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Protecting the right to protect yourself

I am always amazed at how far career politicians will go to test the bounds of their dignity when confronted with the simple question, “where do you stand on the Second Amendment?”

More often than not, they will provide an abstract answer tailored to placate the audience currently in front of them. Nothing is more disingenuous than a politician with manicured hands standing in a duck blind trying to prove that he believes in the right to bear arms.

I believe that an honest man will never have to worry about remembering what he has said or who he said it to. I believe that the Second Amendment is crystal clear, “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment is a fail-safe woven into the fabric of our Constitution that ensures the God given rights and freedoms upon which this country was built. The Second Amendment isn’t just about preserving gun ownership, hunting rights, or target sports.

It is about each and every law abiding citizen having the right to play a role in ensuring our collective freedoms. It is the manifestation of our resolve to exercise our right of self-determination. It is a means to protect the lives and liberties of our families and to ensure that our Republic will endure.

Our government goes to great lengths to protect the freedoms of speech, of religion, to peaceably assemble, and frequently does so in situations that bear great public opposition. It defies logic for our government not to protect our right to keep and bear arms with the same zeal as our other Constitutional freedoms.

Sadly, we find ourselves in a society today where The Second Amendment is restricted by over thousands of state and federal regulations. America’s greatness is founded in personal accountability and community awareness. Unnecessary over-regulation does nothing to strengthen our communities, decrease crime, or to ensure our safety.  Overreaching firearms laws do however increase the chance that an otherwise law abiding citizen may overlook an obfuscated regulation and unwittingly become a criminal.

Imagine if the same standards applied to the rights protected by the First Amendment. What if the federal government required a permit to publish a newspaper? Would you pay a fee, and then endure a waiting period to go to the church of your choice? What if your state decided that it was simply going to outlaw public assembly?

To me, the words “keep and bear arms” means that every law abiding citizen is a vehicle through which we collectively preserve the means to protect ourselves.

Concealed carry permits should be issued without any unreasonable hurdles, exorbitant fees, or arbitrary justification. In my home state of Maryland, in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, I need to provide a lengthy application with a non-refundable fee and “documented proof” of threats against my life. A judge will then arbitrarily decide if I deserve the privilege to protect myself.

The years of street experience that I accrued as a law enforcement officer with both the NYPD and the Secret Service imparts a personal perspective regarding the responsibility that carrying a firearm implies. I was raised in the inner city. I didn’t grow up hunting and I had never fired a gun until I was on the police force.

While serving in law enforcement, I shot regularly to maintain a high level of proficiency. I carried a gun every day for 17 years while working. Although I may not be what you would call an avid gun enthusiast, I am a lover of freedom and I do cherish our civil liberties.

The arguments for restricting our Second Amendment rights on the grounds of public safety seem fraudulent at best. Perhaps the goal isn’t to eliminate guns, but is instead a pathway by which to silence the voices of freedom. Either way, the Second Amendment is the only one designed to ensure all of our freedoms and any encroachment upon them are unacceptable.

(Originally published in HumanEvents.com, February 24, 2012)

Dan Bongino is a Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate from the state of Maryland. He is a decorated Secret Service Agent who served under three presidential administrations, and was the lead security representative for the United States for foreign presidential visits.  Dan is a small business entrepreneur who has obtained graduate degrees in both Psychology and Business Administration. His wife Paula is a first generation immigrant and a successful business owner. Dan and Paula have two children, 8 year old Isabel and newborn Amelia.

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