By Clifford Heseltine

There is a lot of interest in and discussion of the concept of Constitutional Carry these days, but what exactly are we talking about? The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says, exactly and succinctly: “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.” This doesn’t give you or me or “the people” the right to keep and bear arms. This amendment was simply an affirmation that the people already have the right to keep and bear arms and that the new federal government had no authority to infringe upon that. That’s not a Constitutional right; it is a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right, one of 28 such rights listed in the first seven amendments . . .

Historically it was felt that the Bill of Rights was only applicable as a prohibition against the federal government. The 14th Amendment, however, changed that. The Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUS) began “incorporating” the Bill of Rights, which meant these rights belonged to all of the people and all of the states were also enjoined from inhibiting these natural rights. It was not until the Heller decision (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008) that SCOTUS, with a bare majority (5 to 4) determined that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms and that this right was finally “incorporated” against infringement by the states.

In my opinion the only reason the Founding Fathers did not make this idea of “incorporation” clear at the outset was that the issue did not seem in need of clarification. As a natural and fundamental human right listed as such in the Constitution it seemed only reasonable that the state governments would recognize this as well. Some did, some didn’t, and only one of the 50 states includes the verbatim text of the Second Amendment in their constitution.

So, what is “Constitutional Carry”? There are essentially two schools of thought: 1. The right to keep and bear arms is a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right that is absolute and literal (mine), and 2. Despite what the actual text of the amendment says, government(s) can and should infringe on the RKBA in matters they deem important for public safety. (Wrong.)

Here is the historical evolution of the Second Amendment:

As originally proposed by James Madison in June, 1789: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country, but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

A House committee reworded this in August and submitted: “A well regulated militia composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.

In late August the House again modified the amendment and sent the following version to the Senate:

“A well regulated militia composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

The Senate scribe made some punctuation “corrections”: “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

On September 4, the Senate changed the language again: “A well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

On September 9 it was proposed to insert “for the common defence” next to “bear arms”, but this was defeated. The Senate passed: “A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

And on September 21, 1789 the amendment was accepted by the House containing the additional words “necessary to”: “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.”

The additional wording about who was the militia and that the government could not require you to serve in a militia if it violated your religious principles was not in keeping with the intent of describing an existing human right. To have included that language would have implied that the militia was an organization created, answerable to and “well regulated” by government itself, which was not the intent, a freedom of religious practice is covered by the First Amendment. But notice what wording remained absolutely consistent from the first submission to the final approval: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” On this particular point there does not seem to have been any controversy.

***

Given the amount of debate and discussion and back and forth over more than three months is it not reasonable to assume that these learned men ended with EXACTLY the meaning they intended? If they had considered any limitations to this right being the role of government wouldn’t they have enumerated those exceptions? But these men had just endured a long and costly war against a tyrannical state and this was what they were attempting to prevent in the future. To give the government ANY authority to determine who could and who could not exercise a natural right was to change that right into a privilege administered and licensed by the very government that the amendment was intended to provide protection against. It must be kept in mind that not everyone was keen on the idea of a powerful central, federal government and in fact many of the delegates were concerned about the over-reach of this government if it had too much power. (Turns out they may have been right.) If they included in the text exceptions such as “convicted criminals (or convicted felons) or “persons with mental disorders” they would have allowed the government to pass any law making political enemies into criminals who could not exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Therefore, the Second Amendment, regardless of the opinion of SCOTUS, is and was always intended to be an absolute and unlimited right of the people. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to prohibit the government from infringing on the natural and civil right of the people to keep and bear arms to protect themselves, their family, their community, and their property. It was intended that the people should have the ability to raise and form militias to deal with larger threats, either criminal elements or against the rise of a tyrannical state. It was presumed that individuals or communities could adequately deal with the occasional madman in their midst.

It is the ABSOLUTE right of EVERY person to keep and bear arms in defense of him/herself, their property, their community, and their country. This right cannot be denied to you just because you are a criminal or are insane. The answer is not to surrender YOUR rights to the government, but to exercise those rights as intended. Even a criminal has the right to protect his own life and to bear arms for that purpose. A felon just released from prison still retains that right and WILL obtain arms for that purpose if he so desires. Unconstitutional laws will not prevent that from happening and is only relinquishes OUR rights to government control while it affects the criminal not one whit.

The answer to bad guys with guns is fortunately simple: Good guys with guns. (Where have I heard that before?) Gangs in your neighborhood? Make sure your neighbors have and know how and when to use guns. Problem solved. A psychopath bursts into your school or restaurant (or Navy Yard) intent on mayhem? Shoot the bastard. Problem solved. If this solution bothers the bleeding heart touchy-feelies, perhaps they will find more effective ways to control or care for persons with known mental issues. Crazy people cannot be expected to make good or sane decisions, but those who know people who are dangerous crazy need the incentive of knowing they will be shot dead immediately if they get out of line Perhaps then they will have the incentive to restrain them that seems to be missing today.

By Constitutional Carry we mean exactly this: No government agent or agency has the authority to determine what arms you may keep or bear, where or when you keep or bear them, nor how. They may not determine how, when, where or how often you may purchase arms. The only restraint on this right whatsoever is that if you attempt to use your arms to violate another person’s right to life, liberty or property they, their neighbors, and law enforcement agencies authorized by the community to enforce those individual rights may immediately revoke your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected Second Amendment right by making you dead.

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130 Responses to The Case for Constitutional Carry

    • You can derive the right from the most basic principle, survival:

      Survival is the most basic instinct; but more than just bare existence, we choose how to live and call it liberty, and enjoy the fruit of our labor and call it property.

      Each one of these three steps — life, liberty, property — allows no infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. I call it self-control; I’m certain real philosophers have a better term for it. We have the right to control our self and our property; we also have the duty to control our self and our property.

  1. People have the right to bear arms inside the home. Outside there exists no right to bear, it is a privilege of the state.

    I don’t agree, but that is what is preached here on TTAG.

        • No, carry outside the home and be a douche canoe and subject yourself to ridicule for being a douche canoe. I don’t care if you had anything else strapped to your back, from a wienerschnitzel to a wiener dog, if you’re acting like a jerk, you’re going to get abused. The gun has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

        • I don’t believe for one second that you know what “shall not be infringed” means. If you understood those words you would understand that the bearing of arms is a fundamental right which exists independent of the state granted privilege. You definitely wouldn’t make light of open carriers when they exercise the right. That goes for my exercise of the right to adam kokesh and others.
          I don’t give a damn if you are in favor of concealed carry only, open carry of a small belt holstered handguns, open carry in forests while hunting only, or open carry while wearing fashionable attire. It is this blogs hypocritical position that some carry is better than other carry. That position is not honest and it simply serves to divide.

        • I don’t have time to listen to an hour long video at the moment (no disrespect intended, but it is an hour long), but I did watch it back when the original incident occurred. I will say I never noticed before that, at least on that video, you sound like a young Kevin Costner. “Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left.”

        • To Matt-The gun has everything to do with it!
          Plenty of videos out there, in fact most of them are polite gun rights supporters practicing their right to bear arms who are then harassed by police. To say it’s not about the gun and then too blame the very tiny percentage of gun folks who are abusive is to not understand the situation at all. Very sad to see such a response from a supposed gun supporter who is a regular here.

        • You’re right, and I phrased that wrong. The gun was and is clearly the cause of the contact initiation. My point is that the ridicule that Leonard experiences really has nothing to do with the open carry issue and everything to do with how he presents himself. That is, he doesn’t get abused because he’s open carrying, but by how he comports himself when he is (and when he talks about it later). He comes off as a crazy guy, and nobody wants to stand next to (or with) a crazy guy.

