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Tag Archives: second-amendment
Posted: July 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution
Does the Second Amendment prevent effective gun regulations? What is the right to bear arms? Second Amendment litigation has become a critical battleground since the U.S. Supreme Court held, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that the Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense. This decision created a radical shift in the meaning of the Second Amendment, but it doesnt prevent smart gun regulations. In fact, since Heller, courts nationwide have found a wide variety of firearms laws constitutional because they can help prevent gun deaths, injuries, and crimes in communities across the country.
The Law Center not only tracks the extensive Second Amendment litigation currently happening nationwide, but also analyzes the trends, to bring you the latest developments in the courts.
Learn more about the 2008 DC vs Heller decision.
Learn more about the 2010McDonald v. City of Chicago decision.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court singlehandedly inserted the judicial system into the ongoing national debate over gun laws in America. In a 5-4 decision inDistrict of Columbia v. Heller, the Court invalidated the District of Columbias handgun ban and firearm storage law, stating for the first time that the Second Amendment protects a responsible, law-abiding citizens right to possess an operable handgun in the home for self-defense.
Heller was unquestionably a radical decision, overturning the Courts previous ruling that the Second Amendment was tied to state militia service. For almost seventy years, lower federal and state courts nationwide had relied on that pronouncement to reject hundreds of Second Amendment challenges.
The Heller decision immediately drew strong criticism from a wide array of legal scholars, historians, advocates and legislators, including a particularly scathing rebuke from respected conservative judge Richard Posner, who noted that, The only certain effect of the Heller decision will be to increase litigation over gun ownership.
In fact, new litigation started almost immediately. The day that Heller was announced, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the City of Chicagos handgun ban, with a second suit filed the next day. Other suits emerged soon after, escalating once the Supreme Court confirmed that the Second Amendment also applied to state and local laws in 2010s McDonald v. City of Chicago decision. After that case, the number of lawsuits challenging gun laws nationwide skyrocketed.
Thankfully, despite the explosion of litigation, courts across the country have rejected the overwhelming majority of Second Amendment challenges initiated since Heller. Gun rights advocates and criminal defendants across the country have sought to expand the Second Amendment to invalidate almost every gun law on the books today. In siding with us and the majority of Americans who support sensible gun laws, courts are finding that smart laws arent just constitutionaltheyre also critical to keeping our communities safe from gun violence.
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Second Amendment Basics | Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Posted: June 25, 2016 at 10:53 am
In 1803 a distinguished Virginia jurist named St. George Tucker published the first extended analysis and commentary on the recently adopted U.S. Constitution. Though it is mostly forgotten today, Tucker’s View of the Constitution of the United States was a major work in its time. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, generations of lawyers and scholars would reach for Tucker’s View as a go-to constitutional law textbook.
I was reminded of Tucker’s dusty tome in recent days after reading one liberal pundit after another smugly assert that the original meaning of the Second Amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with individual rights. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, for example, denounced the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment as a “a hoax” peddled in recent years by the conniving National Rifle Association. Likewise, Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson complained that “the NRA’s politicking has warped the Constitution itself” by tricking the Supreme Court into “recast[ing] the Second Amendment as a guarantee of individual gun rights.”
Old St. George Tucker never encountered any “politicking” by the NRA. A veteran of the Revolutionary war and a one-time colleague of James Madison, Tucker watched in real time as Americans publicly debated whether or to ratify the Constitution, and then watched again as Americans debated whether or not to amend the Constitution by adopting the Bill of Rights. Afterwards Tucker sat down and wrote the country’s first major constitutional treatise. And as far Tucker was concerned, there was simply no doubt that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to arms. “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty,” Tucker wrote of the Second Amendment. “The right of self-defense is the first law of nature.”
The individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment was widely held during the founding era. How do we know this? Because the historical evidence overwhelmingly points in that direction. For example, consider the historical context in which the Second Amendment was first adopted.
When the Constitution was ratified in 1789 it lacked the Bill of Rights. Those first 10 amendments came along a few years later, added to the Constitution in response to objections made during ratification by the Anti-Federalists, who wanted to see some explicit protections added in order to safeguard key individual rights. As the pseudonymous Anti-Federalist pamphleteer “John DeWitt” put it, “the want of a Bill of Rights to accompany this proposed system, is a solid objection to it.”
