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News Opinion

History butchered by gun rights advocates

Letter writer John Franchy ("More restrictive gun laws are not the answer," Dec. 20) misrepresents certain statements by the Founders and certain historical facts. The assertions he makes can be found in tea party talking points disseminated over the previous week.

He paraphrases Benjamin Franklin, "They who give up essential liberty to (purchase) a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Mr. Franklin was not commenting on the balance between government powers and individual liberty. The quote was from a letter he wrote in the 1750s on issues concerning the governor, the Pennsylvania Assembly and the Penn family.

He asserts that the Second Amendment provides "an inalienable right for citizens to protect and preserve their liberty..." However, the right to bear arms is not an inalienable right; the inalienable rights are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These are conferred by God or by Nature and are therefore inalienable. The other rights, including the right to bear arms, are secondary rights which exist to support the inalienable rights. The Constitution explicitly recognized that these latter rights were subject to limitation when necessary to preserve security and for other greater causes.

The writer quoted Thomas Jefferson, "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." This is a quote from a letter from Mr. Jefferson to William Smith. The issue at hand was Shay's Rebellion and the drafting of the Constitution. If one reads the entire letter, it is clear that Mr. Jefferson was not advocating armed revolt against the government. In a horrible misinterpretation of Mr. Jefferson's words, domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh at times wore a t-shirt displaying the quote.

A discussion of laws governing firearms should be based on facts rather than tea party talking points from one side and talking points from the far-left on the other.

Larry Adler, Columbia

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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