{{featured_button_text}}

The fastest way to trend on Twitter, and not in a good way, is to say that the right to bear arms is a God-given right.

Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer established this beyond a doubt in a Twitter thread in the aftermath of the West Texas shooting spree. He said that he wouldn’t use “the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans.”

Progressives were aghast, and when actress Alyssa Milano objected, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz jumped in to support Schaefer’s argument (in less bombastic terms).

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

The basic proposition isn’t hard to defend, and indeed it is written into our fundamental documents. This doesn’t mean that God wants you to own an AR-15, or that every jot and tittle of our current gun regime is divinely mandated. Far from it. Yet there is a natural right to self-defense, and gun ownership is inherently connected to that right in a modern society.

This is glossed over even by Democrats who have a connection to America’s culture of gun ownership. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the other day, “I look at [gun legislation] and I always say, ‘Does this hurt Uncle Dick in his deer stand?’” That’s not the question, though. The Second Amendment isn’t fundamentally about Uncle Dick bagging deer, but about his ability to defend himself and his family.

The notion of God-given rights shouldn’t be controversial. It is a bedrock of the American creed, written into the Declaration of Independence. Its preamble says, of course, that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

The Bill of Rights numbers “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” among those unalienable rights. Why? Because the founders believed that everyone has an inherent right to self-defense.

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

Register for more free articles.
Stay logged in to skip the surveys.

As David Harsanyi notes in his history of the gun in America, “First Freedom,” John Adams said in his defense of one of the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre in 1770 that self-defense was “the primary canon in the law of nature.”

Owning a gun is an extension of this law of nature, and has been recognized as such for a long time in Anglo-America. The right to bear arms had deep roots in England, and predated the Constitution on these shores. Pennsylvania guaranteed the right early on. In his draft of the Virginia Constitution in 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (His language wasn’t adopted.)

It is out of this historical soil that we got the Second Amendment. Guns would make it possible for Americans to defend themselves, and to defend their liberties. Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist of “the original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.” This right can be used if necessary, per Hamilton, “against the usurpations of the national rulers.”

There was no doubt at the time about the importance of the right to bear arms. Harsanyi writes that “not a single soul in the provisional government or at the Second Continental Congress or any delegate at the Constitutional Convention — or, for that matter, any new American — ever argued against the idea of individuals owning a firearm.”

It was only later that the Second Amendment came to be considered an inkblot, before its true meaning was excavated again.

None of this is necessarily a trump card in the gun control debate — the most commonly proposed gun control restrictions wouldn’t substantially lessen gun ownership. It does mean, though, that there is a limit to how far gun control can go in America and that proponents of new restrictions should be fully aware that they are tampering with a constitutionally protected individual right. The Second Amendment doesn’t have lesser status than the First.

If Uncle Dick likes to hunt, good for him. But his right to own a firearm doesn’t begin or end there.

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@ nationalreview.com.

4
4
0
0
3

(67) comments

new2020

Saw a note that said there were 450million guns in the US,or around 1.5 guns per person. Even if guns were completely outlawed I suspect enough people would keep them anyway, ,so safety would not be increased.

The Bill gives right of gun ownership to the population without preference. Seems like part of the NRA effort should be to regain gun rights to children,criminals and ex criminals, and mentally ill folks. Not sure why NRA doesn’t support these Americans.

oldhomey

You may be new to 2020, but your observations are already rusted out from being on the junkpile of discredited arguments for more than a generation.

new2020

observations are not arguments for or against

oldhomey

Well, 2020, your original observation looks more enigmatic the more I look at it. I think I will just let it stand without comment, as I am not very good with enigmas.

martian2

someone thinking that owning a military grade weapon is a God-given right, is probably by itself a good enough reason not to allow that someone to own a military grade weapon of war.

oldhomey

Amen to that, martian.

Rick Czeczok

The first thing needed for socialism to work, is get the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. Then the plan can unfold.

lostinparadize

Indeed Climate, let's ask the posters defending a ban on AR format weapons, large capacity magazines, red flag laws, and universal background checks if those are all inacted, will you folks be agreeable to putting into the law another clause? This clause will state that from signing into law there will be no further attempts at restricting law abiding citizens rights to keep and bear arms? Simple enough, right? What say you folks out there in regards to this suggestion?

