Is Bill O’Reilly FAILING to Properly Defend the Second Amendment?

Written by Steve Pauwels on July 1, 2016

Bill O’Reilly takes a lot of heat from my side of the ideological skirmish — he’s not a true-blue conservative, takes lightly constitutional limits on government, is a RINO, etc. My experience? The Fox News host usually hews to the “conservative” or “traditionalist” take on things — at least more often than not. Broadly speaking, I regard him a philosophical ally in the efforts of God-n-Country-loving Americans to preserve — actually, “rescue” might be the more appropriate term at this juncture — our country. It bears mentioning, the Left despises him with a clicking-hot hatred– and not because he’s their Manchurian-journo, covertly doing their big-government, morally relativistic, down-with-the-USA bidding.

That said, I have my moments when the guy really irks me. He seems especially paranoid about being tagged “a conservative”, so periodically he’ll go to great, rattling lengths to showcase his “moderate” bona fides — when he cedes, for instance, he doesn’t mind surrendering half his income to the Federal Government, but draws an unbudging line at a 51% income tax rate. It’s a gesture toward “reasonableness” on his part, I suppose — but doesn’t impress me. Contrarily, it leaves me shaking my head in aggravation.

On what moral plane is it ever tolerable — ever — to have fifty-percent of what a hard-working person brings in forcibly confiscated from him by anything? Uncle Sam included? Nowhere in my world, that’s for certain. Our Founders would be calling for the smelling salts. Recall, they staged a planet-shaking revolution, in part, against a tax haul that, I’m told, totaled somewhere in the low single digits.

Then there’s O’Reilly’s recent, post-Orlando-shooting declamation on gun control. To his credit, he’s argued pretty consistently for the inviolability of general 2nd Amendment guarantees: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It’s on the specifics, however, that the ratings superstar has presently gone decidedly squishy. reports, “after the attack carried out by 29-year-old Omar Mateen” O’Reilly “addressed the ‘right-wing responsibility’ “. “[H]igh-powered weaponry is too easy to get,” he opined.

We all have the right to bear arms, but we don’t have the right to buy and maintain mortars … [G]un dealers … should be required to report the sale of certain kinds of guns, heavy weapons, directly to the FBI … Not handguns … but other weapons that would be defined by Congress.

So, we can hold on to our handguns, unmolested? Gee, thanks, Bill. An eight-round, 40 Cal Smith & Wesson M&P passes O’Reilly muster, but the dreaded, and absurdly misunderstood, AR-15 (thirty rounds), perhaps not so much.

But there’s more from the news commentator:

[T]he Second Amendment clearly states the government has a right to regulate militias, made up of individuals … Congress should debate what kind of weapons should be available for public sale. And the … the individual states, should decide what kind of carry laws are good for their own people.

“High-powered weaponry”? “Heavy weapons”? These may give the Fox News talker heartburn; the liberty-loving luminaries who oversaw our republic’s tenderfoot years probably wouldn’t share his newfound jitters. Over two-hundred years ago, Samuel Adams pledged, “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent … peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

In O’Reilly’s self-defense schema, civilians can select a firearm of their own choosing. Or maybe not. A handgun in their domicile? Sure enough; government hands off. But packing one outside the house? Y’know so you can actually access it, if needed? That’s another story. He’s willing to confer on the states authority to cramp that basic, constitutionally-secured liberty.

What part of “keep and bear” eludes the often perspicacious Mr. O?

Then there’s his sophisticated-sounding gobbledygook about regulating “militias”. Lookee here, he pipes up, pleased to find some ground he can surrender to the utopian gun-grabbers. Our Framers intended for government to dictate the manner of firearms Americans can possess.

Well, point of historical fact: — Nope. O’Reilly has a yen for reminding viewers he’s taught history (two years, high school, early 1970s). Thus, you’d think a little more investigation into the historical record and what our Bill of Rights’ authors originally meant when they plied the phrase “well-regulated militia” would come naturally to him He’d undoubtedly benefit— as would those millions who misguidedly take his elucidations as the definitive and final word on things.

Turns out our revolutionary-era eminences made themselves fairly clear on the matter: “Militia”? That’s “the whole people” (George Mason); “the people themselves” (The Federal Farmer). These maintain a “right” to “keep and bear arms”; not to be “infringed”, period. Rather straightforward.

That “well-regulated” stipulation? It’s unlikely the same bunch who avouched God-given, firearms-oriented rights for individual Americans/militias as a permanent hedge against national government’s potentially tyrannical tendencies (e.g. Hamilton, Jefferson, Elbridge Gerry, Tench Coxe, Noah Webster, Joseph Story, et al) would equip that same entity with the official capacity to undercut those rights. Observe, nowhere in either the Constitution nor those renowned, initial ten amendments is there any implication that Congress should be regulator of those militias.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, “well-regulated” commonly described “being in proper working order … calibrated correctly, functioning as expected”; even “self-regulated” or “self-controlled”. Got that, Mr. Bill? Everyday citizens armed and ready to function as intended: safeguarding their families, communities, nation; their freedoms.

Time was that vital, elemental American understanding didn’t elude Bill O’Reilly. His latest “remarks represented a shift to the political left from where O’Reilly stood on the issue … after the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack … Back then, the news personality advocated tougher criminal sentences for those who commit gun crimes but no laws limiting the purchasing of weapons.” In short, he once focused on prosecuting bad guys — versus inconveniencing law-abiding types who take seriously the Second Amendment.

What happened to the sixty-seven-year-old media giant? Bluntly, looks like the unrelenting anti-gunners flatly outlasted him. The grueling combination of their propaganda and homicidal current events wore out Bill O’Reilly — exactly what the browbeating statists are banking on. Which is why constitutionalist patriots mustn’t flinch on America’s fortifying, bedrock principles. Leftists untiringly peck away at them, supposed sentinels of freedom incrementally yield under color of “compromise” and “sensibleness” — and unexpectedly, our rights evaporate.

Regrettably, Fox News’ grandest presence just played into that liberty-loathing scenario.

Image:; CC by 2.0; Justin Hoch

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Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.