Shall Not Be Infringed
By Jennifer Freeman
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.
In May 2001, U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft, publicly confirmed that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms. Later that same year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Texas) upheld this view in U.S. vs. Emerson. In 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco) proclaimed that the Second Amendment did not protect
individuals' right to own or possess weapons as stated in the case of Silveira vs. Lockyer . The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear both cases on appeal.
The U.S. Department of Justice re-confirmed in December 2004 that the Second Amendment is very clear in that it pertains to individuals. It also confirmed that the term "militia" referred to a citizen militia comprised of adult male civilians, not a governmental agency such as the National Guard.
What has very clearly been neglected, however, is the latter part of the Second Amendment which very clearly states that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" (emphasis added by this author). And yet our right is being infringed on a constant basis from all levels of government. And the U.S. Justice Department seems to come up empty-handed when it comes down to enforcing its position on an individual right.
A few examples include:
* New Jersey - Assembly Bill 3998 would allow the government to confiscate your building or vehicle for the crime of illegally possessing a firearm. An illegal possession includes possessing an ordinary handgun, rifle, or shotgun without the proper permit. This bill was introduced in May 2005.
* New York - Ronald Dixon was prosecuted for defending his children against an armed intruder without first completing all of the necessary paperwork required to own a handgun. Mr. Dixon served time in the same facility as the burglar. June 2003.
* Massachusetts - Law-abiding citizen loses his concealed carry permit and his right to possess 20th century firearms over a "wardrobe malfunction." Basically, the wind blew his jacket open exposing his otherwise concealed firearm. No shots were fired, the firearm was not directed at anyone or anything. Unfortunately this gentleman's right to own firearms has been reduced to historical relics as a result. May 2005.
* Washington D.C. requires a license to purchase any handgun, shotgun, or rifle. All firearms must be registered with the police. However, the District ceased the registration process on handguns in 1976 making the ownership of handguns completely banned with a few possible exceptions.
The list of such infringements goes on and on across the country at the city, county, state, and federal levels. Of course, most of us are willing to accept some form of control. This is obvious based on the thousands of gun control laws that are already on the books. At what point, however, does common sense become blatant infringement? And what is the Justice Department
doing to protect us from such infringements?
The only possible recourse, at this time, would be through the court system and would involve more money than most folks can afford. Of course, these cases never end with one judgement. Rather they tend to be appealed and appealed all the way up a Circuit Court where the rulings vary depending on your geographic locale. And while the average citizen may not be able to
afford to fight such cases, the government can easily afford it through the use of our tax dollars.
Ultimately, the U.S. Justice Department and/or the U.S. Supreme Court will have to take definitive action to protect our right from the anti-American predators that seek to destroy liberty. If they fail to act, their position will be nothing more than words printed on paper as will the Second Amendment.
Jennifer Freeman is Executive Director and co-founder of Liberty Belles, a grass-roots organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the Second Amendment.
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The Journal of History - Fall 2007 Copyright © 2007 by News Source, Inc.