Library of CongressJames Madison, the primary architect of the new Constitution, took seriously such Anti-Federalist objections. “The great mass of the people who opposed [the Constitution],” Madison told Congress in 1789, “dislike it because it did not contain effectual provision against encroachments on particular rights.” To remove such objections, Madison said, supporters of the Constitution should compromise and agree to include “such amendments in the constitution as will secure those rights, which [the Anti-Federalists] consider as not sufficiently guarded.” Madison then proposed the batch of amendments that would eventually become the Bill of Rights.
What “particular rights” did the Anti-Federalists consider to be “not sufficiently guarded” by the new Constitution? One right that the Anti-Federalists brought up again and again was the individual right to arms.
For example, Anti-Federalists at the New Hampshire ratification convention wanted it made clear that, “Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion.” Anti-Federalists at the Massachusetts ratification convention wanted the Constitution to “be never construed…to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable, from keeping their own arms.”
Meanwhile, in the Anti-Federalist stronghold of Pennsylvania, critics at that state’s ratification convention wanted the Constitution to declare, “that the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own State, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals.”
One of the central purposes of the Second Amendment was to mollify such concerns by enshrining the individual right to arms squarely within the text of the Constitution. Just as the First Amendment was added to address fears of government censorship, the Second Amendment was added to address fears about government bans on private gun ownership.
Like it or not, the idea that the Second Amendment protects an individual right is as old as the Second Amendment itself.
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The Second Amendment, the Bill of Rights, and the …
Posted: June 17, 2016 at 4:48 am
I teach the Constitution for a living. I revere the document when it is used to further social justice and make our country a more inclusive one. I admire the Founders for establishing a representative democracy that has survived for over two centuries.
But sometimes we just have to acknowledge that the Founders and the Constitution are wrong. This is one of those times. We need to say loud and clear: The Second Amendment must be repealed.
As much as we have a culture of reverence for the founding generation, it’s important to understand that they got it wrong and got it wrong often. Unfortunately, in many instances, they enshrined those faults in the Constitution. For instance, most people don’t know it now, but under the original document, Mitt Romney would be serving as President Obama’s vice president right now because he was the runner-up in the last presidential election. That part of the Constitution was fixed by the Twelfth Amendment, which set up the system we currently have of the president and vice president running for office together.
Much more profoundly, the Framers and the Constitution were wildly wrong on race. They enshrined slavery into the Constitution in multiple ways, including taking the extreme step of prohibiting the Constitution from being amended to stop the slave trade in the country’s first 20years. They also blatantly wrote racism into the Constitution by counting slaves as only 3/5 of a person for purposes of Congressional representation. It took a bloody civil war to fix these constitutional flaws (and then another 150 years, and counting, to try to fix the societal consequences of them).
There are others flaws that have been fixed (such as about voting and Presidential succession), and still other flaws that have not yet been fixed (such as about equal rights for women and land-based representation in the Senate), but the point is the same there is absolutely nothing permanently sacrosanct about the Founders and the Constitution. They were deeply flawed people, it was and is a flawed document, and when we think about how to make our country a more perfect union, we must operate with those principles in mind.
In the face of yet another mass shooting, now is the time to acknowledge a profound but obvious truth the Second Amendment is wrong for this country and needs to be jettisoned. We can do that through a Constitutional amendment. It’s been done before (when the Twenty-First Amendment repealed prohibition in the Eighteenth), and it must be done now.
The Second Amendment needs to be repealed because it is outdated, a threat to liberty and a suicide pact. When the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, there were no weapons remotely like the AR-15assault rifle and many of the advances of modern weaponry were long from being invented or popularized.
Sure, the Founders knew that the world evolved and that technology changed, but the weapons of today that are easily accessible are vastly different than anything that existed in 1791. When the Second Amendment was written, the Founders didn’t have to weigh the risks of one man killing 49and injuring 53 all by himself. Now we do, and the risk-benefit analysis of 1791 is flatly irrelevant to the risk-benefit analysis of today.
Gun-rights advocates like to make this all about liberty, insisting that their freedom to bear arms is of utmost importance and that restricting their freedom would be a violation of basic rights.
But liberty is not a one way street. It also includes the liberty to enjoy a night out with friends, loving who you want to love, dancing how you want to dance, in a club that has historically provided a refuge from the hate and fear that surrounds you. It also includes the liberty to go to and send your kids to kindergarten and first grade so that they can begin to be infused with a love of learning. It includes the liberty to go to a movie, to your religious house of worship, to college, to work, to an abortion clinic, go to a hair salon, to a community center, to the supermarket, to go anywhere and feel that you are free to do to so without having to weigh the risk of being gunned downby someone wielding a weapon that can easily kill you and countless others.
