08 May 2012

Courts Don't Grant Rights, Either

This story from the AP was put on KOLO-TV’s Twitter feed today. In brief, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that an illegal immigrant’s rights, including the right to keep and bear arms, are limited and not fully protected by the Constitution.

Most of the comments are some variation on the theme of “he isn’t a citizen, so he does not have the rights of a citizen.” I have to disagree. The Constitution (or any other Law made by man) does not grant the people rights; it simply recognizes certain of the rights we have as people. The right to defend ourselves, our families, and our liberty is one of them.

I realize there exists a policy where convicted felons are denied the exercise of the right to keep firearms. I’ve seen an explanation along the lines of: when a person commits a felony–becomes a criminal–that person has broken the unwritten compact of society. He thus no longer has the rights society enjoys, including freedom and firearms.

In this case, however, Mr. Huitron-Guizar was not a convicted felon when he was in possession of firearms. He did plead guilty to being an illegal immigrant, though, so I suppose it could be argued that he had committed a crime that broke the societal compact. Still, he was not yet convicted when he actually had the firearms.

Which leads me to another puzzlement: why should this restriction apply only to firearms? Why would we not also forbid felons from owning any sort of weaponry after they are released from custody, including kitchen knives, baseball bats, and even automobiles? In fact, if one has been released from custody, doesn’t that signify that we are accepting him back into society? Why should we then restrict any of the human rights recognized as belonging to society?

But I digress. My point is that the Constitution does not give us rights, by the same measure that the courts do not give them to us.