By: Chad Kent
Chad Kent Speaks
Over the weekend I had an e-mail exchange with someone about my post on concealed carry. He agreed with me that self-defense is a right recognized by the Constitution so the government has no authority to prohibit someone from carrying a weapon. It’s not something like scuba diving – he continued – since that activity isn’t in the Constitution the government can absolutely ban it.
And that’s where he has a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of our government.
Our Constitution was written from the perspective that the government did not have the authority to do anything unless that power was specifically granted by the people. That’s why you’ll notice that – with few exceptions like bills of attainder and ex post facto laws, etc – the Constitution focuses only on what the government can do instead of what it cannot do.
It wouldn’t make any sense for the Founders to write a Constitution forbidding the government from taking actions they didn’t believe it had power to do in the first place. That was one of the arguments against the Bill of Rights – why do we need an amendment to prohibit the government from banning religion when it wasn’t granted power to ban religion in the first place?
So no. The federal government doesn’t have the authority to ban scuba diving either – unless there’s some obscure scuba diving clause I’m not aware of.
This is a really critical point – we have to get out of the mindset that the government can do anything it wants unless it has been prohibited somehow by the Constitution. If this country is going to survive long into the future, we have to see the Constitution from the perspective it was written from: the government has absolutely no power until that power is granted by the people.