But by Wednesday afternoon, when members of the upper chamber had spent more than a full working day debating the two bills, the dean of the Senate felt it necessary to question his Republican colleagues’ characterization of gun rights as God-given.
“You believe it’s a God-given right to arm yourself and to defend yourself. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Is that the premise of your legislation?” John Whitmire, D-Houston, the longest-serving member of the Senate asked campus carry sponsor Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury.
What followed was the most detailed explanation offered thus far this session by a Texas lawmaker.
“The Declaration (of Independence) says we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights and that to protect these rights, governments are instituted among men to preserve them. Article VII of the U.S. Constitution brings forward the Declaration as original law, therefore, creator and God are the same to me,” said Birdwell.
He added, “the right to self preservation and the right to defend one’s life is God-given because of the language in our Declaration and Article VII of the U.S. Constitution.”
Whitmire responded, “And you’ve explained that to me and I do not understyand (sic) fully the “God right” (sic?) … I don’t remember in the Sunday school lessons or in my Scriptures that God spoke, obviously to weapons, or concealed weapons holders.”
Whitmire’s question (and appended clarification) was stupid, but Birdwell’s answer doesn’t entirely stay on point. If Birdwell is trying to harken back to the Christian roots of the nation, we’ve done that before and there is plenty of basis for showing reformational thinking in the the war of independence and constitution.
But the question goes to the basis for self defense, or what Whitmire calls the “God right” (whatever that means). The basis comes not from the constitution or any other founding document, but from God Himself, and he answers to no one. His laws have a deontological flavor (see Divine Command Theory). He refers to no one outside Himself for notions of right and wrong, and when He speaks, it is right because He has spoken it and it follows the nature of His character, which is itself good. Simply said, God doesn’t need the constitution, and neither do we need it to tell us it is okay to seek and employ means of self defense. To the extent that either the U.S. or Texas constitutions don’t follow the rights delineated in the Holy Scriptures, they are evil and must be amended or ignored.
As for what the Holy Scriptures have said, we’ve also discussed that. It is all based on the fact that God created mankind in His image. As I’ve summarized before:
I am afraid there have been too many centuries of bad teaching endured by the church, but it makes sense to keep trying. As I’ve explained before, the simplest and most compelling case for self defense lies in the decalogue. Thou shall not murder means thou shall protect life.
God’s law requires [us] to be able to defend the children and helpless. “Relying on Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Westminster standards, we’ve observed that all Biblical law forbids the contrary of what it enjoins, and enjoins the contrary of what it forbids.” I’ve tried to put this in the most visceral terms I can find.
God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries. Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them. God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse. He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls. God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers. Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right. It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image. It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.
Self preservation goes beyond a right. It is a duty, as much of a duty as protection of the little ones. It is so because man is made in God’s image. Life is thus sacred, holy, and set apart. That Whitmire doesn’t understand this means only that he is stolid and hasn’t understood anything he has read from the Scriptures, or that he is a liar and hasn’t really read the Scriptures like he claims.
The next steps to things like open carry require a bit of thought, as I have pointed out to Professor Eugene Volokh.
… carrying concealed means that the weapon can get hung on shirts, pants, and other clothing, and certainly means a delay in presenting the weapon due to the need to remove the offending clothing in order to get to the weapon) …
And if this isn’t an infringement of rights, then at what point does it become so? Can the law require us to have one hand tied behind our back? If seems a silly question, and how about one to which the courts would no doubt be more amenable? Would it infringe on our rights if the law required us to have our weapons unloaded, regardless of method of carry? Or would it infringe on our rights if the law required us to have two or more garments covering a weapon in order to ensure that we had no inadvertent flashing of the weapon if we bend over or in a stiff wind?
Some of us open carry for reasons other than making a statement. As for the protests, making a statement to politicians is only necessary when the politicians are dense and relentlessly recalcitrant concerning rights. It’s time for the politicians in Texas to do the right thing and honor God-given rights. As for the slower ones like Whitmire, Sunday School is usually held every Sunday.