The Second Amendment doesn't grant Americans anything

I recently was watching one of the firearms-related outdoors programs on television where one of my favorite nationally-known firearms instructors was being interviewed.

I became somewhat “shocked!” when that individual stated that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants us the right to possess and carry firearms. I thought I might have mis-heard what he said so I hit the replay button on my remote to see it again. He did say it! And, he was WRONG!! (I hope he was just being inarticulate in discussing the issue with the interviewer.) However, this got me thinking that many people—especially the more liberal-minded among us—might also have such a misconception about the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

The right to keep and bear arms was something the framers (i.e. the authors) of the U.S. Constitution assumed everyone already had—along with other rights like the freedom of speech, religion, etc. Since these rights already existed, they were not something that the government could give us; we already had those rights, much like the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

What the Second Amendment (and the other amendments that make up the Bill of Rights) does is restrict the government from trying to take the rights away from U.S. citizens!!! The founders of our country had seen what happens when governments try to deny “God-given/inalienable rights” to their citizens and they wanted to ensure in perpetuity—that means “forever”—that the government could not take those rights away from its citizens.

So, the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, does not say what citizens can or cannot do. Instead it outlines how our government is to be structured and operated and places restrictions on what that government can do.

Gary Evens is an NRA-Certified Instructor and Range Safety Officer.

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