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News & Editorials

Who doesn't want Freedom?

by Mark J. Haythornthwaite


"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature . . and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction." - St. George Tucker, in his edition of Blackstone's Commentaries


I never used to care that much about guns, pro or con. Guns are a tool, a little more interesting (and dangerous) than most, but still just a tool. Being anti-gun is as dumb as being anti-bicycle or anti-screwdriver, you can pretend they don't exist but they do, and some people get hurt or killed by them. As with everything else in life that has legitimate and useful purposes, some people will misuse them, and accidents will happen. 

As an immigrant I decided it was important to understand the history and politics of this country. One thing I have learned is that those of you who were born here sometimes don't realize how good you have it. The level of freedom in this country is unmatched anywhere in the world. But most people take it for granted, not understanding how those freedoms are protected and maintained. You might think- "It's because we live in a free, democratic society, with the best armed forces and the strongest economy." But you would be wrong. If you said "Because we have the Constitution to protect us" you would be close, but what protects the Constitution? 

It is simple: You are armed. Oh, I am not necessarily referring to you as an individual, but as a society. How do you think the country stays free? A democracy can enact any restrictions the majority agree on, so it only seems free as long as you are one of the majority. The United States is as free as it is because you have one freedom that virtually no other country in the world allows their citizens: the right to be armed. An armed populace gives teeth to the Constitution, which sets limits on the Federal Government, not the people, thereby discouraging tyranny. The government does not act for you, the courts don't protect you, the legislature is not creating laws for your benefit. All laws, (and most other Government actions) are to the detriment of individual freedoms, which is why the Constitution was conceived as a restraint on government. You have certain freedoms that should never be taken away, and you still have them not because the government wants you to have them, but because the Founding Fathers set it up so government could not touch them.

The Constitution is a remarkable document. It specifically apportions power in the United States, stipulated how it was to work, how representatives were to be selected, and included the oversight mechanisms needed to keep it all running smoothly. The Bill of Rights was added after the Constitution was pretty much done, as it was not originally seen as necessary or desirable to enumerate the rights of the people. All rights given to the government were itemized, all others belonged to the people. Pretty straight-forward, why create a list that could be interpreted as being the only rights we had? 

However, knowing that government will always try to limit freedom, some of the state representatives knew that the only way the Constitution could be ratified was if the Bill of Rights was included. Their fear was that without those rights spelled out, the government would ignore them. As it has turned out their caution was quite prophetic, the Federal Government has taken many actions over the past century that clearly infringe on our rights, but the outcry is muted because "It is for the good of the _____" (Fill in the blank with any victimized group). The whole document is as relevant today as it was 212 years ago, because although technologically the world has changed, human nature and the nature of government are still the same.

The most important thing about the Bill of Rights is: they grant nothing.

The most important thing about the Bill of Rights is: they grant nothing.

That's right, these rights are not "granted"; they are not given to us by the government or the Constitution. Instead they enumerate (list) important rights that you have just for being born. We call these "human rights" now, but in the Founding Fathers' time they were rights "endowed by God". Quite obviously not every natural right is listed either, you have a right to breath, and passing a law making breathing illegal does not take away that right. You have the natural right to live, be free, to speak your mind, to own property. Most important, you have the right to protect your life, your freedom, and your property. None of these rights can be taken, regulated or denied to free people, as a right without the legal means to exercise it is meaningless.

OK, for argument's sake--let's forget about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Let's say that Handgun Control, Inc. has their way and the 2nd Amendment is repealed. What do you think that changes? Absolutely nothing! Natural rights are not subject to repeal! Where in the Constitution, apart from the 2nd Amendment, is there any mention of personal arms? Where does it say that people are not allowed to defend their own lives and the lives of their children? Where does it say that the government has the right to preemptively infringe on any person's "god-given rights"? 

