Gunfight at the bankruptcy corral

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Readers react to our take on rights

Last week, we ran a piece by Hannah Hill, “It’s the right, not the gun,” that inspired quite a few responses.

Hannah argued that a bill in the state Senate that would allow people to keep their guns when they have to give up most of their assets in a bankruptcy was looking to the Second Amendment in the wrong way.

The amendment, she said, “guarantees your right ‘to keep and bear arms.’ It’s up to you to get the arms, and it does not secure your right to keep any particular one.”

It sounds straightforward, but when it comes to gun rights, nothing is.

Diana of Bluffton wrote to say, “Normally I think you are right on with your articles, but your article entitled ‘It’s the right, not the gun’ was way off-base. Most people who legally own guns do so at least in part for self-defense. Making someone give up their tool of self-defense for themselves and their family — and a gun is just a tool — because they have fallen on financial hard times is no more right than to make them give up the tools of their trade — the way they make a living.

“Furthermore, you state in your article ‘Government can’t hinder you from buying a gun in a lawful way, but you aren’t entitled to one any more than you’re entitled to, say, healthcare.’ I’m sorry, but to take away something that someone already has bought and paid for is not the same thing as saying that an individual has a right to take healthcare services from another individual/company without paying for the services of the other individual/company and at that other individual’s/company’s expense! We have an inalienable, God-given right to self-defense and a gun that is legally owned and has been purchased by an individual is a tool for self-defense.”

She wasn’t alone. At issue here also is whether owning a gun is the same as having a right to possess one. Said one commenter on our website:

“Your home, cars, and personal possessions are not protected by the Constitution, firearms are. The exception [for] the former are a matter of bankruptcy law. You cannot be forced to relinquish the ‘right to KEEP and bear arms’ unless you commit a felony and are convicted. Filing for bankruptcy is not a felony offense.”

Another commenter concurred:

“Bankrupcy law was designed to allow you to have personal items and tools of the trade, so that you won’t have to wear a barrel, barefoot and be forced to beg. In our current times, this also means that you can keep a reasonable vehicle (maybe one that has depreciated to the point that it still runs, but holds no extra value). They allow the home maker to keep her kitchen tools and sewing machine. Allowing a family to keep their self-protection guns is also reasonable.”

Said another: “The ‘well regulated’ militia requires each citizen to possess arms. To that end, arms are shielded from bankruptcy.”

Still another commenter envisioned a slightly different world:

“While I agree one-hundred-percent with the article, if we stay consistent with the recent and misguided foray into healthcare, since that is now a ‘right’ which is to be given by government to those who can’t afford it, effectively the government (we taxpayers) IS paying for the treatment… I can’t wait until that same logic is used to hand out a firearm to those who can’t afford one. Do you think that will ever happen?”

In a word? No.