Weatherford Democrat

February 3, 2013

A commentary on the Second Amendment


Weatherford Democrat

— By R.D. SKIDMORE

Everyone with an ounce of compassion detests seeing families destroyed and innocent children sacrificed as we witnessed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The argument that reducing the number of guns produces a safer society beguiles the public, promotes politicians and fails to hold wicked people accountable for their actions.

While gun rights supporters assert that the constitutional Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms is an inalienable individual right just as freedom of speech or religion, and confirmed by the our Supreme Court, gun opponents assert this right pertains only to collective bodies such as the militia, the military, police or National Guard.

The Washington Post states: “[T]he sale, manufacture, and possession of handguns ought to be banned…[W]e do not believe the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep them.”

Gun opponents frequently utilize highly publicized, tragic instances of violence to fortify their confiscation argument saying that guns should be left only in the hands of “professionals.” California Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) has presented legislation to outlaw 157 firearms. The ACLU, supports Senator Feinstein, and has stated “[T]he individual’s right to bear arms applies only to the preservation or efficiency of a ‘well-regulated militia.’” Except for lawful police and military purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not constitutionally protected.”

Yet, disarming innocent people does not make innocent people safer.

Cabinet Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even prefers to abandon our constitution, stating in a speech given at a Washington D.C. elementary school that, “We have common values that go far beyond the Constitutional right to bear arms.”

The founders of this nation understood that there exists individual inalienable rights and our American government was formed with the sole purpose of safeguarding those inalienable rights. As a nation we are unique in this purpose for government, and the Founders demanded that all office holders swear an oath to ‘protect and defend’ these rights enumerated in our Constitution.

Opponents confuse the Founders original intent to argue that they never intended to allow citizens to be armed with semi-automatic rifles. This common error in constitutional interpretation is failing to examine the Constitution according to its original meaning.

James Wilson, one of just six founders to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and nominated by President George Washington as an original justice on the Supreme Court, exhorted: “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”

The Founders framed the Second Amendment as a certification to protect what was frequently called “the first law of nature” – the right of self-protection, an inalienable right – guaranteed to every citizen individually.

Understanding the Second Amendment’s intention that secures the right “to keep and bear arms,” it is important to establish the source of inalienable rights constitutionally. Constitution signer John Dickenson, like many of the others in his day, defined an inalienable right as a right “which God gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away.”

Our founders believed that it was the duty of government (an inferior power) to protect inalienable rights from encroachment or usurpation. This was made clear by Justice Wilson, while serving on the Supreme Court. He taught his law students that the specific protections found in our government documents did not create new rights, rather secured old rights – that our documents were merely “… to acquire a new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights … which we were previously entitled by the immediate gift or by the unerring law of our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator.”

Justice Wilson asserted that “… every government which has not this in view as its principal object is not a government of the legitimate kind.”

The founders understood the basic concept that government is not the source of rights; that self defense is an inalienable right the Second Amendment guarantees; that each citizen is guaranteed the tools necessary to defend their life, family, or property from aggression, whether from an individual or a government.

Richard Skidmore is a professor at Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Ca. He may be contacted at skidmord49@gmail.com.