The Los Angeles Times had an editorial yesterday whose title pretty much says it all: “18-Year-Olds Shouldn’t Have the Right to Buy Guns.”

So, let me see if I correctly understand the Times’s position. An 18-year-old woman is walking down a dark street at night. She is accosted by a much bigger, stronger man who violently grabs her. He is armed with a gun and threatens to kill her if she resists. She isn’t armed because of the Times‘s gun-control law that prohibits 18-year-olds, including women, from buying guns. He proceeds to tear her clothes off and rape her. Hoping that she won’t be killed, she submits to the rape. 

What the Times is essentially advocating is a law that prevents people from defending themselves against rapists and murderers. That 18-year-old woman might not be physically strong enough to resist that rapist, but with one Glock 19 that she pulls out of her purse, things are now equalized. Now it doesn’t matter how much bigger and stronger her rapist is. She can stop him from raping her with just one bullet fired into his abdomen.Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, in its editorial the Times failed to answer an important question: How is that 18-year-old woman supposed to defend herself against that rapist?  

Why shouldn’t that 18-year-old woman have the right to defend herself against that rapist? Why should she be required to submit to the rape or else be murdered?

The Times writes:

True, the right to puff on cigarettes or drink alcohol is not written into the U.S. Constitution. But neither is a guarantee that the right to bear arms goes with being a particular age.

Lamentably, those two sentences reflect a woeful lack of understanding of people’s rights and the Constitution. Rights don’t come from the Constitution. They preexist both the Constitution and the federal government that the Constitution called into existence. 

Remember: We just celebrated the Fourth of July, the day on which the Declaration of Independence was published in 1776. That document expressed the revolutionary truth that people’s rights come from nature and God, not from government and not from some document that calls government into existence.

The Constitution never purported to establish people’s rights. It simply called into existence a government whose powers were limited to those few powers that were enumerated in the Constitution itself. If a power wasn’t enumerated, it could not be exercised.

Extremely leery about this new government, the American people demanded the enactment of the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry from the federal government. Contrary to popular belief, however, especially in the mainstream press, people’s rights also don’t come from the Bill of Rights. The First and Second Amendments, for example, do not give people the rights of free speech, religious liberty, freedom of assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, they prohibit the federal government from infringing on these fundamental rights. 

In fact, what many in the mainstream press fail to recognize is that if the Bill of Rights had never been enacted, people would still have the rights of free speech, religious liberty, freedom of assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms. That’s because people’s natural, God-given rights preexist government.

Oddly, in its editorial the Times didn’t advocate a minimum age of 21 for military service. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the military permit 18-year-olds to handle guns and even orders them to use automatic weapons to kill people in faraway lands who have never committed any act of violence against the United States? Why does the Times trust those 18-year-olds with guns and not private 18-year-olds?

Finally, in its editorial the Times unfortunately failed to call for an end to the root cause of much of the violence in American society — the much-vaunted war on drugs that unfortunately much of the mainstream press continues to support, notwithstanding the massive violence it has been producing for some 50 years. Rather than prohibit 18-year-olds from defending themselves, why not end this horrific government program and then see if gun violence is still a major problem in America?

This article was originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Jacob Hornberger
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