The preamble to the Declaration of Independence declares “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
What does it mean to have an “unalienable Right [to] … Life?” There are as many possible answers to that as there are lives on the planet. However, it is self-evident that such a right exists, and that it is not given to us by another human being. It is “endowed by [our] Creator.”
Inherent in our right to life is the right to defend our life when it is threatened. To argue otherwise renders the right to life meaningless. It would be a right only until the next would-be bully threatened it.
How we defend our right to life depends on the circumstances and individuals concerned. Some exercise that right by asking for assistance from one of the deputies in my office. As Sheriff, I am honored to help make my community a safer, more secure place.
Some of us exercise our right to defend ourselves through use of a tool or implement. I suppose that in prehistoric times, the first of our ancestors to use a tool (be it a rock, a branch, a sharp bone, or something else) probably had a distinct advantage in what followed. Thus our use of tools for defense and other purposes evolved as we did, with tools becoming more sophisticated and specialized. We have now gotten to the point where those tools include guns.
The Second Amendment deals with our right to “keep and bear arms.” Specifically it says that such right “shall not be infringed.” And that is the crux of the issue.
The Second Amendment does not grant us a right to keep and bear arms. We already had that because we exist as humans endowed by our Creator with that right. The Second Amendment says that the government cannot infringe on that right. But it does not come from the government; it comes from our Creator. There are ample historical accounts of this fact; I will not take the time to go into them further here. One good one is a report from The Heritage Foundation.
The U.S. Supreme Court is beginning to clarify the precise scope of that right, although it is nowhere near as murky as liberal anti-gun activists would like us to think. In a move that surprised many familiar with how the Supreme Court works, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case from California about the issuance of concealed carry permits. The effect of that refusal is to allow California to continue interfering with our God-given rights in this area. Practically speaking, it is difficult to almost impossible for a law-abiding citizen to carry a handgun in California.
It is encouraging, however, that at least two justices recognize something that threatens to get lost in this Second Amendment debate: for many, the right to use a gun for self-defense is the difference between life and death. Justice Thomas recognized this as he publicly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case:
For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.
I vow that I will fight against any infringement of our God-given Second Amendment rights. We owe that much to our families, loved ones, and communities.