Rights Are Privileges, Right?

I wasn’t going for a theme with my titles today but the opportunity presented itself so I seized the moment. There are a lot of authors who write about guns that I respect. Bob Owens isn’t one of them. Although I won’t go so far as to call him a racist I will say that every time his writings touch on the subject of race he comes off sounding racist. That doesn’t sit well with me. Another thing that doesn’t sit well with me is his belief that gun ownership is a privilege that should be rightfully curtailed by the State.

This isn’t an idea he uniquely holds. Many self-proclaimed supporters of gun rights actually view gun ownership as a privilege. They only differ from the anti-gun crowd in what restrictions they believe should be put on gun ownership. Owens’ latest article is an example of a restriction that many supposed gun rights activists support:

A recent decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that says illegal aliens—what the left likes to call “undocumented immigrants”—enjoy a Second Amendment right to bear arms, even if their presence in this nation is criminal.


My basic, over-riding belief on the Second Amendment is that any case involving the right to keep and bear arms should be held to the legal standard of strict scrutiny, and that all law-abiding citizens and legal resident aliens should have the right to keep and bear arms.

Anybody who has been reading this blog for a while knows what I’m going to reference. When the list of crimes is so expansive that the average working professional commits three felonies a day the term law-abiding loses any meaning. Taken to its logical conclusion arguing that the right to bear arms is dependent on an individual being law-abiding is an argument that nobody should be allowed to own firearms.

As with most supposed defenders of gun rights, Owens felt the best way to support his argument for restriction was to summon the spirit of the most holy Founding Fathers:

Call me a “butter” if you want, but I don’t think for a second that the Founding Fathers would support the concept of granting criminal invaders the same legal status as legal immigrants, legal resident aliens, and citizens. Let’s hope that when this case makes it to the Supreme Court that the justices with the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth circuit courts.

Praise be to the Founding Fathers!

This paragraph is laughable on so many levels. The most obvious is that the Founding Fathers were criminal invaders themselves. After tossing out the British and solidifying their power the Founding Fathers returned their attention to slaughtering the American Indian population.

Another reason it’s laughable is the way immigration was handled by the Founding Fathers. When they penned the Constitution they effective left the question of immigration entirely to Congress. It wasn’t until 1790 that Congress decided to write a law involving immigration. The Naturalization Act of 1790 established rules that allowed an immigrant to become a United States citizen. One of the more notable restrictions placed on naturalization by Congress was race. The restricted naturalization to “free white persons.” But I digress. While the act established rules for foreigners to become citizens it did not establish rules for deporting non-citizens. It wasn’t until 1882 that Congress got around to restricting immigration in some manner. It seems the Founding Fathers had little or not concept of legal or illegal immigration nor did Congress members of the time.

Just to be thorough it’s probably worth noting the Bill of Rights doesn’t mention a stipulation of citizenship anywhere. It makes reference to “the people” but not “citizens of the United States.” Setting aside the Founding Fathers’ views on race I think the wording of the Bill of Rights implies that it applies to all people within the United States, not just citizens.

I’m not of the opinion that the Bill of Rights grants rights. My definition of a right is an act not inhibited by a coercive hierarchy. If gun ownership, for example, is a right then it must be practicable by everybody, not just a handful selected by the State. The view expressed by Owens, and those who agree with him, would lead to an Orwellian dystopia where due process could be denied to somebody who wasn’t a citizen. I’m certainly not comfortable denying somebody accused of a crime a jury trial simply because they’re not a citizen.

If you call an act a right then list a bunch of stipulations that you believe should be placed on that act you’re arguing it’s a privilege, not a right.

One thought on “Rights Are Privileges, Right?”

  1. “When they penned the Constitution they effective left the question of immigration entirely to Congress.”

    Um, no. Exactly the opposite. They clearly and unambiguously forbade that issue to Congress for a minimum of 20 years in Article I, Section 9; and in Article V, they forbade any amendment TO that prohibition for 20 years.

Comments are closed.