By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “Since its ratification on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights has enshrined many of our most fundamental liberties and unalienable rights — including the freedoms of speech, worship, and assembly; the rights to trial by jury and due process, and the protections from unreasonable search and seizure and cruel and unusual punishment,” Barack Obama noted in his official 2016 presidential proclamation commemorating the occasion. That’s today, in case you didn’t realize, and it’s been “officially” recognized by the federal government since Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it so in 1941, commemorating the 150th anniversary of its ratification.
Naturally, even though he mentioned “principles that drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny,” Obama did not see fit to acknowledge the right of the people to keep and bear arms, choosing instead to “celebrate the long arc of progress,” and intimating that “opportunity and equality” are still thwarted by racism and sexism. No surprise there, that he would be using a day to celebrate freedom as an opportunity to stoke divisiveness and resentment, especially since we know who he’s implying is still racist and sexist.
For those who haven’t followed the development of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights was crafted to help resolve Federalist/Anti-Federalist concerns and to induce holdouts into accepting it. The argument made by those who saw no need for one was essentially that it wasn’t needed, as the government could assume no powers that weren’t specifically delegated to it, and thus had no legitimate authority to weigh in on such matters one way or another.
That still holds true in principle—for instance, challenge any gun-grabber to cite the section authorizing “gun control,” and they’ll either be at a loss or else deflect by parroting the hollow deflection that the words “general welfare” appear in the Preamble.
That’s an important section, because it lays down the reasons the nation came together under the Constitution in the first place, but it’s basically a purpose statement—the actual means to legitimately achieve those purposes is only authorized through delegated powers, meaning the way you “promote the general Welfare” and do all those other important things is through the executive, the legislative and the judiciary branches of government exercising their lawful powers while exerting checks and balances on each other.
By the same token, those who opposed a bill of rights feared some would construe those listed to be the totality of what government recognized. Hence we have the Ninth Amendment:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
And the Tenth Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
What many don’t seem to be aware of is that the Bill of Rights also has a Preamble:
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
Everybody’s got that, right? In order to keep government from becoming abusive, here are some further restrictions, things it can’t do. In other words, “Shall not be infringed” means exactly that. It’s “the right of the people,” just like it says.
And no, even though some who should know better still utter thoughtless statements like “The Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms,” or “The Second Amendment is my gun permit” that’s exactly the wrong way of looking at things.That’s the way the UN treats the “privileges” it deigns to grant in its fraudulently-named “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Since they did not create the rights, no men can presume to bestow them on others. That which can be dispensed can be withheld or taken back.
The Founders, as shown in the Declaration of Independence, recognized rights to be “unalienable” and “endowed by our Creator,” and whether you adhere to that or view things from a more agnostic perspective—that rights are inherent to being human—their status is special in the eyes of the law, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia recalled in the Heller decision, citing precedent from U.S. v. Cruikshank:
“[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.
It’s all fine and good in theory, right? Instead what we see is government doing whatever it damn well pleases, more infringements than you can shake a stick at, and no shortage of useful idiots screaming for more as political charlatans usurp undelegated powers and “activist” judges rule it’s all OK. The reason they can do that and get away with it is because, by and large, We the People have failed to grasp that we are the ultimate check and balance. For the most part, we’ve ignored (if we were ever aware of it in the first place) Patrick Henry’s warning to:
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.
How are “we” who consider ourselves freedom advocates doing on that? And how are our countrymen doing? After all, the reason for the whole experiment is “to secure the Blessings of Liberty.”
Assuming it can give us a feel for national priorities vital to a free people, check out the Google News feed and compare results for search terms “Bill of Rights Day” and “Kim Kardashian,” and you tell me.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.