Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Monday, December 20, 2004

US DOJ comments on the 2nd Amendment

The US Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel has issued a memorandum:
The Second Amendment secures a right of individuals generally, not a right of States or a right restricted to persons serving in militias.
August 24, 2004
For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to keep and to bear arms. Current case law leaves open and unsettled the question of whose right is secured by the Amendment. Although we do not address the scope of the right, our examination of the original meaning of the Amendment provides extensive reasons to conclude that the Second Amendment secures an individual right, and no persuasive basis for either the collective-right or quasi-collective-right views. The text of the Amendment's operative clause, setting out a "right of the people to keep and bear Arms," is clear and is reinforced by the Constitution's structure. The Amendment's prefatory clause, properly understood, is fully consistent with this interpretation. The broader history of the Anglo-American right of individuals to have and use arms, from England's Revolution of 1688-1689 to the ratification of the Second Amendment a hundred years later, leads to the same conclusion. Finally, the first hundred years of interpretations of the Amendment, and especially the commentaries and case law in the pre-Civil War period closest to the Amendment's ratification, confirm what the text and history of the Second Amendment require.
In this blogger's opinion, this is a very welcome statement of the esteem in which the DOJ holds the inalienable right of free people to be able to provide for their own defense - both from the tyranny of criminals, and that of governments. It's been said before, and by those sharper and wiser than I, but I'll say it again: an armed society is a polite society.


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