Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Root Causes of Never-ending Second Amendment Dispute - Part 4

Ignored Facts, Unfounded Assertions, and the Historians' Heller Amicus Brief

Having made several erroneous assertions supporting the proposition that the state declarations of rights were not intended as limits upon state legislative authority, the historians moved on to address the arms related provisions within them and made this assertion regarding those provisions:

Assertion #4
"None of the modest variations among the formulae used by different states suggest that the right to bear arms vested in individual citizens for private purposes." [p.11]

Fact Checking Assertion #4
In order to more fully comprehend the bill of rights related purpose and context of the arms related provision found in the 1776 Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights, it and several other provisions and excerpts that are helpful for better understanding period usage are presented here beginning with the title:

"A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH, OR STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA

I. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
II. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding: . . ."
[OSA p.752]
. . . . .
XII. That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing, and publishing their sentiments; therefore the freedom of the press ought not to be restrained.
XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state;. . ."
[OSA p.754]

Section 46 of the Pennsylvania Constitution stated:
"The declaration of rights is hereby declared to be part of the constitution of this commonwealth, and ought never to be violated on any pretence whatever." [OSA p.755]

Nowhere in their Heller amicus brief do the historians mention who it was that the state declarations of rights indicated have a right to bear arms - "the people". Pennsylvania's Declaration of Rights clearly protected an individual's natural, inherent, and inalienable rights to freedom of religion, to defend life and liberty, and to protect property. It similarly protected an individual's right to freedom of speech, writing, publishing, and bearing arms for defense, both of self and the state. These protections were directed against misconstruction and abuse of power by the government and were intended to protect the individuals who were inhabitants of the state.

Conclusion - Assertion #4 is Erroneous
The historians' assertion that Pennsylvania's "the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves" was not describing a right inherent in individuals for private purposes is erroneous. The provisions of Pennsylvania's Declaration of Rights and the period terms and usage found within it directly contradict their assertion. Individuals in Pennsylvania clearly had stated constitutionally protected rights to freedom of religion, to defend life and liberty, to protect property, to speak, to write, to publish, and to bear arms for defense of themselves and the state.

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