Who Grants Our Rights?

Dennis Linthicum

Who Grants Our Rights?

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 has been well over a week since the “March for Our Lives” organizers staged an impressive protest back east. Social media antagonists and pundits are all quite impressed with what they pulled off because of the scale and the speed of its orchestration. The speakers, microphones, TV cameras, staging and bus transportation to and from the event make it obvious that this was more than a gathering pulled off by high-school students. This protest was clearly staged for the media and was not an organic grass-roots movement.

Crowd in DC

That Washington, D.C. rally was pulled off by progressive, well-heeled elites who have captured the minds of young people. In Saul Alinsky’s playbook, Rules for Radicals, Alinsky notes, “there are no rules for revolution,” meaning anything goes. However, at the heart of the agenda to capture idealistic and disenchanted young people, I see extremely corrosive tactics being used against individuals.

What we are witnessing is an ideological revolution. The main speakers continually called for the elimination of some of our nation’s constitutional guarantees. However, those guarantees, unbeknownst to the uninformed, are aimed at telling Congress what government can and can’t do. These are the rights that, “shall not be infringed.”

Throughout the Bill of Rights, certain congressional actions are prohibited while the rights and freedoms of the people are held whole and intact. We can see this in the language of several amendments where phrases, such as: “Congress shall make no law”, rights “shall not be infringed”, and certain rights are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” By implication, this means that the God-given rights of the people will always remain intact, while congressional power can be, and is, appropriately limited.

This constitutional methodology was designed to check, balance and limit government power while allowing ordered liberty to reign among the people. Interestingly, the Constitution was a compact among the states which was ratified by the individual states, themselves. It was not put into place by a massive election campaign across the original colonies. This means a popular vote across the nation can’t undo it, either.

As the Constitution was crafted by the Founders, it was not designed to sustain a strong national government, nor a heavily centralized power or national authority. Rather, these rules were written to guide future generations in their duty to “secure the blessings of Liberty,” ensuring that no one would be above the law and everyone is subject to all laws, equally.

To accomplish this, the central government was given a list of enumerated powers. In Federalist No. 45, Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, added more details:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”

This last sentence is the one that most state gun-grabbers quote with glee. Some mistakenly believe that this means that their state governments can be manipulated to outlaw guns out of concern for the affairs and lives of their constituents.

This is not entirely true. Remember, God-given rights always remain in effect; they can’t be taken away by the majority, the legislature, the courts, or the mob. Restraints on government, both federal and state, must come from elsewhere.

It is essential to have an understanding of where our rights originate and where government authority, power and jurisdiction ends. We will never be able to defend our rights or labor for the return of lost rights if we do not know who granted those rights in the first place.

Our modern state is trying to assert ownership over all people, all concerns and all environments. Many Oregonian’s now realize that these formulations lack any reference to transcendent moral standards. It turns out that these new jurisdictional demands are simply the preferences made by those currently in power. If these laws are not grounded in eternal or transcendent moral value, then these laws will simply perpetuate injustice.

In fact, a transcendent moral understanding is what gives power to the only coherent argument against slavery.

Slavery is wrong, regardless of how many voters might vote in favor of slavery. If there were a national ballot measure seeking a pro-slavery initiative, it could never be right, or legal, regardless of the voting majority’s opinion. There would be no need to submit the measure to the Supreme Court attesting to the unconstitutional nature of the measure. It would be wrong because man has no authority over the laws of God which tells us that every human being carries infinite worth and value.

In closing, all of our God-given rights carry natural limitations. These limitations are not set by government power, authority, or by a vote of the people. These limitations are defined by the boundaries of natural law given to us outside of government power.

As Samuel West said in 1776, “The highest state of liberty subjects us to the law of nature and the government of God. The most perfect freedom consists in obeying the dictates of right reason and submitting to natural law.”

Our right to keep and bear arms does not give any person the right to violate any other person’s God-given right to life or liberty. Nor does the right to keep and bear arms allow one person to violate the private property rights of another person. These checks, balances and limitations are built into the structure of every right by natural law. Individuals each carry these rights as inherent and absolute rights.

As Jefferson told us,

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Remember, if we don't stand for rural Oregon values and common-sense, No one will.

Senator Dennis Linthicum signature

Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.DennisLinthicum@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/linthicum