt made them equal”

        We are suppose to be the most enlighted and educated generation ever, but everyday I see example of the opposite.

        1. avatar Doctorscorry says:

          That’s why religion is needed more than ever. Like you said you can’t legislate morality, as the saying goes Locks (in this case laws) are for honest people. If people were more moral and caring we wouldn’t need legislation. If you can pull that off by being a religious person or an atheist, I don’t care as long as it stops the government from breathing down our backs.

        2. avatar Sammy says:

          More religion = more friction.
          Once heads hands and feet are put on deities all they do is fight. I may be wrong, but if you drill deep enough I believe you will find that 99% of the worlds hostilities are religion biased. God, like America is a concept. IMHO we turn natural consistencies into humanoid beings out of fear and narcissism. Chemistry, physics, geometry. These are only 3 of the true omegas in the universe and we don’t look a damn like any of them.

    2. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      Here’s how you can have inherent rights without god:

      I exist. By virtue of that fact, I have every right to continue in that state unless and until I interfere with someone else’s ability to do so. It’s not magic; just rational thinking.

    3. avatar Don says:

      I am intrinsically self motivated to be superlative at what i am passionate about by that passion itself. I am competitive only with myself. My goal is continued self improvement until i croak.

    4. avatar Don says:

      My motivation to do things comes from my own intrinsic desire to be superlative at the things I am passionate about. I do things because I want to improve myself and the world I leave behind until the day I croak. I don’t do things just because I am told to by some purported authority and if I don’t I will be punished. That is pretty inadequate motivation, and that is the historical motivation of organized religion. What we need to save the country are a population of self-motivated people, not externally motivated ones.

    5. avatar int19h says:

      >> If people think No god exists than why should we even do anything

      Because we know what’s good for ourselves – both as individuals, and as a society – by virtue of applying logic and reason?

      >> technically we wouldn’t have any inherent rights!

      You don’t need a God to be a source of inherent rights, because inherent rights don’t necessarily need a source – they can be an object of belief in and of themselves. If everything had to have a source, then God also would have to have a source. Why are you willing to drop that requirement for one entity, but not for another?

  19. avatar Wiebelhaus says:

    It’s amazing to me that as grown, logical and critical thinking adults we are conversing over an imaginary man in the sky, fairy tales. It boggles the mind that this can be serious.

  20. avatar Pascal says:

    The constitution is about limiting govt. The progressives want more govt. control. The problem as always is if the govt. has so much power that it can give you anything, then it also has the power to take it away.

    The question before us is simple, who gives one the right of self defense? In nature, birds have talons, lions have claws and bright colored frogs have poison to tell everyone do not eff with me.

    Men have the right to live and not have their life taken away by another man who wishes nothing but harm. The police cannot be everywhere and while they have the responsibility of protecting society in general, they have no duty to protect you as a single individual. The courts have said so. Retraining orders are nothing more than syntactic suger and make believe fairy dust intended only to stop law abiding citizens and cannot stop acts of passion or mental illness.

    There is this false impression between the self appointed social elites and self appoint intellects that “we are safe” and there is no need for guns. That the police can handle any situation and are only a phone call away and all will be well. They suffer from being near sighted and cannot see the future when all means resistence is finally removed that anyone be it politician or mental patient can enslave people and we can return to a much more violent nation under criminal and currupt rule. They believe that govt. is benevolent, which is wrong — govt’s give the ability, will rule absolutely. The elixor of power makes many politicians drunk with power where in they believe they know what is better for you than you do. They have too much faith in govt.

    We cannot expect the govt. to protect us from every disaster, every criminal and every injustice. That said, the individual is the last line of defense when govt. can and does fail. You can go all the way back to British General Thomas Gage who believed in the rule of law and to natural defense and refused to disarm the colonies. While he did try to limit them and take their power stores, he refused to enforce any act to disarm them because he believed in the right of self defense — dispite the fact that it was leading to what we call the “shot heard around the world” and the Revolutionary War. In his own notes, he became very much aware of liberties and govt. should have limits after he owned some land and realized that at any moment it could be taken away by the king he served.

