I’m a non-believer and a former Catholic. Therefore, I think it’s unfair when folks say that “God gave you _____.” I’ll tell you why I think it’s unfair. It’s not because I think they’re wrong. Heck, they could be right for all I know — which is exactly the point.
See, we don’t really know whether (a) God exists and (b) what, if anything, he’s responsible for creating. Moreover, there’s no empirical way to prove one’s case either way. If there was, if one could definitively prove the existence of God, everyone would become an adherent of one religion depending on the extent of the evidence presented.
Given our uncertain reality, it makes no sense to bring God into debates regarding public policy and matters that concern all citizens, not strictly the devout. Yet, just last week, Arizona lawmakers were foolishly arguing that God gave us gun rights.
“The Second Amendment says that we have a right that’s God-given to us to defend ourselves,” said Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, while discussing two pro-gun bills, according to Phoenix New Times. “Now the Second Amendment doesn’t apply against the individual. I don’t get to decide to take a gun into your business or into your home because that’s against the private sector. The Second Amendment applies against government.”
“God” doesn’t appear in the Second Amendment. Last time I checked, the Second Amendment read, “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’s no mention of “God.” Yet, of course, I’m also aware that the framers of the Constitution had a God-centric view of the world. Many believed that a Christian God created the heavens and the earth and the natural order and drew upon this belief when drafting our founding documents.
“In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator,” wrote Samuel Adams to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1794, an apt summation of the prevailing view of the times.
But still, just because many of our framers believed in God doesn’t make what is a fundamental right — the natural right to defend oneself, one’s family, one’s property, one’s country from evildoers and tyrants — the product of a deity. As mentioned, even if it were, it’s impossible to prove.
So, again, why bring God into the debate? Why suggest that God gave us the right of self-defense when there is widespread disagreement on exactly who or what God is and whether God even exists?
Democratic Rep. Sally Ann Gonzalez shot back at Farnsworth by saying, “Twice on this floor I’ve heard members say that ‘I have the God-given right to bear arms’ and since I know that God didn’t write the constitution, I just wanted to state that. And I vote no.”
The debate between the lawmakers continued, with others entering the fray.
“Humans, great humans — founders wrote the constitution, founders wrote the Second Amendment. And the founders an the people give us the right to bear arms. That is inalienable and it is a given right. Human beings have done this. Great courageous human beings,” said Democratic Rep. Bruce Wheeler.
“I’m very proud to be living in a country where my God-given right or freewill is still guaranteed — guaranteed by the Constitution that laws will not take that freewill away from me,” said Republican Rep. Sonny Borrelli.
For any well-functioning and just society to not only exist but to endure the fundamental right of free people to defend themselves has to be embraced. This is a truth that exists independent of the belief in God or religion. Thankfully for us, the founding fathers of this country chose to enshrine the right to keep and bear arms in our Constitution to protect our natural right of self-defense. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter to me why they felt compelled to do it — whether they were following God’s will or because it’s common sense — just so long as it’s there.
So, my conclusion, until we can prove God’s existence I don’t think we need to have a debate on who or what gave us the right to self defense and by extension, the Second Amendment. It’s a waste of time.
Maybe you feel differently? What are your thoughts?