Making a Case for True Natural Rights for All in Second Amendment Argument

by Tommy Grant

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A recent federal court ruling has stirred up controversy. While that happens all the time, this one is special because it’s got the gun rights community divided. The big rub? The question of whether people who entered the country illegally can lawfully possess a gun. Some conservatives and libertarians/liberals are on the side of the defendant, while others are angry about it, with some even thinking it’s part of a plot to create an army of “invaders”.

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem is among those who aren’t happy about it:

And, in the replies, there were several comments like this one from Missouri’s Secretary of State:

Plenty of others said things like, “The Left has turned on we The people!” and “They hate us, they full on, without a doubt, hate the American citizen.” Some even accused the judge of treason, said “America has fallen.” while at the same time there were a bunch of anti-gun zealots siding with Republicans.

Given all of this nonsense, it’s pretty clear that many people on the right and the left need both a history lesson and a lesson on natural rights. If you know what natural rights are and what the Second Amendment is, please share this. If you think I’m some radical leftist for calling the above nonsense, then you’re among those who need to keep reading.

Let’s Start With The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment itself is pretty clear about this:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

We already know that the prefatory clause has no legal effect. It’s just a statement of the intent of the ratifiers, which is to keep the United States from falling prey to tyranny. So, let’s get into the meat. It says

“…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Notice that it doesn’t say something like “…the Government of The United States of America hereby grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms.” or “Male citizens of military age are hereby given a license to possess arms connected with militia service.”

The key point I’m trying to make is that the Second Amendment doesn’t grant anybody anything. It only restricts government from violating a right that was already assumed to exist. The right to keep and bear arms is something that predates the United States of America. So, the next natural question is where it comes from.

Who Gave Us The Right To Keep and Bear Arms?

To know what pre-existing right the Second Amendment refers to, we have to go further back to the Declaration of Independence. If you’ve never read it yourself, I highly recommend reading it in full and doing some background reading to understand what it’s talking about. It’s a valuable piece of history and it’s vital to understanding your rights.

But, let’s look at a key passage of it that illuminates the Second Amendment’s meaning:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

There is plenty of room for debate on what “Creator” means, as not all of the document’s authors agreed on that point. Some were deists, and felt that we could best understand God through the observation of nature, including human nature. Others were Christians, and would say that this refers to the God Christians worship. But, regardless of whether you side with the deists or the Christians, or believe in some other God or none at all, one thing is abundantly clear: Our rights don’t come from government!

This concept, that rights come from either God or from the nature of humanity is called Natural Rights. This concept stands in contrast with the idea of legal rights, or rights that stem from laws and government. Natural rights are fundamental and inalienable, and apply to all humans. We also call them “human rights”. They cannot be repealed by governments.

In some respects, they’re a natural law, like gravity, because violating natural rights runs contrary to human nature. Governments can try to break natural laws by violating our natural rights, but ultimately it will harm that government and destroy it. History is littered with the corpses of dead governments that tried to ignore natural rights, like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the Confederacy. You might get away with violating natural rights for a while, but it always catches up to you.

So, ultimately, even if you believe in God, it’s not about God granting a right to keep and bear arms as much as baking those rights into our very essence as humans. If you don’t believe in God and a literal creation, this still applies, as human rights are the result of billions of years of evolutionary processes. This means that respecting natural rights is part of the survival of the fittest. Societies that respect human rights are thus naturally superior to those that don’t and have an evolutionary advantage at the macro level.

“But, What About The Dangers Of Arming Illegals!”

Before you go to the comments and say that we have to restrict human rights to citizens for practical reasons, I have to point out that we have this argument all the time with anti-gunners. The cold, hard fact is that gun control is worthless, no matter who you try to apply it to.

Why? Because people who entered unlawfully and have bad intentions can always get a gun, just like citizen criminals who are barred from possessing firearms. If gun control doesn’t stop citizen criminals from possessing firearms, why on earth would it stop criminals who were born on the other side of an imaginary line in the desert?

The only thing we accomplish by telling non-citizens that they can’t possess weapons is to disarm the ones who want to follow the law. This puts them at a disadvantage to criminals, and increases crime in the United States. It also gives us a false sense of security, because such laws definitely wouldn’t keep the most dangerous criminals and foreign agents from possessing firearms.

Instead of being idiots and enabling a tyrannical government, we should instead stick to our principles and defend gun rights. Let a mix of good people with guns and good old fashioned constitutional police work take care of the criminals.


Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author and do not reflect an overall stance, view or position of the website in general. For additional perspective and background on this topic, following are links to additional articles:

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