Friday, March 1, 2013

On Rights....

There is much debate--along with much emotion, name calling, and mud slinging--currently about the second amendment.  Within the debate, one thing becomes clear; the concept of a right is not understood, at least as used by the men who wrote our constitution.  It was clear to them that rights were God-given, not government-granted.  We have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness referenced as that in the first lines of the Declaration of Independence.
As our Constitution was developed, there were ten amendments attached early on.  These were statements of rights that were clearly held by the writers to fall within the ideas of life liberty and pursuit of happiness which had been brought out beforehand and statements of protections from incursions of the government upon the freedoms of the citizens.
The specific rights are in the first two amendments:
  1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 
  2. A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The third through tenth amendments deal with protections, which I’ll not deal with here.
The point is that these are rights, not privileges.  If I wish to be practice my faith, I can—it’s my right; it’s also my right to practice no religion.  Should I wish to speak my mind, I may—also my right.  If I decide to rally to raise awareness of an issue or to write to public officials I can—those are also my rights.  If I chose to own an AR-15 rifle and 30 round magazines, that too is my right.  These rights are not granted by, but are to be guarded by, our government; sadly they have not been.  In fact, the opposite is the case.    

Religious liberties have been removed—our children prohibited from the practice of their faith in public.  We now have a law somewhat nebulously restricting free speech any time and place the US Secret Service is present.  Non-conforming news people are being bullied by high-ranking officials.  Public assembly has, in some places been limited under certain conditions (not going to go there at this time without further research).   Petitions have not yet been limited in any way that I've been made aware of.  Finally, we come to the firearms part.  Lawmakers on both state and national levels are attacking them.   They’re attacking our rights, not our privileges. 

Privileges are granted by the government.  It’s a privilege to drive a car; that can be highly regulated.  It’s a privilege to engage in certain professional activities such as medicine; that too can be regulated because it’s not a right.  The list could go on.

There's no way to compare rights and privileges, yet the line is being deliberately blurred by those in control.  Privileges can be, and rightly are, regulated.  Rights are not.  Though our politicians argue compelling need, the need to remain free trumps all.   We must fight for our rights.  They were granted by our Creator and should not be surrendered to men. 

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