With the talk of the federal government, namely the Obama Administration, poised to take measures to restrict the ownership of guns, many pro-gun organizations and individuals have been directing attention to the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution as protection. The 2nd Amendment, of course, was written to protect the individual’s right to bear arms. Despite what I consider to be pretty cut and dry language, this hasn’t stopped the government from trampling on the individual’s right to protect himself or herself.
The 2nd Amendment is almost worshipped by many gun right advocates. These people include supporters of the NRA, Tea Party activists, etc. While they are correct that we as individuals do have the right to arm ourselves, they fall short on the principles from where they derive their stance. You do not get your right to bear arms from the 2nd Amendment. You get your right to bear arms from the same place you get your right to own anything else. In other words, so long as your claim to property doesn’t involve taking property from someone else against their will, what right does anyone have to restrict your ownership of property?
The problem with using the 2nd Amendment, or even the Constitution in general, is that you’re leaving the possibility open to the government to rewrite the laws to take away these rights. While it may be unconstitutional for Obama to put a ban on certain styles of guns, what happens if the government decides to repeal the 2nd Amendment through the processes made perfectly legal under the Constitution? If you believe that your right to own a gun occurs through the Constitution, you have no leg to stand on when the Constitution then says you don’t have that right.
What’s a better argument: you can’t restrict my ownership of guns because the government allows me to have them or you can’t restrict my ownership of guns because you have no right to control the decisions I make regarding my body and property?
In addition to the confusion of the source of ownership rights, many of these 2nd Amendment advocates are in favor of “common sense gun laws.” They say that while you have the right to arm yourself, we need practical rules to control what people have. Do you want your hothead neighbor to have a couple of AK-47s at his disposal? You probably don’t, but why should you be the one to determine who is fit to own what quantity and what kind of weapon? The idea of a common sense rule is purely subjective. The majority of people believe that it’s common sense that we should have public fire departments funded by taxes. I disagree with that sentiment and I can back up my stance. So who’s right? Where do you draw the line on common sense gun laws? Are you any better than the person who wants to do away with handguns when you think it should be illegal to possess a grenade launcher?
It all comes down to how far you are willing to take personal liberty. If some liberty is good and government controlling your life is bad, does having more and more liberty ever end up as a bad thing? If you’re going to put some restrictions on liberty, who gets to decide the restrictions? Imagine yourself in a group of say nine people. You all agree that you’re going to vote on everything that you do. Is everyone going to be happy with every decision? Of course not! Wouldn’t it be better if everyone agreed to do whatever they pleased as long as they didn’t prevent the others from doing as they wanted?
The next time you defend your rights using the Constitution, just think about the fluidity of the Constitution. While it may be difficult to change it, look at the way the government has transformed since the Constitution was ratified. Compare that to how much the Golden Rule has changed in the history of human interaction: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.