That’s the sixth word written in the second amendment of the United States’ Bill of 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.”
There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in that sentence, and a lot of it comes from that word “necessary.”
This wasn’t a suggestion by the amendment’s writers. They wrote it, plainly and clearly, in some of the simplest language one could use.
A secure free state needs a well regulated militia, and that means the people have a right to bear arms. Without infringement.
That line of thinking fits snugly into Sen. Rand Paul’s stance on gun control (or rather gun rights) in this country, a discussion brought to the forefront last December with the horrific shootings in Newtown, Conn.
The ensuing debate was passionate, touched just about every citizen it seemed, and often hyperbolic on both sides. But for a country based on its constitution, a constitution which prides itself on freedom and individual choice, the solution that would rise to the top seemed simple: If people want to buy a gun, it is their right. Just look at that amendment.
Paul is often labeled as a libertarian, a Tea Party leader. And while neither is necessarily wrong, it obscures the fundamental fulcrum from which all of Paul’s potential descriptors are hinged to: Rights.
“We are the party that adheres to the Constitution,” Paul said in February, part of the Tea Party response to the 2013 State of the Union address. “We will not let the liberals tread on the Second Amendment. We will fight to defend the entire Bill of Rights. We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it. We cannot and will not allow any president to act as if he were a king. We will not let any president use executive orders to impinge on the Second Amendment.”
That declaration came in the midst of the country’s most recent gun debate, with a push for new restrictive measures – an assault weapons ban, increased background checks, a restriction on clip sizes – ultimately sputtering and losing momentum.
Paul, for his part, remained a constant variable during the entire debate. Just one month after the shooting in Newtown, he said the following during a luncheon in his state of Kentucky:
“If my kids were at that school, I would have preferred that a teacher had concealed, carried, and had a gun in their desk, or a principal. Is it perfect? No. Would they always get the killer? No. Would an accident sometimes happen in a melee? Maybe. But nobody had any defense, so he just kept shooting until he was tired and decided to shoot himself.”
WATCH PAUL SPEAK: “If my kids were at that school…”
His stance remained the same months later, even as many leaders and politicians attempted to politicize the shooting and increase the push for gun control. In April, Paul called out President Obama for using the victims’ families as “props.”
“When I see the father and the mothers and them testifying – and I know they’re coming voluntarily, and they want to come and be part of this debate – but it still saddens me just to see them, and I think that in some cases the president has used them as props,” he said. “And that disappoints me.”
He also worked to organize a filibuster of gun control legislation, at one point getting a dozen more senators to back him.
In a letter the senators signed and sent out, they said they “intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance.”
And in case you need any more evidence of Paul’s pro-gun rights stance, check in with the biggest rifle lobby in the United States. The National Rifle Association gave him a rating of AQ – which they describe as, “A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record” – their third-highest possible grade, behind A and A+.
What can you expect from Paul going forward? Well, he makes it pretty clear on his own website.
“Gun control laws only restrict access to responsible gun ownership,” he writes. “I do not support any proposed gun control law which would limit the right to gun ownership by those who are responsible, law-abiding citizens…As your Senator, I plan to remain vigilant and fight against infringements on our 2nd Amendment rights.”
As the Bill of Rights says pretty clearly, that’s what is necessary.
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