So long as there are idiots out there who are trying to convince people to disarm themselves so they can be maimed or killed by violent criminals, I will fulfill my journalistic duty to remind folks that they don’t necessarily have to become a statistic if they don’t want to.

You have a constitutional right to own a firearm — handgun, shotgun, rifle — if you so choose. And, like all our other rights — free speech, freedom of religion, the right to avoid self-incrimination — your right to own a gun cannot be “infringed,” taken away, banned, limited, or ignored.

You may not agree with or like Buddhism, Wicca or Islam, but in America you don’t have the right to forbid people from observing or practicing those religions.

You may not agree with or like what WorldNetDaily or Rush Limbaugh or Bill Clinton or the New York Times has to say, but you don’t have the right to order them to shut down or shut up.

Consequently, you can belong to all the “million mom” or “handgun control” groups you want, but you don’t have the right to forbid, limit, or ban persons from buying and owning firearms. It’s as much a constitutional right as any other.

Maybe too few people realize this because too few schools provide kids with proper constitutional instruction. I know of and have heard of teachers who badmouth and ridicule the Second Amendment just because they personally don’t like guns. Ironically, however, they use their First Amendment right of free speech to trash the Second.

Or maybe it’s because too few media pinheads have a clue about the proper constitutional rights and responsibilities of citizens and government alike. I know of lots of journalists who would rather be invited to parties held by anti-liberty minded politicians than remind their readers of their right to own a firearm.

Or maybe it’s because too many communities ban or severely restrict access to guns while too many judges and lawmakers let these communities get by with it. I know of lots of local big fish who are of the mind that they should be dictators of their own little domain and should have the right to restrict gun rights (and others) at their leisure or whim.

But whatever the reason, the one irrefutable fact of the matter is this: Americans do now and have always had the right to “keep and bear arms,” because our Constitution says we can — and there isn’t a damned thing gun opponents can do about it.

Or rather, there shouldn’t be anything they can do about it. Far too many federal, state and local politicians and judges are just as anti-gun, all-controlling and hypocritical about the Constitution and the rights it guarantees we the people.

Oddly, they will let kids view pornography on the Internet but are against letting a 100-pound woman carry a gun in her purse so she can defend herself against a 220-pound male rapist.

My guess is if more lawmakers and judges were attacked, beaten or raped, they’d suddenly “see the wisdom” of the Second Amendment. I’m not advocating that, mind you, but unless you’ve been in that kind of situation, it’s very easy to deny others the right to defend themselves — especially if you’re personally surrounded with a boatload of armed personal bodyguards or cops.

People should understand that while some anti-gun advocates really believe what they are doing is right, their efforts to make sure you’re unarmed are inherently more dangerous to you than guns themselves.

Criminals love helpless, hapless victims. Always have, always will; the more helpless, the better.

Consequently, the more gun control laws anti-gunners convince lawmakers to pass and judges to uphold, the more violence and deaths our society will suffer because lawbreaking maniacs don’t care much about laws — against guns or anything else — in the first place.

The cardinal rule of safety that you should follow is this: You should never let someone who is not responsible for you determine what’s best for your personal safety.

Also, even if you don’t like guns you shouldn’t be willing to accept limitations or bans on them because sooner or later, somebody will get around to limiting or banning other constitutional rights you do “approve” of.

If anti-gun proponents want to disarm themselves, tell everyone they see that they’re disarmed and post a sign in their front yard that says, “Don’t worry — I don’t have a gun,” that’s their business. And their right.

But if any group or politician seeks to infringe upon, limit or ban the “right to keep and bear arms,” remind them they have no “right” to do so. You can use your First Amendment right of government redress to do the reminding, as well as your constitutional right to vote.

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