The American Militia

Repeal the Second Amendment ?

This essay is inspired by the simple statement of another, in response to some crazy comments following the Virginia Tech Incident.

"The Amendment, itself, forbids it".

The Second Amendment, indeed all of the Bill of Rights, places limits on the U.S. Government. The Constitution says what Government can do, and implying by omission what it is NOT authorized to do. The Bill of Rights was added to clarify some of the most obvious implied restrictions, using language like, "Congress shall make no law" and "Shall not be infringed" to set the tone. The first ten amendments of the constitution prohibit the U.S. Government (Congress) from doing certain things. It is an illustrative but not all inclusive list.

What is the prospect of Repealing the Second Amendment, or for that matter, any of the Ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights?

First it appears that the language in those amendments will strictly PROHIBIT such an action. The action of repeal would "infringe" or "make a law" removing a right, just the action prohibited by the Bill of Rights.

Second, The Bill of Rights Does NOT grant any right to an individual. It was added over the objections of some of the founders so as to enumerate several, but not all, of the natural rights of individuals. Why would someone, our founders for example, object to such a common sense statement of rights? There are several very good reasons to object.

One is that the Constitution, as written and understood, does not permit the government to enact any law to disable any citizens in these Rights, in the areas of speech and liberty and private property. Therefore a statement of rights is not needed, it is redundant. Congress is not authorized in the Constitution to infringe individual rights. But; You´ve seen where the last two centuries have got us, Congress takes more and more liberty in law- making, primarily through the Interstate Commerce Clause, to regulate and outlaw what was once individual liberty.

A Second reason to object to the Bill of Rights is that, if individual rights were enumerated in the Bill of Rights, then it was feared that those rights NOT enumerated COULD then be restricted. Remember, this is just a statement of several pre-existing rights and the Tenth Amendment was added to cover all those left out.

Related to this last point is the concept that repealing any of the Bill of Rights could remove that right. Following the second concern cited above, if a Right were not specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights, then it could be argued that it did not exist (ignoring for the moment that pesky Tenth Amendment). Being mentioned in the Bill of Rights causes some to think that the Right is somehow CREATED or GRANTED by the Bill of Rights.

They have got it backward.

The individual rights in the Bill of Rights, and all those others covered by the Tenth Amendment and not specifically affected by the powers granted in the Constitution, are natural rights of individuals. They existed long before the Constitution was drafted. Serious effort was put into creating a document which grants governmental power to officials chosen by the bulk of the citizens, those to be governed, so as to limit the extent and growth of governmental power.

The Rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights (and others) exist as a function of "being" for each citizen. They are not Granted by any act of government and they can not be Taken Away; they just exist. Over the years these Rights have been spoken of as many things; God given rights, rights of man (mankind), inalienable rights (not capable of being taken away or given away), human rights, and others.

Some speak of rights, such as the "right to vote", or they expand the First Amendment Right of speech to cover art, or non-political protest or perhaps some objectionable action or language or art as an expression of speech and thus a right. These are NOT the human rights, in the Bill of Rights context, discussed above. Some confuse preferential actions or privileges with essential Rights, which they are not. You do not have a Right to drive a car, but it can be argued that you have a natural Right of Free Passage. You have a privilege to travel by automobile, but not a Right.

Applying the term Right to many mundane things cheapens the natural Right and we loose sight of its value and its importance. We loose sight of the cost spent to acquire and hold it. Does the Right in question aid the individual in securing Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? If so it is a fundamental Right, not a personal preference "right". To summarize, it can be argued you have both a Right to be left alone and a right to sleep late on Saturday morning, though they are of different basis.

So what would change if the Second Amendment were repealed? Nothing from the standpoint of inalienable Rights and everything from the standpoint of future freedom. If the Second Amendment were to fall, what Right would be lost next? How soon would be the Revolution begin and at what cost? The basic lesson here is that the Rights covered by the Bill of Rights exist whether or not any listing or enumeration or attempt to repeal them is made.

The Declaration of Independence outlined basic rights as those of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (note that it does not say a right to happiness, only that you are free to pursue it). Those basic Rights are protected from infringement by the Federal Government, established by our Constitution, by the very limited nature of the powers granted to the government by the citizens it governs through that Constitution. As an afterthought, some basic civil Rights that may be exercised are enumerated in the Bill of Rights and others are left unstated but reserved to the citizens and the states.

Clearly there have been some Rights transgressed and some liberties taken by government over the years which were neither contemplated nor allowed by the Constitution. Time has cemented some transgressions in place quite solidly and it will take a bit of citizen hammering to free up those lost rights. First Amendment freedom of speech will be the preferred course of action to redress those grievances . It took decades to get into some of this mess and it will take as long to slowly work freedom loose from the grip of excessive government. The civic duty and Rights implied in the Second Amendment, the requirement to defend freedom, still stands ready, if necessary, to defend all the other rights of freedom, to enforce the First Amendment demands to restore Constitutional freedom. The American Militia knows this.

For now the Soap Box, the Ballot Box and the Jury Box suffice to turn back the hand of excessive government intrusion. The soft conflict is at hand, we have time yet to slowly correct our course. The hard conflict is to be avoided if possible. Sudden changes come with serious cost. A country immersed in internal conflict or confusion will be a weak and easy target for attack from those outside. Second Amendment freedom stands ready, and always will, it can not be denied.

The American Militia knows this.

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Most recent revision May 2007