The following is the text of a speech I delivered Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at a monthly event known as Open Carry NIght. The owners of this Godfather's Pizza franchise are true patriots and strong 2nd Amendment supporters.
I invite each of you to apply the principle laid out in this speech to other government intrusions into our individual rights and areas of personal responsibility, such as ObamaCare, and voice your opinions to your elected representatives.
I don’t like public speaking. So, I’m at a bit of a loss to explain why I was so anxious to accept this opportunity to speak to you tonight. On one hand, I know exactly what I want to say; but on the other, I am a little unsure how to begin. So, let’s begin at the beginning.
We’ve all heard, read and/or recited all the quotes and platitudes like Washington’s “A free people ought not just to be armed, but also regulated and disciplined”, Jefferson’s “When the people fear the government there is tyranny; when the government fears the people there is Liberty”, “An armed society is a polite society”, and my personal favorite by Ben Franklin. “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be Happy”. Nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment – just my favorite quote.
But, although our general concerns are valid, the 2nd Amendment argument against government tyranny is not entirely why we are gathered here on Open Carry Night tonight. We stand united in support of the 2nd Amendment, but for a more personal, a more individually important reason. Can anyone guess what that is? Here is a clue.
A friend sent me a picture yesterday of a road sign. I brought it with me tonight to read to you. It reads, “Welcome to Wisconsin. ATTENTION CRIMINALS, TERRORISTS – Over 170,000 Wisconsin Residents Have A Legal Permit To Carry A Handgun – They Are Armed And Prepared To Defend Themselves And Others Against Acts of Criminal Violence – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED – ILLINOIS AND CHICAGO HOWEVER HAVE BEEN DISARMED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE " . "
I was reading the Declaration, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and research sources that provided analysis a few years ago and a conclusion which I’d like to share with you came to me like a bolt of lightning. I didn’t read it. It just dawned on me.
How many people over 55 do we have here tonight, raise your hands?!! I ask this because how we were taught the founding of our nation differs dramatically from the way our grandchildren are being taught about it – if they are taught at all – today.
For instance, if you engage in an online chat with a young person today, he/she will immediately be backed up by peers shouting you down if you allude to the fact that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. This is the result of teaching them the failed philosophies of Secular Humanism, Moral relativism and Values Clarification. The concept of Individual Responsibility – accepting personal responsibility for one’s decisions and actions which is the Keystone of freedom – is rapidly going the way of the dinosaurs in our government-run educational system and government does NOTHING by accident.
It really becomes clear when you read any of our founding documents – The Declaration, The Constitution and Bill of Rights, The Northwest Ordinance – all of which combined form what is referred to as “the Organic Law” of the United States. As an aside: Did you know that the Declaration and Constitution were written for a 3rd grade reading level at the time? Doesn’t that beg the question, “Why do we need the SCOTUS to tell us what they mean?”
The underlying foundational concept forming what we know and love as America is known as NATURAL LAW. Natural Law can be summed up this way: Positive actions or thoughts get positive results; negative actions or thoughts get negative results. There are inalterable laws of Natural behavior just as immutable as the Law of Gravity, and just as unforgiving. It is the natural order of things. Ignorance of these laws or ignoring their existence is the primary reason our society, our values as a nation, appear to be in a freefall to oblivion.
John Adams once said, “Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” That quote has been used by some religious zealots to bolster attempts at imposing religious doctrine on people where no specific religion was intended, but the unifying concept embraced within it of a higher power than man or his governments was intrinsic and is essential to the preservation of our rights and liberties. A return to religious tolerance and awareness of Natural Law are all that is required to secure our liberties for all time – with the 2nd Amendment, of course.
Political Correctness is an attempt to undermine and destroy this concept of tolerance. PC’s concept of “toleration” is a mechanism to introduce a new law system as a prelude to the new intolerance. True tolerance was represented by the “American melting pot” concept with which many of us grew up. We were all Americans – proud, unabashed, unafraid, un-hyphenated and united as one people. Political correctness divides us by granting minority status to subgroups based on sex or sexual orientation, races and ethnicities. Is there anyone here who doubts this? Have you ever noticed how progressives are tolerant of anything and anyone except any who favor placing limits on tolerance?
