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Keep Your Dreams of Gun Control Out of the Mouths of our Founding Fathers


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By Cody Wisniewski

Amid rambling incoherence, USA Today columnist Carli Pierson tries to blame “people like Rep. Lauren Boebert” for “the gun violence and trauma we are constantly cycling through as a nation.” It’s an embarrassment to the publication and the kind of rant I would normally ignore.

Unfortunately, Pierson also wants to drag the Founding Fathers into this—as if they would share her views on gun control and so-called “necessary changes” to our laws.

Rep. Boebert is being singled out, along with Rep. Thomas Massie, because they both recently posted Christmas photos of their families posing with an array of firearms. Some found the photos charming, while others were predictably appalled.

Pierson rages that these U.S. Representatives—along with “people like” them—“are the problem” in our nation.

Boebert and Massie can ably refute such charges. I’ll simply note there is no indication that either is anything other than a peaceable gun owner who believes in the natural right of self-defense. In that sense, they’re no different than many millions of Americans.

Americans overwhelmingly believe in the right to self-defense. Our ranks are growing, and we are in no way “the problem” with the country. If you are suddenly attacked while defenseless in a situation without police protection, you might even discover one of us to be “the solution.”

But Pierson isn’t content to insult us. She presumes to speak for the Founding Fathers, telling us what they would think about gun laws in 2021.

Every time a Republican posts a picture of themselves and their families snuggled up to the muzzle of a semiautomatic rifle immediately after a mass shooting,” writes Pierson, “I wonder what the Founding Fathers would think if they knew that this was what was to become of the Second Amendment. Surely they would find it infinitely sad, infinitely pathetic that we have not made necessary changes.

In the article, Pierson does not spell out what those “necessary changes” are. Instead, she makes a broad appeal to “common sense”—an echo of the tired talking points we have heard for decades, as anti-gun activists claim they’re “not coming for your guns” but only want “common-sense reforms.”

On Twitter, however, Pierson posted her article with the hashtag “#GunControlNow”—saying the quiet part out loud and making it all too clear what sort of “necessary changes” she has in mind. Pierson thinks our Founding Fathers—in their “infinite” sadness and pathos—would now want the kinds of changes sought by the Biden-Harris administration.

Thankfully we don’t have to engage in emotional speculation to know what our Founding Fathers thought and would tell us today about gun rights. We simply have to read their words.

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders expressed their conviction that government exists to secure individual natural rights—such as life and liberty, both of which require self-defense. They understood we have an inherent right, not derived from government or any document, to possess and use the tools we need to protect ourselves.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution only made this natural right clearer. The Amendment’s text doesn’t pretend to grant some new privilege; instead, it acknowledges the people’s pre-existing right “to keep and bear arms,” which “shall not be infringed” by the government.

The Founding Fathers both promoted this right and exercised it personally. Washington and Jefferson are known to have carried firearms while traveling. John Adams observed that “every private person is authorized to arm himself.” Samuel Adams defended the colonists’ right to arm themselves against their British oppressors.

St. George Tucker, an important early commentator on the Constitution, wrote in 1803 that “in many parts of the United States, a man no more thinks, of going out of his house on any occasion, without his rifle or musket in hand, than [a] European fine gentleman without his sword by his side.”

Guns have always been a normal part of American life—a fact that was only made more apparent when the disgraced author Michael Bellesiles fraudulently tried to show otherwise.

As to what the Founding Fathers would think of guns around the Christmas tree, we should note that numerous colonial-era statutes required the carrying of arms in everyday life, including several that made it mandatory for men to bear arms while attending church services. So, I can’t imagine Rep. Massie’s Christmas card would trouble the Founders at all.

Carli Pierson is free to express her views—this, too, is a natural right guaranteed by the Constitution. But she should be ashamed to misrepresent the views of our Founding Fathers to promote her gun control agenda.

 

Cody J. Wisniewski (@TheWizardofLawz) is the Director of Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms. He primarily focuses on Second Amendment issues but is happy so long as he is reminding the government of its enumerated powers and constitutional restrictions.

To learn more about the Center to Keep and Bear Arms’ work and support their fight for your natural right to self-defense—from both man and tyranny—visit www.mslegal.org/2A and donate today!

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