    We live in a time where many feel entitled and believe the govt. should provide for everything: free education, free medical, free retirement, free mortgage, free food and etc. and whatever else “free” came out of the OWS movement. A daily dose of entitlement from both the MSM and NEA has made a majority of natural born Americans feel entitled and that the govt. should provide everything. The changing demographics where whites are slowly being out numbered and whom have grown dependent on the govt. tit and continue to ask for more insures that there will be a future generation highly dependent on govt. and willing to give up all rights to keep feeding on govt. assistance programs.

    As a nation, we have fogotten how to fight and stand on our own two feat

  21. avatar Greg Camp says:

    As a student and a teacher of the classics, I respect the gods of ancient Greece and of the Norse people. I’m glad that America is officially a secular nation, and in many ways, I agree with People for the American Way.

    We can debate the origin of rights and come up with several plausible and intellectually honest answers. Speaking pragmatically, I want a government that must follow this principle, though: Our rights belong to us by virtue of our being alive. Rights that must be agreed upon can be just as easily taken away, as can rights that the government grants to us–better known as privileges. The operating principle that rights are innate is the only one that will secure the rights of all of us.

  22. avatar Guywithagun says:

    Seriously? God? LOL.

    Wake the fvck up, people. You are responsible for only yourself. All rights are self-given.

    Free men decide for themselves how they want to live. Period.

  23. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

    1. the right to life
    2. the right to self-defense
    3. the right to own a particular inanimate object, such as, a handgun, hand grenade, m-60 machine gun, surface-to-air missile launcher, suitcase nuke.

    Where do you draw the line when talking about natural human rights? Obviously after Number 2 and before getting specific in Number 3.

    1. avatar Greg Camp says:

      I wish that you’d be more careful with the word “obviously.” As I’ve said to you many times before, the right covers personal weapons–weapons designed for one-on-one confrontations. That’s the right of an individual. There’s a sharp line between weapons that I can use in personal conflicts and weapons that can be used for large-scale effects. There’s a sharp line between individual weapons and weapons that require more than one person to operate.

      If you can tell me how I can use a suitcase nuke without harming innocent people, I’ll listen. As far as I’m aware, there is no way to do that. Rockets are a lower category of danger. People do launch privately owned rockets, and while that’s regulated, it’s not banned entirely. That makes sense. A rocket can be used without harming innocents, although its dangers do warrant some extra scrutiny. Personal firearms have many uses that harm no innocent person. The danger there is much lower than the other items in your list of weapons.

      But consider your list of rights. How is a right to self-defense practical without the means to exercise that right? Without effective tools, a right is theoretically interesting, but not a pragmatic reality.

      1. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

        Greg, admit it, you’re just making this shit up as you go along.

        “weapons designed for one-on-one confrontations”

        That’s a new one. We’ve all heard the silly argument that the idea is that it applies to weapons a single man can carry, as in “bear,” but now you’re talking about one-to-one confrontations.

        1. avatar AJ says:

          The only thing more dangerous than an ignorant person is an ignorant person in a position of power. Fortunately, you only fall into the first category, and have been sufficiently outed on multiple forums to wield any power or true influence. Self defense and mass murder on a nuclear scale are clearly different issues. I will say that owning a SAM launcher would be bad ass, albeit uber-expensive to run.

  24. avatar Gw says:

    For whatever benefit may be derived, ( if any ) by visitors to this excellent website who may have only recently entered into the realm of the ongoing ‘gun control controversy’, and not yet fully grasped the philosophical concept of “Rights” —
    a simple question may prove to be of some use.
    Q = “If you were the only person on the planet, what “Rights” would you have?”

    1. avatar mikeb302000 says:

      Now it’s clear, finally. If I were the only one, obviously I’d have the god-given right to own a handgun.

  25. avatar Joe Black says:

    Jesus said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”.
    —Luke 22:36, NIV

    I’m a simple non denominational Christian. This simple statement says it all for me. I have been told by a legion of people that I am taking this out of context when I tell them this is the original, god given, 2nd amendment and that I need no mans law to tell me ( quoting Ted Nugent here) ” when, how, and, if I can defend myself”

    That said, I have studied the whole book of Luke, and I do take it in the proper context since there is no ambiguity in Jesus’ s simple, direct, statement to his followers. I have also been told that the garden of gesheme incident contradicts this statement. However, when Jesus stopped Paul (I think it was Paul, correct me if I’m wrong) from engaging in close combat when he cut the ear off , all Jesus said was something to the effect of: ” now is not the time”

    Peace!
    JB out

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