        • Matt in FL says:
          “He comes off as a crazy guy, and nobody wants to stand next to (or with) a crazy guy.”

          Exactly! Open carry all you want, but please don’t swagger! I’m reminded of the video a couple of days ago where a couple of guys were OCing down the street, and when the cop pulled over to chat, they were all attitude. The cops are allowed to consider attitude probable cause. (at least in the People’s Republic of Califormia.) Especially if I’m trying to make a point, it’s insane to, when the cop asks for ID, say, “Well, I don’t have to show you my ID.” That’s attitude, and it gives all 2A supporters a bad name – it’s exactly the kind of crap that the grabbers will milk to its fullest extent to say, “See? I told you so!”

          Give idiots enough rope to hang themselves, but don’t aid and abet them!

        • Rich, are you talking about the “incident” in Texas with the female police officer that MDA made a stink about? I saw the video, honestly I thought everyone involved comported themselves just fine, including the officer. She was respectful, they were respectful, I didn’t see any “attitude”. They refused to show ID, because they were not required to, but what “attitude”?

        • “but what “attitude”?”

          Well, maybe it’s only me, but I live in the People’s Democratic Republic of California, and around here, the police call that “attitude,” and are allowed to consider it “probable cause.” To me, it just seems counterproductive to say, “I don’t have to,” like some kind of petulant kid. If anybody asks for my ID, I’m happy to show them; after all, my name is a matter of public record, and why would I want to withhold that? Even a Libertarian loon like me has no problem with revealing who I am. Why would I not want them to know my name? What am I up to? They might be looking for somebody who fits my description, in which case it’s to my benefit to show them that I’m not that particular suspect. If we expect an armed society to be a polite society, the least we can do is exercise reciprocity and be polite to them..

        • Doody, one Constitutional issue at a time, please. You’ll confuse the liberals and baffle the bad-apple po-po.

        • I used to think the same way when I lived in CA, a little under 3 years ago, Rich. If a cop wants to search my car or my person, why raise suspicion by saying “no”? There’s a video of some cops at the “wrong house” pounding on the door and hassling the occupants inside once they finally got let in. Comments stated that they made it worse and should have just “quit wasting the police’s time”, etc… I would have thought the same way when I lived in CA. Just living in AZ has cured me from that idiocy. A right not exercised is a right lost. Let them ID you, let them search you, because you have nothing to hide, and you no longer have your rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Why the f— would you give that up so easily?
          Just because the police don’t like their authority challenged by someone respectfully declining to ID, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or even a bad idea.

        • But how could I post inflammatory insurrectionist crap on BBSs and blogs if I’m in the hospital recovering from a beating by cops who didn’t like my attitude?

          I guess I’d rather maintain a low profile in public and quietly do my activism on-line.

        • And I only said that I’d show my ID, not that I’d consent to a search. I simply have no problem with people knowing that I’m me.

      • “…[O]pen carrying a modern sporting rifle through a city wearing a bullet-resistant vest is meshugah and asking for it.” Robert Farago 08/31/13

        It’s nice to know where you stand on the subject Robert. LOLZ

        • His point was that in current times, if you’re open carrying a modern sporting rifle through a major city while (or even if not) wearing body armor, it should come as no surprise that you are going to attract police attention, and that your standard practice of “I KNOW MY RIGHTS!” and “AM I BEING DETAINED?” is not only exacerbating the situation, it’s not doing jack to “normalize” the open carry of firearms, which I agree with you should not subject you to a hassle.

          When you act like a complete lunatic at the slightest interaction with law enforcement, that causes those officers to see any and every open carrier they encounter after that through that lens (or at the very least, doesn’t do anything to discourage their preconceptions).

        • Not only do you not understand the second amendment you don’t know anything about the fourth or fifth. People should not talk to cops. People should not submit to searches.

          I am a registered nurse and have some training regarding “lunatics”. Lunatics do not behave as I did.

        • I don’t see the right to be stupid enumerated anywhere in the second amendment. Carry a concealed handgun and whistling while you walk? Not likely to encounter a problem. Dressing like you’re going on the offensive, well buddy, you just pulled a stupid. That has nothing to do with self defense.

      • I think Leonard means that a lot of people here don’t think too highly of open carry, especially as a political statement.

        • I think there’s a time and place for everything, and everything in moderation. OC in the woods – good to go. OC in a cop house – maybe protected, but not too bright.

      • LE sounds like one of those teeny-boppers who really needs to hurry up and move out of Mom’s basement and start paying his own bills while he still knows everything.

        • His point is subjective! He’s coming off as one of those I KNOW MAH RIGHTS YOU PIGS people. Yeah OC has a time and place but what, WHAT, do you hope to accomplish by being an ass to LE? A quick tour of the local jail? A nice verbal sparring match that would make a lawyer cry? Seriously, there’s nothing to gain by making gun owners look the lunatics the left already thinks we are so why?!
          Go ahead and take your time responding. I got all day.

    • Leonard, can you point me to where it says “inside the home” in the second ammendment? Or anywhere else in the Constitution in reference to self defense? I just can’t seem to find it.

        • OK, so I’m an ignoramus. Would you be so kind as to educate me? Exactly which point have we missed? Please use little words, so that they don’t overfly my little pea-brain. Thanks.

        • He can’t be bothered with a response. Much the same way MDA can’t be bothered by comments on Twitter or YouTube.

  2. A natural right is only that which you are strong enough to obtain for yourself. A constitutional right is legislative and determined by politics and society. When the second one limits the former, you can either try to change the politics and society or leave the political body and the benefits it provides. I’m not suggesting civil war, but that would be more useful than going on about natural rights as if they are magical pixie dust that lets you do whatever you want.

    “Therefore, the Second Amendment, regardless of the opinion of SCOTUS, is and was always intended to be an absolute and unlimited right of the people.”

    – That’s a nice interpretation. Really, I’m not being sarcastic, but it is an interpretation. You can demand that everyone see the self-evident 2+2=4 of your argument, but it’s not arithmetic, it’s an essay. And living in a nation of laws and society in general means you cannot simply dictate what the constitution means in practice. I suppose you would argue that your interpretation is better than the USSC’s because of some circular logic (“It’s clearly right!”) but the will of the nation is not to let Mr. Zimmerman decide questions of the constitution. Or, to be less personal, it is absurd to think every person can do whatever they want as long as they believe it’s okay according to their pet constitutional theory.

    So at best it’s an intellectual argument for lawmakers and judges… at worst it’s just a kvetch.

    • Who gets to make interpretations then? there is no part of the constitution that actually grants the government the power of interpretation. Therefore, according to the Tenth Amendment, that power resides in the states and the people.

      • This is so ahistorical it isn’t even wrong.

        You might want to read Federalist 78 and Marbury vs. Madison.

        There were many things, such as judicial review of legislative overreach, so obvious to the Founders that they didn’t bother to mention them explicitly.

        None of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are absolute and unlimited.

      • The interpretation given in the article is good, but look at it this way- your natural rights won’t get you very far if you live in China, or Cuba, and nobody here seems to take great offense at that. Are the citizens of those countries not equally human beings? Are natural rights not inherent as a result of being alive as a human being, regardless of if you think they come from God, the universe, or any other source?

        2+2 does =4, but if the Party says it =5 and you will be sent to the Gulag if you don’t agree, the practical reality is that 2+2 can be considered by the people to =5. This is obviously wrong. But, you can still be killed for it if you happen to live in the wrong country. It is only through the blood, sweat, and tears of Americans who have worked and sacrificed in the past, present, and hopefully into the future that the natural and fundamental rights we have as human beings are preserved.

