Part 1: What’s So Great About Our Constitution, Anyway?
Essay 5 – Constitutional Rights?
You may have noticed in the previous essay that my definitions of the three different types of rights did not include “Constitutional rights”. There’s a very good reason for that.
The purpose of the Constitution for the United States of America and the government system that it created is to protect our natural rights, first and foremost.
The civil rights that it does provide for are also there in order to protect our natural rights.
It’s a very important concept to understand that the Constitution was not, and is not, the source of our natural rights, contrary to the common referral to “Constitutional rights”.
It’s not the Constitution that provides our rights to speak freely, worship as we like, bear arms, own property that we acquire through our own efforts, and generally live our own lives and seek our own happiness. Again, those are our rights by nature and they existed before our Constitution and government existed.
We, as a people with common concerns, agreed to create a government to protect our liberty to enjoy those rights to the fullest extent possible.
To further illustrate that the Constitution is not the source of our rights, as an example, let’s take a look at the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution:
“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.”
The text of this amendment is constantly being parsed and interpreted and debated in every which way you can imagine.
What did they mean by “Militia”?
What were they referring to by “a free State”?
Who are “the people”?
What does “keep” and/or “bear” mean?
What kind of “Arms” are protected?
What determines whether the right is really “infringed” or not?
What you don’t often hear is what I’m about to say…
it actually doesn’t even matter what the words of this amendment say or mean.
In fact, based on the principles that the Constitution was founded on, most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, did not (and do not) require these amendments in order to be protected rights.
I know, that’s a mind-blowing statement, isn’t it?
Please re-read it, as it’s a very important concept to understand.
Once again, the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights amendments) is not what grants us these rights. These are rights that we ALREADY have, by nature.
The Constitution and the government is there only to protect them.
We can see that even in the wording of the 2nd Amendment. It doesn’t state, “the people shall have the right to keep and bear Arms…” as it would if it were granting us the right. Rather, it states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”, which implies that the right already exists.
Therefore, even if the 2nd Amendment never existed, or was repealed tomorrow, that still would not abolish the right itself.
One might ask, then, how is keeping and bearing arms a natural right?
Your right to life is the most basic natural right that there is. It follows that in order to protect that right to life, you have a natural right to self-defense, and in order for that self-defense to be effective, you have the natural right to use whatever means and tools necessary to preserve your life commensurate with the threat against it. Therefore, arming yourself with various tools to meet those various self-defense needs must be considered a natural right.
Nobody has a legitimate authority to prevent you from defending yourself from imminent threat by any means necessary, including keeping, bearing and using arms when needed.
The Founders also talked about the need for the people to be armed as a deterrent and remedy to a government that becomes tyrannical. In the end, fighting against a tyrannical government is simply protecting the infringement of your natural rights, so this is certainly in line with the natural rights principle.
The Constitution is a “contract” between the people and the government, which expressly enumerates the specific powers that the people are granting to the government.
The federal government has no authority to go beyond those enumerated powers. Nowhere in the Constitution do the people give the government the authority to make any laws restricting our natural rights of life and self-defense.
Further, nowhere is it enumerated in the Constitution that the federal government can make any laws concerning “gun control”.
Therefore, whether you believe that guns should be more controlled or not (which is perfectly fine to debate), in order for the federal government to have any say in the matter, it would first need the consent of the governed (the people), by way of a Constitutional amendment to specifically grant that power.
That’s not to say that the individual States did not have the power to create laws concerning gun control as deemed by the people of those States and according to their State Constitutions. That is, if it were not for the 2nd Amendment.
If anything, the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution simply further restricted even the States from infringing on that right since the Constitution is ratified by the States (and thus, the people) and is then supreme over the States’ laws.
In the end, if there was no 2nd Amendment, the federal government would still not have the authority to infringe on that right, but the States possibly could, as directed by the people of that State and that State’s constitution.
The intent of this essay was not to get into a debate about the 2nd Amendment, but rather to use it as an example of the difference between a natural right and a so-called Constitutional right. I will further discuss the Bill of Rights in the next essay.
Where we’ve gone wrong…
When we believe that our rights are provided to us by the Constitution or by the government, we don’t fully understand the extent of our full power and liberty.
We constantly argue about what rights are provided to us by the Constitution and how it applies to the laws and rules that govern us, while we should be recognizing that our natural rights are not provided by the government or Constitution and they have no authority to take them away without the explicit consent of the people, which can only be done through the proper methods of amending the Constitution.
About this series:
The People Are Sovereign! is a series of 30 essays that will be posted on a daily basis. The series will continue tomorrow with Essay 6 – Bill of Rights
To view the previous essay in the series, click this link: Essay 4 – We Have Rights!
To view the next essay in the series, click this link: Essay 6 – Bill of Rights