Jobaba

The Second Amendment already does that. And no one is suggesting that it be done away with. As pointed out, restrictions on those weapons do nothing to inhibit our rights. Your argument is rather circular showing you don't understand the 2nd.

Climatehoax

Any restrictions on the second amendment inhibits my rights as a US citizen to own any gun I want because MY guns have never committed a crime.

oldhomey

Good Lord, Climate! The thought of an unstable, blustering ignoramus like you owning an automatic assault weapon is about as criminal a thought as I can conjure up.

lostinparadize

Jojo, Oh I'm pretty sure I've got decent understanding of the 2nd. But, when you have people like Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker and more making off the cuff remarks (Feinstein's) "if I had my druthers, I'd confiscate them all" . Hillary said basically the same thing in her last campaign and Booker and Beto saying they'd like a mandatory turn in /confiscation, one has to wonder what would be tried if they controlled all the levers again.

oldhomey

Which kinds of weapons were these politicians talking about, lost? Your .22 squirrel hunting rifle? Your deer gun? Your duck-hunting shotgun? The hand gun you, I hope, have in your home for self protection, but not to carry with you to WalMart or Third Street carousing? Your AR-15?

martian2

redundant there lost. No restrictions ever on guns in the future is stupid. Technologies change, people and society changes, interpretations change, crimes change. For example some day laser guns will become common place, so are we to automatically accept them or should society step back wonder if they should be regulated? Future generations have a right to have a say so in what society and technologies pursue. Just like this vaping catastrophe going on, another new product that needs to be severely restricted or done away with completely. Nobody heard of such a thing twenty years ago.

lostinparadize

Martian, Okay, we will word it so it states all other personal long guns and sidearms currently in existence and used by the general publication heretofore exept from confiscation. Would that work for you or do you want carte blanc ? You keep chipping away and gun owners keep backing up?

martian2

nope, not good enough either. All the weapons you mentioned should be confiscated from all felons, those convicted of domestic violence, mentally ill, drug abusers.

lostinparadize

Martian, do a little research before hitting send. Felons, domestic abusers, illegal drug users and mentally ill folks are already prevented from firearm possession by current laws. These laws just need to be strictly enforced. Most physicians dealing with the mentally ill won't input data into NICS. What we need is a new law punishing those professionals for fallure to submit this data. Can't ban them if they aren't in the system.

martian2

well lost your proposal said "law abiding citizens" and that has to be clarified as to gun ownership. do some thinking, would a felon who is law abiding for the last five years be eligible for gun ownership under your proposal? Or mentally ill who are law abiding still be able to own guns, and what mental illness are we talking about that eliminates that right to own guns. There are so many variables, so many contingencies, too many factors that may arise that a law like you suggested would be unworkable. Yes I agree the system for back ground checks is flawed and needs stricter enforcement. I would concentrate on that and expanding that to all gun sales is a good first step.

lostinparadize

Public, not publication.

Climatehoax

You’re wrong, Dems have suggested abolishing the 2nd amendment.

reader0520

I know people with AR style weapons to rifles to shotguns to handguns...so don't go all, "reader hates guns..." blah blah blah...

I'm just asking a question...

To the Gun Obsessed:

What would YOU recommend we do to prevent these mass shootings??

Cassandra2

Here's another question: How many mass murders are an acceptable number to ensure that people can own automatic weapons?

martian2

its obvious reader, the answer to the gun worshiping crowd is always one of two things: More and more guns so everyone is armed, or do nothing and let the mass shootings happen for that is the price of liberty. Crazy I know, but that is all they got.

Climatehoax

Every law made steps on someone’s toes

oldhomey

Yes, and we want laws that are not only going to step on toes, we want laws that slap assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines right out of the hands of private ownership. They should be outlawed. Period. People should be required to turn them in, and the government should be required to pay market value for the guns and magazines. Then they all should be melted down.

Climatehoax

Mass shootings are a symptom of a FREE society. Punish those who break the laws. Let’s go to the extreme to prove a point, what would life be like in the US if an attempt were made to stop ALL murders? We would all be locked up in tiny cages monitored by robots so we couldn’t possibly harm each other. We would have to stop all human interaction. Even people who profess love for each other and marry, kill each other.

