This is a response to the editorial “Group with differing views reaches consensus on gun issues” in the Dec. 4 issue of your paper.
For our democracy to function effectively, Americans with different points of view must not only be able to talk to one another in order to reach agreement on public policies, but once an agreement is reached all parties must accept and respect that agreement.
The consensus on the right to keep and bear arms was reached 230 years ago and is enshrined in the Second Amendment, which protects an enumerated, individual right to keep and bear arms.
The Second Amendment was adopted specifically to prevent government from infringing on that right. It is part of the Bill of Rights and it is settled law. It is not up for negotiation.
The only ways to change or repeal that right is by either a Constitutional Convention or by amending the Constitution as outlined in the document. Congress cannot enact a law and the president cannot by executive action change the Constitution.
The authors of this editorial don’t understand the Constitution, as evidenced by their suggestion that the right to keep and bear arms should be licensed in the same manner as required for operation of a motor vehicle, practice of medicine, liquor sales or to work as a beautician.
None of these things are “rights.” They are privileges extended to individuals by the state via a license.
The “right” to keep and bear arms is a natural right (self defense) not granted by the state. Rights do not require licenses and the very proposal is an attempt to limit that right.
We already prohibit minors, convicted felons and the mentally insane from legally purchasing firearms and any more restrictions will simply infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.
The Founders knew what they were doing when they enacted the Bill of Rights. They knew that the “arms” they referred to in the Second Amendment were essentially identical to and in some cases (Kentucky Rifle) superior to anything the military had at the time.
They also knew that some people would misuse the right and commit crimes and murder. They fully realized that a free society is inherently risky and looked on with disdain on those who would give up fundamental rights for temporary security. They believed that the right to self defense and the defense of the Republic to be more important.
As one federal judge wrote, “the Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed – where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest, where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”
A. C. Horvath is a resident of Hilton Head Island.