Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Attorney General Ashcroft & The Second Amendment

Thursday, July 1, 2004

by Stephen P. Halbrook

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, explained U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, by letter dated May 17, 2001, to James Jay Baker, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. The Violence Policy Center, a lobbying organization which seeks to ban guns, has responded with a superficial attack entitled Shot Full of Holes: Deconstructing John Ashcroft's Second Amendment.

Click above to see and read General Ashcroft's Letter.

The VPC document combines flawed historical interpretation with hysteria, such as that Ashcroft's views would protect "armed career criminals" in their deadly pursuits. While the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure and other Bill of Rights guarantees protect even criminals, no one disputes that such criminals have no right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, the Ashcroft Justice Department has launched a vigorous campaign -- absent in the Reno Department -- against felons who possess firearms.

On assuming office, Attorney General Ashcroft took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which includes the Second Amendment. From the standpoint of legal ethics, it is admirable when prosecuting authorities candidly concede that they or their predecessors took an erroneous position regarding the law, for their duty is to see that justice is done, not to win cases at any price. Yet VPC has filed an ethics complaint against Ashcroft for expressing in good faith (and with persuasive documentation) an opinion about a provision of the Bill of Rights.


VPC purports to refute Ashcroft's two-page letter on the Second Amendment, but VPC's silence on the Constitution's text is deafening. The Second Amendment provides: "A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." This "right of the people" is not limited, as VPC claims, to actual service in a state military force. The Framers knew how to limit a right to actual service -- the Fifth Amendment provides for indictment by grand jury "except in cases arising . . . in the militia, when in actual service . . . ."

TRENDING NOW
Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

On Monday, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) – joined by co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rand Paul (R-KY) – introduced S. 59, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (HPA). Similar legislation was introduced in the ...

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

On January 3rd, Congressman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.8th) introduced H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which simply allows lawful firearm carriers from any state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state. The bill ...

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

Inspired, perhaps, by Oscar Wilde (“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess”), Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced two new sweeping gun control bills, with Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and Rep. ...

Supreme Court Asked to Review California’s Restrictive Carry Regime

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Supreme Court Asked to Review California’s Restrictive Carry Regime

On Thursday, the NRA-supported case Peruta v. California took an important step towards restoring the right to bear arms in California.  The plaintiffs in the case, California gun owners and the California Rifle and Pistol ...

The NRA Bids Farewell to Roy Innis, Civil Rights Champion: June 6, 1934 – Jan. 8, 2017

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

The NRA Bids Farewell to Roy Innis, Civil Rights Champion: June 6, 1934 – Jan. 8, 2017

America lost a civil rights icon and a true free thinker with the death of Roy Innis on Jan. 8. For the NRA, his departure was personal. Mr. Innis served on the NRA’s Board of ...

Increase in Violent Crime: National Trend Driven by Local Politics?

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Increase in Violent Crime: National Trend Driven by Local Politics?

The FBI released its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report earlier this week and the bad news is that violent crime increased for the second consecutive year.

Virginia: Senate Committee to Hear Numerous Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Virginia: Senate Committee to Hear Numerous Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tomorrow, January 18, the Senate Courts of Justice is expected to hear and possibly vote on several firearm-related bills.

NRA Applauds the Introduction of the Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 367

News  

Hunting  

Monday, January 9, 2017

NRA Applauds the Introduction of the Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 367

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) applauded Congressmen Jeff Duncan (SC) and John Carter (TX-31) on Monday for introducing the Hearing Protection Act, an important bill that gives gun owners and sportsmen ...

Kansas: Bill Introduced Attempting to Repeal Pro-Self-Defense Law

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kansas: Bill Introduced Attempting to Repeal Pro-Self-Defense Law

In 2013, the Kansas Legislature passed the Public Building Security Act, pro-gun legislation that amended the Personal and Family Protection Act. 

Jeff Sessions’ Devotion to the Constitution Shines Through in Contentious Confirmation Hearing

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jeff Sessions’ Devotion to the Constitution Shines Through in Contentious Confirmation Hearing

On January 10 and 11, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held the confirmation hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for United States Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Throughout his distinguished career in public service, ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.