As we see a plethora of new anti-gun legislation being introduced in California, across the country, and in our nation’s capitol, I thought it might be a good time to remind ourselves of what our 2nd Amendment rights protect.
Like the vast majority of this country’s citizens, I am descendant from immigrants. The matriarch of our family made the difficult decision to leave her home and come to the United States many, many years ago. As an outspoken young woman, something uncommon in the era, she faced a dilemma. In her home country, she was relatively safe walking the streets, as the Crown’s punishment for crimes was extraordinarily severe and exceedingly cruel. At the same time, she was unable to voice any opposition or criticism against the rulers for fear of suffering the same fate, a fate her family would never be able to question. She chose to immigrate to the United States realizing that she would not be as well protected by the State, but at the same time would have freedom of speech, among many others.
The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights are unique in the world. The protections it guarantees have never been duplicated. Our founders set down these principles as the basis for everything that followed and they are reflective of the struggle they faced leading to the formation of this country.
The First Amendment reads:
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.
These freedoms are not easy. The First Amendment means we as citizens must embrace and defend these very rights for those we do not agree with. It means others will be able to speak positions opposite to our own and even in disapproval of the very rights that allow them to voice the opinion in the first place. It means our country will be made up of people who exercise all faiths and reported on by a press unencumbered by government censorship. It means being able to associate with people of our own choosing and being able to petition our Government with complaints.
What is the cost? The cost is a less controlling government and more tolerant country. It means we will not live in a police state where our thoughts, our words, our faith, our actions are controlled in order to make us ‘safer’.
This is where the Second Amendment comes in. The right of the “people” to bear arms is what protects the First Amendment and the entire Constitution. It not only allows us to defend our nation and ourselves from others who would do us harm in a free society, but it ensures our government will abide by it’s own promises. Without it, there is no freedom.
We bear the responsibility of our First Amendment rights every day. Some say the Second Amendment is outdated or only refers to muskets or hunting. We disagree, but if we are defenders of the Constitution, we must also defend their freedom of speech and their ability to petition the government for redress. The ultimate measure of the decision on their grievances is of course the Constitution itself and it is in that we must believe.
As citizens of the United States, we enjoy freedoms found no place else in the world. It is an honor to live in this society, as well as a burden – one we are very grateful to have. But these freedoms come at a cost. It means we are responsible to live up to the principles our founders established and defend them – all of them – with all of the rights our founders fought and gave their lives to hand down to us.
#oddstuffing #1stamendment, #2ndamendment, #constitution, #freedom