The fastest way to trend on Twitter, and not in a good way, is to say that the right to bear arms is a God-given right.

Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer established this beyond a doubt in a Twitter thread in the aftermath of the West Texas shooting spree. He said that he wouldn’t use “the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans.”

Progressives were aghast, and when actress Alyssa Milano objected, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz jumped in to support Schaefer’s argument (in less bombastic terms).

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Rich Lowry

The basic proposition isn’t hard to defend, and indeed it is written into our fundamental documents. This doesn’t mean that God wants you to own an AR-15, or that every jot and tittle of our current gun regime is divinely mandated. Far from it. Yet there is a natural right to self-defense, and gun ownership is inherently connected to that right in a modern society.

This is glossed over even by Democrats who have a connection to America’s culture of gun ownership. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the other day, “I look at [gun legislation] and I always say, ‘Does this hurt Uncle Dick in his deer stand?’” That’s not the question, though. The Second Amendment isn’t fundamentally about Uncle Dick bagging deer, but about his ability to defend himself and his family.

The notion of God-given rights shouldn’t be controversial. It is a bedrock of the American creed, written into the Declaration of Independence. Its preamble says, of course, that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

The Bill of Rights numbers “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” among those unalienable rights. Why? Because the founders believed that everyone has an inherent right to self-defense.

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As David Harsanyi notes in his history of the gun in America, “First Freedom,” John Adams said in his defense of one of the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre in 1770 that self-defense was “the primary canon in the law of nature.”

Owning a gun is an extension of this law of nature, and has been recognized as such for a long time in Anglo-America. The right to bear arms had deep roots in England, and predated the Constitution on these shores. Pennsylvania guaranteed the right early on. In his draft of the Virginia Constitution in 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (His language wasn’t adopted.)

It is out of this historical soil that we got the Second Amendment. Guns would make it possible for Americans to defend themselves, and to defend their liberties. Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist of “the original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.” This right can be used if necessary, per Hamilton, “against the usurpations of the national rulers.”

There was no doubt at the time about the importance of the right to bear arms. Harsanyi writes that “not a single soul in the provisional government or at the Second Continental Congress or any delegate at the Constitutional Convention — or, for that matter, any new American — ever argued against the idea of individuals owning a firearm.”

It was only later that the Second Amendment came to be considered an inkblot, before its true meaning was excavated again.

None of this is necessarily a trump card in the gun control debate — the most commonly proposed gun control restrictions wouldn’t substantially lessen gun ownership. It does mean, though, that there is a limit to how far gun control can go in America and that proponents of new restrictions should be fully aware that they are tampering with a constitutionally protected individual right. The Second Amendment doesn’t have lesser status than the First.

If Uncle Dick likes to hunt, good for him. But his right to own a firearm doesn’t begin or end there.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@ nationalreview.com.


(7) comments


I forgot..."Localman +1 he gets it. Common sense, not politics and distraction of picky bullroar.


Gee, JD. We are "above it?" mssnater gets it and so does local...just legislate (federal) magazine limits...should have done it decades back.

FWIW, "magazines" are not "clips" M1 Garands are not M-14 rifles. The problem is not a bayonet mount or flash-hider, is it? The problem is dingers who pick up arms, who have no right or the brains to use them, like POTUS.

What matters re militia and arms is common law...some is good some is bad, but precedent is what "calls the shots."


The gun debate in the this country is laughable and anything but reasonable. Yes, people have a constitutional right to own firearms... but they need to consider what the text actually says: “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.” 1) Consider the intent and 2) consider the historical context of the amendment. It specifically speaks about militias (well-regulated, no less) being necessary for the security of the free State. That does not preclude gun regulations and is a far cry from Citizen A, B or C wanting to own high capacity firearms just to shoot stuff for the fun of it. One could also reasonably argue that we have a well-regulated militia - the National Guard.


For future reference. First, who are the Militia:

"These show plainly enough that ►the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense◄."

"And further, that ordinarily, when called for service ►these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time◄."

‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ – United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)

"But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was ►the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty.◄"

‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ – District of Columbia v Heller - 07-290 (2008)

"10 U.S.C. CHAPTER 13, §311. Militia: composition and classes" states:

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the ►National Guard◄ and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia ►who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia◄.

Second, on the phrase "well-regulated" we read:

"Finally, the adjective "well-regulated" implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training."

‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ – District of Columbia v Heller - 07-290 (2008)


Sorry mn, had to report you. I agree, but had to report you.

The most entertaining and hilarious things about the gun debate, is how republicans are ignorant to their own self imbued right granted by the 2nd amendment. Which in reality has nothing to do with giving every person a 'God given right' to firearms. It was put in as a revolutionary exception to overthrow the government if it ever became too corrupt. But today, it is manipulated in ambiguity to allow everyone guns. Like religious zealots, tyrants and many other of the cretins of history and society. One can abuse the systems and laws to bend to their will, at the expense of others, regardless of whether that is what the law(s) intended.

I'm not saying take away everyone's guns, but I am saying the right are idiots in preaching and arguing in favor of an amendment, that originally had nothing to do with giving everyone guns in the first place.


Report yourself next time!


Rich Lowry is a circle jerk!

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