The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms

By Stephanie Birmingham

Featured Rightgrrl September 1998
October 12, 1999

Guns. Should we, or shouldn't we? That is a toughie - or is it? "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." I could go back in history and take time to break down this very important part of the Bill of Rights - as all parts are important - or I could speak from a deeply held belief of my own, based on many things including the Constitution itself, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bible, among other things.

We can argue in and out - up and down and back again about the first part of the second amendment - the part about the militia, but for this writing, I will not take the time to do that. Rather, let's ask ourselves an important question: "In this day and age, is the "Constitutionality" of guns good enough to keep them in the hands of citizens?" I say no. The Constitution clearly gives the impression that there is an absolute nature of the second amendment that is hard to argue - but let's face it - times HAVE changed. Kids are killing kids. Crime is rampant. Guns are in the hands of those who have no place anywhere in this world other than behind bars - yet guns remain legal and available. Why is this? Why is it that so many people argue so passionately about their "Constitutional right" to keep and bear arms? The answer is simple - the reason the "Constitutionality" of guns is not enough is because the Constitutional guarantee is irrelevant to the fact that the right exists, and predates the Constitution.

The Constitutional guarantee is to the individual in return for his promise to guarantee the security of the state. "We will uphold your right to keep and bear arms if you will agree to let us govern you." Not good enough for me. Perhaps, "If you will agree to delegate the authority to let us govern you" is more fitting. It's not good enough for me, because to truly understand the Constitution, one must understand that the Constitution does not grant us a single right. Not one.

The Constitution is only a document drawn up to ENSURE the rights that were given to us by a power far more powerful than the police - more powerful than Congress, more powerful even than the President of the United States. "That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." What rights? Who gave us the rights that governments are to secure? The answer is that the most basic of human rights which we have were given to us by the One who created us - but God.

Yes, the Constitution IS a living document - a document that is, perhaps, subject to change, but the rights of We The People are individually held and not subject to government restriction. The people or the government which violates the rights of the individual, whether it be by restrictive law or simply by any attempt to deprive a person of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness risks discovering the true intent of the second amendment. Yes, yes I understand the harsh nature of THAT comment, but what about those colonists who risked it all when they fought the redcoats at Lexington and Concord?

I have been asked if I would keep my guns if the Constitution happened to be amended using language that would, in effect, take the guns out of the hands of the citizens. The answer is, yes I would. I would retain my right to defend myself just as I would retain my right to practice the religion of my choice, even if the Constitution happened to be amended in a way that removed my "Constitutional right" to freely practice my religion. Did the Catholic church give up wine during the "Constitutionally guaranteed" prohibition? No, they didn't. But, but, but....

Sorry, that's the fact.

Too often, we see the Constitution as an infallible document that GIVES us rights, rather than the document that simply says, "We recognize them". Recognize them or not, I will practice my religion freely. I will speak freely. I will defend myself if those who wish to do harm to me or mine come to my dwelling to wreak havoc.

I closing, I also wish to remind you of the 9th amendment. "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In crude paraphrase, "Just 'cuz we didn't mention it doesn't mean that you ain't got it". The other rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights just happen to cover the favorite "dirty little tricks" of a government that the framers had observed previously and were hell bent on escaping.

Know who you are. Know what your rights are. Know from whence they came and defend them with all you have.

This article copyright © 1999 by Stephanie Birmingham and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.