The liberty of some to own guns cannot take precedence over the liberty of everyone to live their lives free from the risk of being easily murdered. It has for too long, and we must now say no more.
Finally, if we take the gun-rights lobby at their word, the Second Amendment is a suicide pact. As they say over and over, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In other words, please the gun manufacturers by arming even the vast majority of Americans who do not own a gun.
Just think of what would have happened in the Orlando night-club Saturday night if there had been many others armed. In a crowded, dark, loud dance club, after the shooter began firing, imagine if others took out their guns and started firing back. Yes, maybe they would have killed the shooter, but how would anyone else have known what exactly was going on? How would it not have devolved into mass confusion and fear followed by a large-scale shootout without anyone knowing who was the good guy with a gun, who was the bad guy with a gun, and who was just caught in the middle? The death toll could have been much higher if more people were armed.
The gun-rights lobby’s mantra that more people need guns will lead to an obvious result more people will be killed. We’d be walking down a road in which blood baths are a common occurrence, all because the Second Amendment allows them to be.
At this point, bickering about the niceties of textual interpretation, whether the history of the amendment supports this view or that, and how legislators can solve this problem within the confines of the constitution is useless drivel that will lead to more of the same. We need a mass movement of those who are fed up with the long-dead Founders’ view of the world ruling current day politics. A mass movement of those who will stand up and say that our founding document was wrong and needs to be changed. A mass movement of those who will thumb their nose at the NRA, an organization that is nothing more than the political wing of the country’s gun manufacturers, and say enough is enough.
The Second Amendment must be repealed, and it is the essence of American democracy to say so.
Watch four pro-gun arguments we’re sick of hearing.
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Why It’s Time to Repeal the Second Amendment
Posted: June 7, 2016 at 9:43 am
Stand for your Second Amendment rights against those Gun Free folks who just dont get it.
Posted: April 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm
Second Amendment Sports specializes in serving customers the entire package of what they need to feel prepared for going out into the field. We don’t just merely SELL our wares. We like to evaluate, educate, and make helpful suggestions.
Our clerks will listen to what you need, and present solutions that will fulfill your specific needs.
We offer self defense training at every level and for different purposes. One of our goals in training is to mentally and physically prepare our students to find the most appropriate means to protect themselves. Our Training Division holds non-firearm courses and firearm courses of all levels.
Second Amendment Sports also takes care of customers AFTER the sale. We offer a lifetime warranty for brand new firearms, mount and boresight services, sight installations, offsite gunsmithing, archery pro shop services, and reel spooling.
Established in 1993.
Matt and Dana Janes started selling ammo from inside his father’s storage container at David Janes Company. “We started with six cases of ammunition, re-invested it, and never looked back,” Matt says.
..and he didn’t look back. His business grew from cases of ammo in a corner to adding some long guns in a floor rack, then taking up an entire wall of the storage container to display all his guns. Matt and Dana logged thousands of hours of work into their business and sold guns at gun shows to get the business name out to the Kern County crowd.
In 1999, Matt left full time employment with his father, David Janes, to open up Second Amendment’s own storefront across the street. In 2003, he doubled the retail floorspace to sell more goodies. In 2007, he opened up a second location in Tucson, Arizona.
Matt and Dana show no signs of slowing down! They divide their time between stores, in order to ensure that they are still providing customers with the best experience possible!
Matt Janes involves himself in the entire outdoor sports industry. He has hunted upland game and big game in many western states with firearms and bow. He has fished the entire Pacific Coast. He is a Martial Arms graduate, and has owned almost every firearm imaginable! Matt is an Eagle Scout. He also has extensive backcountry experience in the entire Upper Kern Plateau. In 2005, he was honored with the title of “2005 Kern County Sportsman of the Year.”
“Raised with basic family values and many early outdoor opportunities, I stayed close to my desires while honing my business skills with my father/mentor. Then I took those family business and relationship skills and applied them to the outdoor industry. Continually surrounding myself with good people and loving family has allowed me to find a creative outlet at Second Amendment Sports. I appreciate all my association with you over time, and I hope to continue to share this passion with you!”
