The book is a must-read for all Americans who feel that the government has undermined and dismantled the most important part of the United States Constitution.
“After kicking out King George III, the Founding Fathers saw the federal government as a threat to their own liberties. They wanted to restrict that threat,” Miniter said. “Granting any power or liberty to the government meant giving away some of their individual rights.”
“But there were certain rights that they refused to give up, and they listed those in the Bill of Rights,” the upstate New York resident said. “Right from the beginning, you have the individual versus the state.”
Like many conservatives and libertarians, Miniter said he is troubled by the fact that the Constitution itself has become a partisan issue. This stems, in part, from the individual/state dichotomy.
The other point of contention between conservatives and liberals relates to the way in which the Constitution was written, and thus, should be interpreted, he said.
“The Bill of Rights was written as negative liberties that place restrictions on the government,” Miniter said. “However, the left tries to treat the document as a series of positive rights that subject people to the whims of the government.”
In other words, conservatives maintain that the Bill of Rights is a means of protection from an overbearing government, while liberals see it as a tool of governmental power and control.
“The left sees state power as a good thing,” Miniter said. “The right doesn’t.”
Miniter said he is especially concerned with safeguarding the Second Amendment.
In the book, he relays the famous words of George Mason: “[T]o disarm the people, that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
Miniter presents the Second Amendment as a series of words with fixed definitions.
Although Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary was printed almost 40 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, it is close enough to that time to be an accurate description of the meaning of the words used in the Bill of Rights, he said. This is further supported by the fact that Congress recognized the 1828 edition as the official standard.
In the 1928 edition, Webster defined the word “bear” as “to carry” or “to wear; name; to bear arms in a coat”. It also defined “arms” as “weapons of offense, or armor for defense and protection of the body,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the militia was defined as: “…able bodied men organized into companies, regiments and brigades … and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at other times to pursue their usual occupations”.
Opponents of gun rights often dispute the relevancy of the word “militia” in today’s society. But there is little room for this type of dispute when it comes to definitions presented in a dictionary with the credentials of Webster’s.
Our Founding Fathers looked to these very definitions when writing the Constitution. From this information, we can see that, without question, they were granting us the right to carry a concealed weapon for our own protection, Miniter said.
“People who have concealed carry permits have gone through the process,” Miniter said. “So why can’t they protect their fellow citizens who chose not to get [a permit] or couldn’t, for whatever reason?
The liberal argument is that the Constitution should “evolve” because society undergoes change, he said.
“What the left is really saying is they want to ignore the Constitution altogether or semantically change a word in the Constitution to mean something,” he said. “That’s actually taking the will of the people away from the people.”
If the American people have a desire to alter the Constitution, it can be done through the amendment process, as outlined in the Constitution, he said.
“We had prohibition, we got rid of prohibition. That’s how it’s supposed to evolve, instead of having some judge or legislator going around the Constitution to rewrite it semantically,” Miniter said. “That’s literally Orwellian. If you read ‘1984’, that’s what they did. They just changed the meanings of the words.”
Despite it all, Miniter said he is hopeful that American citizens can coalesce and fight to uphold the Bill of Rights.
“People first have to understand what these rights are in order to keep them from the government,” Miniter said. “We do have a right to self-preservation. In lieu of that right, you end up in control under the state.”
That being said, I encourage all Americans to read “Saving the Bill of Rights”. The book offers clear and succinct explanations for each of the ten amendments that are so crucial to our freedom as citizens of the United States.