With Independence Day just around the corner, it is an especially important time to reflect on what it means to be an American. As an American we have rights that no other citizens in the world have. We have the inalienable aright to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. We have the right to vote for a democratically elected government. We have the right to free speech and public opinions. We have the right to our own privacy. I’m certainly not a Constitutional scholar but I do know we’re pretty lucky to live in this county and have the rights that we do.
These rights are all written down in just a few documents: the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I’m sure most of you are aware of the Bill of Rights and many of you know what the amendments confer (“I plead the Fifth” anyone? – see, even the movies know how lucky we are!). Today, in honor of the upcoming celebration of the 234th anniversary of the founding of the United States of American, I’d like to touch base on a vitally important right: the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment states, “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This right confers the ability for American citizens to bear arms – or own guns and other weapons – to use for the protection of the free State and in other lawful defenses – such as the defense of your home. America is one of the few places where citizens have these rights.
Because of the Second Amendment, you can walk into a gun store and purchase weapons; you can keep these weapons in your own to use for your own protection; you can protect your family and your home from intruders; you can protect your family and your property from those who’d like to do harm to them. All of these are vitally important parts of being American.
While not all Americans agree with this right (there is a fair amount of controversy about gun ownership and particularly about gun safety laws), it is an integral part of what it means to be an American and should be celebrated. Americans have been enjoying this right since 1791 – when the newly formed States ratified the bill of rights. The Fourth of July is so much more than a day off work and a fun picnic with friends and family – it’s a time to remember why we’re proud to be Americans. So, what are you most proud of?