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Second Amendment Sports – Bakersfield, CA – Yelp
Posted: October 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm
Participants consoling each other during a candlelight vigil for the nine people who were killed in a shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday. The gunman also was killed. Credit photograph by Rich Pedroncelli/AP
The tragedy happensyesterday at a school in Oregon, and then as it will againexactly as predicted, and uniquely here. It hardly seems worth the energy to once again make the same essential point that the Presidenthis growing exasperation and disbelief moving, if not effective, as he serves as national mournerhas now made again: we know how to fix this. Gun control ends gun violence as surely an antibiotics end bacterial infections, as surely as vaccines end childhood measlesnot perfectly and in every case, but overwhelmingly and everywhere that its been taken seriously and tried at length. These lives can be saved. Kids continue to die en masse because one political party wont allow that to change, and the partywont allow it to change because of the irrational and often paranoid fixations that make the massacre of students and children an acceptable cost of fetishizing guns.
In the course of todays conversation, two issues may come up, treated in what is now called a trolling tonepretending to show concern but actually standing in the way of real argument. One is the issue of mental health and this particular killers apparent religious bigotry. Everyone crazy enough to pick up a gun and kill many people is crazy enough to have an ideology to attach to the act. The pointthe only pointis that, everywhere else, that person rants in isolation or on his keyboard; only in America do we cheerfully supply him with military-style weapons to express his rage. As the otherwise reliably Republican (but still Canadian-raised) David Frum wisely writes: Every mass shooter has his own hateful motive. They all use the same tool.
More standard, and seemingly more significant, is the claimoften made by those who say they recognize the tragedy of mass shootings and pretend, at least, that they would like to see gun sanity reign in Americathat the Second Amendment acts as a barrier to anything like the gun laws, passed after mass shootings, that have saved so many lives in Canada and Australia. Like it or not, according to this argument, the Constitution limits our ability to control the number and kinds of guns in private hands. Even the great Jim Jeffries, in his memorable standup on American madness, says, Why cant you change the Second Amendment? Its an amendment!as though further amending it were necessary to escape it.
In point of historical and constitutional fact, nothing could be further from the truth: the only amendment necessary for gun legislation, on the local or national level, is the Second Amendment itself, properly understood, as it was for two hundred years in its plain original sense. This sense can be summed up in a sentence: if the Founders hadnt wanted guns to be regulated, and thoroughly, they would not have put the phrase well regulated in the amendment. (A quick thought experiment: What if those words were not in the preamble to the amendment and a gun-sanity group wanted to insert them? Would the National Rifle Association be for or against this change? Its obvious, isnt it?)
The confusion is contemporary. (And, let us hope, temporary.) It rises from the younger-than-springtime decision D.C. v. Heller, from 2008, when Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a 54 majority, insisted that, whether he wanted it to or not, the Second Amendment protected an individual right to own a weapon. (A certain disingenuous show of disinterestedness is typical of his opinions.)
This was an astounding constitutional reading, or misreading, as original as Citizens United, and as idiosyncratic as the reasoning in Bush v. Gore, which found a conclusive principle designed to be instantly discardedor, for that matter, as the readiness among the courts right wing to overturn a health-care law passed by a supermajority of the legislature over a typo. Anyone who wants to both grasp that decisions radicalism and get a calm, instructive view of what the Second Amendment does say, and was intended to say, and was always before been understood to say, should read Justice John Paul Stevenss brilliant, persuasive dissent in that case. Every person who despairs of the sanity of the country should read it, at least once, not just for its calm and irrefutable case-making but as a reminder of what sanity sounds like.
Stevens, a Republican judge appointed by a Republican President, brilliantly analyzes the history of the amendment, making it plain that for Scalia, et al., to arrive at their view, they have to reference not the deliberations that produced the amendment but, rather, bring in British common law and lean on interpretations that arose long after the amendment was passed. Both keep arms and bear arms, he demonstrates, were, in the writers day, military terms used in military contexts. (Gary Wills has usefully illuminated this truth in the New York Review of Books.) The intent of the Second Amendment, Stevens explains, was obviously to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. The one seemingly sound argument in the Scalia decisionthat the people in the Second Amendment ought to be the same people referenced in the other amendments, that is, everybodyis exactly the interpretation that the preamble was meant to guard against.
Stevenss dissent should be read in full, but his conclusion in particular is clear and ringing:
The right the Court announces [in Heller] was not enshrined in the Second Amendment by the Framers; it is the product of todays law-changing decision. . . . Until today, it has been understood that legislatures may regulate the civilian use and misuse of firearms so long as they do not interfere with the preservation of a well-regulated militia. The Courts announcement of a new constitutional right to own and use firearms for private purposes upsets that settled understanding . . .
