there’s no such thing as a collective right.

The Nine Bench-Wraiths are hearing D.C. vs. Heller today, where we’ll finally be blessed with the definitive judicial opinion on whether the Second Amendment is an individual or a collective right.

Item A: my prediction of the decision.

They’ll come down with a half-assed cop-out decision that determines the Second Amendment to be an individual right, but that localities have the right to regulate it, since “no rights are absolute”. They’ll cite the Constitutionality of free speech limitations as an example, and we’re right back at Square One.

Item B: my frustration at the discussion in general.

Why is it that we have all these Constitutional scholars, schooled lawyers to a man and woman, who don’t understand they’re debating a non-concept? There is no such thing as a “collective right”. Rights are, and can only ever be, individual in nature. The debate about “States’ rights” annoys me just as much, because States have no rights. They have delegated powers. Same with government authorities: none of them have any rights, because a right is inherent to an individual by virtue of their existence. An FBI agent, for example, has no “rights” afforded to him by that badge and title. They confer certain powers, but they don’t stay with him when he turns in the badge and becomes Joe Public again. The powers of a state are delegated to it by the People, and therefore lack the permanent nature of a right. We can “un-delegate” those powers via the legislative process. If they were “rights”, then they’d be inherent to the State, and nothing could take them away, not even democratic decision via legislation. That notion is obviously not true, otherwise we wouldn’t have needed to delegate those powers to our Government via a Constitution to begin with.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Read through the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. Whenever the Founders were talking about “rights”, they were specifically talking about individuals. Whenever the Constitution talks about government entities, it refers to powers. Go check for yourself.

Lastly, it makes absolutely no sense at all to claim that the individual right to keep and bear arms can be exercised through membership in the National Guard (the “well-regulated militia” that, coincidentally, wasn’t founded until a hundred and twenty years after the Constitution was written). That’s because the NG is, for all intents and purposes, a government entity. Also, membership in the NG is restricted to reasonably healthy individuals in a certain age range, and with a certain amount of prerequisites, and allowing gun ownership (a constitutionally recognized right) only to individuals suitable for service opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms.

Can you imagine the outcry if someone from the right side of the aisle used the very same “collective right” argument and proposed to restrict the freedom of speech or religion to individuals in service to (and under supervision and jurisdiction of) the government, while stipulating that the old and the handicapped need not apply? How would the “Collective Rights” crowd react if someone on the Right were to opine that you can only pray in a government-run church, or that you can only exercise your right to free speech by working in a government-controlled news office?

In actuality, the argument is even more radical than that…these people say that your right to keep and bear arms is satisfied by some National Guard private acting as your proxy. To make the example accurate, our argument would need to be that your right to free speech is satisfied as long as a state-employed journalist can exercise it on your behalf.

Yet much of the same “Bush is teh Hitler” crowd that’s been (rightfully) complaining about the brazenness of Presidential “Free Speech zones” has absolutely no problem with such a radical concept when it’s applied to gun ownership. Remember, kids on the Left and Right: government regulation and control are an abomination when they concern rights we like, and they’re absolutely essential when they concern rights we don’t like.

What the gun opponents don’t understand is that a win for them in this case would set legal precedent to read all the other rights out of the Bill of Rights in the same fashion. If one can be construed to be a “collective” right, then so can all others.


14 thoughts on “there’s no such thing as a collective right.

  1. K. Trainor says:

    Amen and pass the potatoes! I just posted on this issue, too. I have to say I think you’re onto something with your prediction of the outcome. We can hope they’ll grow a collective brain, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Excellent post!

  2. K. Trainor says:

    Collective brain…collective right….oh, the irony! 😀

  3. […] Hey….I just found another great post on this subject right here on ol’ WordPress. Go take a look-see. […]

  4. […] all whether the second amendment is an individual or collective right. Munchkin has a great post on why there’s no such thing as collective rights – from his fingertips to judicial ears, I […]

  5. Rogue Medic says:

    Why would those, who have their powers limited by our rights, truly defend any of them?

    The suggestion that they are defenders of the first amendment, or any other, is just part of their perpetual shilling for campaign contributions.

    Our rights are for the protection of individuals from the government.

    The government is not the champion of our rights.

  6. MarkHB says:

    I rather got the opinion that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were put together specifically because the authors of those documents knew how untrustworthy governments inevitably became.

    The fact that Bush and the rest of his cronies aren’t in frakkin’ Leavenworth leaves me feeling deeply worried, though, that the systems to oppose tyrannical and/or utterly, wilfully sodding stupid gubment aren’t working too well. Ho hum.

  7. Windy Wilson says:

    Another excellent piece, Munchkinwrangler!

    Yep, if the Second Amendment applies only to the National Guard, the First Amendment applies only to the Government Printing office.

    So, what, my Fourth Amendment is satisfied if some rich dude is secure in his papers but mine are the equivalent of posted on the wall at Pico and Sepulveda?

    And how will the Fifth Amendment be corrupted?

    You know, compared to the society with an all powerful government and rich people getting special favors, Sharia law would be a relief, even if its burden fell disproportionally on women.

  8. Sigivald says:

    States’ rights refers to the powers of the States vs. the powers of the Federal government.

    In that context, States have “rights”, they’re just not the same sort of rights that people have.

    Calling the arrogation to the States of the power to regulate things that may be regulated, but that the Federal government (notionally, these days) has no power to regulate, “states rights”, does not seem offensive to me. Especially since it’s been a standard usage since the days of the Founders, who were at least as concerned with individual rights as we are.

    Windy: Don’t worry, under a nominal Sharia state, the Government is still all-powerful; it’s just a religious government, and the rich still get special favors, it’s just that they also happen to be clerics of some sort.

    Mark: Earth calling. The President can’t be sent to Leavenworth because he’s not subject to the UCMJ and it’s a military prison. That and not having really committed any crimes to speak of. Things you don’t like, not crimes. The law matters, especially when speaking of prisons, and I don’t think it’s on your side. Sorry. Move on.

    Hyperbole ill serves serious causes.

  9. MarkHB says:

    My favourite part of the statement “There’s no such thing as a “Collective Right”” is that you can do the Inversion Test, and it holds up.

    Tell me, please, when what is wrong for one person to do becomes right for many people to do?

    Bing! There you go! If it’s not right one way, then it’s not right the other.

  10. Gregg says:

    Well, since the President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces would it not be logical for the President to fall under teh UCMJ? (Admittedly, that would have put a whole different spin on the Clinton years.)

    Is violating the Consitution not breaking a law?

  11. Don Gwinn says:

    We’re far afield here, but the President is still not military. He’s the Commander-In-Chief because in our system that post is held by civilian authority. We often elect military veterans, but the President is not an enlisted member of the armed services nor is he an officer.

    If they could have prosecuted Clinton under the UCMJ, he’d have been out in a heartbeat. The UCMJ doesn’t have a very good record with the “it was only sex, stay out of my private life” defense.

  12. Jerry says:

    I nominate Marko for President.

    Oh, wait, you can’t run.

    D@^n shame our congresscritters etc don’t share your knowledge.

  13. […] restriction.” I’m glad to hear that this “collective right” BS is gone, as Marko demonstrates.  I see no reasoning behind this idea that the Second Amendment, alone among all […]

  14. […] restriction.” I’m glad to hear that this “collective right” BS is gone, as Marko demonstrates.  I see no reasoning behind this idea that the Second Amendment, alone among all […]

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