    • Hannibal says:
      “A natural right is only that which you are strong enough to obtain for yourself. ”

      Maybe it’s only semantics, but you’re wrong.

      A natural right is a natural right, period.* It is only retained and protected from infringement by those of us who are willing and able to do so.

      * perhaps in Newspeak, ‘period’ doesn’t mean what it used to. (see Barack Obama, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, PERIOD!”)

      • “The tree of Liberty must be watered by the blook of patriots and tyrant.” – Thomas Jefferson

        I’m pretty sure what he had in mind was that if you were not willing to fight and die for your liberties (rights) then tyrants were ever ready to come and take them away. Giving in to a bully (or government) is voluntarilly relinquishing your natural rights, it never means that you did not/do not have those rights and whether or not they understand this ALL the oppressed peoples around the world, and in California, New York and Chicago, still have the right to throw of the tyrants if they can find the will, and the means.

        And regardless of legal precedent, SCOTUS is not God and they can and have been wrong before. Dred Scott was decided 7-2 in favor. Read the decision, it is an abomination based on the opinion of MEN, not the wording of the Constitution.

      • Really RG? Where is it written in stone that these natural rights are exist, much less that they are immutable? A bunch of guys back in the 18th century came up with these ideas–ideas that we not then nor are now universally recognized. They were a product of the philosophers and thinkers of that day, both here and in Europe, commenting about the constant tension between individual rights and the rights of society to regulate or control the conduct of its member (hmmm, sounds familiar). Its just like saying, “God exists because I say so.” Oh yeah? Prove it. You can’t. It is an unprovable assumption or premise. It is an opinion on what someone thinks should be, not necessarily what things really are.
        Thus Hannibal is right. The right to keep and bear arms is nothing but an abstract principle that lasts as long as people of will are able to assert and protect it. Just ask Hannibal (or Hasdrubal) about the history of Carthage, an empire that once had unquestioned dominance of the western Mediterranean, that became an unarmed vassal state after the Second Punic War, and a parking lot after the third. Your freedom, your rights, last only so long as you can hold on to them, until someone stronger comes and takes them away.

        And by the way, Dan, you are absolutely wrong that the drafters of the Constitution “did not make this idea of incorporation clear at the outset was that the issue did not seem in need of clarification. As a natural and fundamental human right listed as such in the Constitution it seemed only reasonable that the state governments would recognize this as well.” Bull cookies. Reread Heller, and you will find multiple instances of state regulation of the keeping and bearing or arms; the sole object of the Constitution was to create and limit the posers of a federal government. Many of these men were still stuck on the idea of a confederation of thirteen independent and sovereign states that could do as they pleased within heir own borders, and many had regulations about the keeping and storing of arms, and not too much later, barring the carrying of concealed weapons. The Second Amendment was designed and intended as a check on the federal power alone, not the power of the independent states–that all changed with the 14th Amendment, when someone finally realized that having a federal right but allowing the states to run rampant over it had a tendency to eliminate the exercise of the right.

        • Please do not attack Mr. Zimmerman. This is MY article and he was only the TTAG editor for the post.

          “Your freedom, your rights, last only so long as you can hold on to them, until someone stronger comes and takes them away.”

          Your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected rights last only as long as you are willing to fight for them and prevent anyone else fom taking them away. The right to self-defense is not the same as an ability or even willingness to defend self effectively.

          “…you are absolutely wrong that the drafters of the Constitution “did not make this idea of incorporation clear at the outset was that the issue did not seem in need of clarification. As a natural and fundamental human right listed as such in the Constitution it seemed only reasonable that the state governments would recognize this as well.”

          I stated at the beginning of this paragraph: IMO – In My Opinion. They were enumerating what they believed to be obvious natural rights. Certainly in these debates their would be people who had varying opinions, but they for some reaon did not find it necessary at that time to try to elaborate or attempt to restrain the states. This is my interpretation as to why that may have been the case.

        • Mark N says:
          “Really RG? Where is it written in stone that these natural rights are exist, much less that they are immutable? ”

          It’s not written in stone anywhere that I know of, but it is written on parchment In the Declaration of Independence:
          “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… ”

          Hope this Helps!

        • RG: You make my point for me, though you seem not to recognize it. That which is written by men can be changed by men. That which is believed as absolute truth today may seem as idiocy tomorrow. e world was once flat, you know. My point is simply this:The right to bear arms is not an immutable fact of nature, or of physics. It is a belief system, a logical construct, that may hold sway today and be discarded tomorrow, just as the god of Moses and Abraham as described in the Bible is hardly the God of the Christian churches today. And then there is the vociferous dissent from those that believe that there is only one god and his name is Allah. How often here do we speak of the sheep who allow government to control their lives, often demanding more? The fact is that most men are sheep, happy to be lead, and fearful of freedom and leadership.

          You cite the Declaration of Independence–which is of course no part of the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights. Aside from the fact that it is just a (powerful) piece of paper written by men to be read by other men, and therefore not proof of he immutable nature of the rights of man, I do agree tht it dovetails with the philosophy of the Second Amendment in this particular and important regard: it details the philosophical premise that government is (or should be) of the people, by the people, and for the people, not a government by certain powerful individuals who control the money and the army. This was and is today a massive reversal of the order of life that had been practiced by men for thousands of years. Roe as a Republic had a very short history before I devolved into tyranny and authoritarian aristocracy.

          And this is why I think that Hannibal is correct–freedom must be fought for over and over again. It is not guaranteed, and it is not found in the hearts of men a natural condition of “being”; rather, the race of man tends towards the autocratic leader, towards tyrannical rule and slavery. The founders knew this as well; this is precisely why they designed (brilliantly, IMO) a form of government that derives from the people, and forbade the central government from exercising authority over the chains that were intended to retrain its power–the power to keep and bear arms. Ours is a government of defined powers.
          No more divine rights of kings, the Constitution is a contract between us and the government we created. Unlike most governments in the world, our government is our creature, not one imposed upon us. But that may change, and that is the reason the second amendment is so critical to our future as free men. Again, you are free only so long as you can hold onto your freedom. Constitutional carry is a pipe dream, not a fact of nature like the color of your skin–or we wouldn’t be arguing about it today.

        • OK. Then simply put together two thirds of both Houses or the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, and amend it, per Article V.

          Until then, The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed, and any law that does so is expressly forbidden.

          Personally, I think if you’re going to bother to put together two thirds of both Houses or the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, the first thing they should do is abolish the 16th.

        • “That which is written by men can be changed by men. That which is believed as absolute truth today may seem as idiocy tomorrow. e world was once flat, you know. My point is simply this:The right to bear arms is not an immutable fact of nature, or of physics. It is a belief system, a logical construct, that may hold sway today and be discarded tomorrow, just as the god of Moses and Abraham as described in the Bible is hardly the God of the Christian churches today”

          We are not discussing religion(s) here, which are obviously and historically the constructs of men and based on faith, not science or logic.

          While that which is written by men may be changed by men, you refer only to the words as interpreted as laws or regulations. Thomas Jefferson said that no body of men has the authority to write any legislation that cannot be overturned by a subsequent body with equal authority. Such is the status of law-making.

