Natural Rights?

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    I noticed this in a recent discussion with a friend on the subject of gun-control, and it immediately started to gnaw at the back of my mind.

    When we say that X Bill or X Proposal violates First/Second/Fourth amendment rights, are we accepting the government as the source of those rights? When we panic or rant on Facebook about how important the Second Amendment is, are we granting a recognition to the national government as the grantor of those rights?

    It’s been a very long time since I heard, even in libertarian circles, a discussion about free speech or gun control that centered around the natural right to free speech or self-defense instead of the first or second amendments. Maybe that’s a reflection on my circles. Maybe not.

    What are your thoughts?


    Should you allow a discussion of violating a provision of statutory/written law, including the Constitution, then you are wandering off the key issue: you are discussing secondary rather than first principles. In other words, discussing effects without the context of first principles.

    In such a discussion, you may reasonable expect that black becomes white, and up becomes down; and anything goes.

    Whereas, references to the phrase “the right” in the Constitution, is a reference to something already established based on first principles (which pre-date the Constitution), not actually defined by the Constitution, and that is why the Constitution merely “enumerates” [those previously established] rights. Reiterating this: Nowhere does the Constitution define and establish rights; it merely refers to those previously established rights.

    Hence, “rights” do not come from the government. (Remember, the Constitution defines and establishes – causes – said government – the effect, not the other way around.)

    Attempts to convert this “recognition” to “definition,” or to reverse cause with effect, is merely an attempt to separate secondary effects from first principles.

    Once that is accomplished, black is white.

    Note that in this discussion:

    …Larry Pratt will not be deflected off of first principles. (And this is what frustrates Morgan.)


    When we say that X Bill or X Proposal violates First/Second/Fourth amendment rights, are we accepting the government as the source of those rights?

    Harry covered this pretty well but let me just add; the constitution as originally conceived recognized rights – government didn’t create the rights, it acknowledged them and was supposed to protect them. See also the Declaration of Independence, which mentions several rights, then says that government is instituted to protect (not create) them, and when in the course of human events a government transgresses them systematically, people have a right to separate from that government and institute a new one (or, if you’re an anarchocap, none at all).

    The idea that rights come from government is a later perversion, first initiated in continental europe, then spread to the U.S. by progressives influenced by Rousseau & Hegel. But the big counter-argument is that “if ‘rights’ come from government, then there are no ‘human rights’ at all, since they are subject to redefinition and elimination at the whim of those in power. Government-granted ‘rights’ leave one defenseless in arguing that National Socialist Germany or Lenin, Stalin, or Mao violated human rights, since they, too, believed that government told its subjects what the subjects rights were – or weren’t.”


    Some good responses above. My slightly off-topic response is that “violating the rights of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th amendments etc” gives the impression that those amendments are the only thing preventing the Feds from doing X, Y, and Z. To the contrary, they are prohibited from doing ANYTHING not enumerated in Article I Section 8. The rest is left to the states, which includes gun control, drug regulation, etc.


    John D, you da man.

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