My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of those killed in yesterday's horrible school mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut. On two occasions in my lifetime I have been in the middle of a crime scene that involved the death of more than one child. The gruesome images have never left me, so I add to my prayer list the emergency medical and police personnel who entered the building to do their jobs. It will be a long, long time before healing comes to the community of Newton.
President Obama spoke emotionally yesterday afternoon and said our nation must "come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this." Many assume the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school will be the tipping point for gun control in the United States. I would argue that the reason we have mass shootings like yesterday is because government has already encroached and intervened in personal freedoms.
Let me explain. When our country was founded, our nation's Founding Fathers believed in what is called Natural Law. Natural Law is a view that certain rights or values are inherent in or universally known by human reason. The best summary of natural law is contained in the following seventeen word statement:
"Do all you have agreed to do and do not encroach on other persons or their property."In the early days, when a criminal encroached on another person or their property, the courts of the United States established the precedent that restitution would be made to the victim(s). In the case of murder, the murderer would be swiftly brought to justice via execution. In cases of encroaching on property (i.e. theft, vandalism, etc...), restitution would be made by the robbers to the victims as ordered by the judge. Over time, a series of decisions in the courts of the United States established what what we call common law. This means, as various acts of crime occurred, judges would look at legal decisions in previous similar cases to make a ruling on restitution that would be fair and equitable to the victim. The people encroached upon were the victims, not the state. The criminals who encroached made restitution to the people, not the state.
It was necessary, because our forefathers understood Natural Law, that American citizens always have the right to keep and bear arms. So, Amendment II of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution gives to citizens of the United States "the right to keep and bear arms." What most Americans don't understand are the two reasons our forefathers felt this right to keep and bear arms was absolutely necessary for a free society to exist.
(1). Our nation's forefathers knew there would be occasions when criminals would not make restitution to their victims as ordered by the courts. When this happens in a country built on Natural Law, outlawry is invoked. Outlawry is the ability for citizens in a civilized society to pass judgment and punish those criminals who refuse to make court ordered restitution to their victims. Most of us understand the term "outlaw," but few of us understand that it is derived from the word outlawry. Outlawry means criminals who run from court ordered restitution are handed over to society and placed "outside the protection of law." This is what it meant for an outlaw to be Wanted: Dead or Alive. It did not matter how he was captured. When you brought the outlaw in before the judge, dead or alive, you received a bounty for the capture. The outlaw was outside of "the protection of the law."
In the old days, prisons were fairly empty. Incarceration was limited to those awaiting trial. Once a court ordered the terms of restitution, the criminal was released in order to work and pay for his crimes. If the criminal ran from his responsibilities, he was turned over to society (by the courts) as "an outlaw." Our Founding Fathers understood the need for civilized society to "keep and bear arms" because a society of free and civilized people were ultimately the highest power in the land. The citizens of the United States would need to keep and bear arms because of outlaws. Natural Law demands the principle of outlawry.
A modern version of outlawry would be a free and law-abiding citizen in a school, armed with a weapon, shooting and killing a murderer in the act of encroaching. The citizen doesn't wait on "law enforcement" to take action--our Constitution, built on Natural Law, demands the citizen take action. Many believe a country is more civilized when free citizens don't have guns. Our Founding Fathers believed just the opposite. A free society, according to Natural Law, makes the free people of that free society the highest authority--not the state or the government. Government is of the people, by the people, for the people.
Could law-abiding citizens in a free society make a mistake in dealing with an outlaw? Of course, but the checks and balances on a free people is the knowledge that you yourself might be deemed an outlaw if you violate Natural Law and encroach on an innocent person. Natural Law is as much a science as biology, physics and math. It is understandable regardless of one's religion, because it comes from Nature and Nature's God. Natural Law understands that victims are those who experience a crime of encroachment and the criminal is the encroacher.
Unfortunately, our government has assumed the role of victim. The criminal pays his or her debt "to the state." The government of the United States has replaced the people of the United States. When a state usurps the governance of a free people, the state will eventually devolve into a fascism. A fascist state does not arise overnight. Just like Germany in the early 20th century, fascism progresses slowly as more and more power is handed to the state and more and more freedoms are taken from the people. One of the fundamental needs of a fascist state is for its citizens not to be armed.
(2). Our nation's forefathers understood that there could be an occasion when government violates Natural Law (by encroaching), and it would be the duty of the free citizens of that state to rebel. Very few Americans know that the reasoning of those we call Patriots, the men and women who fought their government during the American Revolution, was built upon Natural Law. People like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, and others believed that England was encroaching on the people and property of the colonists. In other words, America's Patriots believed people should always be able to keep and bear arms because there always needs to be the ability for a free people in a free society to revolt against a government that violates Natural Law. England violated the principles of Natural Law, and in obedience to Nature and Nature's God, the American colonists revolted against England.
Thomas Jefferson, when writing the draft of the Constitution of Virginia, wrote "No free man shall be debarred the use of arms." Alexander Hamilton wrote, "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." (The Federalist Papers, pages 184-188). Abraham Lincoln, declared at the commencement of the Civil War, "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it." These men understood that any government which removes the right to keep and bear arms from her free citizens takes a gigantic step toward statist facism.
So, though we grieve over the mass murder at Sandy Hook, and though we deplore acts of violence by criminals throughout our land, we should resist with all our might any intrusion by the government to take weapons from us.
Natural Law demands free citizens have the right to be armed.
As a Christian, I may choose not to bear arms, to turn the other cheek, and to live like Jesus Christ lived. But as an American, I will resist any effort by the state to take weapons from her citizens.
Natural Law demands this of me.