What is an acceptable level of murder in reg US.? Nothing is being done about the killings in Baltimore, and Chicago, those killings are a one headline, once written about tragedy. 23 shot in Baltimore in a matter of hours? Take those guns away, THEN, we’ll talk.to much probation not enough punishment, because the libs don’t want to hurt the feelings of the criminals

oldhomey

More deep thoughts from Climate. You know what you are getting from the outset from the screen name he uses.

Jobaba

This is an idea too far and a mind too small. Lowry blew it. Homey is correct. For decades and decades municipalities banned the firing of weapons within their limits. Why? Because some were ignorant or uncaring of potential consequences. In the 1930's a Firearms law was passed concerning fully automatic weapons, grenades etc. It didn't outright ban most, it just made it expensive as heck to own them. It taxed the bejesus out of them and now if you would like a fully automatic firearm, you can have one as long as you pay. And the ATF can visit anytime 24/7 to make sure it is secured properly. Why? Because we Americans have the right to defend ourselves against self created threats. Failing an outright ban on assault rifles (mass shooters weapon of choice) and high capacity magazines, they should be moved into the highly restrictive category of full auto weapons. Ban all weapons? That is some wacky tabacky conservative's dream of the end of the world. As shown, weapons can be restricted without infringing our constitutional rights. Democrats hunt and defend their homes and fully use their 2nd amendment rights. So now you should look up the slippery slope. It doesn't follow if we ban a weapon that soon all weapons will be banned. It didn't work that way the last time it was implemented, and Obama didn't take your guns. Conservatives need to stop letting the NRA muddy the water with these specious arguments.

johnnybragatti

Just the thought of the climatedope owning a gun should be a red flag for every man,woman and child. Folks who are certifiably, not playing with a full deck and missing a whole lot of marbles, should give their guns to the Sheriffs" Dept. immediately. Give "em up today dude, then Obama won"t have to waste time stopping buy your pig sty to pick 'em up.

Climatehoax

You are the only poster here who said 2 well known people need to die and you stated how it should be done, and I’M the one who shouldn’t own a gun? Better look in the mirror. Hey Trib, do you keep these postings? Check back and see what Johnnynobrains said during Trumps campaign. A REAL classless act!

oldhomey

Rich Lowry tells us that gun ownership is not an argument about Uncle Dick having a weapon for bagging deer, but about his ability to defend himself and his family. Precisely. If people want a hunting rifle or a hand gun in their home on the off chance they will need it in defense of the unlikelihood of a home invasion, so be it. Let them have those weapons. But the real defense of our families is not arguing over those sorts of weapons, it is in eliminating America's domestic arms war -- the proliferation of weapons of war like automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines. The absurdity we now face of sending children off in bulletproof backpacks to locked-down schools patrolled by armed guards is the product of the NRA and the arms industry lobbies ginning up ridiculous interpretations of the Second Amendment to push more deadly product on our society, creating an insane gun culture to go along with it. THAT is what threatens our safety. It has happened in just the last 40 years, and it can all be traced back to the gun industry taking over the NRA in the mid-1970s. We have to finally stand up as a people and say NO. No more of this nonsense We are not interested in taking away people's hunting weapons and hand guns, but the concealed carry laws and the ability to privately own weapons of war has to be reversed. Period. Full stop. We want to protect our loved ones.

Monteee

Rights, like deities, are inventions of the human mind and imagination. They have no physical existence. They only matter when enough people decide that they matter. So when someone says that he has the god-given right to own guns, he’s doubling down on make-believe.

Climatehoax

Excellent column, he nails it. It’s all about self preservation. What he says makes sense, just because some bozos misuse the gun ownership right, shouldn't mean we all have to be sheep to a gun toting criminal who disobeys gun laws.

I haven’t read the comments below me but I’m sure the stupid libs can’t see the good common sense in this column.

How about we take your car because some people drive drunk?

How about taking away only SUV’s because no one REALLY needs them?

People die on snowmobiles and 4 wheelers, ban them, they aren’t necessary.

