During the February 24th airing of the Steve Harvey Show, Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said there is a constitutional right to own a gun, but that it is balanced out by the “constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
There actually is no explicitly stated right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the constitution. Rather, that phrase is from the Declaration of Independence.
Harvey segued into the discussion about guns by saying, “I did a show this week on gun control [and] gun violence.” He said, “This is not only a Chicago problem. This gun violence is nationwide. How do we reduce gun violence in this country?”
Clinton responded by calling “commonsense gun control measures” that include “comprehensive background checks”–like those in California–placing more regulations on gun shows and online sales, and closing the non-existent “Charleston loophole.” She then summed up all her gun control goals under the banner of “[taking] on the gun lobby.” And she said it is important for gun owners to know “no one is going to come take your gun away if you’re a responsible gun owner.”
She claimed the vast majority of Americans support her proposed controls and added, “We’ve got to say to the gun lobby, you know what, there is a constitutional right for people to own guns. But there is also a constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In fact, the mention of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” came from the pen of Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, not the constitution. And Jefferson wrote the Declaration more than a decade before the constitution was written or ratified.
It is interesting to note that in the Declaration, the sentence containing the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” first mentions “unalienable rights.” The full sentence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Those “unalienable rights” are fleshed out in the constitution’s Bill of Rights, gun ownership prominent among them.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.