Gun rights for the individual–you don’t have to be conservative to revere them

Today’s New York Times has an article by Adam Liptak, “A Liberal Case for Gun Rights Helps Sway Judiciary” (registration required). The article explores the fact that liberals are coming to acknowledge the fact that the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is indeed an individual right. Some of those coming to this realization find it a bit painful, but some of them have the moral and intellectual courage to deal with it.

Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, said he had come to believe that the Second Amendment protected an individual right.

“My conclusion came as something of a surprise to me, and an unwelcome surprise,” Professor Tribe said. “I have always supported as a matter of policy very comprehensive gun control.”

Professor Tribe’s new, improved understanding of the Second Amendment was, of course, quoted in the landmark federal circuit court decision to overturn Washington DC’s insanely draconian gun laws in the Parker v. District of Columbia case.

The NY Times article discusses other scholars, associated with liberalism, who have come to conclusions similar to Professor Tribe’s.

Several other leading liberal constitutional scholars, notably Akhil Reed Amar at Yale and Sanford Levinson at the University of Texas, are in broad agreement favoring an individual rights interpretation. Their work has in a remarkably short time upended the conventional understanding of the Second Amendment, and it set the stage for the Parker decision.

I’m not quite sure what the author meant by “conventional understanding”–the “collective rights” myth seems, as far as I can tell, not to have been uttered before the 1960’s.

These respected liberal academicians seem to agree that the “collective rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment is borne of intellectual bias, rather than historical reality.

The earlier consensus, the law professors said in interviews, reflected received wisdom and political preferences rather than a serious consideration of the amendment’s text, history and place in the structure of the Constitution. “The standard liberal position,” Professor Levinson said, “is that the Second Amendment is basically just read out of the Constitution.”

But things are so much easier when one can ignore the parts of the Constitution of which he disapproves.

If only as a matter of consistency, Professor Levinson continued, liberals who favor expansive interpretations of other amendments in the Bill of Rights, like those protecting free speech and the rights of criminal defendants, should also embrace a broad reading of the Second Amendment. And just as the First Amendment’s protection of the right to free speech is not absolute, the professors say, the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms may be limited by the government, though only for good reason.

Liberal journalist Michael Kinsley, in quoting a colleague, perhaps said it even better:

If liberals interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the rest of the Bill of Rights, there would be law professors arguing that gun ownership is mandatory.

I have recently been called a “partisan conservative”–presumably because of my views on gun rights (since I don’t remember expressing my opinions on any other political issues in this blog). I find that extremely amusing, as would just about anyone who actually knows me. What many advocates of restrictive gun laws are too terrified to admit is that a rights-based outlook on guns is not restricted to conservatives, and is becoming more prevalent among liberals every day.

Are civilian disarmament advocates running out of friends?

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One Response to “Gun rights for the individual–you don’t have to be conservative to revere them”

  1. BobG Says:

    “Are civilian disarmament advocates running out of friends?”

    Nope; like any bunch of shysters (as opposed to ethical lawyers), they are just biding their time and looking for loopholes and “alternative interpretations” from which to base their next attack. In the meantime, they have the ignorant MSM to spread propaganda for them, free of charge.

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