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Perry 2018
David Perry for NC House
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New Hanover County Libertarian Party of North Carolina
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Gun Rights

Gun Rights

As a Libertarian, I am a staunch supporter of every individual's right to keep and bear arms. While politicians of various political parties and ideologies sometimes purport to support the 2nd Amendment, it is my belief that citizens can't depend on these assurances without knowing the ideology that backs it. Unfortunately, US history is filled with politicians who promised one thing, but did the complete opposite. When it comes to our gun rights we must be vigilant and see through possible deception on these matters.

Before we can discuss what our gun rights are, we must determine where our gun rights come from. Contrary to popular opinion, the 2nd Amendment does not grant us any gun rights. In fact, the Bill of Rights does not grant us any rights at all! The Declaration of Independence is our country's charter document and it clearly states that we are endowed by our Creator with our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No piece of paper, even one as illustrious as the US Constitution, grants us liberty. We are born with it! Unfortunately, many people have been deceived into thinking that our government can do anything it wants, so long as it does not specifically violate the Bill of Rights. This is upside-down, and at odds with the vision of our Founding Fathers. Our Constitution delegates very specific powers to the government so that it can fulfill its responsibility to secure our unalienable rights. It's the people who are endowed by God with complete liberty to live their own life their own way, so long as they do not use force to trample the innate rights of other individuals. It's the government which is limited. The Bill of Rights is not an exhaustive list of our individual rights, but rather is a list of our most notable ones, and a command to the new government to be doubly sure they do not violate those while performing its limited duties.

Why is this important? Some politicians will say that they believe in the 2nd Amendment, but construe a very different meaning to what our gun rights are. Even though the US Supreme Court in DC v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), ruled that the 2nd Amendment includes an individual right to gun ownership, there are those who persist that the right to keep and bear arms is solely a collective right, tied to militia service. Therefore, restrictions on the individual's right to keep and bear arms are completely appropriate. I don't believe the framers of the US Constitution intended the 2nd Amendment to only refer to a collective right. However, even if the US Supreme Court reverses course, or even if it could be proven that this alternative reading of the 2nd Amendment were correct, it would make no difference! Our individual right to keep and bear arms was not granted by the 2nd Amendment. We were given that right by our Creator.

That is why it is important to look at the viewpoints of the Founding Fathers in whole when it comes to what our individual gun rights are. Certainly, our gun rights include a right to hunt. Certainly, our gun rights include a right to self-defense and the defense of our family and property. This necessitates a right to not only keep and bear arms on our own personal property, but also in the public domain. However, one important aspect to our gun rights is commonly lacking, even among those who generally support individual gun rights – namely, the right to revolution. Our Founding Fathers were VERY suspicious of government, and legitimately fearful that an individual or group of individuals might try to subvert our free nation and impose tyranny. They felt strongly that an armed citizenry was both a deterrent and a solution to that type of tyranny. The Founding Fathers were heavily sympathetic to the viewpoints of John Locke and the natural rights of man. They agreed with Locke that the people had the right to violently overthrow a tyrannical government when all other peaceful means had failed. This was affirmed in North Carolina's original state constitution, and some states, like New Hampshire, even went so far as to say that the people have a "responsibility" to violently overthrow a tyrannical government (See Article 10 of the NH Constitution)

The ramification of having a right/responsibility to revolution is the necessity that the people have the means to conduct such a revolution. While I do not believe that this entails recognizing an individual right to keep and bear all modern military weapons (such as a nuclear missile), it does entail recognizing the right of every individual to keep and bear all arms that our civilian government and law enforcement agencies do. In practical terms, this means that if we should consider a proposed ban on bump stocks, we need to consider whether to ban them from use by civilian government authorities, as well as from ordinary citizens. Some will argue that the right to revolution is antiquated, and that even a well-armed group of individual citizens would have no chance to stave off a tyrannical government that has the whole host of modern day weaponry at their disposal. However, this argument is not backed up by recent history. For instance, the people of Afghanistan have staved off not only the military forces of the former Soviet Union, but has held our own well-armed military at bay for 17 years.

Finally, I want to take a moment to explain why I believe that the Libertarian Party is the only political party to be trusted when it comes to gun rights in this country. On whole, Democrats do not believe in the aforementioned principles that are the backbone of the Libertarian position on gun rights. However, there are Republican Party members who, on face, might assent to such ideological positions, and who have historically supported the individual's right to keep and bear arms. They still can’t be trusted! Why? Because of the recent trend of the party to favor security concerns over individual liberty. After the 9/11 attacks, the GOP passed the Patriot Act and has continued its measures to this day. In its fervor to protect our country from possible terrorist acts, it has watered down the 4th Amendment and authorized warrantless searches, detentions, and condones spying on the American people’s phone calls, emails, and everyday communications, without any individualized probable cause. If the GOP is willing to sacrifice the 4th Amendment in the interests of security, it is only a matter of time before they consider doing the same with the 2nd Amendment. And why do they do this? Because they falsely believe that they need to balance the interests of liberty with the interests of security. While we all appreciate the legitimate security work done by our government, this "balancing act" is abhorrent and inconsistent with the views of our Founding Fathers. If Patrick Henry's famous words of "Give me liberty, or give me death" still mean anything, it means that we should value liberty over security. It means that if there is a conflict between individual liberty and security, liberty should "win" each and every time!

I may not have a ready answer for each and every particularized gun-related issue that may come up during the course of my campaign. Although I consider myself educated on the issues, I am always learning, and will continue to do so. However, the voters of North Carolina and House District 19 should know and trust the rock solid principles and ideology that will underpin any decision I will make, or position I will take, when it comes to our right to keep and bear arms.

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© 2018 - Committee to Elect David A. Perry
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