Rights are a concept invented to enshrine things we already have. So, for instance, from the moment when we emerge from our mother’s womb we have our life, and no one, not even the government, can take it away (lest ye be convicted in a court of law by a jury or try to take away someone else’s life, or property, in which case ye hath forfeited yer rights). Thus the three classical rights are the right to your life, your liberty, and your property, three things which can never be taken away involuntarily. By definition, there is no “right” to anything which must be given to you, especially not when it is being given to you by a government, since before a government can give anything to anyone, it must first take away something from someone else. It is the very foundation of modern society, it is the social contract upon which the western world has operated for four hundred years.
There is no “right” to healthcare. Healthcare doesn’t just exist, someone has to provide it. So if you are therefore entitled to receive it regardless of whether you can afford it, you would be guilty of taking either someone’s liberty (since labor without compensation is called slavery) or you are taking their property (since the materials cost money as does acquiring the intellectual abilities necessary to provide healthcare). It is this crossing of rights, however, that makes the topic of healthcare such a sticky wicket. Which is superior: the right to life, liberty, or property? All three are on the line when it comes to the issue of healthcare.
There is no “right” to unemployment benefit. How does being out of work entitle you to other people’s money? Sure, we have accepted the idea that as a society we will all pay taxes into a common pool which can then be withdrawn from by anyone who either can’t or won’t find employment, but by no means is the absence of this social construct enforced at the point of the government’s gun some grave sin that makes America little better than the third world. Ditto, food stamps or any other government benefit. Also, as it happens, why should these be rights anyway? Plenty of people who shouldn’t be getting these benefits are getting them. It’s not like the lack of a codified “right to food stamps” is causing mass starvation amongst the poor. Come to think of it, there is no “right to food” either, yet we all seem to be getting enough food. Strange, I thought if government doesn’t mandate something be provided no one will receive it (that’s satirical sarcasm of what liberal’s believe, in case you missed it).
But being able to buy a gun is a right, and here’s why: the government can’t deny you the ability to acquire a particular piece of property that does not in itself violate someone else’s rights. Likewise, you have the right to carry a gun because the simple act of being in public with a piece of your own property is an act the government cannot regulate when the piece of property in question is of no inherent danger to the public. If I choose to buy a gun, that decision affects no one but the gun seller and the gunsmith. If I choose to carry a gun in public (especially if concealed), it neither affects nor harms anyone simply by being in my pocket. Simply put: I could do it without the government and without violating anyone else’s rights, which therefore places it beyond government’s powers because our government is a government of limited powers. It says so, in the constitution. It also says I have a right to keep and carry a gun, if I so choose. So there.
The framers of the Constitution must have thought guns are pretty important, so they chose to enshrine them in the Constitution by protecting them from government. All that being said, however, the rest of Mr. Noble’s article is quite good.