Justice Stevens and his colleagues were not saying, a mere seven years ago, that the gun-control legislation in dispute in Heller alone was constitutional within the confines of the Second Amendment. They were asserting that essentially every kind of legislation concerning guns in the hands of individuals was compatible with the Second Amendmentindeed, that regulating guns in individual hands was one of the purposes for which the amendment was offered.
So there is no need to amend the Constitution, or to alter the historical understanding of what the Second Amendment meant. No new reasoning or tortured rereading is needed to reconcile the Constitution with common sense. All that is necessary for sanity to rule again, on the question of guns, is to restore the amendment to its commonly understood meaning as it was articulated by this wise Republican judge a scant few years ago. And all you need for that is one saner and, in the true sense, conservative Supreme Court vote. One Presidential election could make that happen.
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The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment
Posted: September 26, 2015 at 12:42 am
After going virtually unchallenged for more than one hundred years, Americans right to own guns was one of the hottest political topics of the second half of the 20th Century. The issue has calmed somewhat in the early days of the 21st Century, but if history is our guide, the debate is going nowhere until an inevitable and definitive ruling is handed down by the nations courts: does the Second Amendment apply to individual citizens?
1791: The Second Amendment is Ratified
The ink had hardly dried on the ratification papers of the Constitution before a political movement was undertaken to amend the framing document to declare gun ownership as a right.
A select committee assembled to review amendments proposed by James Madison authored the language that would become the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
1871: NRA Founded
The National Rifle Association was founded by a pair of Union soldiers in 1871, not as a political lobby but as an effort to promote the shooting of rifles. However, the organization would grow to become the face of America’s pro-gun lobby in the 20th Century.
1822: Bliss v. Commonwealth Brings Individual Right Into Question
The Second Amendments intent for individual Americans first came into question in 1822, in Bliss v. Commonwealth. The court case arose in Kentucky after a man was indicted for carrying a sword concealed in a cane.
He was convicted and fined $100.
Bliss appealed the conviction, citing a provision in the Commonwealths constitution that states: The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned.
In a majority vote with just one judge dissenting, the court overturned the conviction against Bliss and ruled the law unconstitutional and void.
1856: Dred Scott v. Sandford Upholds Individual Right
The Second Amendment as an individual right was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856. With the rights of slaves in question, the nations highest court opined on the intent of the Second Amendment for the first time, writing that affording slaves full rights of American citizenship would include the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
1934: National Firearms Act Brings About First Major Gun Control
The first major effort to eliminate private ownership of firearms came with the National Firearms Act of 1934. A direct response of the rise of gangster violence in general, and the Saint Valentines Day massacre in particular, the National Firearms Act sought to circumvent the Second Amendment by controlling firearms through a tax excise ($200 for each gun sale).
The National Firearms Act targeted fully-automatic weapons, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, pen and cane guns, and other firearms defined as gangster weapons.
1938: Federal Firearms Act Requires License for Dealers
The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 required anyone selling or shipping firearms to be licensed through the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Federal Firearms License (FFL) stipulated that guns could not be sold to persons convicted of certain crimes and required sellers to log the names and addresses of anyone they sold guns to.
1968: Gun Control Act Ushers In New Regulations
Thirty years after Americas first sweeping reform of gun laws, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy helped to usher in new federal legislation with wide-ranging implications. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited mail order sales of rifles and shotguns, increased license requirements for sellers and broadened the list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm to include convicted felons, drug users and the mentally incompetent.
1994: Brady Act and Assault Weapons Ban
Two new federal laws passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 became the hallmark of gun control efforts of the latter 20th Century.
The first, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, required a five-day waiting period and background check for the sale of handguns, while also requiring a National Instant Criminal Background Check System to be created. The second, the Assault Weapons Ban (officially entitled the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act) banned a number of rifles defined as assault weapons, including many semi-automatic, military-style rifles such as the AK-47 and SKS.
2004: Assault Weapons Ban Sunsets
A Republican-controlled Congress refused to pass a reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, allowing the ban to expire. President George W. Bush was criticized by gun control supporters for not actively pressuring Congress to renew the ban, while gun rights supporters criticized him for indicating that he would sign a reauthorization if Congress passed it.
