Patrick Ryan, a Democrat running for Congress in New York, told a CNN audience that one of his political platforms is to put into effect strict limits on the Second Amendment — on the right of citizens to bear arms.
He says it’s only logical; the First Amendment comes with limits, so why not the second, as well?
Well, sorry, Mr. Ryan. But the Second Amendment doesn’t stem from what government wants or wishes. The Second Amendment, like the First, is God-given, not government granted.
Citizens of America have Second Amendment rights because they live and breathe — not because government officials have chosen to bestow them with such, as some sort of privilege.
We know this because our country was founded on the principle that our rights come from God, and that our government is only instituted among the people to secure those rights and protect them from infringement. Moreover, when our government begins to overstep its rightful bounds, and when the public servants who are hired by way of vote begin to trample those God-given rights and usher in an form of governance that is destructive of that idea, then it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that governing system and institute a new one.
That’s in our DNA; that’s our country’s guiding principle.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” is how it goes.
“That among these [unalienable rights] are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is how it continues.
And as part of that whole God-given package of rights guaranteed for each and every individual American, is the Second Amendment.
“I stand up for the students, parents, teachers who have come to me over the course of this campaign,” Ryan said on CNN, Breitbart noted. “And I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve heard from them, ‘This feels wrong, my kids going to school feeling unsafe.’ … We know there are policy solutions on this. … The way I think about this is, with all the rights we have in our Constitution, come responsibilities. You know you can’t stand up in a crowded theater and scream ‘fire.’ We have to have reasonable limitations for public safety.”
First off, screaming “fire” isn’t speech. It’s screaming “fire.” Founding Fathers, when they penned that particular portion of the First Amendment, weren’t trying to protect nuts who falsely scream “fire” for the fun of it. They were protecting primarily those who speak critically of their government.
And second off? Ryan’s personal line-in-the-sand is misplaced and unconstitutional. And as a veteran, he ought to know better, and stand taller, on matters of the Second Amendment.
“The line to me is, the weapons I carried in combat [in the military] for 27 months should not be on our streets,” he said.
Well, the line to law-abiding Americans is the Second Amendment. And with all due respect to politicians who want to talk and politick and trade and barter for gain at the ballot box, fact is: God-given trumps government granted. The Second Amendment is not for sale. Americans haven’t turned in their natural born rights just yet.
That goes for the First Amendment. That goes for the Second Amendment. That goes, for that matter, for the entire first 10 amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.