Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr spoke at the College last week regarding the Second Amendment and the importance of the Bill of Rights to the freedom of American citizens.
Barr, who is currently seeking the Libertarian nomination for president, was brought by the College Republicans.
“Any organization that believes in free debate ought to be commended and participated in by everyone,” Barr said. “The point is not if you agree or disagree with the topic or the speaker but if you are interested in hearing a free debate of the issues.”
The issues discussed that evening were primarily the current status of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and the Fourth Amendment, the right of citizens “to be secure in their persons . and effects,” according to the Bill of the Rights.
“The Bill of Rights is probably the most magnificent piece of writing set down by the hands of man,” Barr said. “It has withstood the test of time . It’s very viable and respected, though not by the current administration.”
He continued, “If we do not continue to have, or rediscover, an educated citizenry . this document will be rendered meaningless. (The Bill of Rights) requires an educated citizenry, which is something we do not have nowadays.”
Another concern to Barr is the current apparent monopoly of the executive branch in the government.
This “unitary executive” theory is appealing to any executive branch, according to Barr.
“Since 9/11, we have had a notion that since there was an attack on the United States, the response to that is conducted by the president as commander-in-chief . who decides the scope, duration and specifics,” Barr said.
Should Congress attempt to claim that the president’s actions are unconstitutional, the president could claim that “you can’t so limit the executive branch,” Barr said.
In terms of the Second Amendment, Barr believes that one must pay strict attention to the wording.
“I am of the group of people who have a presumption that the men who wrote these words had a purpose,” he said.
The Second Amendment, according to Barr, is essentially about the right of the people.
Being on the board of the National Rife Association, Barr explained the importance of the Second Amendment around the country, particularly in New Jersey, which is very “pro-Second Amendment,” he joked, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Barr referenced the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, where the term “assault weapons” was used by pro-gun control politicians regardless of the fact that assault weapons were already unlawful and “by and large, assault weapons are not in the hands of citizens.”
As an advocate of the Bill of Rights, it is important to get people to think of the Second Amendment as a reflection of fundamental freedom, according to Barr.
“If we allow ourselves to be drawn into arguing just about guns and ammunition, it’s very easy to lose that argument,” he said.
Following his discussion, there was a Q-and-A session, where issues of campus safety and modifications to the Second Amendment were brought up. Barr also discussed his reasoning for why there should not be licensing for guns.
Barr argued that while one needs a license to drive a car, there is no inherent right to own a car. Anything is potentially dangerous, he said.
“If they misuse it, it’s their responsibility,” Barr said, referring to legal gun owners who do not properly and safely handle their guns. “Don’t make it harder for the rest of us.”
When questioned if it would be wise to allow professors to elect to arm themselves on college campuses, Barr replied that “it is nonsense to go on a campus and give up the right to bear arms.”
People have been saved by having firearms, Barr said, and since the Second Amendment is no more and no less important than the others, it should not get more stringent controls added to it.