Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Lot of People Don't Get It

Ever since the tragedy last Monday, a lot of news outlets have been feeding the public a steady diet of anti-2nd Amendment stories from Op/Ed pieces to ensuring that reader submitted "Letters to the Editor" support the common theme. Unfortunately my local paper, The Oregonian, seems to want to push the agenda rather than look at the facts and data. I read a particularly representative (and naive) letter to the editor there today:

"As I read the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the only reason given for the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the proviso "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State . . .."

"Since we have a standing Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, FBI, CIA, state police, county sheriffs, city police, National Guard and the thousands of private contractors the Defense Department has hired to fight the terrorists, pray tell, what need do we have for the Second Amendment except to provide ready weapons for those fellow Americans who kill Americans at the rate of 30,000 a year?


Since I know that The Oregonian isn’t going to print my response – I included it here so it will actually be read.

I note two critical failings in Marvin Friesen’s letter regarding the Second Amendment. First the author erroneously views the Second Amendment as a granted right for stated reason. Even a cursory reading of the debates surrounding the Second Amendment shows that the way the author “reads” the text to be unsupportable.

The Framers granted no rights in the Bill of Rights, they simply affirmed what they saw as natural rights, hence the Amendments are worded “the government shall not infringe” rather than “The People are granted the right”. The right to bear arms represented an extension of the natural right of self-preservation and furthermore an armed populace represented the surest check against a government seeking to militarily impose its will on the populace. The prefatory “militia” clause is therefore not justification of a granted right; in fact the “militia” clause was included at the insistence of Anti-Federalists who feared a standing army (as did most Federalists).

The second critical failing represents a common misinterpretation of the role of civic and military authorities. Responsibility for self-preservation lies with the individual, and can’t be guaranteed by any external body or authority. The role of law enforcement and the military is that of collective safety and common defense – they are not responsible for, nor are they capable of, keeping each individual citizen “safe”. I find it telling that large cities with restrictive gun laws and large police forces have the highest murder rates in the nation.

So to Marvin Friesen I say, the need for the Second Amendment today is the same as it was in the late 1780’s – to preserve our life and liberty.

Until next time!

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