the right to use guns for self-defense…protected by the 10th amendment?

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    For the past week or two, many liberal/progressive sites like Mother Jones, Slate, etc. have argued that the 2nd amendment never protected an individual gun ownership right for self-defense and that this interpretation of that amendment is relatively new. Regardless of whether this is true, this blog post on LRC got me thinking. People back in 1789 obviously owned guns and it wasn’t even close to being a controversial issue. Many of the rights Americans claimed to possess were enumerated in the 1689 British Bill of Rights, which explicitly preserves the right of the people to own guns for self-defense.

    Given all of this, isn’t it really the 10th amendment which preserves the right to bear arms for self-defense? The Constitution does not grant the federal government to regulate or ban guns, so therefore this power is left to the States/people. And, as Kramer points out, some states actually required citizens to own private arms.


    Specifically, the right to use guns for self protect could be argued under the 10th amendment since the constitution never gives the power to regulate them within the enumerated powers of A1S8. However, and I would argue more importantly, The Constitution does not grant any rights. The Constitution is a limit on and enumeration of the power of government; it does not limit or enumerate the rights of individuals. This is because the founders believed that rights were supreme to any government.

    If a person has the natural (supreme to government) right to life and (justly gained) property, then that person also has the natural right to protect their life and property by any means necessary from any and all people intent on taking that right away (of course as long as they are not infringing on the rights of other uninvolved people). Possibly more important in this case is the oft forgotten 9th amendment

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    So, yes, in a constitutional sense, you are correct that gun control would be state based. But even further than that, from a purely libertarian perspective, self protection by whatever means deemed necessary is an extension of John Locke’s fundamental rights of life liberty and property; is supreme to any government system; and, marrying that with the constitution, falls under the 9th amendment as well but would be a right recognized in a libertarian society even in the absence of the constitution.

    Of course, self defense is defense not offense and the non-aggression principle also comes into play but thats my 2 cents.


    I think that’s true, but I also think it is important to reject the false progressive narrative (is there a single example of progressive historiography that is not tendentious or mendacious?) when it comes to the true background and meaning of the second amendment, and the right it enshrines (again; it does not create that right, it enshrines it. So, for example, judicially reinterpreting it, or negating the 2nd amendment “democratically” or even constitutionally repealing it through the constitutional amendment process does not negate or change anything: it just means that this right joins many, many, many others that are not respected by the statists). A more polemical exposition here.

    So the answer is that both the second and the tenth amendment protect them, but even if both amendments are repealled or ignored, it doesn’t matter: rights aren’t defined by what others or the state are willing to respect (thus the non-natural-rights/constructivist position fails); they can only either respect/protect pre-existing rights (and they cannot create new ones, such as a “right” to force others to pay for your birth control. Sorry, Sandy – that involves not “recognizing new rights,” but a rationale for violating real ones), or they can infringe and violate them by refusing to acknowledge and protect them.

    Now, some legitimate libertarians are pacifists, who do not own guns and do not want “society” to be armed. But that is not the same thing as saying no one has a right to such arms, and it is certainly not the same thing as saying “the state should disarm the people, so that only the agents of government have weapons, because we know that’s the way to keep us all safe.”

    Finally, it’s interesting that the very people (progressives) who think that every yahoo, even illiterate, disinterested, disengaged, uninformed ones (er “low-information voters” AKA “Obama’s New Base”) should be encouraged to have input into policy, into deciding how to run everyone else’s lives for them, cannot be trusted with weapons.

    Well, they’re trusting these very same people with the most deadly force imaginable, by allowing them to determine whose finger will be on atomic buttons (or drone buttons, and the like).


    I made an argument for gun rights based on the Ninth Amendment in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

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