Second Amendment,Â Celebrating The Anniversary Of The Bill Of Rights Part 2: On WallBuilders Live we are having a three-day series special in honor of the anniversary of the Bill of Rights! We will be sharing a portion from our one of a kind Constitution Alive courses. In these three days, you will learn all you need to know about the Second through the Tenth Amendment. Join David Barton and Rick Green, Constitutional experts and advocates for the original intent of our founding documents as they share with you the meaning and purpose of the Constitution!
Air Date:Â 09/26/2017
Guests: David Barton, Rick Green.
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Â However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Where we”re talking about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. We’re celebrating the anniversary of the Bill of Rights. It was actually September 25th, 1789 when Congress proposed the Bill of Rights and sent it to the states to be ratified.
The last state would not ratify until December 15th, 1791. But we’re celebrating the day that it was actually proposed by Congress. We were recently recording there in Independence Hall and in Congress Hall and stood in the very footsteps right there in Congress Hall where the Bill of Rights was received after ratification.
Today, yesterday, and tomorrow, that’s a three-day series, we’re actually going to teach you about the Bill of Rights and we’re going to discuss some of these things. It”s a great opportunity, we actually take you into Independence Hall on this recording. We go into the WallBuilders Library with David Barton and pull some cool stuff off the shelves.
So we’ll pick up right where we left off yesterday. Then tomorrow we’ll get the conclusion. This is section 9 out of Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
Eighth Amendment, What About The Prison Who Are Letting Prisoners Out
Eighth Amendment, excessive fines and bail, cruel and unusual punishment, actual language says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Of course, we all know that what that means is if you go to prison you should get a very nice fluffy pillow, and a color television, and movies- No. It that used to be that bad, right? You remember when the federal courts ran the prison system for so many years in Texas it was that way, in* they put the most ridiculous- Now we’re getting back to busting rocks, now or getting back to saying, “When you’re in prison it ought to be painful, it ought to be a bad experience, you ought to be working hard, not just sitting around.”
Hopefully, that tide has turned back to a clearer understanding of what they thought that cruel and unusual- Cruel and unusual punishment is not busting rocks, it”s not staying in a tent, or not having the most perfect surroundings and air conditioning, and all that kind of stuff.
What about those prisons that are letting people out because they say that they don’t have enough money and resources to keep them in prison?
I have a couple of thoughts on that. My first thought is that the way our culture is working right now, the state has a duty and responsibility to protect us from dangerous people and they need to make that a priority over a lot of the programs that we spend money on that are not the state’s jurisdiction and responsibility to do.
I think the government is failing us when they let someone out that has not served their time, or for good behavior, getting out early because they deserve it. If they’re just getting out because we can’t afford the prison cell, our priorities are messed up.
But I would also add to that, I personally, am not for imprisonment in a lot of the cases that we’re putting people in prison for. I believe very much in restitution, this comes from my faith, and my personal faith has a model of punishment that is defined as restitution, not jail.
Therefore, you should have opportunities for someone that does a nonviolent crime, if they steal a car, a theft is a perfect example for that person to have to work and repay two times, four times, whatever, or at least what they stole.
Our problem in society, our society today is that we punish the perpetrator and there’s never any restitution to the victim, in most cases there’s nothing. Some states have done a little better at having funds and whatnot go to a state fund where there’s counseling and different things provided for victims. But it’s not actually funding the loss of property or economic loss to that person.
I think it’s a much better system to have restitution so that the person that commits the crime has a chance to be rehabilitated, to seek forgiveness from the person that they hurt, and to make right what they did.
Before You Throw Them In Jail
Part of this, I just happened to read a book, actually I get to hear him speak and then read his book, Kingdom Agenda. He is a pastor in Texas named Tony Evans. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Dr. Tony Evans, but he’s a great black pastor in Dallas that has done such a great job of helping to reform his community.
He came to us and he said, “Look, what we do in our church, we go to the judges and we say, “Hey, if a kid from our church gets busted stealing a car or whatever it might be, you give that kid to us and we’ll make sure that he goes to work, that he pays back what he stole, and that we rehabilitate. If we don’t do that, then throw him in jail.”