The confirmation of our Judeo-Christian roots is found within the verbiage of our founding documents, charters and state constitutions – many of which refer to our blessings of liberty coming from God, or the Supreme Being, or the Great Architect of the Universe, or simply the Creator. Consequently, the phrase, "God-Given Rights" is more than the three words than form it. It also is not intended to be religiously divisive or even inject any specific religion into secular discussions of government's limitations, because the beautiful thing about the framer’s concept of Natural Law is that it doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Wiccan, Agnostic, Atheist, Liberal, Conservative or vegan. Everyone benefits from the framers' interpretation of the origin of our rights. They are secure from government infringement and cannot be taken away from any of us.
A religious view of the origin of our rights is not required of anyone; tolerance of the views held by those who DO believe is required of everyone. With that tolerance, the rights of everyone are secure. Without that tolerance, and without an awareness that our rights are ours because we exist as part of His creation of the family of Man and the Laws of Nature, everyone’s rights are at risk.
Where’s the evidence? It is widely known and understood that the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States – what we refer to as the Declaration of Independence – is one of the most profound utterances on the subject of the rights of Man ever written. The Constitution then explains and organizes those thoughts and forms a government of the people based on those concepts.
In its first paragraph, Jefferson justifies the separation from Great Britain using the phrase, “… and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them …”
In the second paragraph, Jefferson wrote: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
If you look up the definition of ‘Unalienable” today you will very likely be redirected to the word “Inalienable,” usually with the comment that ‘unalienable’ is simply an alternative spelling of ‘inalienable’. This is partially correct, but at one point in time - the time of the American Revolution - there certainly existed an important difference between the two words.
Unalienable Rights are defined as: [Rights which are] incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred. All individuals have unalienable rights. (According to Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition.)
Inalienable Rights are defined as: Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights. (According to Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d 97, 101.)
"Jefferson's original draft of this phrase in the Declaration of Independence was written: "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Members of the Declaration committee of the Continental Congress that had been selected to write the document included Benjamin Franklin and John Adams who had different beliefs. The word "inalienable" was changed to "unalienable" and read: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The above two paragraphs come from nationally respected political author Mary Mostert in an article she wrote on January 11, 2006 "Unalienable vs. inalienable rights". She explains the change; as Thomas Jefferson reflected a Deist philosophy and did not believe in a loving and caring Heavenly Father vs. the 18th century version of "intelligent design" reflected by Franklin and Adams.
This is a critically important philosophical distinction that has been lost through the evolution of language. It is highly important to understand that when the two words did hold separate meanings, the Declaration committee of the Continental Congress opted to use the word, “unalienable,” in the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, over Jefferson’s original wording which included, ‘inalienable.’
Without getting too deep into meta-ethics, it’s clear that the committee supported the idea that human rights, or Natural Rights, were inherent in all people and could not be transferred, even by those having the rights. Most importantly, these rights were not created by governments, but rather were acknowledged to already pre-exist and supersede government. Therefore, claiming these rights are unalienable, a government cannot later claim that a people have spoken or chosen to give up their rights. The only way possible to forfeit an unalienable right is as a just penalty for violating another person’s unalienable rights.
“The rights of life and personal liberty are natural rights of man. '… to secure these rights,' says the Declaration of Independence, 'governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.' The very highest duty of the States, when they entered into the Union under the Constitution, was to protect all persons within their boundaries in the enjoyment of these 'unalienable’ rights with which they were endowed by their Creator.' Sovereignty, for this purpose, rests alone with the States. It is no more the duty or within the power of the United States to punish for a conspiracy to falsely imprison or murder within a State, than it would be to punish for false imprisonment or murder itself.” U S v. CRUIKSHANK, 92 U.S. 542 (1875)
Let me repeat that: Our Natural Law rights descend from God (the Creator) and are therefore “unalienable” because neither Man nor his governments have any powers over “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. In other words, I cannot take YOUR Natural rights away; you cannot take MY Natural rights away; and neither of us as individuals nor government can force us to give up our Natural rights through coercion, edict, legislation or treaty; nor can we surrender them voluntarily as individuals or as a group without affecting the efficacy (effectiveness, value) of everyone's rights. They are ours by virtue of our existence in the Family of Man – inseparable from our Humanity – because we were created by Him. Government lacks the jurisdiction, the authority to regulate or alter our Natural, UNalienable rights. INalienable rights can be regulated or altered by government.
