The Origins of a Right
by Bruce Montague July 2009.
Is your life worth saving? No other person or government can answer this question about YOUR life except YOU. But before we can even address this, an important question must be answered: Do you have a right to self-defence?
I believe very strongly that each of us does have that right and this article is a brief summary of where the right to self-defence comes from and the unmistakable conclusions that can be drawn from that right (i.e. "firearms ownership"). I will look at it from a few perspectives in order to illustrate my point. Remember this article is only a summary of the basic concepts in order to quickly grasp the fundamental principles of this right.
- From the biblical perspective:
God gave us the right to self defence. Following are just two verses to illustrate this:
- Exodus 22:2 - "If a thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him;"
In other words lethal force is justified under these conditions. This is just one of many examples in the Bible where the use of lethal force is justified.
- Luke 22:36 - Jesus told his disciples "But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one."
I would challenge anyone to be able to come up with an explanation for why Jesus said this, other than to make sure His disciples were armed for self-defence.
In this discussion I'm not trying to define "when" lethal force is justified. I'm only making the point that we do have the right to use lethal force under appropriate circumstances. This is what is termed an "absolute right" that no man or government can grant or take away.
- From the "natural law" perspective:
For those that don't believe in God the right to self-defence is self evident in nature. Even the smallest of creatures exercise that right all the time.
Whether you believe in a God-given right or a natural "self-evident" right, the same conclusion is arrived at with this logic from respected lawyer Richard Stevens:
- What's the most fundamental of all human rights? - Answer: The "right to life" because without it all other rights are meaningless -- after all, if you're dead, you clearly can't exercise any others.
- Now, if the "right to life" means anything at all, it must confer the right to "preserve" one's own life. And if the right to self-preservation has meaning, it must include the right to procure the means with which to defend one's life and liberty.
- All of which is to say, the right to life necessitates the right to own the tools necessary to preserve that right.
Two thousand years ago that tool was a sword; today's equivalent is a gun. As with the biblical perspective, this is what is termed an “absolute right” that no man or government can grant or take away.
- From the perspective of Canada's historical documents and our present day constitution:
- The English Bill of Rights (1689) was incorporated as our constitution here in Canada as stated in the BNA act of 1867 when Canada became a nation. This (our) constitution states; "That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law". This right has been very well defined in law before we even became a nation.
The foremost authority on English law (1765-1769) was the famous jurist Sir William Blackstone and his commentaries expound on this right in great detail. In book 1 chapter 1 "Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals" I bring to your attention a few excerpts:
- Page 76: By the absolute rights of individuals we mean those which are so in their primary and strictest sense; such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy whether out of society or in it.
- Page 84: But in vain would these rights be declared, ascertained, and protected by the dead letter of the laws, if the constitution had provided no other method to secure their actual enjoyment. It has therefore established certain other auxiliary subordinate rights of the subject, which serve principally as barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights, of personal security, personal liberty, and private property. ...
- Page 86: The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defense, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.
The 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms is our latest constitutional document. We have an interesting statement right at the beginning which says; "Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:"
In other words we (citizens and government) are under God’s law, and we have no authority to act above that law. How can we justify putting people in prison as criminals when there has been no victim and no moral or ethical violation committed?!!
Our justice system has indeed lost its sense of fundamental justice and elevated itself above God when this is done. – In short; Our justice system is making crimes out of normal ethical behaviour. Licensing, gun prohibitions and many of the storage laws infringe on our right to self-defence, which is contrary to God’s law.
There is a warning in the Bible against those with this type of behaviour in Isaiah 5:20 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, . . ."
Section 26 of the Charter states; "The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights and freedoms that exist in Canada."
This 1982 Charter (contrary to common belief) is NOT our whole constitution! This is only the latest amendment, and this section (26) is affirming that our previous rights and freedoms are still in existence. In other words the right to "arms for our defence" is still part of our constitution!
It seems our own government is trying to trick us into believing that we don't have this right. At the same time they are also doing everything they can to eliminate guns from our society, that is except for the police, military and their own body guards! It's so hypocritical that our politicians use guns to protect their own lives while at the same time denying our right to self defence!
Section 52 of the Charter states; "The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect."
Our own Charter (which is part of our constitution) even states that many of our anti-gun laws are unconstitutional and have "no force or effect". Unfortunately they are being selectively enforced and are having a substantial effect on many of our lives.
- From the United Nations perspective (of which Canada is a member):
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in preamble "Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,"
- Article 3: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
- Article 17: "Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others."
I won't delve on this because it is starting to get outside the realm of the Canadian situation although Canada did sign this declaration. I will point out that some of our politicians are good at making up noble sounding declarations but the words themselves are hollow because there is no sincerity in them.
Canada's Firearms Act (Bill C-68) is an illegal act attempting to turn the right to "arms for their defence" into a privilege and this is specifically contrary to our constitution. These laws create criminal offences out of something that is a right and has traditionally been enjoyed without persecution by millions of Canadians since we became a nation. It also allows arbitrary confiscation of any and all guns! Even many of the "safe storage" provisions are being used to eliminate the only effective means of self-defence available to us, which again is unconstitutional.
Is your life worth protecting? Only you can answer that question about your life, but as for me the answer is YES! and it's backed up with my God given right to self-defence and the tools necessary to enforce that right, and neither you or the government can take that right away from me! This is backed up with God's law, natural law, and our own constitution! - End of argument.
Yours in Liberty,
P.S. I would like to sign off with two very applicable quotes from very wise men:
"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments
it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest
limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right
of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever,
prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
- St. George Tucker, in American edition of Blackstone's 1768 "Commentaries on the Laws of England."
A ruler is legitimate only in so far as he upholds the law.
A ruler that violates the law is illegitimate. He has no right to be obeyed;
his commands are mere force and coercion. Rulers who act lawlessly,
whose laws are unlawful, are mere criminals."
- John Locke -famous English philosopher at the time the English Bill of Rights was written.
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