So he got judges to start doing shock probation where they put him in the jail for two days and then they say, “Ok, you’re now being turned over to the elders of this church and you’re responsible to them and if they tell us you didn’t do what you’re supposed to do then you’re going to come back to prison.” I mean, that works great.
That is such a better way to do it. It’s better for the victim, it’s better for the person that committed the crime, because I don’t believe that- I mean, we have a lot of people, especially in those situations where you have a 15-year-old kid, or someone early, all of us make mistakes, right?
This kid gets in the wrong crowd, makes a mistake, we put him in prison for five years, and they learn how to be a better criminal. Instead of learning how to make it right. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not some softy. I served on a criminal jurisprudence committee when I was in the legislature. I’m pretty tough on crime. Don’t get the wrong perception here of me.
There’s a lot of criminals that I think we ought to throw away the key and never let them out, all right? But there are some that we just need to do a better job of dealing with it early on. If they don’t straighten up, then get them in prison. But there’s a lot of them that we could do a lot better.
And I’m more concerned about the victim than I am the perpetrator in the first place. Anyway, I know y”all didn’t come here for a sermon, I didn’t mean to get off on that, but it is a great question. I think it does come back to, “How do we make our system work? How do we make our government work?” Because we’re going broke, aren”t we?
I mean, we’re absolutely going broke and prisons are a big part of that. And if you go back to what these guys said, what did Washington say? What were the indispensable supports of political prosperity? Religion and morality.
If you take the morality out, you need a whole lot more prison beds, don’t you? And what did the former speaker of the house, Robert Winther say? He said, “You’re either going to be ruled by the Bible or the bayonet,” right? You’re either going to have a self-control or government has to be involved.
In fact, it’s the very reason government has to grow. If we don’t police ourselves, Government has to come in and police. Why do you think we have all the cries for more regulation of Wall Street and all those things? Because instead of having ethical capitalism, we got out of hand. When you get out of hand then government people are going to ask for government to come in and stop you from violating the ethics and the morals of the society.
It’s a great question, it’s an area that we definitely need to come back to these guys, and their philosophy, and what they did. If we’ll get that thinking back in place, we can change even these areas, like you’re talking about, in the criminal law back to a system that will create a better society.
I think you’re always going to have more crime and necessarily more punishment if you move away from the concept that, “My freedom comes from God. Therefore, when I take an oath, when I act out, I’ve got to live my freedom, respecting his authority. It’s just going to be a difference in culture, it”s going to create a different outcome.
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The Constitution Will Not Contradict Itself
Ninth Amendment. We covered the Tenth Amendment last night, so I”m not going to cover much on that, but I do want to compare it to the Ninth Amendment. Do you remember how we talked about that with the Tenth Amendment it defined for us the concepts of enumerated powers? Meaning, we get a bucket over here with a lid on it, all the powers of Congress and the federal government are in that bucket and there’s a lid on it.
We listed everything, these guys took the time to list everything the federal government could do. The Ninth Amendment says that it’s the opposite for we the people. That our personal freedoms are not exhaustive in the Constitution.
So let’s take a look at the Ninth. It says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Which is why the Tenth then says, “We’ve got that bucket we gave to the federal government, that bucket we took away from the state. Everything else is left to the people of the states and we’re not taking the time to list it because it’s not going to be an exhaustive list in the Constitution.”
Some say, “Well, that’s where you find the right, for instance, to abortion, or the right for other things that aren’t actually listed in the Constitution. On all of those issues, I would just urge you to make sure that anything you’re going to read into the Constitution, or as Jefferson said, “What might be squeezed into the Constitution.” It cannot violate the other parts of the Constitution or the Declaration.
As we talked about last night, that’s the foundation that the Constitution was built on. So if you’re depriving someone of life then you’re violating the 14th Amendment, you’re violating other parts of the Constitution, you’re violating the Declaration of Independence. It is not possible to find some right in the Constitution that would then violate other areas of the Constitution.
If the Fifth Amendment says, “You’re not going to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” If you take a baby’s life without having due process of law then you’re depriving that baby of life, you’re violating the Fifth Amendment right there.