In addition, no one can claim as a right anything which when exercised by them interferes with another’s (any others) ability to exercise his or her rights. That is just another way of saying, “Your rights end where my nose begins.”
This is the meaning of ‘Rights’ as used and understood by the founders, as surely as they used capital letters within the text of sentences to emphasize the words they thought important. The concept of Natural Law rights and their origin is what is most significant about our Constitution, and distinguishes it from ANY other constitution of ANY other nation that has ever existed anywhere in the world at any time. The vast majority of all Constitutional scholars agree with this interpretation of its significance. Conversely in nations where governments grant rights to their citizens, governments can and do just as easily take them away.
The defining question then becomes, “How can one have an unalienable right to life, [ liberty and the pursuit of happiness ] if the right to defend that life (self-defense) doesn’t exist as an inherent part of that right?” Obviously, one cannot. We have the 2nd Amendment BECAUSE we have a NATURAL RIGHT TO LIFE AND A NATURAL RIGHT TO DEFEND IT. That’s why, when Ted Nugent says the only “permit” he needs is the 2nd Amendment, I agree with him.
"Naturally", these rights go with us wherever we legally go and the natural right of self-defense is a logical extension of the application of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is why the current administration's support of the United Nations International Small Arms Treaty is so alarming, and this conceptual view of our rights is diametrically opposed and so important for people to understand. Defense against the "wolves" of society -- the predators who prey upon the sheep in violation of their rights -- is at least as necessary today as at any time in the past. It was understood by the founders that individual citizens needed the ability to defend themselves against the excesses of other men – and governments – and wrote the latter into the Declaration as a "duty" or obligation (paragraph 2).
In Warren v. District of Columbia (444 A.2d 1, D.C. App.181), the fundamental principle of American law (that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen) was decided and explained. As the phrase “fundamental principle of American law” suggests, this holding is not some legal aberration unique to the District of Columbia. It is universal, being enunciated by formal statute as well as judicial decision in many states. Nor is it simply a cynical ploy for government to avoid just liability, as I originally thought. The proposition that individuals must be responsible for their own immediate safety, with police providing only an auxiliary general deterrent, is inherent in a free society.
Do you see the potential for double-jeopardy here? If government can "permit" only certain people (police, permit holders) to provide that immediate safety for themselves while requiring everyone to do so, that not only creates a double jeopardy exposure for the citizens who are NOT "permitted" (“Your immediate safety is your responsibility, but we cannot let you provide that), but it makes a mockery of the phrase, " ... all men are created equal." Make no mistake: Police carry guns to protect themselves from criminals with guns, not to protect the general public.
Twice in the past 3 ½ years in the Heller and McDonald cases the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the 2nd Amendment as an individual right. The 2nd Amendment is about self-defense, and has been trivialized to mean something akin to protecting a recreational pastime. The open/concealed carry option and codifying Iowa state uniformity with respect to weapons laws are steps toward restoring what is a God-given or Natural Right of the people to self-defense, reserved by the U. S. Constitution for the people in the Bill of Rights as the 2nd Amendment. It never was about hunting. Hunting and self-defense both use guns or arms of some type, which are just tools to accomplish respective tasks. Similarly, a garden hose can be used to water food plants, apply fertilizer or weed control as well as to extinguish out-of-control fires. It can also be used as an instrument of torture. The gun is just a tool. The person controlling the trigger is the weapon.
All of the rights listed in the Bill of Rights are individual rights and the recent battles over the interpretation of whether the 2nd Amendment was an individual or collective right demonstrate clearly what a tenuous hold we have on all our freedoms without recognizing this historic, ecumenical view of their origin – and the superior mechanism it provides for their future security. The Natural Law argument and the second amendment together provide the people the tools to keep the wolves at bay.
I leave you with these quotes from John Adams, one of my favorite presidents.
Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” - John Adams, 17 July, 1775 in a letter to his wife Abigail.
Finally, a quote directed to the attention of us all:
"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." John Adams.