Opinion: The Constitution secures, not creates, the rights to free speech and gun ownership

A member of the Ku Klux Klan carries a pistol during a rally in Charlottesville, Va., on July 8.
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: The Times observes the following: “The 1st Amendment to the Constitution establishes the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. The 2nd Amendment creates a right to own firearms.” (“Don’t restrict free speech. Restrict the right to carry guns at potentially explosive public events,” editorial, Aug. 23)

Those statements are misleading. Neither the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution establishes or creates any right. All valid rights precede the Constitution or any other law.

In District of Columbia vs. Heller, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia explains, “The Constitution secures the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” He goes on to say: “Like most rights, the right secured by the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited.”


The Constitution and Bill of Rights do not establish or create any rights. They secure the unalienable rights with which we are naturally endowed as human beings. Governments are instituted among men to secure our rights, not to create them.

Jonathan Ball, Sacramento


To the editor: There The Times goes again, making sense in an era where nonsense rules the day. Of course, combining the four combustible issues mentioned in the editorial (Incendiary speech, demonstrators, open-carry and stand-your-ground-laws) will continue to result in violence and worse.

With a president who suggests that some people should be “carried out on a stretcher” from his rallies, who remarks that he could shoot someone in public and not lose support, and who said he can sexually assault a woman because of his fame, the tenor has be set and the fire has been lit.

The question now is how can we rescue ourselves from the madness of President Trump? And will it be before our country, its Constitution and its conscience come to a fiery end?

Ben Miles, Huntington Beach


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