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OPINION

Natural Law, Scripture and the Right of Self Defense

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Now that Republican leaders have fended-off the widely anticipated Red Wave, Left-leaning politicians who are keen on relieving Americans of their constitutional rights can pursue their previously unspoken agenda. 

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Gun control wasn’t a big issue in the midterm elections, largely because most Americans don’t like it. But now that the dust has settled, the American Left is free to seek more gun control. 

Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration are emboldened to renew their efforts to impose gun control. In Oregon, new gun restrictions are being celebrated by the Left because people must now receive permission from the government before being allowed to purchase a firearm for self defense or sporting. Regrettably, this law was widely promoted by a number of churches and synagogues in the state.

The authoritarian Left in America hates the Second Amendment. One of their arguments theorizes that our gun rights should be eliminated because AR-15s were not available to the Continental Army at the Battle of Yorktown, just muskets and bayonets.  

Extending this logic to the First Amendment, perhaps we should ban cable news and Facebook because they too did not exist in the mid-18th century. I’m not convinced that would be proper but it might be kind of fun to do it for a couple of weeks just to see what happens.

We’re led to believe that our Second Amendments rights are a freakish aberration in our Constitution, that guns are the root of much evil. In truth, the principles behind the Second Amendment are really old. Ancient, in fact. 

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In his 1754 treatise on The Absolute Rights of Individuals, the distinguished English jurist William Blackstone wrote of “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation,” and the importance of “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence (sic).”

Blackstone’s writings were designed to improve upon the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which included the right for some people to bear arms, though it was not a universal right.

Before legal and political thinkers specified the right to bear arms, scholars and theologians were promoting the concept of the right of self defense and the right to resist tyrants. During the Great Reformation, Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon and others affirmed the right of self defense, which was a very scary idea for 16th century European theocrats.

In affirming self preservation, the Reformers did not contemplate the people defending themselves with strongly worded letters to Rome protesting public disembowelment. They presumed people would be armed with weapons of the day. 

The Magna Carta did not guarantee the right to bear arms but it did provide the right of resistance should the king not abide by its terms. This also presumes the right to bear arms. It’s no coincidence that when King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, the English nobles who attended the ceremony carried swords. 

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The Dooms of King Alfred required Anglo-Saxon landowners to provide men, ready to fight, in defense against the 9th century Viking raiders who frequented England’s shores. Like the Magna Carta, Alfred also presumed the men of his kingdom would be armed.

This acknowledgement of self defense as a God given right isn’t limited to the Anglo-Saxon or European traditions. Going back as far as 124 BC, Chinese Emperor Han affirmed the right of people to arm themselves, “to prevent tyranny and to punish evil.” 

Ancient as these civic traditions of self defense are, most are predated in scripture. The Gospel of Luke records Jesus Christ telling his disciples before his betrayal, “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Whether Jesus meant this literally or figuratively is subject to debate but the underlying wisdom is unambiguous: be prepared because the future is dangerous. 

Biblical Christianity doesn’t merely permit us to defend ourselves, it demands we defend our families. Paul’s first letter to Timothy reads, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 

This involves more than providing food and shelter; it also means protecting our loved ones from assault, rape, and murder. Apparently, some of Oregon’s so-called faith leaders are not familiar with this New Testament passage. More’s the pity. 

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By comparison, men’s fellowship at the church I attend in Texas includes presentations from local theologians and Bible scholars, group discussions on church doctrine, study of scripture, prayer, and range time with pistols and rifles.

When modern politicians seek to relieve us of our Second Amendment rights, they are contradicting millennia of common law, natural law and scripture. They are embracing the policies of tyrants who know that unarmed people are docile subjects rather than free citizens. 

If we are denied the right of self defense, it’s only a matter of time until we’re denied others. 

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