Those who call for the repeal of the Second Amendment so that we can really begin controlling firearms betray a serious misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights to the people, such that its repeal would legitimately confer upon government the powers otherwise proscribed. The Bill of Rights is the list of the fundamental, inalienable rights, endowed in man by his Creator, that define what it means to be a free and independent people, the rights which must exist to ensure that government governs only with the consent of the people.
At one time this was even understood by the Supreme Court. In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the first case in which the Court had an opportunity to interpret the Second Amendment, it stated that the right confirmed by the Second Amendment “is not a right granted by the constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.” The repeal of the Second Amendment would no more render the outlawing of firearms legitimate than the repeal of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment would authorize the government to imprison and kill people at will. A government that abrogates any of the Bill of Rights, with or without majoritarian approval, forever acts illegitimately, becomes tyrannical, and loses the moral right to govern.
This is the uncompromising understanding reflected in the warning that America’s gun owners will not go gently into that good, utopian night: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” While liberals take this statement as evidence of the retrograde, violent nature of gun owners, we gun owners hope that liberals hold equally strong sentiments about their printing presses, word processors, and television cameras. The republic depends upon fervent devotion to all our fundamental rights.
Jeffrey R. Snyder
A Nation of Cowards
[What of the “moral right to govern” when it commits crimes to justify imposing illegal restrictions on gun dealers? It should be no different than a fireman sets fires so they can put them out. It goes beyond losing “the moral right to govern”. They should go to jail or it means those that wish to be our masters, instead of our public servants, have nothing to lose when they attempt to change the relationship. If they get caught and told not to do that they just try something else. There must be a punishment for those that violate their oath of office because otherwise the erosion of our rights will only stop when there are no more rights to be eroded.—Joe]
I believe that should be “fireman” not “firearm” in you closing paragraph. Otherwise good commentary.
Several years ago, I read “More Guns, Less Crime” by John Lott; this book convinced me that it would be a good idea to buy a gun and get a concealed carry permit.
A few months later, I read the essay this quote was taken from, and I became convinced that it is a moral duty to own a gun, and to be trained in the use of it. Jeff Snyder has a certain knack for getting to the philosophical core of an issue, and then making that core crystal clear. In the case of gun rights, the issue is that of dignity, individual liberty, and the hypocrisy of relying on the State for self defense.
A whole lot of truths expressed in that book quote. I’m going to run out and buy that book. Just bought a ton of ammunition, so I’ve got that covered!
There is no “moral right to govern”. Period.
Which is not to say there is no moral right to punish those who violate the rights of others. Which leads to the conclusion that many of those who would be our “masters” should spent more than a little time in prison.
“There must be a punishment for those that violate their oath of office because otherwise the erosion of our rights will only stop when there are no more rights to be eroded.”
A whole lot of truth in that. It literally does not cease to astound me how many appear to not understand why it is true.
NoC is Snyder’s best known essay. He has a lot more to say. You might not agree with it all, but he’s worth reading.
I’m astounded: Snyder’s book has 11 reviews, and they are all “5 Star”! Normally a book that addresses gun control has a lot of “1 Star” reviews, and a lot of “5 Star” reviews, and then a handful of stars in between. Perhaps this means that the Anti-Rights Establishment hasn’t discovered the book yet.
As for myself, I own the book, and have read it two or three times; thus, if I were to review the book, I’d also give it “5 Stars”. I really appreciate Snyder’s writing when I can find it, even the bits that annoy me (he disagrees vehemently with the Iraq War, while I tend to favor it), because he’s usually insightful.
Snyder’s approach to rights from a philosophical viewpoint provides great clarity to the debate; this clarity then charges the emotions, which in turn helps me to appreciate my rights and duties all the more (and also causes me to mourn what has happened to our country).
So, yeah, get the book, and read it, if you haven’t done so already!
I especially like this comment “Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police’s, not only are you wrong since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so”
Like they say, if you want something done right do it yourself!