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. 

So it seems, that 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 that long will we need to be able to exercise the natural right of self-defense. But let’s go a little deeper with this. There are many citizens who question the right of fellow citizens to carry guns around. Here’s the basis I see for that right.

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 through the winter while several inches of ice seal over his pond?  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 nature of the thing that owns the rights. That those rights are inalienable (cannot be separated from their owner) is proven by the fact that the right cannot be taken without significant alteration or termination of its owner.

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 the beaver or even one of its kits is attacked by a wolf, does the beaver have the right to counter attack? And what if the wolf gets killed in the process?

Muzzle Loading PistolIt seems obvious that a human being has an inalienable right to life and if so the attendant right of self-defense. That self-defense can be done several ways is clear, but none of them are nearly as effective as a gun. In fact, just showing the gun often ends the attack. For those who have an aversion to guns, I would just mention that the statistics show that citizens with legal permits to carry a concealed weapon (almost always a sidearm of course) 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 completely surrounded by such citizens.

Finally, let me mention that the tenth amendment to the Constitution declares that federal government powers are limited to those actually stated in the document and that all others are left to the states and the citizens. Just to make that especially obvious in regard to 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 legislate regarding arms without violating the Constitution.

There are provisions for amending the Constitution, and unconstitutional legislation is destructive to the rule of law, which, of couse, is our best hope for a peaceful society.


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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 presently writing the book Church and State, A Citizen's Guide and publishing as he writes it on The Jackson Pemberton Blog.
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