The Right to Life and to Bear Arms

Mascot Owl Facing LeftThe right to life is the most fundamental natural right. When a life ends, all other questions of rights go moot.

As long as there are people around who have little or no respect for the lives of others, who think to break and plunder and steal, or to seek revenge for real or imagined wrongs, just so long will we need to exercise the natural right of self-defense. But let’s go a little deeper with this. Many citizens question the right of fellow citizens to carry guns around. Here’s the basis I see for that right.

The Right to Life

Let’s talk about a beaver and ask this question: Does a beaver have the right to cut down trees to make a lodge and a dam and provide food for himself and family?  We could say no, of course, but that would end the beaver’s life. These are natural rights because they find their source in the thing that owns the rights. These rights cannot be separated from their owner without significant damage. Thus, they are inalienable.

To make that point very clear, we can consider a stone for a moment. It is impossible to remove a stone’s right to the space it occupies without destruction of the stone. That is the stone’s property right. And it is inherent or inalienable.

So back to the inalienable right to life. Let’s ask if the beaver has a right to life. The answer is a resounding “Duh!”. So given that right, we ask the next question. If a wolf attacks the beaver or even one of its kits, does the beaver have the right to counter-attack? And what if the wolf gets killed in the process?

Muzzle Loading PistolIt is obvious that a human being has an inalienable right to life and  the attendant right of self-defense. Self-defense can be done several ways, but none of them are as effective as a gun. In fact, just showing the gun often ends the attack.

Many people have an aversion to guns, but statistics show that citizens with legal permits to carry a concealed weapon have the best record of all. Even trained policemen accidentally kill more people than such citizens. In spite of this fact, I am afraid that most citizens would be more uneasy if they could see the concealed weapons carried by their neighbors. Meanwhile, we cannot be safer than to be surrounded by such citizens.

The Militia

The second amendment seems to justify its prohibition of federal gun control by saying: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, …”. Many people reason that this prohibition extends only to our military forces. Our new constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789. Three years later, on May 8, 1792, Congress passed the Militia Act of 1992 which defined the militia thus:

That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, 1

The Authority to Write Gun Laws

There are 102 major legislative bodies in the United States, and 100 of them have authority to write gun laws. The two that are prohibited by the second amendment are the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.

The Several States Have Authority

Finally, let me mention that the tenth amendment to the Constitution declares that federal government powers are limited to those granted in the document and that all others are left to the states and the people. Just to make that especially obvious regarding weapons, the second amendment prohibits any federal infringement of the right to bear arms. Those issues were to be addressed by the states — which could choose to let the counties and cities address those questions. The federal government cannot control citizen’s arms without violating the Constitution.

There are provisions for amending the Constitution, and unconstitutional legislation is destructive to the rule of law, which, of course, is the only basis a peaceful society.


1 The Militia Act of 1792

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Jackson Pemberton

Jackson graduated with honors in Physics and Mathematics and in the top of his MBA class. He is the die-hard constitutionalist who wrote the bicentennial series A New Message for The Freeman magazine in 1976. He is currently writing the book Church and State, A Citizen's Guide and publishing as he writes it on The Jackson Pemberton Blog.
Jackson Pemberton
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The Right to Life and to Bear Arms

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