Several times a year over the past several years, readers have sent me a link to a USA Today poll that asks “Does the Second Amendment give individuals the right to bear arms?” At this writing, 97 percent say “Yes,” two percent say “No” and one percent is “Undecided” out of 12,273,910 poll votes recorded.
That ought to trouble us, and for more than one reason.
What? Doesn’t it show that, as far as being able to mobilize internet grassroots sentiment, we’re winning, big time?
Yes and no.
First, each new person discovering the poll seems unaware that it was posted in November, 2007, before the Supreme Court Heller decision. No one is checking it and no one is using it, except for the new batch of gun owners who get the link in an email, on a forum or from a social media site. It’s essentially a page that never got taken down.
But the second reason is more troubling, particularly the fact that 12 million-plus gun owners don’t seem to realize the correct answer is “No.”
I know what they’re saying, and I know they are indicating they believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms, but it’s not the Second Amendment that “gives” it to us, and letting that false premise spread unchallenged works against us insidiously.
The Second Amendment articulates a preexisting right. The Founders believed these to be unalienable and endowed by our Creator. The secular consider them inherent to being human. They’re neither created nor bestowed by any group of government officials, and treating them as if they are leaves open the potential that what is given, permitted and licensed can be taken away, disallowed and revoked.
It’s not just a philosophical argument, either; it has its basis in law, with the Supreme Court weighing in as stated in Heller:
[I]t has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.
Still, am I just splitting hairs? After all, we know what the poll-takers meant.
Do we? Do they know? Because many in positions of influence, particularly prominent “Authorized Journalists,” repeat and promulgate the deception, and it’s been documented they know the difference, but choose to perpetuate the confusion anyway.
Why would that be?
Correcting the record, or at least trying to, is something some of us with lesser voices have been trying to do for years, sometimes surprised when the most indignant protests come from those ostensibly on “our side.”
Nonetheless, we shall plod onward, because there’s something else going on here that permeates our culture by design, and comes from those who crave control more than liberty.
“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers,” author Thomas Pynchon wrote in “Gravity’s Rainbow.”
Don’t fall for the wrong question.
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