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.
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 . . . ."