Anyway, the Tenth Amendment we talked about last night. Not going to be spending more time on that, so there you have it, all 10 out of the Bill of Rights. There’s a lot there, I know, and we can spend a whole lot more time. But remember this is the quick start guide, we’re just flipping out the chart, we’re showing where all the pieces are, we’re showing where to plug it in so that we can ask more questions later and study a little bit deeper.
How Could Slave Owners Want To Abolish Slavery
A Founding Father said that the Second Amendment is the one that protects all our freedoms, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
So there are those individual rights, second through the 10th. We’ve covered everything now in terms of specifics.
Let”s go back for a minute, while we have the Bill of Rights. You go back to those guys at the constitutional convention and George Mason is the guy. He”s one of the 55, interestingly, why didn’t he sign the Constitution? One thing is, “He’s a slave owner.” But the Constitution didn’t abolish slavery. They tried to do that, there were three southern states that particularly didn’t want to abolish slavery, they said, “If you do that we’re walking out,” and they wanted the United States. So it’s called, “The Great Compromise.” Not a very good compromise, but nonetheless.
There was a lot of debate and discussion about the issue for sure.
He’s a slave owner. He said, “The Constitution did not abolish slavery” and I”m not signing it. Why would a slave owner do that? Because in Virginia it was illegal for guys like him to release their own slaves.
So he wanted to end it?
He wanted to end it. He wanted an end to it because in the convention he reminded them that there is a God, he is just, and if we maintain slavery we’re going to be in trouble with him.
Actually, you have Madison and others predict, they said that a great civil war would be the result, and lo and behold. Lincoln had that same viewpoint he said, “Hey, a just God. Every drop of blood shed on the back of a slave, that’s going to be extracted in this * and a just God.”
The Impetus Behind The Bill Of Rights
Number one, it didn’t end slavery. But number two, knowing the propense of government, and having experienced so many in their life bad state governments and bad federal governments, or in that case international governments with Great Britain, but that would be the federal level for us. Having experienced bad governments, he wanted a lot more boundaries put around government.
Even though they made it clear that the only things Congress can do are these 15 things right here, nothing more, than, two later added in the amendments, that’s the only things Congress can do, nothing more. He still didn’t think that was enough.
He wants an extra layer of that protection just in case you get bad people in office or people that are ignorant and don’t know what these protections are or the original intent. I want to add an extra one to protect from government to have those inalienable rights protected.
So he gets with other delegates that didn’t sign like Elbridge Gerry, and Richard Henry Lee, and etc. They didn’t sign and they’d been chosen to be part of the convention. So he says, “You guys go back to your state’s, let’s agitate for this.”
When the ratification of the Constitution came to several states it almost failed in several states because they wanted specific exceptions. We want something that says, “Government cannot mess with our rights of conscience and our free exercise of religion. We want stuff that says that they can’t mess with our speech. That they can’t mess with our property, they can’t mess with our assembly, and they can’t mess with our petition.” So that’s the impetus behind the Bill of Rights.
So even as the Constitution was being ratified in these states this movement is happening, there’s a growing sense of-
And he was kind of the catalyst on that. The Bill of Rights is as much the result of his spurring this on. Which is why he gets called, “The Father of the Bill of Rights.” Going to those Bill of Rights, and what this Bill of rights did specifically, go back to what we said about the frame of the Declaration.
We”ve got one hundred and fifty-five words, this six * principles. Principle Number one, there’s a divine creator. Number two, rights come from God. Principle number three, Government exists to protect those rights.
That fixed moral law, we talked about that in the first part with Blackstone. That becomes the basis of inalienable rights, “We’re going to tell government that there are certain things it cannot touch because they are inalienable rights. The rights that come from God, they are part of the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. And they’re off limits.”
So, that’s literally what we get, Blackstone is the one who gives us that phrase, “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”
So that’s what we discussed before we looked at those other amendments. Now, having said that, when you look at the Bill of Rights, let’s take a few of those amendments that you really got into well. I just want to kind of pile on since you didn”t have the opportunity to do it and let’s kick this can so hard that nobody can ever reshape it back into- I mean, let’s get this thing really done.
Using Your Second Amendment Right As A Last Resort
And I’d like to know more of the Founders views on some of these amendments. Because even in Philly, we went through what they are but some of those we didn’t have a lot of quotes from the Founders to backup the original intent of that.
