Amicus Curiae filed before the United States Supreme Court

"Simply put, the Second Amendment's explicit terms and underlying logic inescapably demonstrate that it protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, not some sort of governmental right," said Lee. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2008
Contact: Timothy H. Lee, Esq.
703-535-5836

CFIF Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Preserve the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms

Amicus Curiae Brief Urges High Court to Recognize that the Second Amendment Creates an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

ALEXANDRIA, VA — In its ongoing efforts to protect rights explicitly granted by the United States Constitution, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) this week filed an Amicus Curiae brief before the United States Supreme Court in the much-anticipated case District of Columbia, et al. v. Heller, commonly referred to as "the D.C. gun ban case."

"The Bill of Rights is almost entirely a declaration of individual rights held by 'the people,' and that term is used throughout the Constitution to confer rights upon individual citizens," said Timothy Lee, CFIF's Director of Legal and Public Affairs.  "As our brief points out, one cannot assert with a straight face that these Amendments somehow protect collective, governmental rights, as opposed to individual rights.  In fact, the Second Amendment unequivocally states that, '... the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,'" Lee continued.

Gun control advocates, including the District of Columbia, however, bizarrely assert that the Second Amendment somehow stands anomalous among the Bill of Rights by creating some sort of "collective right" of state governments.  According to them, the Second Amendment was drafted merely so that state governments could arm themselves to counterbalance the federal government's militia.  As a result, they claim, individual citizens have no right to keep and bear arms, and the District of Columbia's notorious gun ban should stand.

Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rightly rejected that position.  It ruled D.C.'s gun ban unconstitutional, holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, as opposed to some sort of collective governmental right, to keep and bear arms.  Following that well-reasoned decision, the District of Columbia government appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to recognize only a collective, governmental Second Amendment protection.  In response, CFIF and fellow amici now urge the Supreme Court to affirm the Circuit Court's ruling below and recognize the Second Amendment's individual right to keep and bear arms.

"The right of individual American citizens to keep and bear arms is a fundamental one afforded to us by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," said Lee.   "The District of Columbia's draconian firearms prohibitions are clearly unconstitutional, and we look forward to the United States Supreme Court recognizing the individual rights conferred by the Second Amendment." 

In its brief, CFIF presents two arguments for recognizing the individual right of the people to keep and bear arms: 

1) Contrary to popular myth and gun control advocates' common assertions, the United States Supreme Court has never held that the Second Amendment confers only a collective right to keep and bear arms, nor has it somehow rejected an individual right interpretation.  Rather, in the 1939 case United States v. Miller, which gun-control advocates commonly cite, the Supreme Court merely held that the defendants had failed to appear before the Court at oral argument or present evidence in their defense.  As a consequence, held the Court, it was simply unable to determine whether the defendants' weapons were protected by the Second Amendment.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court left unanswered the question of what rights are conferred by the Second Amendment.

2) The Supreme Court must consider the unexpected and chaotic real-world consequences that would result from a collective states' right ruling.  For instance, recognizing some sort of collective right of the states to keep and bear arms would contradict other Constitutional provisions, call the National Guard as it presently exists into question and collide with existing federal firearms laws.  Furthermore, such an ill-founded ruling would open the federal courts to a sudden flood of litigation by states against federal firearms laws.  These inherent contradictions and flaws in the District of Columbia's proposition clearly demonstrate that the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights could not have intended anything other than an individual right of the people to keep and bear arms.

"Simply put, the Second Amendment's explicit terms and underlying logic inescapably demonstrate that it protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, not some sort of governmental right," said Lee.  "We look forward to the Supreme Court's decision," Lee concluded.



[Posted February 14, 2008
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