Water craft, how many people die annually in crashes? Ban them, they are needed.

See how illogical the lib argument is?

reader0520

your arguments aren't much better...if these shootings were an accident as some of your examples are....i think the conversation would be different.

DMoney

Right from God, Government, both or none: if you enter my home uninvited and with potential hostile intent, you'll be fired upon. I am confident that many millions share the same sentiment--which ironically shows the flaws in gun laws. They don't matter to good or bad people.

martian2

no one is arguing about that scenario D, you are way off. No one is saying you can't defend yourself in your own home. Where you guys come up with this stuff is beyond me.

Cassandra2

And no one is saying that owning some type of weapon should be absolutely banned. But the wingnuts can NEVER make a point without lying. And they get such hardons over the thought of automatic weapons that it should be considered a sexual perversion.

Cassandra2

In a desperate attempt to become relevant and gain clicks, Lowry espouses the most ridiculous quasi-religious nonsense ever published in one of his columns. Try as I might, I've been unable to find any reference to gun ownership in the Bible. As a comedian once said "You can find a cole slaw recipe in there if you try hard enough." But so far, no reference to gun ownership.

DMoney

Irrelevant. It's a constitutional right. That's enough for me.

Jefferson Paine

Lowry left out the key words that front the 2nd Amendment.....WELL REGULATED. Able-bodied and able-minded men were whom the framers had in mind, they weren't advocating a gun owning free for all. The 2nd is actually a restriction on gun ownership limiting it to those who can prove themselves trustworthy in their respective militias. It takes a fool to believe the founders wanted tory loyalist conservatives armed up in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, nor would they want the crazies, sociopaths and anarchists of that era arming up either....don't be idiots. The 2nd requires all gun owners be regulated, period.

Mr Wizard

Jeff, do you have a clue as to what the Bill of Rights is and what it represents? You would have us believe that the other 9 amendments are restrictions on what government can do to it's citizens, but the 2nd amendment is a restriction on a citizen's right to own a firearm? Liberalism is truly a brain disease.

oldhomey

Mr. Lizard, thank you for interpreting the 2d Amendment in your lizard brain. It doesn't have a thing to say about what is actually in the amendment, but lizards don't seem to have the powers of reason, they just flicker their forked tongues.

Cassandra2

D-Bag, it is NOT an absolute Constitutional right. Even Scalia believed that.

DMoney

We have the right to bear arms, Cbag. Your interpretations are irrelevant.

Climatehoax

Moron, it’s the weapon of the time, guns now, at some time I’m sure it was clubs, before Indians had guns it was the tomahawk, it’s about the RIGHT to defend yourself, not which weapon is currently available to do that, jeeesh, get a brain!

Cassandra2

The Hoaxer appears to be advocating for an Originalist interpretation of the Constitution which would only allow weapons that were available at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights. I'd be OK with that.

Climatehoax

Good !fools like wouldn’t be allowed to vote

oldhomey

And now Climate seems to be advocating for rescinding the rights of women to vote in this country. You could pretty much predict that just from his choice of his screen name.

new2Lax

They called them slingshots, David carried one as he saw very quickly he couldn’t compete with Goliath.

martian2

Straight from the NRA and the GOP play book, Lowry regurgitates the same old line without a lick of common sense. Using the God given right to own guns argument, to me is a stretch. I never read any where in the bible about gun ownership as a sacred right. No one is talking about doing away with all gun ownership anyway. Lowry is way off the mark. Be that as it may, common sense gun laws, back by the vast majority of the American people, are waiting on Moscow Mitch's desk to be voted on. He says he won't bring them to the floor for a vote without the approval of the president. You would think the approval of the American people would be enough, but not for Moscow Mitch. Politics is more important to him than making society safer.

Mr Wizard

As usual Martian, you are looking at the gun issue from another planet. Punishing law-abiding people for the acts of a few deranged killers is not in the American lexicon anywhere. The dirty little secret is that Democrats want to disarm the public with "common sense" gun laws, and we all know it. The institution of "assault weapons" bans and "red flag laws" are simply to criminalize innocent people who will not comply with what Democrats deem "normal" behavior. Isn't it ironic that this comes from the same party that believes open borders, homosexuality, and infanticide are "normal" behavior. Can't wait 'til next November and the Democrat party ceases to exist.

