Comment: The 2nd Amendment guarantees a right, not a privilege

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coffee_sponge's picture

The 2nd Amendment guarantees a right, not a privilege

The right to keep and bear arms is the logical extension of the right of self-defense. To ensure your ability to defend yourself, you must be able to keep the means of self-defense ever handy.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees a right. A right is something you are born with; it's part of your very humanity. Your rights are unlimited in as long as they are not abused to infringe on someone else's rights or property. Rights are not licenses allowing you to commit criminal acts.

Likewise, rights are not privileges. Privileges are permissions granted to do something or to be somewhere without which you would not have the authority otherwise. Privileges may be restricted or withdrawn entirely by the issuing authority. For example, you may enter someone else's property only with their permission; without their permission, you are trespassing.

Since government is not the source of our essential liberties, government has no authority to restrict or deny us our rights, unless we forfeit our rights, for example by committing criminal acts. Government's only role is to protect our rights and to enforce contracts.

When government establishes hoops and hurdles we must navigate simply to be able to exercise our rights, it is usurping authority it legitimately does not have. Such hoops and hurdles are known as "prior restraints". For example, we don't allow the government to require news reporters to submit their articles to a government censor for fact verification simply because someone may be libeled. We don't require patrons to wear gags in a crowed movie theater just because someone might yell "Fire!" in an effort to precipitate a panic. We simply prosecute someone if they actually commit a crime.

Background checks, even instant ones, are prior restraints on the 2nd Amendment right to arms. Unless someone wants to establish precedents that may eventually allow censorship, establishment of religion, etc. then any prior restraints must be opposed. We already see our rights to due process and to privacy evaporating because of these creeping encroachments.

In addition, the Bill of Rights is all about essential liberties, i.e. RIGHTS, not needs. "Who needs a magazine that holds more than X number of bullets?" Well, I don't have to prove or explain why I need X number of rounds; I have a RIGHT to have X number of rounds.

If someone insists that 2nd Amendment rights can be subjected to a needs test, then I insist we subject that person to an intelligence test before he/she is permitted to continue speaking in regards to the 2nd Amendment. If they pass that test, then they may articulate cogent reasons why they should be permitted to address this particular topic.

Why does Piers Morgan need access to millions of viewers for voicing his opinions, when most of us don't have that opportunity? The Founding Fathers never could have envisioned network television. Surely they would not want an angry simpleton like Piers to have the opportunity to reach so many people with the flick of a microphone key. Seventeenth Century technology consisted of a soap box. Today we have satellites. Let's ban CNN.

Egalitarian democracy demands that no one have access to assault communications equipment with the ability to reach so many people all at once. Just look at the panic precipitated by Orson Welles' original broadcast of War of the Worlds. I would remind people like Piers that one feeble-minded jerk behind a microphone is far more dangerous to our society than is some whack job with a gun.

Incidentally, while we are at it, let's subject these freedom-averse people to I.Q. tests before they are allowed to vote. The right to arms is an essential liberty expressly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which lists rights people are born with. Voting, on the other hand, is not mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Voting is a privilege of citizenship. If you are not a citizen, you are not supposed to vote, although you still have a right to speak freely, worship freely, etc. Low-information voters are far more dangerous to our society than are armed individuals. If it's OK to restrict our right to arms, then surely it's OK to bring back requirements that voters must be tax-paying property owners.

The bottom line is if people who don't like guns succeed in snuffing our 2nd Amendment rights, they in turn will lose the rights they care about as well. Our rights don't exist in a vacuum; they stand or fall as a unit.