The Cincinnati Enquirer
Wednesday, March 28, 2001
Local Voices, Page B7
Posted for educational purposes only.
Chuck Klein is a member of the Enquirer’s Local Voices panel,
which contributes columns to the opinion pages twice a week.Â
Does the Second Amendment and/or the Ninth Amendment acknowledge an unconditional right to keep and bear arms? The answer is both yes and no.
The controversy of the Second Amendment exists because, erroneously, some have insisted that the right to keep and bear arms is a state (as in Ohio, Texas, Florida) right and not an individual right. However, it is clear that the first clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” means a free America.
The word “state” means nation/country, such as “the state of Israel” or “the Arab states” or “Secretary of State.” In other words, the nation can best form a well-regulated militia (army/navy) if its militia (originally, men between the ages of 18 and 45) are free to keep and bear arms.
In addition, upon examining the Ninth Amendment (the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people), it is obvious the framers intended to recognize certain natural rights such as the right to life.
Of course, if one has this right but is denied the means (use of arms) to defend and protect this life, then this right has been disparaged.
At the time of the Constitution’s inception the framers, all “men” in a “man’s world,” clearly gave little thought to anyone other than the man as the defender of family, property or country.
Whereas in 18th Century England, only the aristocratic (the ruling class) were empowered to defend honor and country. This concept of all men being full “citizens” and having the right and obligation to serve and protect was unique to America.
A citizen, circa 1785, was considered to be any white American male over the age of 21 and not a felon. The idea of civilian gun controls was unconscionable. It was also inconceivable that a Thomas Jefferson or a James Madison would refuse to take a musket away from a drunk, a child or someone conspicuously deranged. Had one been able to ask these learned, most-sacred document-framers of the conflict of such a restrictive action, they most likely would have replied with words to the effect that the drunk or mental incompetent were, at least, temporarily not citizens. A child was, of course, not a man and a felon had forsaken his citizenship.
With the ratification of the 13th, 14th and 19th Amendments, all of-age Americans were recognized as full, ruling-class citizens. Arms possession was, and still is, the signature of being a citizen — not a subject to some monarchy and most assuredly not mentally inept, a child, a felon or a substance abuser.
So, yes, and until such time as the Constitution is amended, keeping and bearing arms is an intrinsic and absolute right for all citizens.
While on the other hand, noncitizens do not have an absolute right to a firearm – however temporary that condition might be. The American ruling class (also known as voters), if it so desires, can change the definition of citizen or establish any restrictions it wants on guns — but only by amending the Constitution.
Chuck Klein is a plaintiff in a lawsuit to overturn Ohio’s law against carrying concealed weapons. He is a private investigator and author of eight books. He describes himself as a staunch supporter of Constitutional correctness as opposed to political correctness.