Originally posted on Ricochet.com

Many a time, I have gotten into discussions with my lefty friends about the Second Amendment. It usually goes something like this:

Friend: Are you for gun rights?
Me: Yes!
Friend: Would you be okay with machine guns?

The issue with the any such conversation is the context of the questioning. Is the Second Amendment a right or a grant?

When one “receives” a grant, then one can have the conversation about the extent of the grant, the specifics, etc. Is the grant for one gun or a hundred? Is the grant for one bullet or 15 or 100? Does the gun shoot one bullet per trigger pull or 10 or 50?

Is the ability to carry a gun openly more or less convenient for women and disabled people? Are guns better or worse for minorities?

While these are good questions, they still are questions that arise from the premise that gun ownership is a grant; that there is someone or something greater than us who is benevolent enough “allow” us to have guns. And hence we get to negotiate with this benevolent entity… but only after they are being nice by letting us have our guns.

We do this again and again in life. We think of agreed-upon rules and regulations as necessary, as if we have no right to our freedoms. Whether it be speed limits on highways or expiration dates on food products, we operate from the “grant” premise — and act as if we should be grateful for “someone looking after us” — by protecting us from ourselves.

Should there be a limit on speed on all roads in the country? Certainly not. Can a community set limits near, say school zones or residential communities? Not as a negation of our rights to drive at any speed, but by self-policing? Sure.

When we delegate our freedoms to government, we are letting our rights just go away. And as happened in Europe, the first step towards taking away rights is to start treating them as grants. Once you have people start talking about rights as if they were grant, then we are clearly on the path to relinquish our rights.

So the appropriate answer to “Are you in favor of speed limits?” is “Who has the right to enforce it upon me?” And to “How do you feel about machine guns?” is “Who has the right to take it away from me? By what authority? You and whose army?”

While we continue to operate from the premise of “grants,” we are just arguing over degrees of allowance. In order to secure true freedom, one has to get the distinction between rights and grants. If I am a free citizen, then I should not have to negotiate on the degrees of allowances.

This is the truth that is “common knowledge” to all libertarians but not always — I think — to conservatives.

If we are free, then we do not “seek” grants for guns, how fast we drive, who we marry, or any other matter.  While laws exist, they only exist to ensure individual liberty.  They do not exist to “grant” anything to the citizenry.