2008: D.C. v. Heller is a Major Setback for Gun Control
Gun rights proponents were thrilled in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment extends gun ownership rights to individuals. The decision affirmed an earlier decision by a lower appeals court and struck down handgun bans in Washington D.C. as unconstitutional.
The case was lauded as the first Supreme Court case to affirm the right of an individual to keep and bear arms in accordance with the Second Amendment. However, the ruling applied only to federal enclaves, such as the District of Columbia. Justices did not opine on the Second Amendments application to the states.
2010: Gun Owners Score Another Victory in McDonald v. Chicago
Gun rights supporters scored their second major Supreme Court victory in 2010, when the high court affirmed the individual right to own guns in McDonald v. Chicago.
The ruling, which was an inevitable follow-up to D.C. v. Heller, marked the first time that the Supreme Court ruled the provisions of the Second Amendment extend to the states. The ruling overturned an earlier decision by a lower court in a legal challenge to Chicagos ordinance banning the possession of handguns by its citizens.
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History of Gun Rights – a Timeline of the 2nd Amendment
Posted: at 12:42 am
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 2, 2000 | LINDA ASHTON, ASSOCIATED PRESS
They lock the gate to Canada at 5 p.m. But in this woodsy corner of northeastern Washington, no one really seems to mind the wait until it reopens promptly at 9 the next morning. In an emergency, there’s a border crossing open until midnight about 10 miles to the west. “This part of the country is still kind of backward. I like it that way.
May 13, 2000 | RICHARD SIMON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Their counterdemonstration in support of gun rights will be smaller than the Million Mom March. But the gun-owning women who make up the Second Amendment Sisters feel just as passionately about their cause. “The anti-gun factions constantly say that if it saves one life, it’s worth it,” said Debra Collins, who once used a 12-gauge shotgun to defend herself from an attack by her ex-husband at 4 o’clock in the morning. “Well, my firearm saved one life–mine.”
July 22, 1999 | MICHAEL HARRIS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Like many another old-timer, Leon Uris looks at America and doesn’t like what he sees. Gun manufacturers peddling ever more lethal weaponry under the cover of the Second Amendment. Media grown hysterical and trivial. Racial sores left to fester. The nation’s “social agenda” abandoned in favor of corporate greed. A general falling-off of virtue, so that the heroic Marines of World War II he wrote about in his first novel, “Battle Cry,” are grotesquely parodied by right-wing militiamen.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 31, 1994
Your editorial “Fear of Gun Crime: Deeper Than Any Set of Statistics” (May 22) hits very wide of the bull’s-eye. Though criminal usage of firearms is up, so is successful civilian usage in justified self-defense, to over 2 million per annum. Regarding the meaning of the Second Amendment, you’re only half right. The constitutional framers were rightly afraid of a dictatorial central government; however, the Second Amendment does in fact confirm an individual right to own arms.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 24, 1994
I was especially intrigued by the last paragraph of “Handgun Crime Soaring in U.S., Report Says,” May 17. I quote, “The survey also found that 38% of the victims who were armed attacked the individuals seeking to harm them. One-fifth of those attempting to protect themselves with a firearm were injured, compared to almost half who used other weapons or had no weapon at all.” I guess it comes as no surprise that the notoriously anti-gun Times would bury this intriguing bit of news at the very end. SAM BRUNSTEIN Glendale By now everyone knows the position of the National Rifle Assn.
May 8, 1994
In Paula Poundstone’s piece (“The Good Old Days? Somebody Stole ‘Em,” Laugh Lines, April 25) she makes the false statement regarding the Old West that “they didn’t have the evil NRA then because nobody was against guns to begin with.” In fact, the National Rifle Assn. was incorporated in 1871 during the relatively brief period between the Civil War and the turn of the century that we think of as the “Wild West” period. It was during this era that attempts were made to disenfranchise and leave defenseless newly freed blacks by not allowing them to possess firearms as all other Americans could.
Posted: September 2, 2015 at 1:41 pm
Second Amendment,Second AmendmentNARAamendment to the Constitution of the United States, adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, that provided a constitutional check on congressional power under Article I Section 8 to organize, arm, and discipline the federal militia. The Second Amendment reads, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Referred to in modern times as an individuals right to carry and use arms for self-defense, the Second Amendment was envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, according to College of William and Mary law professor and future U.S. District Court judge St. George Tucker in 1803 in his great work Blackstones Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as the true palladium of liberty. In addition to checking federal power, the Second Amendment also provided state governments with what Luther Martin (1744/481826) described as the last coup de grace that would enable the states to thwart and oppose the general government. Last, it enshrined the ancient Florentine and Roman constitutional principle of civil and military virtue by making every citizen a soldier and every soldier a citizen. (See also gun control.)
