This Little Light Of Mine

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Right To Bear Arms Isn’t Up For Debate

When debating the wisdom of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, the media tends to start from the presumption that the question is purely scientific, and that the answers can — and should — be derived from statistical analyses and relentless experimentation. This approach is mistaken. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is not the product of the latest research fads or exquisitely tortured “data journalism,” but a natural extension of the Lockean principles on which this country was founded. It must be protected as such.
The Declaration of Independence presumes that all men enjoy certain inalienable rights, among them “life” and “liberty.” Practically speaking, at both the state level (as a bulwark against tyranny) and at the individual level (as a means by which to protect oneself), this necessitates the auxiliary right to the private ownership of “arms,” which, in the common law that preceded the Second Amendment, was understood to include personal weapons that could be wielded by an individual — such as the “musket and bayonet”; “sabre, holster pistols, and carbine”; and sundry “side arms.”
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.

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