Sorry, Bret Stephens, the Rights of the People Are Permanent
Lost in latest elite push to vilify Second Amendment is an important distinction on liberty
The “progressive” jabbering heads on television and their elitist, opinion-writing brethren can’t stop operating under the assumption that everyone in America lives in a gigantic metropolis — a world of doormen and high-end security systems. But many of us live in little towns. Places where doormen get paid in Milk-Bone treats, and the security system, if there is a break-in, goes Bang! Bang! Mine is a Ruger .45. Call it a severe case of redneck paranoia, but without my dogs and my guns, I couldn’t sleep at night.
Last week, Bret Stephens, the “conservative” opinion writer at The New York Times, wrote a column called “Repeal the Second Amendment.” The good news, Bret, is that I can point you to a step-by-step guide that explains exactly how to get that done! It’s called Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The bad news is, you’ll need to get 38 states on board with your asinine assault on liberty. So, I’ll tell you what, you convince the 12 states with Democrat-controlled state legislatures to forfeit a Constitutional right, then we’ll talk about which 26 states with Republican-controlled legislatures you can convince to hop on board.
Maybe Bret Stephens really is a conservative — laughing to himself as he sends the Left on a fool's errand, where the likelihood of success falls somewhere between swimming with mermaids in Atlantis and running with the sasquatches in El Dorado.
Stephens' argument that the Second Amendment is garbage to be disposed with tumbles stupidly into progressivism's most predictable pitfall. He forgot that liberty matters, and that the Constitution was created, in part, to secure liberty.
He also missed an important word in his slapdash interpretation of the Second Amendment. The word "the." As in, "THE right of the people to bear arms." It's surprising that a common, tiny word could be so chock-full of meaning. It signifies that the Constitution does not conjure up or create "the right of the people to bear arms." It merely promises that the government will not infringe on a right that already exists.
Let me put it in terms that a leftist can understand. Our rights are preexisting conditions. They're not Social Security or Medicare. They're not unfunded liabilities. They're not a government program designed to redistribute freedom as a group of politicians sees fit. They are rights bestowed upon us by our Creator, which belonged to us before government and continue to belong to us even if they're taken away.
First Amendment: "THE freedom of speech."
Second Amendment: "THE right of the people to keep and bear arms."
Fourth Amendment: "THE right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects."
A couple of weeks ago, NBC's Chuck Todd said that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore "doesn't appear to believe in the Constitution" because he said, "Our rights don't come from government, they don't come from the Bill of Rights, they come from Almighty God."
But it's Chuck Todd who doesn't appear to believe in the Constitution. Of course, the Declaration of Independence directly asserts that our rights come from God, all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." But that sentiment is echoed in the Constitution's preamble, in which "We the people" create the federal government to — among other things — "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
"Blessings." Blessings with a capital "B." Meaning our liberties are to be secured by the government, but they are not an invention of the government, nor are they bestowed upon us by the government. The framers' use of the word "Blessings" upholds the concept of natural rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence and Locke's philosophy of Natural Rights, which is the foundation of American political philosophy.
Repealing the Second Amendment would simply transfer the preexisting "right of the people to keep and bear arms" to the Ninth Amendment, so if you want my guns, you better repeal that one too.
Stephens argues we'd all be safer without the Second Amendment. Did he forget to read the fine print on the freedom label? We'd all be safer without our freedoms! We'd be way safer without the Fourth Amendment. Just ask the Patriot Act! Then the NSA could listen to every American all day long, and the police could inspect our houses on a regular basis without cause. What a utopia of security that would create! And certainly we'd all be safer without the First Amendment. Just ask the Alien and Sedition Act! No protests. No assembling. No criticizing the government. No Bret Stephens columns riling up the masses by demanding we hand over our liberty.
Feel free to mortgage your own freedoms, Bret Stephens, but mine are spoken for.
Eddie Zipperer is an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College and a regular LifeZette contributor.