Second Amendmentby Representative Virginia Foxx
Posted on 2013-02-05
FOXX. Mr. Speaker, the Constitution of the United States of
America was written to put in statute the limits of government's
authority over citizens. It does not bestow rights or permit freedoms
upon American people; rather, it delimits what government of the
people, by the people, and for the people can and cannot do.
Since well before our country's founding, Americans have exercised the right to keep and bear arms, a right formally protected by the ratification of the Second Amendment in [[Page H349]] 1791. As a lifelong defender of Second Amendment freedoms, I am committed to ensuring that any new proposals considered in Washington do not infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights of law- abiding citizens.
In the wake of devastating tragedies, well-meaning people feel compelled to do something, and the government, likewise, to intercede. But good intentions don't often make good or constitutional laws, and they certainly are no match for those set on being lawless.
The Second Amendment reads: 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.
If the text alone were not explicit, our Founding Fathers clarified the purpose of the Second Amendment. James Madison wrote, in Federalist No. 46, that Americans possess: the advantage of being armed over the people of almost every other nation whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
Even more applicable to our current situation is this excerpt referenced by Thomas Jefferson, which reads: Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants.
The rush to action in the wake of tragedies sadly heaps the price of criminal wrongdoing onto law-abiding, responsible gun owners. When such is the case, government flirts with construing the desire to exercise Second Amendment rights as suspect behavior, it deems some Second Amendment utilities superior to others, and it ignores the root causes of mass violence, focusing instead on the means by which violence is accomplished. Those mistakes must never be made. Federal proposals must be well-thought, data-driven, and constitutionally sound.
The right to keep and bear arms is not one for hunters and sportsmen alone. For centuries, it has been a right for every American citizen to arm themselves to defend their property and the people they hold dear. And it is a right that cannot be infringed.