February 16, 2016

“Freedom” is an overused, but unappreciated word in the United States of America. As an attorney, I am familiar with the freedoms spelled out by the founding fathers in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known to us as the “Bill of Rights.”

The Second Amendment is the one that gives us the “right to keep and bear arms.” It simply recognized a natural right. James Monroe included “the right to keep and bear arms” in a list of basic “human rights”, which he proposed to be added to the Constitution. In fact, Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.

Noah Webster may have put it best when he said, “Before a standing army can rule the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”

That is, the threat of an armed populace is the last remaining check on the tyranny that England had endured after being disarmed. George Mason argued the importance of the militia and right to bear arms by reminding his compatriots of England’s efforts “to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them . . . by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.” James Madison compared the federal government of the United States to the European kingdoms, saying Europe was “afraid to trust the people with arms.” He assured his fellow citizens that they need never fear their government because of “the advantage of being armed….”

Patrick Henry, famous for his “give me liberty or give me death” statement, weighed in on gun rights: “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”

In the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller the United States Supreme Court clarified that the Second Amendment addressed the individual right to possess and carry firearms.

Having seen many countries that do not allow firearms, like England, India, Australia and others, we do not realize just how blessed we are to enjoy this right. In England, possession of an unpermitted firearm is subject to a mandatory minimum of five years in prison!

Freedoms ignored will become freedoms lost.

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