Let’s take the Second Amendment for a moment. Let me go back- what you’re going to see with several quotes on the Second Amendment from the Founders is that government cannot restrain, cannot repeal, cannot regulate this right. The Second Amendment is the right of self-defense. They often called it, “The first law of nature, the law of self-preservation, or the Biblical right of self-defense.”
This is America kicking the can to protect-
We’re going to really nail- let me show you why- Understanding it from Blackstone”s standpoint, this is the Law of Nature and why you cannot regulate or restrict this. With talking about animals on our ranch, we also raise sheep. I have a great cat, it’s more like a dog than a cat, I love this cat, this is a really cool cat. But, there is a ewe that we have and this cat that really like each other. They kind of play together in the field.
Then we go through winter and this ewe gets down at night and has the the thick wool hair.
Well, the cat burrows right up in that wool and the ewe loves the cat and the cat loves the ewe. So there’s a great symbiotic relationship. Until about a week ago. The ewe had twins and after she had twins that night cat goes out to snuggle up, the cat gets pounded in the ground. And then it suddenly changed because that instinct of self-protection.
So, the federal government can pass all the laws it wants to prevent sheep from pounding cats in the ground, it”s not going to make any difference. It”s the Law of Nature.
Yeah, the Law of Nature is going to kick in.
A lot of times it’s the government that violates these rights. That’s why they wanted to put regulations on the government. The right of self-defense could be from thugs who want to break in my home. But it could be from the government who wants to break into my home. Because what did they do? They just fought a war against a government that was unjust, that was- and don’t think that they were quick to pick up arms and fight Great Britain. They went for 11 years, they busted their tail to solve a reconciliation every way they could.
Yeah, they tried everything they could.
They were not looking for a fight. They wanted to avoid the fight. Matter of fact, it was six years after the British started firing bullets with us before we separated. We sent the olive branch petition and we send all these things trying to reconcile and we can’t get it done. So I don’t think that these guys were quick to jump up and start shooting a government that was a wicked, evil government, tyrannical, that wasn’t it. They tried their best to use every political means they could, every means of petition and appeal, they sent Benjamin Franklin to Great Britain to argue their case in front of the British ministry. They tried everything they could.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
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When Can We Use Our Second Amendment Right
So, they end up having to take on their homeland, these were their citizens. “I’m a British citizen having to fight- I don”t want to do this.” Also watch how they talk about that it is often the governments that are the first to violate the Second Amendment rights.
I’m going just going to go through these real quick, I’m telling you, we’re just piling them on. For example, you get Zephaniah *. This Founding Father who did the first ever law books in America, that’s our original law books, it’s from 1795.
He talks about this natural law of self-defense. This is what he said in his law books, “Self-defense or self preservation is one of the first Laws of Nature which no man ever resigned on entering the society.” You don’t give up your inalienable rights when you come into society.
Then you get James Kent. These are James Kent law books. He’s the American Blackstone. He took Blackstone- because Blackstone did it for British law. He took all the same principles and he said, “Here’s the America way.”
This one was in Connecticut. Where was he?
This is national, 1824, he’s the guy that who really laid the foundation for American jurisprudence. He and Joseph Story, the two guys who are considered to have made American law. Because part of that is British. So now we’re doing the same principles but with American application.
Here’s what he says in his law books about this, “The * of law in our country has likewise left * the exercise of the natural right of self-defense.” There it is again, “natural right” and that’s left with individuals.
He said, “The right of self-defense is found in the law of nature and is not and cannot be superseded by the of Law Society.” So, I don’t care what New York, or California, or Texas, or Oklahoma says about, “You don’t have a right to have guns to defend yourself.” That’s the Law of Nature and it cannot be superseded by any law society. Keep going, here we get Joseph Story, this is story’s commentaries on the Constitution. This is a great book that really everybody ought to get a modern version of this because there’s great stuff in the Constitution.
So you did Kent and Story, back to back these are the two-
These are the two guys that lay the foundation for American law. His father was one of the Indians in the Boston Tea Party. So this guy has just a little bit of patriotism in his blood, just growing up, seeing that, being part of that, so he is a great guy. But he’s one of the founders of American jurisprudence the way we have it.
