According to a recent op-ed in the Huffington Post, the weakest pro-gun argument “is the constitutional one.” Writer Nick Desai cites former Chief Justice Warren Burger to buttress his claim that the common interpretation of the right to bear arms is a “fraud.” It was never meant to protect private gun rights, and the only people who think it does are right-wing lunatics preparing for the impending apocalypse.
Desai goes on to make tired rebuttals to the self-defense argument and the argument that people need arms to protect themselves against the government, but let’s stick with what he claims is the weakest defense of them all. If Desai is right – if the Second Amendment has been misinterpreted for all these years – then gun owners don’t have a leg to stand on, right? If the federal government wants to shut down private gun ownership, there’s nothing in our founding documents to stop them.
It might be instructive if we go ahead and include the amendment itself in our discussion, a step Desai and the Huffington Post did not bother to take:
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 argument from the left centers around the fourth word: “militia.” According to them, the amendment applies only to those in a militia, thus it would not have any bearing on the millions of independent gun owners who now claim protection from the Constitution. But in making that argument, liberals must ignore not only the context of the document but the structure of the English language. Sticking with the latter, nothing in the Second Amendment restricts gun ownership to a militia and a militia alone. It gives us one reason for the importance of gun ownership without making any further claims as to the limits of that importance. If it said, “The sound of awesome gunfire being necessary…” silencers would still be permitted.
But there’s another aspect of the argument that liberals almost always miss. And that’s the simple fact that the Constitution is not the arbiter of an American’s full, comprehensive rights. In other words, the right to bear arms was inherent to America even before the Second Amendment was ratified. Government, remember, can only restrict a human being’s rights. It can never grant them. Our Bill of Rights merely puts down as law those rights which should never be infringed upon by courts and lawmakers.
With each passing year, liberals in this country get bolder in their fervor to attack American rights. They are desperate to impose stricter laws in the hopes that we can finally become more like the UK, Sweden, and the other European nations they so adore. To them, American freedom is the enemy, and they are willing to attack it through any means available. Fortunately, our founding fathers anticipated such anti-Americanism. They devised a strong Constitution to protect us against it. It’s not the weakest argument for guns; it’s the only one we need.