I’m not an expert on the Bible, so I’m looking for help in understanding a little bit of the Jewish / Christian tradition that I had never heard about until today. This morning, I read a speech given by Kathy Dahlkemper, a rather unprogressive Democratic U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, in which she claimed that efforts to limit hunting rights on public land were a violation of the second amendment. She said,
“In our home State of Pennsylvania, we believe that the second amendment is not only a right but a way of life. Hunting and fishing are important American outdoor traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, we have an obligation not only to defend our God-given right to self-defense but to protect against any encroachment on the rights of our sportsmen and women. Therefore, I am proud to stand in support of Mr. Altmire’s amendment, which will ensure that lands currently open to hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting, and other forms of traditional recreation are protected.”
Dahlkemper’s arguments are confusing to me on a couple of levels. Clearly, the second amendment protects the right to bear arms, and that amendment can be interpreted as giving that right to individual Americans. However, I don’t see anything in the second amendment that protects the right of people go shooting off their guns wherever they like, killing animals wherever they like. A well-regulated militia is not a hunting free for all. Dahlkepmper’s claims that hunting rights must be universal – so does that mean I don’t have the legal right to stop people from bringing their guns onto my front porch to shoot at the squirrels in my trees?
Even more strange is Representative Dahlkemper’s religious claim: That Americans have a right to self-defense that has been established by God. I can’t claim to have read the Bible cover to cover, but I can’t think of any piece of scripture in which God declares that people have the right to self-defense. Which passage would that be? The one where Jesus says to turn the other cheek? Is it in the Psalms, which declare “God is my defense”?