Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rights don't change, even if details do

Rights don't change, even if details do

(My Clovis News Journal column for February 15, 2013)

Recently a lot of anti-liberty advocates have tried to justify their opposition to the Second Amendment with the claim that it is "outdated"; that back when the Bill of Rights was written, the founders couldn't have foreseen semi-automatic rifles (erroneously called "assault rifles"). That may or may not be true, but even then advances were being made, and these men weren't stupid. You can't convince me that scientists such as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson weren't smart enough to see where the technology was leading, but let's pretend for just a moment that the supposition is correct.

It doesn't matter.

Do you enjoy First Amendment protection of your religion or denomination only if it existed in it's present form in the late Eighteenth Century?

Does your right to free speech only apply to your voice, or to the words you write with a quill pen or disseminate from an Eighteenth Century printing press? Are electronic communications not protected from government interference because those are forms of speech and "press" the Bill of Rights' writers hadn't experienced?

This is why it's important to remember that the Bill of Rights doesn't "give us rights". We retain all our rights whether or not they are respected by law. The Bill of Rights only lists a few of those things the government isn't empowered to do, and therefore can't do without committing serious crimes.

Let's say that you recognize there is a right to not be murdered by government- and pretend that instead of being included (along with the right to drive and everything else a free human can do without government permission) in the Ninth Amendment, it got its own mention: the Second-and-a-Half Amendment. Our lives are different today. Do we claim that the Right to Not Be Murdered only protects an Eighteenth Century life-style and forbids only the methods of murder that currently existed at the adoption of the amendment? No! The right exists, the details are irrelevant.

The Second Amendment makes it a serious crime for anyone acting on behalf of government to violate, in even the tiniest way, the right to own and to carry weaponry. It says nothing about what kinds of weapons it applies to, who may carry them, or where or in what way they may be carried, because it doesn't apply to the weapons or the people carrying them at all- it only prohibits all anti-gun "laws".

The "conversation" about guns is over. The anti-liberty advocates lost. Now their only hope is to abandon "conversation" and use aggressive force, ironically backed with guns, to attempt to violate your fundamental human rights.


Don't just accept- weigh it all.

I can be wrong.  That realization keeps me from ever simply saying "this is how it is and I will never change my mind".  Well, I might say it, but I don't really believe it.

Everything I believe has gone through the wringer.  Usually more than once.

I have even questioned gun ownership several times in my life.  "What if 'they' are right, and it's a bad idea for 'regular people' to own and to carry guns?"  "What if wanting a gun is a sign of mental instability?"  "What if the presence of a gun really does put the innocent in more danger?"

The questions lead to a couple of different actions.  I begin to consider the possibilities in my own mind.  Deeply and constantly.  And, I read more about what other people have to say about the matter.  Then I take that new information and incorporate it into the mix and think about it all some more.

I have changed my mind, or at least opened myself up to other possibilities, on some big questions in the past.  It may happen again.

The thing is, each time I change my mind on something, I move toward more liberty- a stronger respect for individuals to live their lives as they see fit.  I have never yet moved away from that toward more control by some over the lives of others.

Each time I go through this process I come to realize even more strongly that respecting liberty really is the best way to deal with other people.  I realize that any "system" that ignores this, or fears liberty, is perverted.  Even if I might have once found some value in what I now reject.

If this keeps up I'll wind up an anarchist.   Oh, wait...