When the Ninth Circuit ruled that Americans have no right to carry a concealed handgun outside the home, they were effectively alienating an “unalienable” right.
It would have been no different had they said Americans have no right to free speech or freedom of religion outside the home (First Amendment), or that Americans have no right “to be secure in persons” outside the home (Fourth Amendment), and so on. Every right in the Bill of Rights is “unalienable,” which means that every right in the Bill of Rights is intrinsic to our humanity. In fact, to separate such rights from us is to put a separation between us and what it means to be human.
Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father and the third President of the United States, based colonial separation from Britain on the fact that “unalienable” rights are woven into the fabric of our beings by our “Creator,” rather than by government. He made this emphasis in the Declaration of Independence, where he wrote, “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.”
Those rights, summed up by Jefferson as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” were fleshed out in the Bill of Rights more than a decade later as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, the right to keep arms, the right to bear arms, the right to be secure in our persons, and more. To assault any one of these and seek to separate or alienate it from Americans is to assault all because these rights are of a cloth. The source of each is our Creator, and the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to tell government–including the judicial branch–to keep their hands off. They have no power to meddle with that which was bestowed by the Creator.
Speaking of power, it is important to note that the government only has the powers we delegate to it. Original power resides in the people, which is why the Constitution begins with the words “We the people,” rather than “We the elected officials” or “We the bureaucrats” or even “We the judicial branch.” And power resides in the people because the people have rights. Governments do not have rights; governments have powers, and they only have such powers as the people give them.
So when a branch of the government seeks to separate the people from an intrinsic, God-given right–in this case, rights protected by the Second Amendment–they overstep the powers that have been delegated to them. Moreover, James Madison would argue that they abuse the powers that have been delegated to them because the purpose of power is to protect the rights of the people.
In a letter dated October 17, 1788, Madison explained his support for a Bill of Rights to Jefferson. Key to this support was the need to protect “essential rights” from the machinations of the “majority.” Madison stressed that his greatest concern regarding the safety of “essential rights” would be “not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its Constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”
Whether such freedom-crushing acts come from D.C. itself or from the judiciary that now serves as D.C.’s extension makes no difference; freedom is still being crushed and “essential rights” trampled. The 9th Circuit’s ruling against carrying a gun outside the home is a perfect example of what Jefferson and Madison fought against–the alienation of “unalienable” rights.
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.