In response to ccsjl's comment:
Dont bother on this argument - remember the Liberals are always right! As a resident of the Communistwealth of Masshysteria, all I can say is the newspapers and local TV news are all liars in all these reports of shootings and gun violence. AS Mass has the strictest gunlaws in the US obviously there are NO guns in the hands of criminals, so all these crimes must be made up!
Umm...you do understand that guns in the hands of citizens is a liberal right, do you not?
The country has become so dumbed down that extremely few understand what the terms "liberal" and "conservative" actually mean. So...a little education for those who get all their knowledge from either Keith Olbermann or Rush Limbaugh.
Following the French revolution, the two parliamentary houses in France were the Liberal and the Conservative parties...which is where the names come from.
From medieval times up until the late 17th (and primarily 18th) century, a political doctrine known as the "Divine Right of Kings" was prevalent throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia. The theory suggested that kings were not subject to worldly authority; rather, that royalty was handpicked and installed by God to rule absolutely. This meant that kings had control over every aspect of the lives of their subjects: whether or not they could own land; whom they could worship; taxes and tributes; what you could say; to whom you could say it, et cetera. Church hierarchies and royal peer systems rose to rank men, while feudal systems arose to appropriate property to lords, while providing working serfs a wage in return for military allegiance to the king. (I won't go on in detail as it is a lengthy treatise, but you can research it for yourself.)
However, from the time of Martin Luther and colleagues, the Protestant reformation chipped away at ideas of kingly divinity and authority. The reformed argument said, among many things, that there were no special arrangements between God and kings/priests; that these hierarchical structures were born not of God but of powerful men to control and enslave the masses.
The French and American revolutions were the primary catalysts toward ending the Divine Right of Kings. Many who fought and died in these wars believed in such things as, "All men are created equal," or that "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." The doctrine of such men was called "liberalism," because its intent was to liberate the downtrodden from kingly or churchly authority. Thus, liberal rights are those that give power the individual as opposed to the state: e.g., the right to free speech; to assemble freely; to own property; to worship whom you choose (or to choose not to worship); to bear arms.
Conversely, those who fought against individual liberty, and advocated for the preservation of monarchical power, were called "conservatives," for they wanted to conserve the status quo of centralized power amongst kings and churches. Thus, conservative rights are those that protect or empower centralized authority: the right to tax citizens; to draft citizens for war; to institute national religion; to create and enforce laws; to build jails and prisons; to restrict personal movement and political commentary.
Now, in a free society, there is a natural tension that arises between our liberal and conservative rights. As a liberal (individual), I may not want to pay any taxes; however, as a conservative (citizen), I must understand that centralized taxing provides for roads, bridges, education, national defense, et cetera. As a liberal (individual), I feel I should be able to smoke cigarettes; however, as a conservative (citizen), I must not be allowed to smoke amongst others in a confined space. As a liberal (individual), I should be free to make as much money as I want; however, as a conservative (citizen), I should not be allowed to steal money from my neighbor's house. As a liberal (individual), I don't feel like risking my life in a war; however, as a conservative (citizen); I must understand that my liberal freedom comes at the cost of conservative sacrifice. As a liberal (individual), I should be allowed to listen to my radio; however, as a conservative (citizen), I should not be allowed to blast my rap music on my boom box in a quiet, candlelit restaurant where others are eating.
So there is a balance that must be maintained. Liberal rights protect freedom of expression and personal choice, but rampant liberalism leads to anarchy and chaos. Conservative rights protect societal law and order, but unchecked conservatism leads to enslavement and stifling of creativity.
Now, apropos to this thread, consider the following. As a liberal (individual), I may want the right to bear arms; you may agree that we all should have it. But suppose I lived next door to you, and began building a nuclear weapon in my basement, or mounted an Abrams tank in my back yard. Does the 2nd Amendment cover my right to bear arms? Should it? I think most reasonable people would agree that the conservative (citizens) right must constrain my liberal right. That is, some arms ought be considered the right of the individual, whereas other arms threaten the right of his neighbors. The tension comes about in determining on which weapons we draw the line.
Every one of us is both liberal and conservative. Of course, the more you shade to the liberal end of the spectrum, the less likely you are to let mass media define for you what these terms mean.