I am the president of the largest civil-liberties organization this nation has ever seen . . . . With our 136-year history and almost 4 million members, the National Rifle Association of America is the oldest and largest civil-rights organization in the history of the United States.I would have to heartily disagree with those statements. The first reason being, is that it is a gross error of the facts. The American Right to Keep and Bear Arms, is a PRE-EXISTENT NATURAL RIGHT. This is shown with crystal clarity by a very knowledgeable, and highly respected, legal authority here;
"The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defense, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."
- William Blackstone, 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 136, 1765–1769.
That was the British-American Right as it existed BEFORE the establishment of the United States Constitution. Which guaranteed to ALL British American subjects, (that were Protestants), the right of "having arms". And, this applied regardless of what colonial state they resided in.
Mr. James Madison clarifies the distinction of "Rights" here;
"In some instances they assert those rights which are exercised by the people in forming and establishing a plan of Government. In other instances, they specify those rights which are retained when particular powers are given up to be exercised by the Legislature. In other instances, they specify positive rights, which may seem to result from the nature of the compact. Trial by jury cannot be considered as a natural right, but a right resulting from a social compact which regulates the action of the community, but is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature."
- James Madison, June 8, 1789 House of Representatives, Amendments to the Constitution 8 June.
Further clarification is provided by yet another highly respected legal authority of early American law. He makes the distinction very clear, as to the difference between the right of the British-American subject. And, how the Right was radically improved for the new American Citizen;
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government...."
"....This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty....The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Whenever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
"...In America we may reasonably hope that the people will never cease to regard the right of keeping and bearing arms as the surest pledge of their liberty..."
- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries, (1803).
The difference between the Right, before and after ordaining the Constitution, is thus made absolutely clear.
This is how the difference between a "civil" right, and a Natural Right is defined by Reference.com;
"Civil rights are distinguished from "human rights" or "natural rights". Civil rights are rights that are bestowed by nations on those within their territorial boundaries, while natural or human rights are rights that many scholars claim ought to belong to all people."In addition, our Right was looked upon by the founders as one granted to us by our Creator - NOT government. And, "shall NOT be infringed" means exactly that which was written. Another fact which the NRA seems to have trouble comprehending;
- Civil rights Vs. human rights or natural rights
NRA Supported the National Firearms Act of 1934, by Angel Shamaya, March 29, 2002 (Article as posted on Keep and Bear Arms).
JPFO's Vs. NRA's stance on our Right, Nov. 20th, 2006
An organization that doesn't know the difference between a 'civil' right, and a Natural Right. Especially, one that has long been known as "The First Law of Nature". Can hardly be counted upon, or trusted, to represent the inalienable right of all American citizens. There are other organizations that are far more knowledgeable of the facts, and more deserving of our support.
"This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins."
- Ben Franklin