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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Rights and Responsibilities in a Republic: Keep and Bear Arms

By: Michael P. Tremoglie

The founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Tse-tung, famously proclaimed during his concluding speech at the Sixth Central Party Committee meeting, November 6,1938: “Every Communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Our principle is that the Party commands the gun…All things grow out of the barrel of a gun….The guns of the Russian Communist Party created socialism….we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed. 

Mao was talking about imposing a communist tyranny. In doing so, albeit inadvertently, he clearly illustrated the importance of citizens to bear arms in defense of life and liberty. Americans know that the right to bear arms prevents the rule of murderous dictators like Mao Tse-tung – as well as protecting one from criminals. It is part of our heritage – regardless of the fact that some Leftist Americans want to expunge this right.

This right is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, one of the amendments commonly referred to as the Bill of Rights. It states: 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.”  But this natural or God-given right is affirmed elsewhere.

The founders of my state, Pennsylvania, acknowledged this God-given or natural right before the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791. The 1776 Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights reads: That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state.

It is also affirmed in Blackstone’s Commentaries. Book I Chapter I page 139 states:

The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law.…is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.

This right to bear arms is often traced to the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which declared that subjects “…may have arms for their defence suitable to their condition, and as allowed by law.” The English unfortunately forbade Catholics from exercising this right. This is what happens when rights are considered granted by the government instead of God or nature.

The right to bear arms is sacrosanct. It is not a contrived right as is abortion. It is not a derivative of other rights. It is considered a natural or God-given right and part of the right of self-preservation. As author Robert Heinlein wrote in his 1959 novel Starship Troopers: “Morals — all correct moral laws — derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.”

No less than Aristotle recognized the importance of weapons. He wrote in Politics Book 7 that among those items indispensable for the existence of a state were weapons. He considered it a necessity to “possess arms both to use among themselves and for purposes of government, in cases of insubordination, and to employ against those who try to molest them from without.”

More than two thousand years later Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his June 2022 concurring opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case ‘New York State Rifle Association v  Bruen, New York State Superintendent of Police’:

… the Court concluded that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense…the Amendment codified a preexisting right rooted in “‘the natural right of resistance and self-preservation…the key point .. was that “the people,” not just members of the “militia,” have the right to use a firearm to defend themselves. And because many people face a serious risk of lethal violence when they venture outside their homes…” The Supreme Court also determined that all American are guaranteed the right to possess commonly used arms “subject to certain reasonable, well-defined restrictions.

Possessing a weapon for the defense of one’s life, the life of another, or to protect the freedom of a nation is a responsibility as well as a right of citizens in a republic. Why Slovenia does not recognize this given the history of this natural or God-given right is puzzling. Slovenia’s existence comes from the violent dissolution of a tyrannical communist government.

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