Saturday, March 3, 2007


I need you to think.

Gun owners have been defending their rights for quite awhile. Long before Carolyn McCarty's current bill. Long before Bill Clinton's 1994 ban. Some believe that United States vs Miller (1939) was the birth of modern gun control.

All of that legislation has certainly impacted gun owners, though of course there have been other laws passed. There are literally thousands of laws in America at the federal, state, and local level which affect your right to own and carry a firearm.

But for the moment, let's put the legislation aside. Let's forget about House Bill 10-22 and focus on something we all hold dear - the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution.

Like many of you, I read a lot of blogs and participate in various web forums. And over the years, I have heard many people argue about their right to own a firearm. Unfortunately, many of the arguments I've heard aren't correct.

Let's examine a couple of them.

1. "The 2nd Amendment gives me the right to own a gun."

...and a slightly reworded version...

2. "The 2nd Amendment guarantees my right to own a gun."

Both arguments are completely wrong. This isn't a matter of opinion, and it's not a matter of semantics. Every time someone tells an anti-gun activist or politician that the Constitution gives them a right to own a firearm, they're wrong. That is not what the Constitution says, and using those two statements in debate actually weakens your argument.

I need you to think.

Let's look at what the 2nd Amendment actually says. Many people can quote it, but far too many people don't understand it.

"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."

I can hear someone in the back of the room muttering "What's your point, thorn? It's the same damned thing."

Here's the point. And it's very important one: the 2nd Amendment does not GIVE you the right to own a firearm. It forbids the government from taking that right away from you.

Semantics? Splitting Hairs?


Words mean something. And here's what the words of the 2nd Amendment mean:

You intrinsically have the right to own a firearm. For whatever reason you choose. Perhaps you enjoy owning a gun because of it's historical nature. Perhaps you enjoy the mechanical aspects and work on them as a hobby. Or perhaps you own a gun to defend your life.

It really doesn't matter why you own a gun. The Constitution does not require you to justify it. It doesn't give you a right to own it. What it does do is specifically forbid the government from taking that right away.

I need you to think.

Your mere existence gives you the right to own a firearm, just as your existence gives you the right to breathe. The right to think, and the right to speak.

The Constitution doesn't give you any rights. Rather, it specifically lists the rights that you have which the government is not allowed to take away from you.

Here's the point - stop telling people that the 2nd Amendment gives you the right to own a gun. Stating that is also stating that the government has the "right" to take it away.

Instead, tell the anti-gun activists, the politicians, the friend, and the co-worker that your right to own a firearm is guaranteed by the fact that you exist.


Stu said...


It's also important to add that the Second Amendment doesn't say anything about how or where you carry or transport the firearm nor what type of firearm you have the right to own.

"Sporting Purposes" isn't mentioned either....

Good post though!



Anonymous said...

Thorn - OUTSTANDING! Someone at the NRA needs to be made aware of this article. It is an excellent take on the rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Not to disagree with anything you state in your post, it is spot on. I feel like the lie of the Second Ammendment is that people see firearm ownership as some type of hobby, or extension of a hobby like hunting, plinking, etc. when gun ownership is more of a civic duty. The best way I've heard it said is that the Second Amendment is there in case the government forgets the rest of them. Our right to bear arms is protected to ensure that we the people have the means to defend ourselves in case our republic descends to tyranny. Refreshing the tree of liberty and all that.

Unknown said...

Superb post, well done sir.

Vocal Majority said...

I just found your blog. Thank you. You have me thinking and I cannot argue. It makes so much sense about the 2nd amendment.
I never thought of it that way, but once I read it, it was very clear.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see someone else pointing this out. I spend a great deal of time educating other people on the Constitution and that is one of the hardest, yet most important concepts.

The Constitution grants you nothing, it articulates that which is already yours and cannot be taken.

If you ever need a point to send people to for a primer on the Foundation of America or to help them understand what the Civil War was really about, try

Anonymous said...

Yes and a gun permit is an infringement.

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