Self defense as a natural born right

Dave Boyer raised some interesting questions at the Washington Times yesterday while highlighting the expanded popularity of Constitutional Carry laws in the United States. This welcome trend is expanding in the more sane portions of the country and for at least some observers it seems to be a result of the recognition that crime is back on the rise and the right to self defense should be considered a natural right along with all the others.

Amid the rising number of Americans licensed to carry a concealed handgun, more states are passing laws that don’t require a permit to carry firearms, embracing the view that self-defense is a “natural born” right.

Missouri became the fourth state this year to approve a so-called “constitutional carry” law when Republican legislators overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Sept. 15, making permitless carry legal. West Virginia, Mississippi and Idaho also have adopted constitutional carry laws in 2016, bringing the total number of such states to 12.

Commenting on the violence and self defense angle was Tim Schmidt, president of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association in West Bend, Wisconsin. He notes that if the Second Amendment truly affirms a natural-born right, you shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission before you engage in it.

Mr. Schmidt, whose for-profit company offers training, education and firearms liability insurance policies, said President Obama’s efforts at imposing gun control regulations, combined with an uptick in violent crime across the U.S., are aiding the rise in people carrying firearms.

“I certainly think it’s helped,” he said of Mr. Obama’s agenda. “It’s the whole fear thing — everybody’s afraid he’s going to pass some action and take the guns away, so they go to the store and buy more.”

The FBI’s latest annual report showed violent crime in the U.S. rose about 4 percent in 2015, including an 11 percent rise in homicides.

The concept of the Second Amendment as a natural born right is an interesting one which merits a closer look. I’ve written here in the past about my own rather dubious view of the concept of “natural born” rights based on the idea that “rights” are a concept we install for ourselves using the government as a tool to ensure them. But there’s no question about the idea of Constitutional rights for Americans. We are regularly reminded that all of our rights – even those of free speech and religion – have limits and that’s basically true. But unlike the treatment of the right to keep, and more importantly bear arms, you don’t need to check in with the government before you begin exercising them. You don’t need a permit to speak in the public square and someone will be along presently to remind you that you’ve overstepped your bounds if you wind up falsely shouting “Fire!” in a movie theater. There is no license required to go check out all the local churches when you move to a new town… you just do it. Should you decide on one full of hippies where they hand out peyote during services you’ll no doubt be hearing from the authorities, but short of that you’ll be fine with no paperwork required.

So how is it that a person who has never broken a single law still needs a permit before getting a gun? It says right in the Constitution that your right to do so shall not be infringed. If you abuse that right then we can forbid you from having firearms, but until that point shouldn’t it be a “natural born right” in the same sense?

Naysayers will point to the need to be able to prevent those who have forfeited that right from obtaining guns, but why is that even an issue? Once you’ve broken the law and lost your gun rights your name goes on a list. We keep all sorts of lists of that type, including sex offenders. When you go to purchase a gun, the background check should be as simple as checking to make sure your name isn’t on the naughty list and if it’s not then you make your purchase. It really doesn’t seem like it should be that complicated.


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