          However, in the case of the Bill of Rights this was not an effort at making a law or decreeing any behavior or morality. These men, educated men, many of whom had studied the writing of the best philosophers of history and their day, were attempting to itemize, to the best of their ability, what they understood to be natural laws, AXIOMS, things that simply exist but that for many people need to be described in order to be properly understood. They were NOT writing these laws, they were describing the natural laws as they best understood them. Therefore, while other men may attempt to make a better effort at describing these things, they cannot un-write these laws of nature.

          Does every person have a natural right to self-defense? Look at nature to determine natural law. What creature under heaven does NOT have some means of defending its own life? What creature, however simple or base, does not make every possible effort to defend its own life by whatever means it has naturally or can devise? Can you honestly say that humans have no more natural right to self-defense than a fire ant? Can a kitten not scratch the crap out of you if it feels threatened? Can a dog not rip out your throat? Be you ever so hungry, would you grab a big club and chase down a skunk?

          We do not have those natural weapons that many other species have developed for protection, but we do have our superior intellect and that has allowed us to develop the means to protect ourselves against every single predator on Earth, except low-information voters who want to legislate away our natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, apparently.

          Anyone who makes ANY effort to reduce your ability to protect yourself, your family and your community from violations of your unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property) is NOT your friend.

        • Mark N. above said: “You cite the Declaration of Independence–which is of course no part of the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights.”

          In fact, the Declaration of Independence forms the foundation on which the U.S. Constitution rests. If you look at the current United States Code Annotated, the federal code with which we govern ourselves, on page one it has “organic laws,” and the organic laws are the foundational laws which no Federal or State law are to violate, and the first one presented is the Declaration of Independence.

          Let’s imagine that you want to form a corporation (or a nation, in this case); you start with a legal document called the articles of incorporation. And this states your reason for coming into existence, your overall purpose.

          Then you create a second document called the “bylaws” that indicate the way you are going to run your business.

          The bylaws are never allowed to violate the articles of incorporation. That is the way the Declaration and the Constitution are set up. The Constitution is the bylaws (“here’s how we are going to run things”), under the set of principals laid out in The Declaration.

          Just for clarification, these are the five fundamental principals (articles of incorporation) on which the American government operates, laid out in the Declaration of Independence, later expanded upon in the Constitution:

          1.) We in Government acknowledge that there is a Creator […that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator…]

          2.) The Creator gives certain unalienable rights to every individual […that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.] (The Bill of Rights expands upon this principal)

          3.) The Government exists to protect these rights [That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…]

          4.) There is a moral law given by God […the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…]

          5.) Below the moral law, we do things with the consent of the governed. […deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.]

          Furthermore, the Attestation clause (Article VII) of the U.S. Constitution ties that document directly to the Declaration of Independence. In legal terminology, an attestation strengthens the presumption that all the statutory requirements for the legal document have been satisfied.

        • Principles. The noun, “principal,” is the head of the school staff, and the adjective “principal” means primary or most important.

          Rich Grise, self-appointed Chief,
          Internet Spelling Police

        • And yet I spelled annotated and attestation correctly… I can’t believe I did it three times too. Long night.

        • Please don’t be too hard on yourself – there is only one spelling and pronunciation of each of those. “Principal” and “principle” sound the same, and it’s never really explained properly to those in school. Just look at “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” 🙂

          My favorites, albeit a little bit of a stretch, are “medal,” “metal,” “meddle,” and “mettle.”

          And mechanical spell checkers are just stupid.

        • @Cliff H: Having to explain to Americans how natural rights are immutable and self-evident…

          Over the years I’ve rarely been set back, practically speechless in bewilderment. This happens to be one of those times. All that is good, the very bedrock and blood of our national consciousness; flows forth from the wellspring of We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The realization that each is in natural possession of rights irrespective of government and often in spite of it, is what set us apart from any known civilization that had ever existed. It is the very thing that made us the greatest nation on Earth and continues to keep us a beacon of Liberty unto the world. It is nearly inconceivable to me that anyone could profess even a splinter of support for individual rights without grasping the essence of immutable, self-evident rights! Through ignorance of that indispensable, essential kernel of knowledge, they could ONLY misinterpret rights as degrees of privilege; subject to decree by rulers or clamor of popular opinion. Is that the root of our nation’s problem? Do the People no longer understand the essential basic element of true individual freedom?

          As I sit here and try to imagine the right to keep and bear arms without that understanding; it becomes clear why ‘compromise’ and ‘having conversations’ about infringement make sense to so many misguided souls. They don’t even know what a right is! They don’t understand natural rights. They only understand things as degrees of privilege, in the spectrum of which, a ‘right’ is merely a higher degree.

  3. “It is the ABSOLUTE right of EVERY person to keep and bear arms in defense of him/herself, their property, their community, and their country. This right cannot be denied to you just because you are a criminal or are insane. The answer is not to surrender YOUR rights to the government, but to exercise those rights as intended.”

    I agreed with the first sentence, but the 2nd sentence is… Hmmm. Is the author saying your right to bear arms is immutable no matter your current mental state or your propensity to commit crime? So even if I’m certifiable sociopath, with a convicted history of violently raping women and children, I get to own a gun?

    … good luck winning the PR battle on that.

    • +1

      Isn’t PR what this is all about? We can do/say anything, but if we really want to ensure that the RKBA is preserved, we need an ongoing majority to agree.

    • Yes, you have the absolute, immutable, Creator-given Right to Keep and Bear Arms regardless.

      One thing we must learn to be careful of, though, is that the Constitution does not guarantee any ‘right’ to indiscriminate. irresponsible use of said arms. I’m a rabid Libertarian loon, borderline anarchist, and even I have no problem with laws intended to protect other people from your lunacy. You can carry any arm you want, anywhere. But you’d better not be shooting up schools with them!

      Of course, being a Libertarian loon, I also believe that one of the most effective protections against lunatics shooting up schools is summary execution by an armed sane person. (or at least incapacitation. I’d like to think that if I’m ever in a confrontation that I’d have the presence of mind and the skill and opportunity to first shoot to disarm.)

      • I have to disagree with part of your argument:

        “Yes, you have the absolute, immutable, Creator-given Right to Keep and Bear Arms regardless.”

        If I am wrong, please point me in the right direction, but I have yet to see any religious texts that says anything about the right to keep and bear arms. Now, I am sure that there is a new religion or off-shoot of a major religion that will say that it. To the best of my knowledge I have never seen anything in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoist, or Hinduism texts that mention RKBA. If I left a religion off of the list I apologize.

        Also, how does that statement work for atheists?

        • What does religion have to do with anything? Maybe you should look up “self-evident.”

          You were endowed by your Creator with those rights. It doesn’t say who your Creator was. It’s pretty obvious to me that the one who created me was my Mom. Well, Dad was in on the planning committee meeting, but Mom did all the grunt work.

    • If you are a certifiable sociopath or rapest, the lack of a gun won’t change their perdeliction for murder and rape. If they can’t be trusted with a gun, they can’t be trusted on their own.

      This argument extends to children. Children are wards of thier parents or guardians. If they can not be trusted with a gun, the parents are responsible to ensure the don’t have access to one.

    • I think the idea is that if you’re allowed to live in a free society, then you have a right to bear arms. If we can’t trust you with a gun, then we can’t trust you at all and you should be locked up. After all, if you’re so crazy you might use a gun to murder someone, you’re also so crazy you might use a baseball bat to murder someone.

      It’s an idea that’s been repeated over and over again on TTAG.

    • “So even if I’m certifiable sociopath, with a convicted history of violently raping women and children, I get to own a gun?”