This what he said, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic since it offers a strong moral check against the judicial and arbitrary power of rulers.” Rulers? I thought we had the right of self-defense against crooks? No, he says, “Rulers.”
Remember, the right of self-defense, it doesn”t no matter who comes at you, whether it’s the government or whether it’s somebody else. He says, “It offers a strong moral check.” Moral check? You mean owning guns is a moral issue? Yes, Law of Nature.
“It is a strong moral check against the judicial * and arbitrary power of rulers and will enable the people to triumph over them. The people who win this thing one way or the other.” You don’t have to use guns against civil authority. But if they’re going into the British thing, you’ve got a right to self-defense.
And if it’s a check then hopefully by being an armed nation you prevent that government from ever encroaching in the first place.
And, in our case because of our form of government, if we ever get to the point where we have to do that it”s because we’ve been so sloppy and lazy we never use the political tools. Again, with only one out of six Americans choosing their president, only one out of eight Americans choosing their governors, and senators, and reps, if it gets to the point of being something it”s because we put ourselves in that position.
He continues, “There are certainly no small dangers that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt, and thus gradually undermining all the protection intended by this clause or the national Bill of Rights.” Grab that.
He says, “If you don’t respect the Second Amendment. If you don’t care about guns, if you’re indifferent that may lead to disgust, disgust may lead to contempt, and that will undermine their protection intended by the Second Amendment.” This is why you protect all the Amendments, all the natural rights, all the inalienable rights, even if you don’t use them.
Keeping The Government In Its Jurisdiction
That’s really where we are in many cases. Most of the people that want to infringe on the Second Amendment they”re at that point of disgust. It was indifference, now they”ve bought this lie that the gun is the problem. So now they’ve got disgust about an inanimate object. So it”s leading to us losing-
Which gives the government the authority to regulate it. When the government starts regulating any inalienable right it will start regulating every inalienable right. Again, there’s nothing higher than government in its mind. If it can take an inalienable it will do it.
Here’s some more, George Mason, we talked about George Mason and his influence. This is what he said, “Forty years ago when the resolution of enslaving America is formed in Great Britain the British Parliament was advised to disarm the people. That it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them. But that they should not do it openly but to weaken them and to let them sink gradually.”
“You keep those guns, but you don’t need an AR 15 to hunt deer. A shotgun will-“ So, what they do is this gradual frog boiling in water kind of thing. If it”s an inalienable right it is off limits to government, period. All the way across the board and that’s the way you have to think if you’re going to keep the government within its jurisdiction.
You would think these guys actually thought maybe this was an individual right too. This is not a government. They keep talking about this inalienable right. Today, people talk about it, “Oh, no, it’s a group right, or its militia, or its military.” No.
Go back to the Laws of Nature, if a ewe has her lamb attacked, is it going to have the whole crowd of sheep to come defend it? No. It’s going to be that ewe standing up and defending the right there what’s going on.
There are times when they get together and they collectively defend as elk will do and others. But that elk individual is going to work his tail off first to defend everything he can and if they need to get in a crowd they will.
This is why the Founding Fathers looked at the right of self-defense first as an individual right. “I have an individual right to join with you for self-“ And that’s where we start getting militias.
Just because we joined together doesn’t take away that individual right. We first need the individual right to be able to join.
That’s why the Pennsylvania provision for the Second Amendment said that the people have a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state. So you do it for yourself and if you want to join with others to defend the state you can do that. But it’s an individual right. Sometimes we exercise that right collectively as the elk, or caribou, or other do, or bighorn sheep.
Second Amendment Right To Bear Arms
Well, we’re out of time for today, folks. You’ve been listening to Constitution Alive, Section 9 out of Constitution Alive. The full program available at WallBuilders.com. Tomorrow we’ll get the conclusion of that particular section. It”s taken us three days here on the on the program to be able to share that with you.
All three pieces will be available on the website tomorrow, so yesterday’s program, today, and tomorrow’s program. All three will be available on the website and you can share it with your friends and family. Don’t miss tomorrow for the conclusion of Constitution Alive section 9.