Cassandra2

Whiz, even Scalia recognized that there is no inherent right for private citizens to own weapons of war.

new2Lax

The guy did make some mistakes, this as just one of them.

johnnybragatti

The trib needs to send the Wiz, to take his wiz elsewhere,along with other mentally ill posters, especially the uneducated,like him, who thinks the "Libtards" want open borders.

This mentally retarded "individual" must idolize Alex jones ,Hannerty and ingraham and the rest of the killers. No? American lexicon ...too funny ,he must"ve learned a new word? or is it the paint company he works for.

Mr Wizard

Sorry I talked above your ability to comprehend Johnny. What I was trying to get you Libtards to understand was the fact that before the Democrat party turned communist-socialist no one in this country used the language you are using today. Innocent people in America are not punished, period.

Mr Wizard

Whatsa matter Johnny, gotta get the Trib-libs to silence someone who has valid arguments that you don't like? I hope they send you to confiscate my firearm. And just who is Hannerty anyway.

Jefferson Paine

What part of the phrase "well regulated" is difficult for you to understand? What fool believes our founders wanted loyalist conservatives, sociopaths, anarchists and general idiots owning guns in the aftermath of the revolution? YOu must prove you're able bodied, of sound mind and well regulated (know how to handle a gun, have good vision, etc). Half of the gun owners I know wouldn't serve latrine duty in Washington's army, nor would you. And look at your hysterical ranting...god does it ever end.....about the liberal plots to 'disarm' law abiding citizens....you said it like a baby for 8 years under Obama.....give it a rest drama queen, we're only taking guns from those unworthy of owning them.

oldhomey

Jeff, I like your style and how you think. Thanks for weighing in. You add great value to the discussion.

martian2

wiz provides an excellent example of why we can't have common sense gun laws. His extremists views are what makes an adult discussion impossible when it comes to guns. There was a time when assault weapons of war were banned in this country, and Ronald Reagan approved. That was the normal till the NRA captured the republican party by the gonads and insisted on weapons of war for the general public. Red flag laws, universal back ground checks would save lives, that is a fact. But wiz would never admit that. Common sense is not so common when extremists like wiz get their way. We've heard the same old arguments from wiz and the NRA for decades now. And they have turned out to be lies and falsehoods. Obama was going to get rid of your guns!!! How often did we heard that, and not once did it even come close to reality, just more fear mongering and people like wiz lap it up.

Climatehoax

If you don’t want a gun don’t have one! But don’t deny my right for self protection.

oldhomey

Tell us, Climate, how you have been assailed by the authorities trying to disarm you. That would make for entertaining reading, but would have to be entered under the fiction listing.

Cassandra2

It's part of the paranoid fantasy of oppression that also makes him think that christians are being stopped from doing whatever it is they do.

new2Lax

If you think the the President isn’t hearing the American people and is totally worried about the politics, I should think you wouldn’t say a word, unless of course you don’t believe what your saying.

oldhomey

More trenchant political observations from new2. He now thinks Trump isn't worried about how things are going for him politically. It is the main reason why most of us on here don't believe a word of what new2 says, because he is a man of such ill-founded political faith.

reader0520

political faith....in this day and age....lmao

Climatehoax

You’re off the mark, if ar’s were banned and other guns were used in a mass shooting there would be more bans. The antigun zealots will not stop until ALL guns are confiscated, and if you’re to naive to see that, read some history. Now the libs are acting like Hitler, PolPot, and the other dictators who first removed guns than slaughtered millions because they didn’t think like the dictators, SOUNDS LIKE LIBERALS TO ME, think and do as I say or I’ll assult you, ask people who wear MAGA hats, or, now, I guess it’s ANY red hat. Do you see the connection?

martian2

another brain washed NRA clone straight from the NRA in climate. funny how some people can be led by the nose in such an extremists position and stick to it forever. We have much more gun violence per capita than any other country on the earth. and hoaxers in the world want to do nothing about it. Just arm everyone and let the craziness continue. The slippery slope argument doesn't hold any weight, never will, but keep saying it over and over hoaxer and keep convincing your deluded self.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.