“Twenty years after James Brady was shot in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, the modern gun control movement spearheaded by him and his wife, Sarah, is in retreat,” said the Washington Post on Wednesday.
“Amid gloomy developments for advocates of gun restrictions, the Bradys’ group, Handgun Control Inc., and its allies have lowered their expectations for Washington. They have turned instead to states and cities considered more receptive to stronger regulation of handguns,” the article said.
“They are also scrambling to stop or rescind laws backed by the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups at the state and local levels, including those making it easier to carry concealed weapons,” said the paper.
Obviously, it’s time for another civics lesson on the Second Amendment, I see. I hope federal, state and local courts in this country are listening, as well as our federal, state and local lawmakers. You people, most of all, need to know this.
Though I’ve included it in gun rights columns before, here — once again, and mostly for those of you new to this discussion — is the text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
- 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.
For the purposes of this discussion, you can forget about the “militia” part because it doesn’t apply. Besides, there are few “state militias” anymore — only federally controlled “National Guard” units subject to Washington’s whims and included in the Defense Department’s national defense plans.
The first lesson is that the Constitution must be taken in whole, not in part. As such, it is also appropriate to provide the text of the Tenth Amendment, which says,
- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Lesson two: It shouldn’t matter whether gun control advocates target federal, state, or local officials when pushing for laws that restrict — nay, infringe — a person’s “right to keep and bear arms.” Why? Because the Constitution — by even addressing the right to keep and bear arms in the first place — has settled the matter by preserving the federal role for protecting this right and, in doing so, “prohibiting” states and local governments from passing anti-gun laws.
The federal government cannot “infringe” on this right because the Constitution says the right can be freely exercised by the people.
Indeed, the only “federal” role here is to ensure that the Constitution is upheld and its amendments freely accessible to all citizens. Lawmakers, presidents and government officials swear to do this upon entering office.
State governments, therefore, cannot “infringe” on this right, because — as enumerated in the Tenth Amendment — it is a right that has already been “delegated” to the people, to be overseen and “guaranteed” by the government. Ditto for local politics.
Now, if our founding fathers had never even mentioned the subject of the people’s right to be armed – let alone included it specifically as an amendment to our supreme governing document – then yeah, maybe lawmakers at all levels of government would have the “right” to restrict guns and other “arms.”
Lesson three: Some of the worst infringement of this right is being committed by the very entity — the federal government — charged with ensuring the people’s free access to use it if they choose.
Washington, D.C. — an enclave solely “owned” and “managed” by the federal government — is a virtual gun-free zone. You can’t take a gun into a federal courthouse, post office, military base, or government building, either, lest you be arrested for violating “infringing” gun-free-zone laws.
Lesson four: The guarantor of the right to keep and bear arms — the federal government — has surrendered its “rights” oversight role by allowing state and local governments to pass laws that restrict gun rights.
It is important to remember that the Constitution must be taken as a whole; therefore, the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment clearly forbids states from passing restrictive gun laws because the Constitution clearly enumerates this right as being in the exclusive, protective domain of the people, protected by the federal government.
So it shouldn’t be an issue of “Handgun Control now wanting to target states and local governments” for new anti-gun laws. Indeed, in using the Constitution’s strict wording and meaning, no state or local law restricting guns from law-abiding persons can even be considered valid.
If the Constitution’s protectors at the federal level were doing their jobs, every federal court district in the country would be suing state and local governments for “infringing” on our “right to keep and bear arms.”
This is not a right granted to the people only if federal, state and local governments say it is — much like the right to speak freely, associate freely and practice religion freely is not a right arbitrated by politicians at any level.
Lesson five: A question for federal judges: If the First Amendment’s protections cannot be abused by a state or a local government, as many of you have correctly forbade, then how come the Second Amendment’s protections can?
If we follow this line of thinking, will Americans be forced to “quarter troops” in their homes (prohibited by the Third Amendment, by the way) if the Pentagon cuts housing allowances for state guard units?
Lesson six: It seems to me that every time a federal court denies a person free use of the Second Amendment, the Ninth Amendment is also violated:
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Isn’t the Second Amendment “enumerated in the Constitution” as a “certain right … retained by the people”? The answer is, of course, “yes.”
Thus endeth the civics lesson and, hopefully, the discussion over whether or not anti-gun laws are even legal. As the Constitution sees it, they aren’t — not, at least, for law abiding people who are willing to observe the Constitution’s other protections and guarantees.
It’s time for federal, state and local courts and lawmakers to stop the assault against one of the most basic, fundamental and clearly enumerated rights guaranteed “to the people.” The hypocrisy is maddening.
Note to Sarah Brady: What happened to your husband and President Reagan, as well as that D.C. policeman (God rest his soul) was awful. But in this country, your tragedy does not give you passage to deny Americans the right to prevent a similar tragedy from befalling them.