Tue 25 Jan, 2011 10:12 am
Second Amendment is insurance
against government tyranny
- The Washington Examiner
By Ken Klukowski
Gun-control legislation is back after the Tucson tragedy.
Congress must confront the reality that the courts
have declared two reasons for the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
One is self-defense, and the other -- whether you
like it or not -- is enabling the American people to resist tyranny.
A depraved monster gunned down innocent people
in Arizona, and predictably, several gun-control
laws are being introduced.
Since the Constitution expressly guarantees the
right to obtain and possess firearms, Congress
must understand the Second Amendment and why
it was written.
Here's our national dilemma: We must find ways to
prevent manifestly degenerate menaces from
obtaining firearms prior to a felony conviction
without depriving law-abiding, peaceable citizens
of their Second Amendment rights. [I DENY that this is POSSIBLE.
Criminals can MAKE their own guns, if necessary. David]
The constitutional challenge is to craft laws
addressing the former, without abusing the latter.
Fortunately, Congress and the president have help
missing from previous gun-control debates.
The Constitution commits the ultimate power of
interpreting the Constitution to federal courts.
At long last, the courts have tackled the Second Amendment,
instructing us on how to make gun laws consistent
with the Constitution's promises.
It's now settled law that the Second Amendment
secures an individual right to own guns for private citizens
who are law-abiding and peaceable. It's a fundamental right,
applicable against all levels of government,
including state and local.
This right has two purposes. One is so Americans
can defend themselves from criminals. Another --
talked up by the Tea Party but ridiculed by the
liberal elite -- is that the Second Amendment
protects citizens against our own government.
The Supreme Court declared in its landmark
2008 D.C. v. Heller decision -- a
decision praised by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,
D-Ariz. -- that the Second Amendment was enshrined
in the Constitution because when vast numbers of
citizens have guns and know how to use them,
"they are better able to resist tyranny."
When serving on the California Supreme Court,
now-D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown
observed, "political writings of the [Founding Fathers]
repeatedly expressed a dual concern: facilitating
the natural right of self-defense and assuring an
armed citizenry capable of repelling foreign invaders
and quelling tyrannical leaders."
Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain
explained the Second Amendment "right contains
both a political component -- it is a means to protect
the public from tyranny -- and a personal
component -- it is a means to protect the
individual from threats to life or limb."
The most sobering words come from Judge Alex Kozinski
of the 9th Circuit, who wrote, "the simple truth --
born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best
where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people."
The son of Holocaust survivors, Kozinski continued,
"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision,
one designed for those exceptionally rare
circumstances where all other rights have failed --
where the government refuses to stand for
re-election and silences those who protest;
where courts have lost the courage to oppose,
or can find no one to enforce their decrees.
However improbable these contingencies seem today,
facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people
get to make only once."
Fortunately we don't live in such times. Last November
proved that democracy is working fine in America.
We use ballots, not bullets. The anti-tyranny rationale
of the Second Amendment only applies if the
government cancels elections and retains power
after their terms in office have expired.
It's an intergenerational insurance policy for freedom.
The Second Amendment exists to perpetually guarantee freedom.
We must never lose sight of that as we respond to
tragedies, lest the ultimate tragedy someday befall
Freedom, once lost, is seldom reclaimed.
Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst
with the American Civil Rights Union and a
research fellow at Liberty University School of Law.