Ten Years After District of Columbia v. Heller, the Fight to Secure Second Amendment Rights Continues

NRA reports that: “Activists, including in the judiciary, had sought to convince Americans that the Second Amendment was a relic of history that had nothing to with individual rights — that it existed only to promote organized militias. These anti-freedom activists feared that if private individuals had judicially enforceable Second Amendment rights, their designs on outright firearm prohibitions would be jeopardized. Thus, they distorted law and history to promote a falsehood about the meaning of the Second Amendment.

Heller should have put an end to their politically motivated chicanery, declaring unambiguously that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to the sorts of arms in common use for lawful purposes, without regard to service in an organized militia. A decade later, however, gun control activists – still abetted by statist judges on the lower courts – continue to press for the disarmament of the American public. As long as ordinary Americans still possess firearms, the fight to keep liberal elites from taking them will continue.

It is not surprising that the same courts who once tried to write the Second Amendment’s individual right out of existence haven’t been quick to embrace the letter or spirit of Heller. To the contrary, they have been engaged in massive resistance to its holding. But it has often been shocking to see the undisguised disdain with which some judges have treated the Supreme Court’s ruling.

It began immediately, with states and localities insisting Heller had nothing to do with their gun control laws at all, given that the handgun ban at issue in that case had technically been enacted under federal authority. Lower courts were generally willing to back gun control advocates on this desperate gambit until the Supreme Court finally put it to rest in 2010 with McDonald v. Chicago.

“Our decision in Heller points unmistakably to the answer,” the McDonald court wrote, as if chastising all the lower courts that had, in fact, made that mistake over the preceding two years. It then went on to explain how the individual right articulated in Heller is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “among the foundational rights necessary to our system of Government.” The majority concluded, “We therefore hold that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller.”

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