A pair of Arizona gun bills sparked a theological debate at the statehouse about whether or not God grants U.S. citizens the right to keep and bear arms.
The debate took place last week when lawmakers in The Grand Canyon State debated a pair of gun-related bills — House Bill 2320 and House Bill 2431.
Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth seeded the debate with his comments on the measures.
“The Second Amendment says that we have a right that’s God-given to us to defend ourselves,” he said. “Now the Second Amendment doesn’t apply against the individual. I don’t get to decide to take a gun into your business or into your home because that’s against the private sector. The Second Amendment applies against government.”
Democratic Rep. Sally Ann Gonzalez challenged the belief that God handed down gun rights as opposed to the writers of the Bill of Rights.
“Twice on this floor I’ve heard members say that ‘I have the God-given right to bear arms’ and since I know that God didn’t write the constitution, I just wanted to state that. And I vote no,” she said.
Farnsworth came back, citing the Declaration of Independence as evidence that the founders believed that God granted rights.
“They didn’t believe that they were given to us by themselves. They believe that God gave them to us and that’s what the Second Amendment defends is our God-given right to protect our life that God gave to us,” he said.
Later, Gonzalez referenced a period in U.S. history when Constitutional rights were not extended to blacks and Native Americans, undermining the intention and belief structure of the founding father’s words.
“I wished that those rights have been given to all the American people — to all the American people — because we haven’t. We’ve had slavery, we’ve had genocide of the American Indian people and I wished that have had the faith of what was written and believed to be in the Constitution,” she said.
Other lawmakers chimed in on the argument, which the Phoenix New Times notes took up roughly five minutes of a 50-minute debate.
“Humans, great humans — founders wrote the constitution, founders wrote the Second Amendment. And the founders an the people give us the right to bear arms. That is inalienable and it is a given right. Human beings have done this. Great courageous human beings,” said Democratic Rep. Bruce Wheeler.
“I’m very proud to be living in a country where my God-given right or freewill is still guaranteed — guaranteed by the Constitution that laws will not take that freewill away from me,” said Republican Rep. Sonny Borrelli.
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