INALIENABLE: Natural Rights Are Anchored In Timeless Truths, Not Cheap Arguments

Written by Greg Hopkins on May 2, 2017

Both Second Amendment defenders and gun grabbers often frame their argument in utility, i.e. “Are firearms a public good, or not?”. Gun grabbers usually stick to one assumption: “People get killed by guns, so guns are bad. M’kay?”. Pro-gun folks point out that guns are successfully used in self-defense at least a million times a year, and since murders with firearms are about 13,000 per year, their legal use saves far more lives than their illegal use takes. While interesting, and helpful, arguing the utility of firearms (or free speech, for that matter) is irrelevant to the question of whether we have unalienable rights or not; for if we do, then the questions of utility are moot.

Gun grabbers incorrectly say victims are killed or injured by guns. This is incorrect. Rather, they are harmed by people with guns. Guns are tools, inanimate objects. They do not “go off by themselves” and have no consciousness. Those who say, “Guns are evil”, are practicing the ancient superstition of Totemism: the belief that man-made objects or trees, rocks, and the sky or earth are inhabited by spirits that give them consciousness and will. If you think that way, then instead of passing anti-gun laws, you should fly over the gun factories and spray them with ground-up bat wings and monkey’s blood. To say people are victimized by guns is to assign malice to a neutral, non-living tool that does nothing unless a human being puts it to use. It is people who are good or evil, not cars, swimming pools, or guns.

Secondly, natural rights such as the right to free speech, self-defense, and keeping ourselves and our personal things free from unreasonable search and seizure are not subject to arguments of utility. To even begin the argument that the government can ban selected speech (that does not create an immediate threat to another person) is to deny that we have an inherent, God-given right to say and write what we think. “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”. Jefferson says that that God gives us certain (readily recognizable) unalienable (cannot be taken from any person except for criminal behavior) rights. Because these rights come from the Creator, government has no power to deny them, it can only affirm them. That is what our Founders intended by enumerating these rights in the Bill of Rights; to erect a firewall between government and these Rights to keep them undiluted and unimpeded.

God grants the right to life to each of us. The corollary right to it is the right of self-defense, which all cultures have recognized since time began. Only by a person voluntarily relinquishing that right (by criminal action) can the state remove that right from him. Since the state can’t forbid the right of self-defense, then it can’t forbid us the tools necessary for self-defense either. This is the reason for the Second Amendment, it recognizes each person’s inherent right to the tools and means of using force in defense of himself or others from a tyrannical state or criminal force. The Bible tells that God has set certain, basic, absolute standards in all people’s hearts. Ecclesiastes 3:11-14, 7:29; Romans 1: 18-23, 32, 2:9-13, and this is what we call Natural Law. Rom. 2:14-15. To learn of the development of self-defense in Natural Law, read, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right by Stephen P. Halbrook. It should be owned and studied by every gun owner.

John Adams wrote about the source our Natural Rights. “As much as I love, esteem, and admire the Greeks, I believe the Hebrews have done more to enlighten and civilize the world. Moses did more than all their legislators and philosophers.” Adams credited Judaism and Christianity for giving us Natural law. “One great advantage of the Christian religion is that it brings the great principles of the Law of Nature and Nations, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, and, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people.” See, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers, by John Eidsmoe.

God laid the foundations of a just society in the eternal moral principles of the Bible. ”You shall [must] love your neighbor as yourself” commands God in Leviticus 19:18. It’s the concluding verse of a passage on how to treat our fellow man, including His first general instruction on self-defense in Lev. 19:16, “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” In other words, “Get in there and help if someone’s life is in danger!” Jesus settled the question of who is our neighbor with the story of the Good Samaritan. His answer? Everyone is my neighbor! Luke 10:25-37

Isaiah 54 is a chapter predicting the blessings to come for those who believe in Jesus, the Messiah. Starting in verse 14, God says, “In righteousness you will be established, you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear, and [far from] terror, for it will not come near you.” Why won’t we fear terrorists or criminals? Because God provides us with the means to protect ourselves! Verse 15:” If anyone fiercely assails you, it will not be from Me. [God is the giver of all good things. James 1:17.] Whoever assails you will fall because of you.” We defend ourselves from evil with His blessing! How do we do that? Verse 16: “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the coals and brings out a weapon for its work, and I have created the destroyer [the weapon in the hands of the good guy. 2 Sam. 23:6-7, Psalm 149: 5-9] to ruin” (the bad guys). How about that? God Himself gives us the smarts to make weapons to defend ourselves, just as He’s given us the smarts to do surgery and invent medicines and all the other things that have represented progress through the ages!

We have the God-given right of self-defense because to enjoy life and pursue happiness, we must first be alive. To stay alive, we must sometimes defend ourselves. So God gave us the smith (and Wesson) to make firearms and other defensive tools. Verse 17: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” Lastly, God says if we use our weapons morally and lawfully, we will not lose in the courts (We will be vindicated for using lawful force). The Natural Right of self-defense and the weapons to implement it are the gift of God and their use is in His will to ensure that The Good survives and triumphs over evil. All this is affirmed by our Second Amendment.

Image: CC by 2.0; by Ted Mielczarek;

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Greg Hopkins
Greg Hopkins is a recovering lawyer, city prosecutor, police Use-of-Force law instructor, former city judge in two towns and criminal defense lawyer. He’s been teaching the Bible to teens and adults for 40 years. He now trains CCP holders and armed church security teams in self defense law. He also does expert witnessing in firearms and self defense cases. His book is A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, on the Bible and Self Defense.