Attacks individual right to keep and bear arms
Dec 18, 2012
Barack Obama’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, a long time advocate of eviscerating the Second Amendment, has penned a piece that essentially labels anyone who defends long standing gun rights in the US as “crazy”.
In the editorial titled Gun Debate Must Avoid Crazy Second Amendment Claims, Sunstein argues that the individual right to bear arms, supported and reaffirmed consistently by courts across the nation, constitutes “wild and unsupportable claims about the meaning of the Constitution.”
“Sure, it could fairly be read to support an individual right to have guns.” writes Sunstein of the Second, “But in light of the preamble, with its reference to a well-regulated militia, it could also be read not to confer an individual right, but to protect federalism, by ensuring that the new national government wouldn’t interfere with citizen militias at the state level.”
He then goes on to claim that for decades it was never recognized that the Second Amendment protected the individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and that it was only with the Supreme Court decision in 2008 that individual rights were established.
“We should respect the fact that the individual right to have guns has been established, but a lot of gun-control legislation, imaginable or proposed, would be perfectly consistent with the court’s rulings.” Sunstein writes.
“It is past time to stop using the Second Amendment itself as a loaded weapon, threatening elected representatives who ought to be doing their jobs.” Sunstein concludes.
This constitutes an old argument that is used by big government gun grabbers and those politically motivated to erode individual rights. The Supreme Court decision in 2008 UPHELD the individual right to keep and bear arms, as many other court decisions and Justice Department memoranda has before. It did not ESTABLISH that right, as Sunstein argues.
In 2004, the Justice Department noted, “A ‘right of the people’ is ordinarily and most naturally a right of individuals, not of a State and not merely of those serving the State as militiamen. The phrase ‘keep arms’ at the time of the Founding usually indicated the private ownership and retention of arms by individuals as individuals, not the stockpiling of arms by a government or its soldiers, and the phrase certainly had that meaning when used in connection with a ‘right of the people,’”
“Moreover, the Second Amendment appears in the Bill of Rights amid amendments securing numerous individual rights, a placement that makes it likely that the right of the people to keep and bear arms likewise belongs to individuals,” the DOJ’s report continued.
Sunstein’s argument against individual gun rights hinges on the notion that the Founders used the word “people” to mean “states”, a clearly ridiculous suggestion especially given that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were penned by the most meticulous wordsmiths in history.
Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in several drafts of the Virginia constitution, provisions that “no freeman shall be debarred the use of arms.”
In addition, state-level precursors to the Second Amendment made it clear that keeping arms was each person’s individual right “for the defence of themselves and the state.”
In his argument, Sunstein even wrongly cites the 1939 case of U.S. v. Miller, to argue that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms. In reality, however, the court in that case duly noted that the “militia” mentioned in the Second Amendment comprised all able-bodied males – ie individuals.
Sunstein, and those who have propelled the same argument about the Second Amendment are twisting its meaning. The founders explicitly crafted the Second Amendment as a bulwark against government tyranny. Armed militia — citizens of a country — were to defend against the possible rise of a tyrannical state, not only merely to organize for hunting expeditions or to defend against small scale criminal activity.
We have seen this kind of Rhetoric before from Sunstein. During a lecture at the University of Chicago Law School on October 27, 2007, he argued that “The Supreme Court has never suggested that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to have guns.”
Sunstein either misunderstands the original purpose of the Second Amendment or stands opposed to an armed citizenry guarding against tyranny.
Given that Sunstein has also argued that the First Amendment should be “reformulated”, and has called for taxing or banning outright, as in making illegal, opinions and ideas that the government doesn’t approve of, it is clearly only his views on the Constitution and Bill of Rights that are “crazy”, and not those of the Founders.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.