      Absolutely! It is your natural right to protect yourself, even if you are crazy. Yes, from a PR standpoint this is a hard sell. But the solution to criminals with guns being more laws against criminals having guns does seem a bit of a fool’s errand, doesn’t it? And if you are known to be dangerously crazy shouldn’t society have found some way to prevent you from hurting yourself or others? How many certifiable sociopaths have you ever heard of that use firearms as their tool of choice? How long would the careers of sociopaths and mass murders continue if more non-crazy, non-criminal people exercised their right to keep and bear arms?

      You only lose your right to self-defense when you do something REALLY stupid and get yourself shot. No amount of legislation, regulation or SCOTUS decisions can ever change that fact.

    • High praise indeed, coming from you sir. Thank you. It was definitely a labor of love and I am gratified that so many found it interesting and informative.

  4. I think the problem with either side of the arguement is requiring people to assume.

    “Given the amount of debate and discussion and back and forth over more than three months is it not reasonable to assume that these learned men ended with EXACTLY the meaning they intended? If they had considered any limitations to this right being the role of government wouldn’t they have enumerated those exceptions?”

    We don’t know what they intended. Either side can make an arguement for and against the Second Amendment, gun control, and gun rights. Gun controls advocates will continue to focus on the part of “A well regulated militia” and gun rights advocates will continue to focus on “shall not be infringed.” Until someone masters the concept of time travel; there is really no way of knowing what the intention was.

    • “gun rights advocates will continue to focus on “shall not be infringed.”

      That is absolutely false. Most gun rights groups believe the right should be regulated. They favor state systems to regulate the privilege to bear arms both inside and outside the home.
      Remember when gura threw NFA weapons under the bus in the oral arguments in front of the supreme court in heller? Remember when the NRA allowed rights to be legislated away over the years. remember when Gottlieb tried to give away our rights this year? Remember when CALGUNS and GURA wrote amicus briefs against the carry of arms? Remember just a couple of months ago when the NRA wrote a brief against the Charles Nichols open carry case?

      “Gun rights” groups are not doing constitutional carry any favors.

      • I didn’t say “gun rights groups.” I was focusing more on the indivuals who adovcate for gun rights, like many of commentators on this site. Please point out to me where I used the word “group” once. Feel free to disagree with me all you want, but I think your claiming my statement to be absolutely false is absolutely false. For it to be absolute; your point would have to be true across the board. I agree that there are a lot of groups that claim to love the Second Amendment, but are willing to agree to some form of gun control. I don’t agree with them and that’s not what the original post or my comment was about. However, there are gun control groups and individuals who do not believe in any form of gun regulation or control. Many of the people or groups form their argument around the phrase “shall not be infringed.” Until you can prove across the board that everyone is willing to accept some for of gun control; all you have proven is that you don’t know the proper usage of the word absolute. Keep on trucking.

    • That’s another semantics thing, much like “free state.”* Reword 2A just a little bit – “Since it’s necessary that the Militia be well regulated, …” In other words, if the Militia start overstepping their bounds, like doing forcible anal probes to search for drugs that shouldn’t even be illegal in the first place, it is absolutely necessary tor the armed populace to rack a round and say, “Back off, Bucko!”

      * State: “the particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time.” In other words, a “free state” is not some geographical or governmental entity with rights and powers unto itself, it is a Condition of Liberty, cf. “State of the Union.”

      • It’s not “free state”, but “free State”. IOW, the States. Everywhere the constitution uses the capitalized State(s), it is referring to the States themselves, not to a state of being.

        “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.”

        The real question is what does “regulated” mean. The antis claim it means “under the control of the state”, others say it is “in good working order”, akin to a “well regulated clock” or a “well regulated mind”.

        http://www.constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm

  5. A well-armed population, able to self-organize into an effective and independent fighting force, is necessary to ensure the freedom of the People and the security of the free Republic. Therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    • If we are going to pursue the exercise of re-writing ANY of the Bill of Rights, and good luck with that, the only change necessary to the Second Amendment would be to drop the entire prefatory clause about the militia. Here is what I would consider optimal and unambiguous wording: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed!” (Note the exclamation point.)

      • The prefatory clause to the Second Amendment is not excess verbiage. Instead, it was intended to express a continuing concern of the drafters that the power of the Federal government be limited, and the independent sovereignty of the individual States–as creators of the Federal Government–remain.

        A little history. At the end of the Revolutionary war, we had thirteen independent colonies, each in theory a totally separate country able to make its own laws and go about its business as it chose. There, was, however, the recognition that no one state could stand against Britain or other foreign powers–you know, the old “divided we fall.” And then there was the practical matter of foreign treaties and trade, and the desireablitlty of a unified and singular negotiation of same. But at the same time, there was the fear that a strong central government would merely replace they tyranny that had just been overthrown, and it was decided therefore to pull its fangs, preventing it from maintaining land-based forces so that it could no conquer the individual states.

        The agreement at the time was to create a weal federal government for these common issues, and the Articles of Confederation were adopted. In practice, the articles failed to achieve an effective government. The central government had no power to raise taxes, and had a hard time paying its debts or maintaining the Navy (a standing army having been prohibited to it) when the individual states did not tithe. The Constitutional Convention was intended to address these issues, and in particular, the need to strengthen the central government.

        As before, the issue was to balance the power of the new federal government against the power of the individual states and the rights of the people. The language of the Second Amendment, both the prefatory clause and the principle amendment itself, reflect this tension. The language reflects the rights of the States to self-determination not subject to the power of the federal government. The implication of the prefatory clause is that the States themselves will provide for their own security and defense through the operation of their militias, not through a federal army. The second complete clause serves two purposes; one, it recognizes that as militia cannot exist unless the People have arms , and second it reflects the very political statement that the People should always have at their disposal the power to oppose the exercise of tyrannical federal power. All of this in turn derives from writings by the French philosopher Rousseau, among others, who recognized that government “naturally” accretes power until it becomes tyrannical, a process accelerated by the power of the government to control the possession of arms.

        • Thanks for the additional background, Mark. The limitations on the length of a post that anyone might be willing to read often require a severe limitation on subject and background. As for the accretion of power and tendency to tyranny, they were not far wrong, were they?

          I did note that IF the 2A were to be reworded this would be my preferred text, but you make a good point about the purpose of the militia being in many cases intended to counter the power of the federal government and as I explain in other comments the creation of a militia (tribe/gang/club/secret society) is in itself a means of arming oneself and should be included as one portion of that natural right to self defense. One could say that while the 1st Amendment lists the right of the people to peaceably assemble, the 2A lists the right to un-peaceably assemble! I would argue, in the cause of Constitutional Carry, that the ability of each citizen to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms MUST be extended (incorporated) to the states as we are now seeing that the citizens have as much to fear from tyrannical state governments as they do from the federal government and the simplest option of moving to a less oppressive state is not always a viable option.

  6. Leonard is saying we’re a long way from full respect of the right, when so many gun owners think open carry is outlandish, when it is the cornerstone of the right. See Florida (the supposed “gunshine” state) and Texas, where there is no right to carry but a privilege to carry concealed.

    Yes, Tx has long gun open carry but you’ll be harassed and no one wants to tote a rifle. Florida bans it completely.

    • Leonard is to some degree correct in this thesis. I think the problem most people have with him here is his aggressive manner of pushing the point. A right that cannot be freely exercised is a right denied and regardless of public perception the open carry of ANY firearm, or any arm, for that manner, is not and should not be illegal nor cause for overbearing Gestapo tactics by local law enforcement.

