Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Obama’s View of Your Rights

Ken Blackwell nicely unpacks some of the words dripping off Barack Obama’s silver but forked tongue. The specifics discussed in this example are his real views concerning the Second Amendment. He’s claimed to support it and, even on Drudge, he’s been heralded as a defender of individual gun rights. But not so fast. You may have these rights but, apparently, your possession of these rights does not mean local governments can’t have their own rights . . . like the right to take your guns away. Obama supports the DC total ban on gun ownership. Whatever your views on the Second Amendment, consider what’s really at the heart of Obama’s twisted view of rights. You possess individual rights and government possesses separate rights--to be defined (presumably?) by Obama--and these governmental rights can overrule your mere individual rights. Your rights come with strings . . . we already knew Democrats thought that--that’s why they’re always so eager to tie you up in a ball of dependence. But now, apparently, there’s also an escape clause. I mean, after all, you can’t really be trusted with your rights. You’re not as smart as they are.

Discussions - 13 Comments

Obama's view of the Second Amendment is in line with legal-historical scholarship, as I understand it. But making this right an individual right (a "right of the People" as the Amerndment says) does not make it absolute - that is, beyond any regulation whatever. Julie appears to be an absolutist on this score, like the NRA. McCain is not an absolutist. He and Obama have the same view about the proper interpretation of the Amendment, though they disagree about what regulations are permissible under that Amendment.

Obama's view of the Second Amendment is in line with legal-historical scholarship, as I understand it.


Then I suspect that you do not understand it at all.

making this right an individual right (a "right of the People" as the Amerndment says) does not make it absolute - that is, beyond any regulation whatever

Nobody suggested otherwise, but don't let that stop you from beating your strawman. However, there is no reason why the right to bear arms cannot be held to the same standard as the right to free speech, in which case the vast majority of gun laws in America would be striken from the books.

I won't go so far as to suggest that it be treated the same way as the mythical right to abortion, in which case the government would be obliged to buy each of us his very own rifle.

Then I suspect that you do not understand it at all.

I'm afraid your quickness on the trigger led you to misunderstood me. The old issue, as Ken Blackwell points out, was whether the Amendment meant that guns belonged only with units like the national guard. That pretty much has been laid to rest: the right is properly seen as an individual right, contrary to what gun control advocates used to argue.

Obama's view of the Second Amendment is in line with legal-historical scholarship, as I understand it.

I have to second John. The Second Amendment scholarship is nearly uniform (through all periods of American history) in its support of the individual rights view. I wish people would stop making things up and pretending they are "facts."

But making this right an individual right (a "right of the People" as the Amerndment says) does not make it absolute - that is, beyond any regulation whatever.

You really need to look at the facts of the case before you opine. No one is challenging the government's ability to enact "any regulation whatever." The D.C. laws at issue, which Obama says he supports, operate as a complete ban on all functional firearms within the district. The district said so quite explicitly at oral argument and in its briefs. McCain and Obama aren't even close on this issue.

Steve, the issue has not been laid to rest. The "individual vs. militia rights" argument is the only issue before the court in the D.C. case, yet Obama failed to join the majority of the House and Senate who filed a brief in support of the individual rights interpretation. Obama's rhetoric cannot be squared with his actions.

I thought we all noted that Obama says he subscribes to the individual rights interpretation. That's not the question, is it?

But it is news to me that there has been virtually no other interprtetation of the Second Amendment throughout American history.

I meant that the legal historians had laid it to rest. The Court has not ruled on it before.

I do not know why Obama did not join the brief.

I thought we all noted that Obama says he subscribes to the individual rights interpretation. That's not the question, is it?

Yes, that IS the question. The court wrote the question itself and focused it entirely on whether the Second Amendment protects "rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia."

But it is news to me that there has been virtually no other interprtetation of the Second Amendment throughout American history.

That fact that something is "news to you" doesn't mean a whole lot to the rest of us. Legal scholarship is overwhelming in its rejection of the collective rights or militia rights interpretation.

I do not know why Obama did not join the brief.

Yes you do. Obama did not join the brief because he supports D.C.'s total ban on gun ownership. The real question is why you insist that he is a moderate when his actions say otherwise.

I see that it should hardly be surprising that Obama did not join the Congressional brief. It was mostly a Republican effort (with some Democrats from rural states) in which the Vice President joined - even though this put Mr. Cheney at odds with the Justice Department. In effect, the Bush Administration in its brief seems to take Obama's position. Both the Congressional brief and the Justice brief argue that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, which is also Senator Obama's position.

Obama's position is that a total ban on gun ownership does not violate the instruction "shall not be infringed." Neither the Congressional brief nor the DOJ brief says anything like that.

anon - yes, of course, you are right about that. I was making a different point. Tell me: does the Justice Department brief support the ban?

">">http://www.gurapossessky.com/news/parker/documents/07-290tsacUnitedStates.pdf"> Here's the Justice Department amicus brief that has lots of conservatives upset at the Administration.

Steve, I am not sure what you are getting at with your question. The DOJ does not support the ban. Nothing in the brief suggests otherwise. Conservatives are upset because the DOJ argues for intermediate (rather than strict) scrutiny of gun laws, an issue which has nothing to do with the narrow question presented by the court.

The point is this: Obama and McCain each say they believe in an individual right protected by the Constitution. You take them both at their word. I do not, because the facts demonstrate that Obama does not really believe that. He has made it clear that he supports the government's ability to ban all functional firearms. This case is not at the margins. It is not a gray area. It is an absolute ban. That is not even close to John McCain's position.

Who gives a damn what obama thinks, or what mcain thinks, or what anyone else thinks. The second amendment means exactly what it says...peroid...THE ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS...
PEROID AGAIN...And if you can see how to read, it tells you exactly why...
It's so; we the people can take up our arms and protect our freedom from ''the want to be dictators''Just like we (might) have in office NOW...

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