Banning gun ownership serves no societal good; it makes as much sense as cutting out a person's tongue because he might yell "FIRE" in a crowded theater. It has as much legitimacy as forcing you to join a state-approved religion, but this is exactly where the government has been heading for the past century. For the first 150 years there were no Federal Firearms laws, and the only state laws were "Jim Crow" laws, created specifically to disarm blacks. The Federal government has no Constitutional authority to ban guns or control them, so in effect, all Federal gun laws are null and void. Gun control is about disarming the law-abiding; it has no effect on criminals, and as such we should reject gun control as a panacea for society's ills. At best it is ineffective, at worst it is a placebo that allows us to feel better about creating unarmed victims.

If you are of the opinion that guns are bad, then you are entitled to that opinion. You are free to choose not to own a gun, and you can forbid your children from having a gun while they are minors. And I will fight to support your right to your opinion. However, when your opinion includes infringing on other's rights, it becomes indefensible. Everyone else could feel that Judaism is immoral, but Jews have the right to practice their beliefs free from interference, and you do not have the right to advocate (using your freedom of speech) the persecution of Jews. Rights are not subject to the will of the majority. If they were they wouldn't be called "rights".

We live in a world that contains hatred, envy, greed, and evil. We can see the injustices inflicted on the weak by the strong, and by tyrannical governments on the people they should be protecting on a daily basis. These are things that have not changed in thousands of years of human civilization, and as long as any man wants to take something from someone else, be it at knife-point or by sending in the troops, then we must be prepared to fight to protect our life and freedoms. 

Even the U.N. Statement on Human Rights recognizes the right to life is the primary human right. Without the means to defend that life it becomes a meaningless gesture. The strongest force a human being has to resist criminal depredations or government injustice is personal arms -- the last resort once talking and the ballot box have failed. It is as natural as the right to breath, and should no more be licensed as the right to read a book. The police are not your bodyguards; they enforce the laws, both criminal and tyrannical, which by definition must be broken before they can act. After you become a victim the police will be there for you, either to bag your body or to take your statement, but they can not prevent crimes from happening. The only person that can do that is yourself. The most effective tool at your disposal is the modern firearm, and ironically enough the most practical of these are military arms.

Modern military firearms are light, accurate, reliable and can take a tremendous amount of abuse from dirt, water and lack of maintenance. (No-one expects a fancy skeet gun to take any abuse at all!) Let's not get ridiculous; I am not talking about owning cannons, but personal arms. If someone is trying to hurt you or your family, you would want the best tool for the job. It just so happens that the best are same ones the police and the army would take to a fight, but which politicians do not want you to have. 

If you are dismayed by the gun violence and wish to somehow help its victims, the answer is to support lawful citizens from buying guns free of government interference. It is not to arbitrarily ban firearms because of how they look or because of technical differences. The answer is to punish criminal and negligent use, and to educate people to respect human life and understand the responsibilities of firearms ownership. 

Most people have an emotional response to guns, usually out of fear due to unfamiliarity. The media plays on those fears using dramatic images, emotional stories and outright deceptions instead of facts to try to sway public opinion. It is irrational to believe that Gun Control laws and restrictions will affect anyone apart from law-abiding, honest citizens, or to believe that infringements are purely benevolent. Criminals do not care what's banned nor do they register their guns; if they did New York City and Washington DC (which have virtual bans on private ownership of guns) would be the safest cities in the nation. And what of the ultimate cost to freedom when all the guns are owned by the government? Why would you trust a government that doesn't trust it's own citizens?

I chose to make this country my home, because it is free. If freedom does not suit you, then you should leave, instead of asking the government for more restrictions on your rights. Benjamin Franklin put it best 

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If you want to live that way, there are plenty of other places in this world where you can have all the government goodwill and unchecked criminal predation you can handle. Just stop trying to ruin it for the rest of us; some of us came here to get away from all that.


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There are other things so clearly out of the power of Congress, that the bare recital of them is sufficient, I mean the "...rights of bearing arms for defence, or for killing game..." These things seem to have been inserted among their objections, merely to induce the ignorant to believe that Congress would have a power over such objects and to infer from their being refused a place in the Constitution, their intention to exercise that power to the oppression of the people. —ALEXANDER WHITE (1787)

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