Category Archives: US Constitution / Personal Liberty

The Second Amendment and Personal Liberty

First, the best perspective…

and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
– The Lord Jesus: Luke 22:36

Firearms ownership is a deeply personal choice, whether for sport, personal protection, or simply to exercise the God-given freedom that we supposedly enjoy as Americans. However, government has long sought to limit the freedom to keep and bear arms and it’s well past time for those who love liberty to know what’s happening and
to be willing to stand in opposition. Those who insist upon limiting
personal liberty must be soundly defeated in their efforts.

Constitution

For supporters of open carry of firearms, there is interesting news from the state of Texas. Recently (April 17, 2015), the Texas House
of Representatives voted 96-35 to allow state residents who hold a concealed carry hand gun license to openly carry their guns holstered while in public. The Texas State Senate approved a similar measure in March, so once the two bills agree on the finer points, Governor Greg Abbott will have an opportunity to sign the bill into law. According to an article posted on Fox News – Austin (Texas), Governor Abbott is expected to sign the bill into law within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, in the state of North Carolina, there is a proposed bill in the state house (HB 562) that would do away with the entire permit process for those who want to own a hand gun. However, the buyer of a firearm would still be required to submit to the National Instant Criminal Background Check. The current system in North Carolina takes a minimum of three months (often six) to complete the entire process to allow a hand gun purchase. As of May 13, this proposed bill is in delay while critics attempt to defeat the effort. However, all indications point to the likelihood of eventual success.

And in the state of Tennessee, the state house voted 90-3 to approve a bill that would create a lifetime hand gun carry permit for $500. This would be optional for those wishing to avoid the current expense of $50 every five years. Those who choose the lifetime option will need to have a background check completed every five years.

Some additional states are also beginning to change long-standing laws to make hand gun ownership and the right to carry (open or concealed) less onerous on the law-abiding public. These changes certainly are long past due, but in most cases, do not go far enough.

The question yet remains: Why are there any restrictions at all? The founders of our nation and framers of the US Constitution never intended for the Second Amendment to be weakened to the point where it is now a ‘privilege’ to own a hand gun – and a taxable one at that! Think it’s not taxed? What does one call a permit application fee? What does one call a fee to amend a pistol permit? A fee paid to the state is just another form of taxation.

Revolver - 1

The present system of hand gun permits in the state of New York dates to 1911 and is called the ‘Sullivan Law’, named for Timothy D. Sullivan, a New York City politician more known for corruption than for properly and effectively representing his constituents.

Since 1911, there have been many additional laws passed, most of them at the federal level, resulting in more than 100 years of political assault on firearms ownership and personal liberty. Following are significant federal laws that have been enacted with the intention of limiting firearms freedom in the United States:

1934 National Firearms Act

1938 Federal Firearms Act

1968 Gun Control Act

1990 Crime Control Act

1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

Each of these federal laws oppose the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and should be repealed, as each one is
in violation of the Constitution. Where were the protectors of God- given freedom when these laws were foisted on the law abiding citizens of our nation? Who stood in opposition to these onerous restrictions before the votes were taken? Where were those who had sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”? These men and women swore their oath with their hand on a Bible!

More recently, the New York S.A.F.E. Act (a completely misleading name) was hurriedly passed in the middle of the night and was then quickly signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, just so that New York would be the first state in the nation to pass legislation
in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

So then… what have all these federal and state laws accomplished? First, they have made it challenging for law-abiding citizens to own firearms, especially hand guns. Second, these laws have provided a means for government to exercise control over the people, including the ability to know who is armed and what firearms they own. Third, they have created an addition revenue stream through the collection of various fees.

A ‘right’ that is granted through permission of the state or federal government – and that costs money – is not a right, but a privilege. And privileges can be revoked on the whims of those who hold the authority (i.e. politicians). Meanwhile, criminals ignore these laws with impunity, realizing they can conduct their evil deeds with little fear of danger, since very few citizens are armed and able to defend themselves. The state of New York will not reveal how many pistol permits have been issued, but the most reasonable estimate I have seen is about 300,000. In a state with a population of about twenty million, this number amounts to just 1.5% of the state population.

The Second Amendment, as part of the Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791. The sentence is short, simple, and concise:

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.

2nd Amendment

Now, before we go any further, some may question the wording of the Second Amendment. Often the statement is made that we don’t have a militia today, as there was in the late 18th century. True, but it’s also true that when the Second Amendment was written, every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 45 was considered to be a member of his local militia. During an emergency or time of trouble, the militia was called forth to provide help and necessary defense. The issue of “well regulated” does not speak of government control, but instead refers to being practiced and well-prepared. This is not my own interpretation, but that of Alexander Hamilton, who articulated this point in The Federalist Papers, No. 29.

The ownership of firearms is a right, and never to be considered to be a privilege that can be granted by some government bureaucrat and then taken away or withheld on a whim or for political expedience.

The phrase “keep and bear arms” is certainly clear and easy to grasp. A citizen of the United States has the God-given right to own firearms and also the right to bear them or to carry them and of course the implication is that they can and will be carried in public.

This right “shall not be infringed” and although the word infringed may seem a bit archaic for today’s English, the intent of the framers cannot be mistaken or misunderstood. There are to be no restrictions on this right of the people.

Oh – I can hear it now from some quarters… “So then Jeff – should the citizen be allowed to have a bazooka… a flame thrower… a drone armed with hellfire missles… perhaps a battle tank…” These are the silly questions sometimes asked, often by those who would seek to limit the rightful liberty of American citizens. However, there is a reasonable answer. Tench Coxe (1755-1824), a member of the Continental Congress wrote the following:

“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Congress have (sic) no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American . . . . The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” Tench Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788.

Coxe had it right and his words are just as fitting for the American citizen in the 21st century: “Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier…” I take that to mean the common foot soldier or infantryman. The common foot soldier or infantryman of today is armed with the semi-automatic rifle and semi-automatic pistol. These firearms are the birthright of an American and should
be available to any citizen at least 18 years old. And in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the Second Amendment, there should be no restrictions, limitations, or requirements on ownership,  apart from providing proof of legal age and US citizenship at the time of purchase.

Dont Tread on Me
Gadsden Flag: Warning to the tyrannical British during the Revolution

Personally, I have no problem with a background check as long as it is free of any financial cost to the buyer, completed immediately at the time of purchase, and that no written record documenting the purchase is maintained by either the seller or the government.

The citizens of the United States have a God-given right and within the context of natural law to provide self-protection from the lawless and to be prepared to protect society at large from tyranny. This was the intent of the founders and it was their wisdom and foresight that led to the inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

Incidentally, our rights are God-given, protected by the Constitution. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written not so much to grant freedom to the people, but more to limit the role of government in the lives of the people and to protect the people from the dangers of tyranny. The Second Amendment provides a rightful means for the people to respond to tyranny in an appropriate manner, but may God forbid that it ever comes to pass!

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© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2015

(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)