The Right to Bear Arms

Charles Cooke put up an excellent article over at The Washington Post. To often the debate over guns becomes a debate about the second amendment rather than the natural right to self defense, from both harm and tyranny, that the amendment was supposed to protect.

At the time of the American founding, it was widely understood that there was a real danger in a government’s attempting to deprive the people of what Alexander Hamilton called their “original right of self-defense.” This is why, when it came to writing the Constitution, the anti-Federalists, who feared the government’s potential to become corrupt, refused to sign on to a more powerful national government until they had been promised certain explicit protections. Then, as now, their logic was clear: It makes no sense to allow the representatives of a free people to disarm their masters.

It’s important to remember that this is not an argument just about the right to own a thing. It’s about your right to life and liberty and the relationship between the state and the citizens that empower it.

Right now the president and his cadre want to take away the rights of those who end up on a list of suspected terrorists. No burden of proof is required. There is no appeal. If suspicion falls upon you, your rights are forfeit and you cannot own a gun.

This is actually being taken seriously by those predisposed to see guns as an evil. But what about your other rights. If the rights protected by the second amendment can be denied without due process, why not those protected by the first? If someone submits your name can you be forced to quarter troops? Denied your vote? You are, after all, on a list.


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