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The government wants your gun rights

By Rand Paul, Special to CNN
updated 12:40 PM EDT, Wed April 10, 2013
Craig Bentley's T-shirt reveals his point of view at President Obama's speech at the University of Hartford urging gun control.
Craig Bentley's T-shirt reveals his point of view at President Obama's speech at the University of Hartford urging gun control.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rand Paul says he vowed to uphold all constitutional rights, including gun ownership
  • Paul: Nothing in proposed gun laws would prevent tragedies such as the Newtown massacre
  • Paul: More regulations could lead to government surveillance, disarm law-abiding people
  • More senators need to stand up for the Second Amendment or rights will be lost, he says

Editor's note: Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.

(CNN) -- Congress is debating legislation that will limit Americans' right to keep and bear arms and infringe on the right to privacy. The Bill of Rights was made part of our Constitution explicitly to protect freedoms: the freedom of speech, protection against searches without a warrant, the right to trial by jury and the right to protect oneself with a firearm.

I am compelled to stand up for every amendment and right enumerated in the Constitution.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is attempting to push forward with gun control legislation. The chief problem I have is that nothing in this legislation would have prevented the terrible massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. I am open to ideas that would help prevent tragedies, but this legislation would not have saved us from the national heartbreak of the December school shooting.

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul

I oppose legislation that undermines Americans' constitutional right to bear arms. I worry that legislation mandating more regulations on law-abiding citizens will lead to an infringement on the ability to exercise constitutional rights without being subject to government surveillance. I also worry that these efforts will merely disarm the people who follow the law and empower those who ignore it.

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Along with Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, I circulated a letter promising to "oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people's constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance." We have been joined by Sens. Marco Rubio, Jim Inhofe, Jerry Moran, Richard Burr, Ron Johnson, Mike Enzi, James Risch, Mike Crapo, Dan Coats and Pat Roberts. But more senators need to stand up for our Second Amendment rights or the rights will be lost.

Both the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union and the right-leaning Heritage Foundation have raised privacy concerns about the legislation pending before Congress.

Chris Calabrese of the ACLU was quoted recently saying that he worries about submitted gun control legislation that may lead to the "creation of government databases and collections of personal information on all of us."

David Addington of the Heritage Foundation worries that "loose language" in the submitted legislation may lead to the government keeping "centralized records of who received what guns and where." These are privacy concerns that I share.

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Potentially on the table are new laws that would outlaw firearms and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds as well as require universal background checks, which effectively restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to buy guns at gun shows and give or sell them to friends and family without having to get the government's permission. One version of the legislation pending before the Senate goes so far as to empower the attorney general to tax gun transactions and creates a new felony crime for knowingly failing to report for more than 24 hours that a gun has been lost or stolen.

Legislation being pushed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California arbitrarily bans certain weapons. President Barack Obama has conceded that this idea may not pass during a comprehensive gun debate, yet I worry that the idea may come up again once Congress passes the first round of gun control.

Americans exercise their right every day to protect themselves and their families.

Recently, a 14-year-old Phoenix boy shot an armed intruder who broke into his home while he was baby-sitting his three younger siblings. The children were home alone on a Saturday afternoon when an unrecognized woman rang their doorbell.

After the teenager refused to open the door, he heard someone trying to break into the house. The boy hurried his younger siblings upstairs and collected a handgun from his parents' room. When the boy rounded the top of the stairs, a man was standing in the doorway with a gun pointed at him. The boy shot the intruder and possibly saved the lives of his three siblings.

It is terrible that a young boy had to go through this experience, but it is just one example among many of armed citizens protecting themselves and the public from very bad people.

I stood up for the Fourth and Fifth amendments during a filibuster a few weeks ago to address the president's constitutional authority to use drones against American citizens and the limits of executive power.

Now I am prepared to protect the Second Amendment "right of the people to keep and bear arms." I stand ready to stand up for the Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury, as I will stand up for any other infringement of our Bill of Rights.

Our rights are not subjected to polls. Whether it is popular or not popular, I took an oath to the Constitution, and I am prepared to stand with other senators or alone to protect the freedoms that our Founding Fathers fought to preserve.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sen. Rand Paul.

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