Until 2008 the Supreme Court of the United States had never seriously considered the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment. In its first hearing on the subject, in Presser v. Illinois (1886), the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment prevented the states from prohibit[ing] the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security. More than four decades later, in United States v. Schwimmer (1929), the Supreme Court cited the Second Amendment as enshrining that the duty of individuals to defend our government against all enemies whenever necessity arises is a fundamental principle of the Constitution and holding that the common defense was one of the purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution. Meanwhile, in United States v. Miller (1939), in a prosecution under the National Firearms Act (1934), the Supreme Court avoided addressing the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment by merely holding that the possession or use of a shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length was not any part of the ordinary military equipment protected by the Second Amendment.
For more than seven decades after the United States v. Miller decision, what right to bear arms that the Second Amendment protected remained uncertain. This uncertainty was ended, however, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in which the Supreme Court examined the Second Amendment in exacting detail. In a narrow 54 majority, delivered by Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court held that self-defense was the central component of the amendment and that the District of Columbias prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also affirmed previous rulings that the Second Amendment ensured the right of individuals to take part in the defending of their liberties by taking up arms in an organized militia. However, the court was clear to emphasize that an individuals right to an organized militia is not the sole institutional beneficiary of the Second Amendments guarantee.
Because the Heller ruling constrained only federal regulations against the right of armed self-defense in the home, it was unclear whether the court would hold that the Second Amendment guarantees established in Heller were equally applicable to the states. The Supreme Court answered this question in 2010, with its ruling on McDonald v. Chicago. In a plurality opinion, a 54 majority held that the Heller right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause.
However, despite the use of person in the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause, the McDonald plurality opinion did not extend to noncitizens. Clarence Thomass fifth and decisive vote only extended the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller to citizens. Thomas wrote, Because this case does not involve a claim brought by a noncitizen, I express no view on the difference, if any, between my conclusion and the plurality with respect to the extent to which States may regulate firearm possession by noncitizens. Thomas further came to this conclusion because he thought the Second Amendment should be incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendments privileges or immunities clause, which only recognizes the rights of citizens.
The relatively narrow holdings in the McDonald and Heller decisions left many Second Amendment legal issues unsettled, including the constitutionality of many federal gun-control regulations, whether the right to carry or conceal a weapon in public was protected, and whether noncitizens are protected through the equal protection clause.
The origins of the Second Amendment can be traced to ancient Roman and Florentine times, but its English origins developed in the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I instituted a national militia where individuals of all classes were required by law to take part in defending the realm. Although Elizabeths attempt to establish a national militia failed miserably, the ideology of the militia would be used as a political tool up to the mid-18th century. The political debate over the establishment and control of the militia was a contributing factor in both the English Civil Wars (164251) and the Glorious Revolution (168889).
Despite recognition in the early 21st century by the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protected armed individual self-defense in the home, many constitutional historians disagreed with the court that the Second Amendment protected anything but the right to participate in a militia force as the means of defending their liberties. For over two centuries there was a consensus that the Second Amendment protected only the right of individuals to keep and bear Arms in order to take part in defending their liberties as a militia force. However, by the late 20th century the popular consensus had shifted, many believing that the Second Amendment was framed to protect armed self-defense in the home.
In England, following the Glorious Revolution, the Second Amendments predecessor was codified in the British Bill of Rights in 1689, under its Article VII, which proclaimed that the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law. Often misinterpreted as a right to defend ones person, home, or property, the allowance to have arms ensured that Parliament could exercise its sovereign right of self-preservation against a tyrannical crown by arming qualified Protestants as a militia.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution undoubtedly had in mind the English allowance to have arms when drafting the Second Amendment. The constitutional significance of a well regulated Militia is well documented in English and American history from the late 17th century through the American Revolution; it was included in the Articles of Confederation (1781), the countrys first constitution, and was even noted at the Constitutional Convention that drafted the new U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. The right to keep and bear Arms was thus included as a means to accomplish the objective of a well regulated Militiato provide for the defense of the nation, to provide a well-trained and disciplined force to check federal tyranny, and to bring constitutional balance by distributing the power of the sword equally among the people, the states, and the federal government.