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.
One sentence. Succinct. Placed second in a list of ten crucial enumerations of rights retained by the people as a conditional for the ratification of the Constitution in the first place. Without the Bill of Rights, there would be no Constitution and no United States. The Constitution is the glue which binds us together as one nation, for it provides for our mutual co-operation as multiple states acting in unison in the areas which effect us all. There is a common currency (so far!), a common armed force, common standards of weights and measurements, the right to travel and conduct business across state boundaries. This works because each state recognizes the citizens of the other states as having the same rights. It has been the most successful political agreement in the history of human relations. Appreciate it the next time you drive into another state without having to stop and render entry fees or show citizenship papers. Appreciate it as you realize the right of free speech, security in your papers and effects, freedom from soldiers quartering in your home, right to trial by jury, right to vote, right against self-incrimination and so many others regardless of which state you are within.
The United States Constitution was written with the God given principle of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity requires the level of authority for any given power to remain as low as possible, as close to the individual as possible. These levels can be thought of as: the individual, the family, the neighborhood, the town, the county, the state and lastly, the federal level. If a man needs food and shelter, then that is his proper area of action. If his children need an education, then the family has the proper authority to see to it. If he needs security in his streets, he forms a town council. If the state needs governing the he forms a state government. Lastly, the states had those mutual concerns mentioned above, then the federal was formed for those concerns only! In other words, the Constitution of the United States does not confer rights, but rather, some rights are specifically restricted, for the purpose of the legitimate areas of action of the federal, but no others. The majority of the rights, held by our citizens, precede the Constitution, and what authority the federal has is granted by the people, not the other way around. That is why some of the framers argued that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary, for to them, the rule of subsidiary was obvious. Wisely, others argued that men's memories were short, and they wanted the rule written into the document. The two amendments which demonstrate this most clearly are the ninth and tenth.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
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.
The fastest way to end this remarkable federation of our fifty states would be to cease recognizing the rights of our citizens as they cross state borders and this is happening now. The right to keep and bear arms has been making a slow and determined come-back since suffering severe restrictions in the later part of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth. Starting with Florida in the late part of the last century, the majority of our states have been issuing Concealed Carry Permits to their citizens. These citizens quickly experienced the reality of the pre-constitution days as they found themselves unable to exercise these new found rights across state lines. Through much time and effort a strange system of Reciprocity Agreements sprung up between the Attorneys General of such and such state with some other states which would allow arms carrying citizens to enter certain states, but not all. Right now I, as a Virginia citizen, could enter North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, but not Georgia, as I traveled south on vacation. My route to Texas had to be through Tennessee and Arkansas, as Mississippi and Louisiana were off limits. This is what happens when we violate the rule of subsidiarity in one area, it creates more violations down the road. A man has the right to keep and bear arms, for whatever legitimate reason he may have (self protection, defense of country, sports, etc.), however when the states wrote restrictions in the form of gun control, they violated the rule and created a serious flaw in the federation as well.
The Attorney General for Virginia is Mark Herring. He has hit the news with his remarkable announcement that he will cease recognizing the right of citizens from twenty other states to keep and bear arms. In other words, he is unilaterally canceling the Reciprocity Agreements Virginia has with those states for this reason, in his own words:
“Virginia, and nearly every other state in the country, have recognized that carrying a concealed handgun is a significant responsibility that should be extended only to those who have gone through a process to prove a level of competency and responsibility,” Attorney General Herring said. “The standards for proving competency and responsibility are up to each state, and the General Assembly has established Virginia’s standards for whom it considers capable of safely carrying a concealed handgun. Those standards should be applied evenly, consistently, and fairly to anyone who wants to lawfully conceal a handgun in Virginia.”
Wrong! He is flipping the rule of subsidiarity on it's head and establishing a precedent wherein each state begins to violate the federation by ever increasing restrictions against the citizens of the other states. What he has said is, since we violated the rights of our own citizens, in the form of gun control laws, we will extend those violations to any other American who would wish to enter Virginia. This is why I have argued against any and all gun control laws, for they violate the Constitution and cause further disruptions down the line. Can you name any other right, which has been listed in the Bill of Rights, which we would tolerate bureaucrats switching on and off at their own whim? His citation of Virginia, and other states, establishing "standards for proving competency and responsibility" shows the error. What other right requires such standards? What other right, as protected by the Constitution, requires us to earn the benefit?
After February, the agreements with twenty states will be revoked, for Virginia. This will not protect Virginians from all of y'all citizens of other states, as I never heard of a criminal being deterred from committing a crime simply because he couldn't get a permit. It will simply be a huge restriction to Virginians to travel, the very people this idiot claims to be protecting. In reality, at the base of his motivations, is the violation of the Second Amendment, wrapped in pretty words. He wants guns out of the hands of the people, all the people, of every state. It is my hope that the legislature of Virginia will squelch this guy and write a law which recognizes the rights of all Americans to enter Virginia with their arms, in compliance with the Constitution of the United States.