Yesterday I watched Chris Christie on the CNN Town Hall, and one of the questions he had to answer was about guns. The questioner asked him: “How do you balance out more gun-control laws versus our right to own a gun?”

              This narrative about gun ‘rights’ has become a fixture on both sides of the gun debate. On the pro-gun side, the argument goes that laws which in any way make it more difficult or more costly to own and use guns are a violation of the 2nd-Amendment ‘right’ for private citizens to own guns. On the gun-control side, we get a standard disclaimer about how a new proposed gun-control law or gun-control regulation doesn’t conflict with gun ‘rights’ at all.

              This entire notion about how Americans have the ‘right’ to own guns is made up out of whole cloth.  There is nothing behind it other than a clever way to promote gun ownership and gun sales, and Gun-control Nation should have enough knowledge about the American Constitution to reject this entire argument out of hand.

              There is no such thing in American jurisprudence or Constitutional precedent which grants unlimited ‘rights’ for anything. The fact that what we refer to as certain ‘freedoms’ of speech, religious belief and gun access which appear in a document known as the Bill of Rights doesn’t vest these so-called ‘freedoms’ with any unlimited or universal ‘rights’ whatsoever.

              The Amendments which comprise the Bill of Rights are Constitutional texts which have been altered or added to the Constitutional document through a process which is very explicit, very clear and takes anywhere from several months to several hundred years.

              But what gives all the amendments their legal authority is when Congress passes a law or multiple laws which define what behavior is allowed under a particular Amendment, and what behavior cannot be approved or condoned. When Congress ratified the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery in 1865 and turned some four million pieces of chattel property into human beings, Congress then had to go back and pass a civil rights law the following year which defined what it meant to be a citizen of the United States.

              In fact, Congress has passed five laws which define the 2nd Amendment in terms of what someone can and cannot do with a gun. The first law, passed in 1934, imposed an excise tax on guns and also created a separate licensing system for certain types of guns. The 1938 federal gun law imposed licensing and record-keeping requirements on gun dealers and the 1968 law extended the regulations of the 1938 law to cover not only gun dealer, but gun owners as well. The last two guns laws which created the Brady background check system and the assault weapons ban, were passed in 1993 and 1994.

              Along with these five federal gun laws, every state has multiple laws and regulations written into their state law codes. Some states have more laws, some states have fewer laws, but no matter where you live, if you want to own a gun, you have to obey federal laws, state laws and in many cases, laws covering a specific county or municipality as well.

              There’s a reason why the National Rifle Association (NRA) always refers to its members as ‘law-abiding gun owners.’ The NRA doesn’t use that sobriquet just to remind everyone that most gun owners are the ‘good guys with a gun.’ It’s also a way for the NRA to avoid being held responsible for all the murders, assaults and other criminal acts which involve the use of guns.

              There are some far-out, radical elements in Gun-nut Nation who promote the idea that since guns are protected by the 2nd Amendment, there’s no reason to have any government regulation of gun ownership at all. This argument is usually linked to the idea that we have a God-given ‘right’ to self-defense, and there’s no better way to defend yourself than with a gun.

              Want God to regulate how we behave with guns or with anything else? Pack up your guns and move to Iran.