Second Amendment

The Libertarian Party opposes all laws that restrict the ability of honest, peaceful citizens to purchase and keep any firearm they wish. We believe the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows for citizens to have access to the very same individual weapons used by a soldier in the Army.

Libertarians believe citizens should be allowed to carry firearms (or other weapons), whether concealed or not, for self-protection. We oppose all gun registration or instant-background-check schemes that allow the government to create lists of what citizens own what weapons. Possession of such a list by government leads inevitably to confiscation of the citizens’ weapons.

Libertarians believe that gun control laws are not about crime control, they are about people control. Politicians prefer unarmed subjects. Arms in the hands of the citizenry serve as a constant check on abusive government and remind politicians that power comes from the people. The fact that we can keep arms gives us confidence to assert other rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Disarmed people do not feel safe to openly criticize their “leaders”.

The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution after overthrowing their own tyrannical government. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to insure that the fledgling government of these United States would not devolve into the totalitarianism they had just defeated. The Framers gave the people the ability to force the new government to abide by the Constitution. This was done through the Second Amendment, which 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.”

As the Amendment clearly states, the people have the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution does not grant this right. The wording of the Amendment implies that the people already have this right independent of the Constitution. The Second Amendment merely prohibits the government from infringing on this right. In spite of what the Democrats and Republicans say, the Second Amendment is not about duck hunting, target shooting, gun collecting, or any other “sporting purpose”. The Second Amendment was added to the Constitution to provide for an armed citizenry because arms in the hands of the people are “necessary to the security of a free state.” Without the Second Amendment, the Constitution is just a piece of paper, and nothing would prevent our current government from taking away all of our freedoms. The Second Amendment gives the people the power to enforce the provisions of liberty found in the Constitution.

Those who would destroy our firearm freedoms claim the “militia” language in the Second Amendment means that individuals do not have the right to bear arms, except when serving as part of a state organized militia. This modern theory is not supported by history. At the time the Constitution was written, all free men between the ages of 17 and 50 were considered members of the militia. If the militia was called up, citizens were expected to provide their own arms. Furthermore, Article I, Section 30, of the Constitution of the State of North Carolina contains exactly the same language as the Second Amendment. That same article in the state constitution further states that the right to keep and bear arms does not include the right to carry concealed weapons. If the language of the Second Amendment did not guarantee an individual the right to keep and bear arms, it would make no sense for the state constitution to contain that additional language.

The Constitution of the United States does not give the federal government any power to restrict the sale and use of firearms. Thus, even without the Second Amendment, all federal firearms laws are unconstitutional because the Ninth and Tenth amendments reserve to the people and the states all powers not specifically given to the federal government. Therefore, all federal firearms laws are unconstitutional because the federal goverment has only the specific legal powers enumerated in the Constitution.

During the debates over the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “no free man shall be debarred the use of arms.” After the civil war, some southern states tried to create laws that made it illegal for blacks to keep and bear arms. The Fourteenth Amendment caused the various state governments to be bound by the Bill of Rights, and caused all citizens to enjoy equal protection under the law. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed in order to protect the individual rights of southern blacks, including the right to keep arms.

Libertarians also have practical reasons to oppose gun control. A study by the Cato Institute shows that if all 50 states allowed the right of an individual to carry a concealed weapon, we would have 1,500 fewer murders, 4,000 fewer rapes, and 60,000 fewer aggravated assaults per year nationwide. These violent crimes not only cost thousands of lives, they leave us with an estimated monetary cost of over $6.2 billion. Since the North Carolina General Assembly restored the right to carry concealed weapons we have seen a reduction in crime. The Cato study found that in states which allowed citizens to keep and carry firearms, criminals shifted to property crimes with minimal chance of confrontation with a potentially armed victim.

“Gun control” only strips our citizens of the power to defend themselves. Not only are federal gun laws unconstitutional, they simply do not work. The Libertarian Party of North Carolina takes the Second Amendment at its word. We are the only political party calling for an immediate end to gun control laws and the full restoration of all Constitutional freedoms.

The Cato Institute: Publications on Gun Control