It has become an article of faith for a certain stripe of Texas Republican. Owning guns -- and carrying them openly on one's hip and on college campuses without little or no government interference -- is not merely a right conferred upon Americans by the Founding Fathers; it was endowed by God. Here is freshman state Representative Matt Rinaldi of Irving opining on his issues page that "our God-given Second Amendment right to bear arms cannot be infringed." (Property rights are also handed down by God.) And here is newby state Senator Don Huffines, in pushing a bill to support "constitutional" (i.e. unlicensed) carrying of handguns, referencing Texans' "God-given liberty to protect and defend themselves and their families." Another freshman state representative, Tony Tinderholdt, has listed openly carrying guns as one of those "inalienable ... God-given rights."
This is a puzzling claim. God -- and let's assume for the sake of argument that Rinaldi, Huffines, et al are referring to the God conceptualized by fundamentalist Christians -- is not on record as having an opinion on firearms. Presumably, if he cared to weigh in on the topic, he would have made mention of it in one of the Bible's 66 books, but the only reference to firearms comes in the above Genesis that, full disclosure, we just made up. Not even the wrathful, civilization-destroying God of the Old Testament is a gun-enthusiast, preferring plagues and catastrophic floods to preserve creation. Unless God has spoken directly to Rinaldi, Huffines, et al -- and let's assume for the sake of argument that he hasn't -- how is it possible to know for a fact that God is pro-gun?
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State Senator John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, wondered the same thing in a hearing on a campus carry bill earlier this week. "You believe it's a God-given right to arm yourself and to defend yourself. I don't want to put words in your mouth. Is that the premise of your legislation?" he asked Senator Brian Birdwell, the bill's author.
Per the Houston Chronicle, Birdwell said yes, though the revelation was indirect. "The Declaration [of Independence] says we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights and that to protect these rights, governments are instituted among men to preserve them. Article VII of the U.S. Constitution brings forward the Declaration as original law, therefore, creator and God are the same to me ... The right to self preservation and the right to defend one's life is God-given because of the language in our Declaration and Article VII of the U.S. Constitution."
That's an awfully tenuous link between God and guns. Extending that logic further, we are led to other interesting revelations of divine will. For example: God, whose son turned water into wine so wedding guests wouldn't have to go sober, decided to forbid the consumption of alcohol from 1919 to 1933. And then there was the period from the ratification of the Constitution until the abolition of slavery when God decreed that African-Americans were three-fifths of a human being? So God, in addition to loving guns, was also a racist teetotaler prone to complete reversals of opinion. Got it.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.