In de­fense of self-de­fense

Amer­i­cans have a nat­u­ral right to pre­serve their lives with guns

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Andrew P. Napoli­tano

Most of the mass killings by gun in the United States in re­cent years — Columbine, Vir­ginia Tech, Aurora, New­town, Charleston, San Bernardino and now Or­lando — took place in venues where lo­cal or state law pro­hib­ited car­ry­ing guns, even by those law­fully li­censed to do so. The gov­ern­ment cheer­fully calls these venues “gun-free zones.” They should be called killing zones.

As un­speak­able and hor­rific as is the re­cent slaugh­ter in Or­lando, it has be­come just an­other ex­am­ple of the tragic con­se­quences of gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­fer­ing with the ex­er­cise of fun­da­men­tal lib­er­ties. Af­ter a while, these events cease to shock, but they should not cease to cause us to re-ex­am­ine what the gov­ern­ment has done to us.

We know from rea­son, hu­man na­ture and his­tory that the right to de­fend your­self is a nat­u­ral in­stinct that is an ex­ten­sion of the right to self-preser­va­tion, which is it­self de­rived from the right to live. Life is the great gift from the Cre­ator, and we have a duty to ex­er­cise our free­doms to pre­serve life un­til its nat­u­ral ex­pi­ra­tion. But the lives we strive to pre­serve should not be those ac­tively en­gaged in killing in­no­cent life.

The Framers rec­og­nized this when they rat­i­fied the Sec­ond Amend­ment, which the Supreme Court re­cently held was writ­ten to cod­ify — and thus pre­vent the gov­ern­ment from in­fring­ing on — the pre-po­lit­i­cal right to own and use mod­ern-day weapons for self-de­fense or to repel tyrants.

The term “pre-po­lit­i­cal” de­rives from the lan­guage of the Sec­ond Amend­ment, which pro­tects “the right of the peo­ple to keep and bear Arms.” The con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­ence of “the” right to keep and bear arms makes clear that the Framers rec­og­nized that the right pre­ex­isted the gov­ern­ment be­cause it stems from our hu­man­ity. That’s why pre-po­lit­i­cal rights are known as fun­da­men­tal or nat­u­ral rights.

Be­cause the right to use mod­ern weaponry for the de­fense of life, liberty and prop­erty is nat­u­ral, we should not need a gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion slip be­fore ex­er­cis­ing it, any more than we need one to ex­er­cise other nat­u­ral rights, such as speech, press, assem­bly, travel and pri­vacy.

Yet since the Pro­gres­sive era 100 years ago — ush­ered in by Theodore Roo­sevelt and Woodrow Wil­son and en­abled by nearly ev­ery pres­i­dent since — the gov­ern­ment has taken the po­si­tion that it can care for us bet­ter than we can care for our­selves. So it has se­verely cur­tailed our rights and left us re­liant on the gov­ern­ment it­self for pro­tec­tion.

The mod­ern-day mas­sacres are proof be­yond a doubt that the gov­ern­ment can­not pro­tect us.

In the Or­lando tragedy, the man who killed 49 and wounded 53 used a hand­gun and a ri­fle. The hand­gun ac­cepted mag­a­zines con­tain­ing 17 bul­lets, and the ri­fle ac­cepted mag­a­zines con­tain­ing 30 bul­lets. The killer, us­ing both weapons, fired more than 250 times last Sun­day morn­ing. That means he reloaded his weapons about a dozen times. Each time he reloaded, he stopped shoot­ing, as it is im­pos­si­ble for any per­son to shoot and reload si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

We know from foren­sics that the killer was a poor shot. We can de­duce from that knowl­edge that he was a slow reloader. One learns to shoot first and reload later. It is likely that it took be­tween three and seven sec­onds each time he reloaded the hand­gun and longer with the ri­fle. In those time pe­ri­ods, any trained per­son car­ry­ing a hand­gun in that Or­lando night­club could have wounded or killed him — and stopped the slaugh­ter.

Don’t ex­pect to hear that ar­gu­ment from the gun con­trol crowd in the gov­ern­ment. It is the same crowd that has given us the killing zones. It is the same crowd that does not trust you to pro­tect your­self. It is the same crowd that ig­nores the re­al­ity that in the post-World War II era, there is not one recorded ex­am­ple in the United States of a per­son in a res­tau­rant or bar get­ting drunk and shoot­ing his law­fully car­ried hand­gun.

Hil­lary Clin­ton called the ri­fle the Or­lando killer car­ried a “weapon of war.” It is not. It is the same ri­fle that her Se­cret Ser­vice de­tail car­ries. Many of her acolytes have called it an as­sault ri­fle. It is not. It fires one round for each trig­ger pull. True as­sault ri­fles — not those that the politi­cians have re­named as­sault ri­fles be­cause they have a col­lapsi­ble stock and a bay­o­net holder (I know this sounds ridicu­lous, but it is true) — fire nu­mer­ous rounds per trig­ger pull. They have been out­lawed on U.S. soil since 1934. What do we have here? We have a gov­ern­ment here that is heed­less of its obli­ga­tion to pro­tect our free­doms. We have a gov­ern­ment that, in its lust to have us re­liant upon it, has cre­ated ar­eas in the United States where in­no­cent folks liv­ing their lives in free­dom are made de­fense­less prey to mon­sters — as vul­ner­a­ble as fish in a bar­rel. And we have mass killings of de­fense­less in­no­cents — over and over and over again.

How dumb are these politi­cians who want to re­move the right to self-de­fense? There are thou­sands of cra­zies in the U.S. who are filled with hate — whether mo­ti­vated by pol­i­tics, self-loathing, re­li­gion or fear. If they want to kill, they will find a way to do so. The only way to stop them is by su­pe­rior fire­power. Dis­arm­ing their law-abid­ing vic­tims not only vi­o­lates the nat­u­ral law and the Con­sti­tu­tion but also is con­trary to all rea­son.

All these mass killings have the same end­ing: The killer stops only when he is killed. But that re­quires some­one else with a gun to be there. Shouldn’t that be sooner rather than later? Andrew P. Napoli­tano, a for­mer judge of the Su­pe­rior Court of New Jersey, is a con­trib­u­tor to The Wash­ing­ton Times. He is the au­thor of seven books on the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion.

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