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The People's Section

Friday, September 16, 2005

As we prepare to celebrate "Constitution Week" (Sept. 17-23), it is important that we keep foremost in our minds the document that governs our great land and makes us unique--the Constitution, and specifically, its Bill of Rights.

Everything we at NRA-ILA do is governed by an unwavering commitment to the Constitution and its Second Amendment guarantee to bear arms.  Sadly, however, not only is the Second Amendment constantly under attack, but so too are other integral parts of this work of genius.  Sometimes attacks are obvious, like licensing, registration, and gun bans.  Sometimes they are more subtle, promoted under the guise of innocuous sounding laws like campaign finance "reform."  Whatever, their form, however, they are all destructive, and must always be met with active resistance.

In particular, the Bill of Rights, which enshrines, among other freedoms, our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, should be viewed as "The People's Section" of the Constitution. Unlike Articles I-III, which lay out the requirements and powers of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, the Bill of Rights designates no powers to the government.  In fact, it does quite the opposite.  The Bill of Rights restricts government encroachment on the rights on those it governs; on "we the people."

Look at some of the verbiage in the Bill of Rights:  "Congress shall make no law..." (First Amendment; "...shall not be infringed." (Second Amendment); "...shall not be violated..." (Fourth Amendment); "...shall not be construed to deny..." (Ninth Amendment). These phrases protect the people; they don't empower the government.  In a way, the Bill of Rights is where we the people get to say "no" to the government.

Governments have powers.  People have rights.  Thus, the Second Amendment does not guarantee a privilege granted by the government to keep and bear arms.  It explicitly guarantees the right of the people to do so.

Politicians must remember that they can't carve out sections of the Constitution and Bill of Rights they don't like, and profess support for the undivided document.  You either support the Constitution and Bill of Rights, or you don't.  There are too many Chuck Schumers, Hillary Clintons, and Dianne Feinsteins who constantly work to set aside the Second Amendment (and, in the case of campaign finance "reform," the First), while they profess to be upholding their sworn oaths to protect the entire Constitution.

We are blessed to have been given our freedom by our Creator and our system of government by great, brave men.  However, it is up to each of us to ensure we keep it, and that the system works, by actively participating and speaking to others.  Still today, the price of freedom truly is eternal vigilance.

Celebrate "Constitution Week" and honor this great document by actively doing even just a little something to uphold the ideals set forth in this great charter.  Talk to someone about the importance of the Second Amendment; contact your U.S. Representative in support of S. 397, as passed by the Senate; encourage your lawmakers to support H.R. 1288/S. 1082 (D.C. gun ban repeal); register a new pro-gun voter; recruit a new NRA-ILA FrontLines™ Volunteer; or write a letter to the editor.  For more information on undertaking these activities, call the ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683, or visit www.NRAILA.org.

These steps, though sounding small in scope, serve as great homages to our nation's governing document and its principles, and are a phenomenal way to not only strengthen our Second Amendment rights, but to also educate others on the significance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Please spread the word to others that September 17-23 is "Constitution Week," and help us enlighten their lawmakers and fellow Americans.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.