      It is unfortunate that this LE over-reaction is too often the result of simply exercising Constitutional Carry, even when no illegal activity is taking place. Leonard and others like him who are willing to take the heat that comes with shining the light on this sort of “thuggery under color of authority” may in the long run do more good than harm in bringing the subject into the public eye for discussion. As RF has pointed out, and I have lost the full-length “Natural, civil and…” quote, this right is not subject to social review or democratic vote. I understand that Leonard’s confrontational methods may concern some that he will turn the fence sitters and moderates against our cause, but the fight must be to repeal all the unconstitutional laws already on the books and drive home the point that in spite of voting majorities the democratic process CANNOT repeal a natural right nor deny such rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

      So long as we maintain the perspective that the Second Amendment MAY NOT be infringed we hold the high ground and people like Leonard, no matter how many people they annoy, cannot have a deleterious effect in the long range campaign. I suspect that his exploits bring as many curious folks over to our point of view as they do to alienate people who would not have stood with us at any rate.

  7. This is a nicely written article that unfortunately expresses an extremist position that is untenable for me. As an ardent supporter of 2A rights I cannot stand with or behind those who support the right of a violent felon to have a gun. Once found guilty after due process under the law, a violent felon forfeits their RKBA the instant they chose to commit the felony. They have zero right to armed self defense from that day forward. Don’t like that? Then don’t commit the violent felony.

    To address Mr. Embody’s position. Militant and extremist open carriers turn a significant amount of the 80% (WAG stat) of people who apathetically support the 2A into passive antis at best.

    • Nope. Can’t be trusted with a gun? Then they should still be in jail. Very easy, natural, and moral logic. Don’t know why this is so hard for some “pro-gun” people. Not to mention, some things the state calls felonies are not real crimes at all.

      • ^This. One of the major points of argument, and I suspect the clear wording of the amendment, is that if you allow the government the authority to deny these rights to certain criminals you have accomplished two things: 1) you have agreed that they do in fact have the right to “infringe” on the RKBA, and 2) They may proceed to make anything they can get away with a crime suitable for denying a person their RKBA.

        A small crack in the dike leads to a flood. If you are afraid of criminals or mental cases you have the right to defend yourself from them or assist in their capture, conviction and incarceration. You do not have the right to make up a list of people you believe may no longer defend their own lives. THAT is a tyranny.

        All that on top of the fact that you CANNOT write any law that will effectively prevent a criminal from getting and bearing and USING a weapon of he so desires.

    • When, exactly, did supporting, upholding, and defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, become “extremist?”

      • Defending the RKBA Constitutional rights of a convicted violent felon is extreme. And stupid.

        Lumping their RKBA in with mine, as a law abiding citizen is a strategy that I resent. Similar to aggressive militant open carry, it is a foolish application of the RKBA and does not serve the cause.

        • Some people are unwilling or unable to see the logic. You may be one of those, but it does not automatically make your position correct. The point being made by me is that if in fact this can be considered a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected rite that “…SHALL NOT INFRINGED.” (emphasis mine), then we cannot tolerate any degree of infringement or we lose all control to government.

          I reiterate and paraphrase here a commentary by Ayn Rand:

          In the English language we refer to Good and Evil, Black and White. We relate White with being good and Black with being Evil/Bad. However, if you add a little bit of white to the black you are now not quite as bad. If you add a little bit of black to the white you are NO LONGER GOOD. This is a philosophical explanation of an ABSOLUTE. Good is absolute, evil is not. A natural right is an absolute, an infringed right is no longer absolute, it is gray.

          Each person is born with the right to bear arms in defense of his own life. He dies with that same right. Society to protect itself from an individual may work to curtail that right (make it gray), but they cannot repeal a natural right any more than the can legislate away the law of gravity. So criminal or not, sane or not, that right to defend one’s life persists until the person is dead. An armed society exercising their right to Constitutional Carry should have little to fear from criminals, sociopaths, psychopaths or just the mentally unbalanced. Just for starters, we have them vastly outnumbered.

          “Lumping their RKBA in with mine, as a law abiding citizen is a strategy that I resent.”

          And to address this particular point, your natural right to RKBA also has nothing to do with whether or not you are “law-abiding” because the laws of man do not alter the laws of nature and if you allow the government the right to decide if you are law-abiding enough to exercise your RKBA then you will soon have no RKBA. Shall not be infringed.

    • “As an ardent supporter of 2A rights I cannot stand with or behind those who support the right of a violent felon to have a gun. Once found guilty after due process under the law, a violent felon forfeits their RKBA the instant they chose to commit the felony. They have zero right to armed self defense from that day forward. ”

      You cannot be an “ardent supporter of 2A rights” only for some people. This is a natural right that belongs to every person, whether we like or agree with them or not. There is no natural law I know of, nor enforceable man-made law that takes away any persons’s natural right to defend their own life just because they have committed what others consider a crime. Even under those rules they will and are entitled to go down fighting for their own existence, however execrible we may find it.

      Even arrested, convicted and incarcerated no person loses the right to attempt to defend their own life by whatever means they can muster. Are you proposing that a convicted felon must NEVER AGAIN make any effort at self defense? Whatever physical harm is directed against him he must simply accept? Even in prisons men will devise whatever methods they can for defense – body building, home-made knives, a bar of soap in a sock, even forming militias of like minded friends for their common defense.

      If these people scare you when they are on or returned to the streets, ARM YOURSELF and your neighbors. As stated, the only way to end their RKBA is to confront them in the commission of a violation of your or someone else’s natural right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of property/happiness and shoot them down.

      If you relinquish even a little bit of your RKBA right to the state then you will have no ability to limit the point at which they stop taking that right, piece by piece. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

  8. It seems that just a few days ago the staff here were asking what kind of articles we readers prefer. I really like these historical perspective sort of things – I guess you could call it an attempt to combat historical revisionism. For example, up until this article, I had no idea that the 2A had gone through so many iterations before settling on the final version we have now. I guess that’s the “Truth” part of The Truth About Guns.

  9. Denying convicted felons of the right to keep and bear arms is an easy decision for those who have put little thought into the equation. What’s important (our particular constitution aside) is that governments accept what they are and aren’t capable of enforcing. If a felon is released from prison and wishes to go back to his felonious ways, he will find the means to acquire a firearm as it is a necessary tool for his trade. On the other hand the felon who wishes to live the rest of his life as a law abiding citizen will be denied his right of self defense, but he is not a threat to his neighbors like the other felon. So disarming the felon has in the end the same result as disarming the citizenry in general. Only the bad felons have guns.

    I think it would be wise to not only abandon our restrictions to the Second Amendment but to reevaluate the wisdom of criminalizing consentual behavior. We’ve built up societies where our governments insist on controlling every aspect of our behavior. They’ve replaced the churches and the charities with government welfare, and if the government is paying for your healthcare or your food and housing than it is the government’s business what you are putting into your body and what you are doing with your money. Even if you are not on the dole it’s still their business because you might squander your money on prostitutes or gamble your money away and become destitute and therefor you and everyone else is a potential ward of the state.

    If you are not harming anyone else, not taking their property by force or deceit, and are not placing them at unnecessary risk because of your irresponsible behavior, then you should not be in violation of any laws.

    • “If you are not harming anyone else, not taking their property by force or deceit, and are not placing them at unnecessary risk because of your irresponsible behavior, then you should not be in violation of any laws.”

      Thank you, Gov. That’s essentially Libertarianism in a nutshell.

    • “If you are not harming anyone else, not taking their property by force or deceit, and are not placing them at unnecessary risk because of your irresponsible behavior, then you should not be in violation of any laws.”

