March 2, 2013

Another View: Supporter of licensing gun owners contradicts U.S. Constitution

We don't have to earn the right to bear arms – or any other right listed in the Bill of Rights.

By PETER HOWE

I read the opinion piece "Another View: Column makes unintended case for licensing gun owners" (Feb. 26) and felt the need to respond.

I especially take issue with the author's statement that "the right to bear arms is not a birthright. It is a right to be earned ... ."

The rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were considered by the authors of the Constitution to be unalienable, in much the same way that the Declaration of Independence talks about people being "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

Concealed-weapons permit holders simply apply for the permit in order to obey the law. Maine is a "must issue" state, which means that the authorities must issue the permit if they cannot articulate a good reason not to issue. In eight states, including Vermont, no permit is needed to carry concealed. Those states have what is known as "constitutional carry."

This is in keeping with our legal system's presumption of innocence until proven guilty. We do not need to "earn" any of the rights listed in the Bill of Rights -- their listing, in fact, was done to re-emphasize things the federal government could not do, as opposed to what the people could do. That is the whole point of the Ninth and 10th amendments.

It is tiring to always have to point out to people that our Constitution was intended to, and does, create a federal government of strictly limited and enumerated powers. As the 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Peter Howe is a resident of Standish.

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