Natural rights and the Second Amendment

Phil Fortney
Gun-rights supporters often say their right to keep and bear arms comes from the Second Amendment.

They're wrong. That right comes, as do all of our rights, from God.* The Founders and Framers presupposed and accepted as self-evident "unalienable rights, endowed by our Creator". None of the Amendments grant us any rights; what they do is forbid the government from infringing on them, as rulers have always done from the beginning of history. Babylonian slaves had the right to keep and bear arms, but their masters did not honor that right.  

The Second Amendment does not even say we have a right; it presupposes that we do, and says the government must protect that right. "...the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". If there had been Progressives around in those days, they would have said "What right to keep and bear arms?  Where did that come from?  I don't see any law giving us that right. We don't need no stinkin' right." Because there were no Progressives then, people who think it's up to them or their betters to say what's a right and what's not, we have America.

James Madison, widely considered the Father of the Constitution, initially opposed the adoption of a bill of rights, because he feared that it could imply that our rights come from the government, rather than preceding all government. He was persuaded by his co-authors that the American people were of a character that would not accept such a way of thinking, and that a supplemental written guarantee would prevent the government from straying from its duty to protect our God-given rights.

If we're no longer of such a character, then God save us.


*No theology here, and I'm happy to accept "the God of Nature" as the source of our rights.

Gun-rights supporters often say their right to keep and bear arms comes from the Second Amendment.

They're wrong. That right comes, as do all of our rights, from God.* The Founders and Framers presupposed and accepted as self-evident "unalienable rights, endowed by our Creator". None of the Amendments grant us any rights; what they do is forbid the government from infringing on them, as rulers have always done from the beginning of history. Babylonian slaves had the right to keep and bear arms, but their masters did not honor that right.  

The Second Amendment does not even say we have a right; it presupposes that we do, and says the government must protect that right. "...the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". If there had been Progressives around in those days, they would have said "What right to keep and bear arms?  Where did that come from?  I don't see any law giving us that right. We don't need no stinkin' right." Because there were no Progressives then, people who think it's up to them or their betters to say what's a right and what's not, we have America.

James Madison, widely considered the Father of the Constitution, initially opposed the adoption of a bill of rights, because he feared that it could imply that our rights come from the government, rather than preceding all government. He was persuaded by his co-authors that the American people were of a character that would not accept such a way of thinking, and that a supplemental written guarantee would prevent the government from straying from its duty to protect our God-given rights.

If we're no longer of such a character, then God save us.


*No theology here, and I'm happy to accept "the God of Nature" as the source of our rights.