“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.” – The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
I’m not a constitutional expert. But what if I told you that the Second Amendment does not give you the right to protect yourself or your family? It does not grant you the right to keep and bear arms, either.
Before you get upset with me, hear me out: The Second Amendment does not give you the right to do anything. That right exists—with or without the document. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects and guarantees the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. It affirms our right. And what the Second Amendment was designed to do is prohibit government from infringing upon that right. Nowadays—with our Constitution under a microscope and often under attack—it’s imperative that we understand that.
If we don’t recognize this truth, a problem arises in the assumption that if we didn’t have the Second Amendment, no one would be allowed to own any kind of firearm unless the government provided that right. But the Second Amendment is not a reward or a possession to be given (or to be taken away, for that matter) by anyone or anything. Our right to keep and bear arms—to protect ourselves and our loved ones—existed before the Bill of Rights was drafted and passed, and it exists no matter what man or government may say.
Basically, our Constitution holds a set of specific instructions (and limitations) for our national government. Perhaps that’s why so many big-government supporters seek to destroy it or change it, or to pretend it’s not even there. And while our government can claim that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean what it says, and they can pass laws that go against it, the right to keep and bear arms is an inalienable right. And in that regard, the Bill of Rights is meant to safeguard our rights from our government. The Constitution (including its amendments) lists the specific powers and authorities of our government, and anything not specifically granted to government is for the states or for WE, THE PEOPLE.
Another powerful insight to the Second Amendment is the use of the word “infringe.” The word can be defined as “to wrongly limit or restrict; to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another; to enter by gradual steps or by stealth into the possessions or rights of another.” This word was not chosen by accident. It was purposefully crafted into the document to warn against powers attempting to block, challenge, or chip away at our right. It was written to warn against tyranny.
As Thomas Jefferson so aptly declared, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
The Second Amendment is a wonderful part of the Constitution of the United States, a part of America…past, present, and future. In its pages, those celebrated “certain inalienable rights” were expressed as never before in history. But the words contained therein have no power on their own. It depends on the willingness of WE, THE PEOPLE to back them up with our actions.
So, although I noted that the Second Amendment gives us nothing, I suppose that it actually gives us everything. It gives us hope, and it gives us cause. And it gives us reason to pay attention, to learn, to understand, and to continue to stand firm for the protection of our absolute, unforfeitable right to keep and bear arms.