      Very well put, and like Rich said, you’ve pretty much summed up Libertarianism. Except for the portions I emphasized (provided the site keeps them italicized.) I am not comfortable with making someone a criminal for being irresponsible. If someone hurts/harms/violates the rights of another as a RESULT of irresponsibility, so be it. This is the highway speed limit argument and it infringes on one’s ability to make choices freely.

      In a nutshell, the first italicized section already covers the second, with it, the second is unnecessary.

      • I won’t claim to be 100% libertarian. There will always be a choice between freedom and security. A totally free society is a very dangerous one. There is no government, no taxes, no army, no police. If you are robbed you are free to pursue and kill your robber. Total freedom only comes with anarchy. On the other hand there is a rule of diminishing returns when you start giving up your freedoms. The more you give up the less you get back. I am willing to give up a sliver of my freedom for a chunk of security, however the generations that preceded me have already given up far more than I would prefer.

        IMO, as it pertains to speed limits, you should be free to travel at whatever speed you’d like as long as you are the only car on the road and there are no residences along the way because you are not posing a risk to anyone else. If on the other hand you are weaving in and out of traffic at 120mph on a busy freeway you are posing an unnecessary risk to others. I don’t think the state should have to wait until you kill someone to intervene. Perhaps though, we don’t need speed limits (especially ones that are artificially low) and could instead get by with only reckless driving charges. If everyone is willing to drive 100mph on the interstate than you would not be posing any risk on others that they are not freely taking on their own anyway. And if safety were that important to most of us the speed limits would be much, much lower, but you can never get away from the choice between freedom and safety.

        • I agree we need a certain amount of government, but it’s criminally insane to give the curator of the map room the power to incarcerate people for smoking dried flowers.

          And a well-armed/trained populace is what keeps the militia well-regulated: “Got a warrant? No? Then <*rack*> back off, Bucko!”

        • “And if safety were that important to most of us the speed limits would be much, much lower,”

          You can always tell a good cop from a dirty/greedy cop by their reaction to civilian “speed trap ahead” warning signs. The official line is, “Well, if it gets people to slow down, then we’re all for it, since our primary concern is public safety.”

          And what may seem strange coming from a Libertarian Loon, I have no problem with red-light cams. Or even warning signs – I once went through an intersection with a “Red light cams in operation” sign, where people were looking both ways, coming to a full stop, you know, normal sane adult driving. I looked up to check out the cam, and there weren’t any there. Just a few loose wires hanging from the hole next to the mounting bolts.

        • I’m fine with people smoking anything they want, although I suppose at some point the state might have a responsibility to ensure the safety of children. But adults should be able to do what they want. I do think that if I have to pay tax on alcohol and I have to pay sales tax on the alcohol tax and income tax on the alcohol tax and the sales tax then others should have to share the tax burden. Relieve me of my tax burden and I won’t wish any on others.

          I don’t have an issue with red light cameras in of themselves, but I do have an issue with reducing the yellow light time and sending tickets to anyone who just barely doesn’t get through on time. Save it for blatant violations. And if you want to save lives add a second or two to the yellow lights.

    • Why yes, it is an easy and SMART decision. Lets follow your premise to the logical and extreme conclusion. Convicted violent felons while serving prison sentences should have firearms for protection in prison because it is their natural god given right. Prisons are dangerous places, you know. They are certainly more dangerous than the outside. Right?

      • It is not possible to incarcerate someone without infringing on his/her rights. They automatically lose the right to pursue happiness. They cannot seek employment and secure their financial future. They lose the right of free assembly. The right to start a family. By it’s nature, going to prison means losing your rights. I’m not saying that the government doesn’t have the right or responsibility to strip the rights away from those who have infringed (illegally) on the rights of others. In some cases they have the right to take away his right to life.

        But what about when the state has deemed that they have paid their debt to society and should be free men again? If a felon has truly been rehabilitated then he is not a threat to others and deserves to walk free and to keep and bear arms. If a felon has not been rehabilitated than he will acquire arms anyway. The best solution is to keep dangerous felons in prison until they are no longer a threat to society.

        • I have to quibble, Gov, but only as to wording. They do not LOSE their rights (any of them) while incarcerated, they only have them more or less effectively curtailed. Their activities are restricted as is their access to resources, which makes the exercise of their rights difficult or problematic, but certainly does not mean they have LOST those rights.

          I seem to recall that the inventor or the M1 carbine rifle was a prisoner at the time he designed and built the first prototype. I’m pretty sure that your First Amendment rights continue and all of the others to greater or lessor degree depending on your status, but none of them entirely go away. Given access to materials and shop facilities I’m sure an inmate would find a way to arm himself and I was at one time the acquaintance of a former CO at Deer Lodge prison in Montana who had to retire because he had been shot by a prisoner who had built a zip gun and used match-heads as propellant. Natural rights cannot be lost. They can be prevented through tyranny, curtailed through judicial action, or relinquished voluntarily, but they cannot be lost.

      • “Convicted violent felons while serving prison sentences should have firearms for protection in prison because it is their natural god given right.”

        You are missing some part of my point, perhaps intentionally. There is nothing in the Second Amendment about firearms. It says, “…keep and bear arms…”

        Since (most) persons incarcerated have been determined by our legal process to be dangerous to some extent, and since (most) of them do not want to stay there, it is only logical that some effort be given to deny them weapons that would allow them to further violate other people’s rights or to escape confinement. For this reason it would be ludicrous to allow them free access to any weapon, much less efficient firearms. What you can never do, inside prions or out, is make any law that removes their natural right to attempt to defend themselves by whatever method they can, which includes finding ways to create illicit weapons, which we all know they do, and hanging with friends who will protect each other.

        I am not advocating the free access to arms by each and every person regardless of their criminal or mental state, I am saying that you CANNOT deny that they have a natural right to acquire whatever arms they can for their own defense and no man-made law can or will change that.

        What laws can and will do is prevent access to effective weapons for those people who by their very nature do not intend to or wish to break laws, while not denying those and better weapons to politicians who would be tyrants. The Second Amendment was intended to prevent that from happening which the Founding Fathers had seen happen too many times throughout history, and we are seeing happen again.

  10. You have to remember that the people who wrote and signed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are pretty much the same people who wrote the Declaration of Independence and fought the British government in the Revolution. And you therefore must interpret the Second amendment in the light of the only DUTY mentioned in the Declaration of Independence:
    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, IT IS THEIR DUTY, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    The Second Amendment is not about hunting, or protecting yourself from home invaders – those are merely positive byproducts. The Constitution does not say “We, the government officials of the United States…” – the ONLY legitimacy the government has is through the Constitution. By ignoring it, the “ruling classes” demonstrate that they are tyrants.

  11. So people serving life sentences for murder have the right to keep and bear arms in prison? That’s a very tortured construction of the Second Amendment.

    What? Nobody said that convicts in prison are entitled guns? Sure you did, the instant you said that the right was absolute.

    • “Even a criminal has the right to protect his own life and to bear arms for that purpose. A felon just released from prison still retains that right and WILL obtain arms for that purpose if he so desires. Unconstitutional laws will not prevent that from happening and is only relinquishes OUR rights to government control while it affects the criminal not one whit.”

      I don’t think he was referring to prisoners in prison. I think he was referring to criminals who were not yet incarcerated and felons who have served their time. If that is what he meant – I agree with him. I don’t agree that prisoners should have weapons or rights. They forfeited their rights when they infringed upon the rights of others. I believe the forfeiture of their rights should not be permanent (i.e. continues after release) with exception to death penalty and life in prison inmates (they have not finished serving their sentence). The founding fathers did not explicitly state this… likely because it was more than obvious.

