The legal profession is full of blowhards, egomaniacs, hypocrites, and elitists, but even so, rarely are all those qualities present in a single individual to the same degree as in Alan Dershowitz. At age 28, Dershowitz became the youngest full professor of law in history with his appointment at Harvard. And, yes, it went to his head. He has written that he “does not hide behind the distorting shield of false humility” and has even suggested things might have gone differently for Jesus if he had been there to represent him. When not busy indoctrinating impressionable law students in his own particular brand of politics, Prof. Dershowitz has advocated on behalf of various celebrity clients, including in highly-publicized cases involving allegations of murderous domestic violence.
Despite his reputation in some circles as a civil rights champion, Dershowitz is no fan of the Second Amendment. He has advocated for a variety of gun controls, including banning all semi-automatic firearms. As he said on the (since cancelled) Piers Morgan show, “If I could ban 100 percent of guns without violating the Constitution, I would do that ….” In the same appearance, he called the idea that guns have a role in protecting liberty “a myth.” Nevertheless, at least at one point, he was willing to go on record as admitting the Second Amendment protects an “individual right to ownership of guns,” although subject to regulation.
Nevertheless, Dershowitz (who admitted in 2003 that he's never held a pistol) on Monday claimed America’s “experiment” with private ownership of firearms “has failed miserably.” During an appearance on Newsmax TV, he went on to say, “If I could write the Bill of Rights over again, I would skip amendment number two. We’re the only country in the world that puts in our Constitution the right to bear arms.”
Even though Dershowitz is famed for his expansive readings of other provisions of the Bill of Rights, he would have no problem regulating the Second Amendment into oblivion. “What is needed,” he said, “is some very tough legislation on both the federal and state level to make it much, much harder to get guns and to create a presumption against gun ownership instead of a presumption in favor of gun ownership ….”
Although perhaps the most obnoxious, Dershowitz is by no means the first legal prima donna to suggest rewriting the Bill of Rights to eliminate the Second Amendment. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has publicly suggested that a “future, wiser court” could revisit the landmark Heller decision, which recognized a private right to arms under the Second Amendment. Later, in a televised appearance from Cairo, Egypt, Justice Ginsburg remarked that she “would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”
More recently, another dissenter from the Heller case, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, wrote an entire book about how he would refashion the U.S. Constitution to his liking. Among his suggestions is limiting “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” in the Second Amendment with the phrase, “when serving in the militia.”
While we at the NRA don’t think much of their constitutional scholarship, we can at least credit these influential legal thinkers for their candor and for illustrating the true philosophical underpinnings of the gun control movement. No matter how else they may couch their rhetoric – most recently as “gun safety” proponents, gun control advocates simply hate guns and do not trust the American people to have them. It should surprise no one that the legal elites among them are perfectly willing to repeal or judicially nullify the Second Amendment entirely.
The next U.S. president could appoint perhaps three or even four Supreme Court justices to a bench where the Heller and McDonald decisions currently survive by one vote. The importance of who makes those appointments should not be lost on those who value the right to keep and bear arms. Whatever else can be said of his tendency towards incessant bloviation, that’s one lesson from Prof. Dershowitz we all should heed.