If I asked you if you had rights, what would you say?  Chances are you would say “yes”.

And if I asked you what rights you had, what would you say?  The popular answers usually are the right to free speech, the right to keep and bear arms, the right against unreasonable search and seizure…

But what if I asked you “What is a right?”

Now that is a question that we don’t usually think about.  We usually stop at saying that we have them but don’t go into what a right really is.  But when it comes to people who do want to take your rights away, well, I can assure you, they have thought about it, and you should too.

When we say that we have a right, what we really should be doing is expressing that statement in its longer form.  What we should say is “We have a right to be left alone”.

When the government and the individual agree about something, well then there isn’t a problem, everyone is happy.  Where rights come into play is when the government and the individual disagree; where the government wants one thing, and the individual says “No thanks”.  Respecting individual rights is the hallmark of a free republic.

A right is something that you as an individual own.  A privilege, on the other hand, is something that another entity owns who then grants you the ability to do something.   A privilege definitely can be taken away if it is owned by someone other than you because they own it and you don’t.

What if someone wanted to get rid of your rights?  How would they do that?

One way is by physical force.  Someone kicking down your door and killing you would take away your right to live.  But that is a kind of obvious way to do it.

A more subtle way would be to get you to treat your rights as privileges.

Let me give you an example.  Since the right to keep and bear arms has been in the news a lot lately, let’s use that as an example, but we could use another right like freedom of speech just as easily.

One of the suggested solutions put forth as a way to stop mass shootings has been to try and limit the capacity of magazines.  Frequently, gun control proponents will ask the question to an individual “Why do you need a magazine larger than 10 rounds?  Isn’t that a reasonable restriction?”

At this point, someone who supports the right to keep and bear arms is faced with a choice.  Do they justify why they need the magazine of a particular size?  Do they say something else?

What happens if you agree that you don’t need a particular size of a magazine?  You’ll hear this a lot if you listen to some gun owners who call in to radio shows or even in normal day to day discussion who will agree with the idea of a magazine capacity limit as not being a problem.  You still have your right to keep and bear arms, don’t you?

Nope.  It’s essentially gone at that point as you have just consented to letting that other party have free reign to infringe upon your right.   Whenever you agree to an arbitrary limit set by someone else or some other entity, you have now set a precedent and included them in who gets to determine what you own.

When someone makes the statement that you don’t need something and it is a “reasonable” restriction on why you shouldn’t have it, what they are really doing is asking you to accept their false premise that your right is a privilege, and to allow yourself to be subjected to whatever arbitrary limit they or some other party may want. Their argument gets you to consent to get rid of something you already own, that being one of your rights.

If you accept their false premise, then tomorrow, when they decide their arbitrary 10 round limit is too high and insist on 9, or, an 8, or a 7 round magazine limit (which is exactly what happened in New York) you can’t argue with them since philosophically their arbitrary argument for a 10 round magazine is the same as for a 7.

Here is the kicker: They essentially have no argument; they just win by default because when you consent to an arbitrary limit, you lose.

Even worse, they will sell you on the virtue of “compromise”, “let’s meet in the middle ground” they frequently will say.  But when you compromise on your rights, you don’t get to keep a percentage of your rights.  Your rights are binary. You either have them, or you don’t.  You either make the decisions yourself, or you yield them and they make them for you.

When someone tries asks you to compromise on your rights, you are coming to the table with total ownership of something (namely whatever right you are talking about) and they come to the table with nothing.  A compromise implies something from one party and something from the other.  Well, when there is total ownership on one side and nothing on the other, if you compromise the only possible outcome is a loss for you and a win for them.

The correct answer is that need has absolutely nothing to do with it.  You have the right to be left alone when it comes to keeping and bearing of arms.  You have the right to say no.  If someone wants to strip you of your rights, then that is where due process comes in where they make an allegation and you get to challenge their claim.

The framers of the second amendment understood the concept of rights.  Let’s take a look at the second amendment:

“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Notice that there is no reference to a “privilege” or “need”, but there is a specific reference to a “right”.  Implied in the wording is how the already existing right owned by the people shall not be infringed.

Here is the scary part of all this.  If a right has been turned into a privilege, the owner can pull the privilege at their discretion.  What happens when the privilege is revoked?  Well, if the owner of the privilege is the state, that means that if you want to do something that you in fact have the right to do but the state says no, then you now have committed a crime.

I want you to remember this statement:

First it is a right, then it is a privilege, then it is a crime.

Always make it a point to protect your rights, because once they are privileges, they are gone.