Kasper wrote:Your position seems to be unclear, do you have the right to own and use a gun because of a legal right or because of a moral right? I doubt anyone will argue against your current legal right (although maintaining a law because of a status quo that occurred 200 years ago seems very odd - and if the founders were so convinced of this need and right, why was there a need for amendment to get it into the Bill of Rights? why wasn't it there in the first place? (And why do I get the impresssion that the founding fathers presently occupy Mt Olympus in the US?)), but your moral right remains debatable.
Both. The legal right proceeds from the moral right. The Bill of Rights was not conceived as a grant of rights by a government to the people. It was a codification of rights that the founders believed to be already in existence.
When the Constitution was written, it was meant to clearly define and limit the powers of the government. It was a recognition that governments exist by the consent of (and serve as an instrument of) the governed. The reason they felt the need to include the Bill of Rights was that many (notably the Anti-Federalists, such as Patrick Henry and George Mason) believed the Constitution granted too much power to the federal government and the express limitations on this power needed to be enumerated. They recognized the rights to be pre-existing but they also recognized the tendency of any government to expand uncontrollably if not checked.
The second amendment was a recognition of the inherent rights of man to be secure in his own person and to be free of tyrannical governments. Note the language: "...the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This is not a grant of rights but a very severe limitation on the power of government.
If you accept the proposition that a government is an instrument of the governed, then you must also grant that the people must have the means to control that government and if necessary to overthrow it, if the government ceases to serve the ends of the people. The second amendment was a recognition of that natural and moral right and recognized its legal status. Ultimately, the right to keep and bear arms is a recognition of the right (and indeed, the reponsibility) of the people to exercise control over their government. So to reiterate, we have both a moral and a legal right to keep and bear arms.
To answer your parenthetical question, the reason our founding fathers are held in such high regard is that they produced a system of government that was truly revolutionary and that most Americans believe is deserving of a degree of reverence. Looked at in the context of the times in which they lived, the achievements of the founders were extraordinary.