Far too often I hear people talk about their “God given right to own a firearm.” Most of the time this phrase comes up when discussing the most recent attempt to restrict the Second Amendment and firearms ownership. Whether it is a limit on magazine capacity, the features on a semi-automatic rifle, or open carry is irrelevant. What matters is that these people wrongly throw out the term “God given right,” without thinking about it. To put it simply, I don’t see ownership of firearms in America to be “God given,” and if you give me a few minutes, I think I can convince you too.
But first, a short side story:
For my 18th birthday, my grandfather gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. After having a slice of cake and reading his card, I unwrapped the first of his two gifts. I was more than a little confused at the old shoe box, but when opened it revealed 12 boxes of .22 long rifle ammunition. The boxes were a mix of an old CCI label that must have been from the 70s or 80s, and a rather plain sticker that read “Montgomery Ward.”
His other gift was an old and well worn leather rifle case that held his .22 rifle. That Marlin Glenfield model 60 was my first rifle, and no matter what new guns I may get, it will always be my favorite. It’s not because the 1976 manufacture date is old (my 1907 Remington model 8 is much older), or because it’s the most accurate (although with the 4×15 Tasco scope it has you can hit clay pigeons at 100 yards all day), or even because it was my first rifle. That rifle was more than just the first firearm I ever shot, more than just a nice gift, more than just a rifle passed down to a grandson. To me, that rifle is symbolic of another gift that my grandfather gave me long before I was even born; a gift that several of my family members have given me and many others.
You see, at the age of 17 my grandfather signed up for the Navy and served in World War II. As a gunner’s mate he gave up years of his life to defend America and all that this nation stands for. He fought for the same rights and freedoms that my great grandfather fought for in the trenches of World War I, the same things that my other grandfather would fight for as he commanded a tank battalion during the Korean War.
To me that .22 caliber rifle represents the gift of freedom, and all the rights my grandfathers and great grandfather fought for, including the right to bear whatever arms I wish. No amount of political debate can ever restrict the rights that have been paid for in the blood and sweat of these men. Every time I hold that beat up old rifle I am reminded that owning this rifle is my right, given to me by my family’s veterans, and all the other veterans who have served this great nation.
Now, to get back to where this all started, do you still see owning firearms as a “God given right,” or as I do: a veteran given right?