Rally for Our Rights

May 17, 1999
11:00 AM, Boston Common

Organized and Sponsored by

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Gun Owners' Action League
37 Pierce St., P.O. Box 567, Northborough, MA 01532


Beware Good Intentions
Speech by Chip Ford
Co-Director, Citizens for Limited Taxation


 

The Constitution of the United States -- The Bill of Rights -- Article II:

"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."

Gun-control zealots conveniently confuse and intentionally confound the meaning of this simple declaration; some of their extremists even deny its existence.

The Bill of Rights only further protects unalienable rights we naturally possess upon birth and which we never, ever agreed to grant government under any interpretation. It demands that especially these specific and enumerated rights remain untouched.

The gun-control zealots miss the point -- and sometimes so do we.

More than a decade before the Bill of Rights was ratified (1791), seven years before even the U.S. Constitution itself was drafted (1787), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted its own state constitution (1780).

The Preamble of our state Constitution states the intent of the document, underscoring the individual's "natural rights" and the limited power granted by "social compact" to the government.

Following those three paragraphs, in Part the First, Article One of our Declaration of Rights, the very first sentence of the very first paragraph states:

"All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."

The very first sentence of the very first paragraph of Article One of Part the First of A Declaration of Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Lest there be any doubt concerning the meaning of the founders' words written two centuries ago, this article was later amended only 23 years ago in 1976, as the "Equal Rights Amendment," but those founding words were retained exactly as they were originally written.

Let there be no question about why they were so prominently positioned in 1780.

The then-very recent American Revolution was not launched just over taxation without representation. The spark that ignited it was the King's minions coming to take away colonists' guns.

On April 18, 1773, General Thomas Gage ordered Lt. Colonel Francis Smith and his 10th Regiment Foot to march to Lexington and Concord with the following command:

"Having received Intelligence, that a Quantity of Ammunition, Provisions, Artillery, Tents and small Arms, have been collected at Concord, for the Avowed Purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will March with the Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your Command, with the utmost expedition and Secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provisions, Tents, Small Arms, and all Military Stores whatever. ..."

They were met and routed at the Concord bridge by armed citizens. "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" was in fact the first salvo in the battle against gun control.

Suppose the Second Amendment instead read: "A well educated electorate, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed."

Do you suppose there would now be any debate over what the framers meant?

"All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property..."

Defending your life, liberty or property without the sometimes necessary tools is like alleging a right to free speech or a free press while being forbidden by government to speak out or to publish without its permission.

In this ongoing battle against gun-control it is important to remember the words of 19th Century Massachusetts Congressman Daniel Webster:

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

Beware good intentions.

Reject this assumption of authority.

Restore our unalienable rights.

All of them.
 


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