      • “I don’t agree that prisoners should have weapons or rights. They forfeited their rights when they infringed upon the rights of others.”

        Sir, the ONLY thing a criminal forfeits is their access to the most effective means of self-defense, and that only after they have been apprehended, convicted, and incarcerated, and remain incarcerated. The right itself remains intact and they certainly retain the right to bear whatever arms in their own defense that they may obtain or devise.

        Now, if they at any point before or after incarceration they infringe upon the rights of others in a manner and to a degree that the person/those persons feel the need to defend themselves or their property, and they have the means to do so, THEN the criminal FORFEITS his natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right because his folly may lead to his demise. Until such time the right persists.

        • First, didnt mean to copycat Ralph’s post above. I should have read through everything before posting. Finally, Cliff, you are making up the rules as you go there. Your position supporting a convicted violent felon rights to a firearm are no longer extended while incarcerated? Why?

        • I commented on this a few inches up, but will repeat briefly – the 2A says nothing about firearms. I say nothing about firearms for criminals or mental defectives, specifically. The point is that the right to keep and bear arms is a natural right that may be curtailed under certain conditions, such as incarceration for a crime, but cannot be denied. The criminal WILL find a way to continue to defend himself, whether by manufacturing some sort of weapon, or joining a militia (gang). The RKBA persists even in the face of logical and reasonable societal efforts to curtail its implementation. You CANNOT repeal a natural right, you can only inhibit its practice.

          And the secondary point might well be, who decides what is a crime under which the state may attempt to curtail your right to keep and bear arms? That is the crux of the argument against allowing any watering down of the “…shall not be infringed.” wording. The status of criminals and mental defectives is a side issue and often a red herring.

  12. Two point you need to consider with this discussion:
    1. The Bill of Rights has a preamble, which reads in part, “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: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.” In other words, the Bill of Rights was added to clarify what the federal govt can and cannot do (prevent misconstruction and abuse of its powers), and to remind all federal elected officials what rights the people have (further declaratory clauses; note that the delegations were not voting as to whether we have these rights because we already have them. They were just voting as to the wording of those rights.) They were also reminding the elected officials of the restrictions they were under (further restrictive clauses). Thus, the Bill of rights was to put our elected officials in a box (along with the express powers of congress in Article 1) to ensure they did not infringe on our rights. Keep in mind that the 9th Amendment reminds our elected officials that the people have more rights than those listed in the first eight amendments, thus, the state does not grant us our rights.
    2. Most states have more protective “Second Amendment” clauses in their constitutions. The PA constitution, Article 1, Section 21 says, “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” Note that I get to use a gun to defend myself, and that this right is not qualified by time (10pm-6am) or location (my home, the back alleys of downtown). The Delaware constitution says, “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.” Thus, the 2nd Amendment in the Federal Constitution was designed to limit the Federal Govt because most of colonies/states at that time already had more protective clauses in their individual state constitutions.

  13. Who gets to “re-word” a single thing in the Bill of Rights? Under what authority? Isn’t it first necessary to repeal it?

    And, once repealed, where is the necessity in “re-wording” it?

      • And as I stated in a response above, this is the Founders’ best effort at describing what they considered to be a natural law. The best any of us could hope to do would be to further clarify that natural law, not re-word the original amendment. IMO.

  14. This picture is just awesome. African american guy with that poster – awesome. And it is very true and has a clear point. – Just look at North Korea. They are all basically slaves.

    Does anyone think for even a moment that if *poof!* 1000 rounds ammo and an AR15 were to suddenly appear in every home in North Korea overnight that their suffering and enslavement would persist? It would be chaos and anarchy and south Korea would likely absorb them. Methinks anyways. South Korea is known for welcoming fleeing refugees/defectors.

  15. Just for historical clarity, the original bill of rights sent to the states for ratification contained 12 items plus a preamble, as mentioned by Starrman above. The first item was never ratified. The second item was ratified in 1992 and is now the 27th Amendment. The remaining 10 items were ratified as a group in 1791 and are generally called the Bill of Rights.

    As for the Second Amendment as we now know it, I thought the article did a good job following its various iterations. It should also be noted that various state constitutions of the day were even more pointed in their protection of the RKBA.

    Interestingly, the RKBA goes back a long ways in English history. For instance, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 included this language: “subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.”

    Further, remember that the Crown banned importation of arms and powder in the 1770’s, which the colonists promptly ignored. Why? Because they considered this an usurpation of their rights. The battles of Concord and Lexington in 1775 were precipitated by the British army attempting to seize militia stockpiles. Our ancestors did not take kindly to this and replied with hot lead. Why? Because they considered this an usurpation of their rights. All these facts combined makes it pretty clear the Second Amendment was meant to protect the people’s RKBA.

  16. Bravo! This is the best submission yet. It needs to be published, verbatim, in every single gun rag going to print and linked by every pro-Liberty blogger on the internet.

    I’m serious, this should be submitted for print publication. I’m emailing the TTAG link around and sending it to my representative (state and federal).

    Please, submit it to, at the very least, Guns & Ammo… let’s see if anything was learned.

  17. Is there any logical limit to infringements in the name of public safety against the individual right to bear arms?

    • “Is there any logical limit to infringements in the name of public safety against the individual right to bear arms?”

      I’m a little confused as to what you are actually trying to ask here, Southerner.

      If you meant “Is there any logical infringement in the name of public safety…” I would have to say categorically, NO. The entire point of the Second Amendment IS public safety, by preventing the government from denying to the citizen the means to defend himself, his family and his community (state) against criminals and tyrants (same thing, only a matter of degree).

      On the other hand, if you meant “Is there any logical limit to infringements in the name of public safety against the individual right to bear arms?” then the answer is still NO. Any infringement is an infringement. The word “infringe” is an absolute and does not allow shades of gray, kind of like “just a little but pregnant.”

      But if what you are trying to ask is if there is any infringement allowable in the name of public safety I will point to the comments above where it is in the best interests of society to inhibit to the best of their ability the access to weapons by persons convicted of crimes (and/or mental deficiency) and known to be dangerous to the rights of others. This is not technically an infringement of a natural right since it only inhibits the ability to obtain arms following the conviction of a crime, but does not and cannot remove the right itself.

      So, realistically, the only logical infringement in the name of public safety is for citizens to be armed to defend themselves and their neighbors which will tend (as we see from recent data) to reduce violent crime over-all, and to repeal the right of a criminal (or mental defective) to keep and bear arms by shooing him down when caught in the act of violating someone else’s rights. It is not clean. It is not pleasant, but that is the bottom line. Since you cannot repeal a natural right by any form of legislation the Second Amendment is the very best tool we have to prevent tyrants and criminals from inhibiting the exercise of that right by law-abiding citizens.

      • Focus: There is no logical limit to the public safety argument as a justification for infringing on an individual civil right.

      • Not to give the grabbers any ammunition, but I think it’s OK to put some restrictions on where and when you can SHOOT your gun, just in the interest of protecting other people from your negligence.

        • Rich, I think this is a given. If we agree that each person has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness/property then a person indiscriminately or recklessly wielding and/or firing weapons is an obvious violation of those rights. Depending on the severity of the situation I would think that they should not only be apprehended and legally chastised, but if shot in the commission of such act it should be considered justifiable self-defense.

  18. Who wrote this piece? Reason being, it has two bylines:
    1) By Dan Zimmerman on November 16, 2013
    2) By Clifford Heseltine

    • It has to be posted to the site by someone with posting privileges. Clifford does not have them, Dan does. Clifford is the author.

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