Judge Napolitano: Why I will always defend the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense

Most of the mass killings by gun in the United States in recent years — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, Charleston, San Bernardino and now Orlando — took place in venues where local or state law prohibited carrying guns, even by those lawfully licensed to do so. The government cheerfully calls these venues “gun-free zones.” They should be called killing zones.

As unspeakable and horrific as is the recent slaughter in Orlando, it has become just another example of the tragic consequences of government’s interfering with the exercise of fundamental liberties. After a while, these events cease to shock; but they should not cease to cause us to re-examine what the government has done to us.

We know from reason, human nature and history that the right to defend yourself is a natural instinct that is an extension of the right to self-preservation, which is itself derived from the right to live.

Life is the great gift from the Creator, and we have a duty to exercise our freedoms to preserve life until its natural expiration. But the lives we strive to preserve should not be those actively engaged in killing innocent life.

The Framers recognized this when they ratified the Second Amendment, which the Supreme Court recently held was written to codify — and thus prevent the government from infringing on — the pre-political right to own and use modern-day weapons for self-defense or to repel tyrants.

The term “pre-political” derives from the language of the Second Amendment, which protects “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” The constitutional reference of “the” right to keep and bear arms makes clear that the Framers recognized that the right pre-existed the government because it stems from our humanity. That’s why pre-political rights are known as fundamental or natural rights.

Because the right to use modern weaponry for the defense of life, liberty and property is natural, we should not need a government permission slip before exercising it, any more than we need one to exercise other natural rights, such as speech, press, assembly, travel and privacy.

Yet since the Progressive era 100 years ago — ushered in by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and enabled by nearly every president since — the government has taken the position that it can care for us better than we can care for ourselves. So it has severely curtailed our rights and left us reliant on the government itself for protection.

The modern-day massacres are proof beyond a doubt that the government cannot protect us.

In the Orlando tragedy, the man who killed 49 and wounded 53 used a handgun and a rifle. The handgun accepted magazines containing 17 bullets, and the rifle accepted magazines containing 30 bullets. The killer, using both weapons, fired more than 250 times last Sunday morning. That means he reloaded his weapons about a dozen times. Each time he reloaded, he stopped shooting, as it is impossible for any person to shoot and reload simultaneously.

We know from forensics that the killer was a poor shot. We can deduce from that knowledge that he was a slow reloader. One learns to shoot first and reload later.

It is likely that it took between three and seven seconds each time he reloaded the handgun and longer with the rifle. In those time periods, any trained person carrying a handgun in that Orlando nightclub could have wounded or killed him — and stopped the slaughter.

Don’t expect to hear that argument from the gun control crowd in the government. It is the same crowd that has given us the killing zones. It is the same crowd that does not trust you to protect yourself. It is the same crowd that ignores the reality that in the post-World War II era, there is not one recorded example in the U.S. of a person in a restaurant or bar getting drunk and shooting his lawfully carried handgun.

Hillary Clinton called the rifle the Orlando killer carried a “weapon of war.” It is not. It is the same rifle that her Secret Service detail carries. Many of her acolytes have called it an assault rifle. It is not. It fires one round for each trigger pull. True assault rifles — not those that the politicians have renamed assault rifles because they have a collapsible stock and a bayonet holder (I know this sounds ridiculous, but it is true) — fire numerous rounds per trigger pull. They have been outlawed on U.S. soil since 1934.

What do we have here?

We have a government here that is heedless of its obligation to protect our freedoms.

We have a government that, in its lust to have us reliant upon it, has created areas in the U.S. where innocent folks living their lives in freedom are made defenseless prey to monsters — as vulnerable as fish in a barrel. And we have mass killings of defenseless innocents — over and over and over again.

How dumb are these politicians who want to remove the right to self-defense? There are thousands of crazies in the U.S. who are filled with hate — whether motivated by politics, self-loathing, religion or fear. If they want to kill, they will find a way to do so. The only way to stop them is by superior firepower. Disarming their law-abiding victims not only violates the natural law and the Constitution but also is contrary to all reason.

All these mass killings have the same ending: The killer stops only when he is killed. But that requires someone else with a gun to be there. Shouldn’t that be sooner rather than later?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. 

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