Today is the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution and I can’t think of a better time to remind Beto O’Rourke and others that there’s an entire section of the Constitution related to gun ownership. It’s in a section sometimes known as the “The Bill of Rights” and it’s often referred to by really nerdy people who have read the Constitution as “The Second Amendment.” Beto can be forgiven for misunderstanding it because, ya know, it’s pretty long and contains some big words.
Here’s what it says: “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.” Uff, that’s a mouthful. It’s almost thirty words — an entire sentence. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has held that you don’t actually need to be a member of the military (including National Guard) or any other formal “militia” to be afforded the protection set out in the last phrase.
So let’s just focus on that part: “[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Still tough, I know. Because it uses weird language that seems to mean that the government (that’s you Beto) can’t do something. And what something would that be? Simply put, it may not “infringe” (more on that difficult word later) on Americans’ rights to own guns. “Arms” are also known as “guns.” Just as “Beto” is also known as “Robert Francis”.
While my friends on the left have for years, accused Republicans of “fearmongering” when they say that Democrats want to confiscate their guns, Beto just announced a confiscation plan. In the most recent presidential debate, he said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR.” I assume when he says “we’re” he means the federal government and when he says “your” he means Americans or as the Second Amendment puts it “the people” and when he says “AR 15” he means a semi-automatic rifle that shoots a .223 round (this is similar to the ubiquitous semi-automatic 30.06 rifle used by millions of sportsmen and women in Wisconsin and across the country). In other words, the AR 15 is a gun a/k/a “arm”.
So, let’s see if that fits into the language of the Second Amendment. Oh, wait. I almost forgot. We still need to define “ infringe.” The dictionary defines “infringe” as: “to limit or undermine (something); to encroach.” So, we have a gun or arm (the AR 15), we have Beto (if elected president), as the government, he is going to take them (infringe) from “you” a/k/a us, Americans or the “People”.
Whew. That was tough. It would appear the Second Amendment prohibits Beto from doing what he promised to do. More importantly, this incident is a great teachable moment. The Bill of Rights is, in many respects, a “negative” document. It provides a laundry list of things the government may not do. It’s almost as though the Founders anticipated that someday, some crazy guy would run for president promising to take our guns (eh hem, arms). So they wrote an entire section of the Constitution just for that crazy person. Sorry Beto, as it turns out, you’re the crazy person James Madison warned us about. I think I’ll keep my AR.
Adam Jarchow serves as president of Empower Wisconsin. The small business owner, attorney and volunteer firefighter is a former Republican state representative in the Legislature, where he was a leader on property rights, home affordability, and hunting rights. He authored the “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights’ — a package of bills aimed at expanding property rights and helping make home ownership more affordable.