Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Second Amendment as Second-Class Right? A Dismal Warning

Friday, March 4, 2016

Second Amendment as Second-Class Right? A Dismal Warning

A case involving the scope of firearm prohibitions prompted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to break his more than decade-long silent streak on the bench. Justice Thomas last asked a question in February 2006, but he made headlines on February 29 by asking a question during oral argument in the case of Voisine v. United States. Unfortunately, commentators seized on the fact that he spoke at all, rather than the troubling implications of what he had to say.

The Voisine case arises out of the prohibition in the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(9), which prohibits those convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” as that offense is defined, from possession of firearms and ammunition.

The defendants in Voisine had been convicted of domestic violence under Maine’s simple assault statute, which defines “assault” as including “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caus[ing] bodily injury or offensive physical contact” to another person. Neither had used a firearm or weapon of any kind in committing the offense. The question before the Court is the scope of the federal definition and whether it extends to misdemeanors which include reckless conduct as well as more deliberate conduct where there is an intent to harm. (Under that formulation, for example, an individual who injures a family member while recklessly driving could commit a qualifying domestic violence offense, potentially resulting in a permanent ban on firearm possession.)

As Assistant U.S. Solicitor General Ilana Eisenstein was winding up her argument in support of the expansive interpretation, Justice Thomas interjected to ask that she identify another “constitutional right that can be suspended based upon a misdemeanor violation of a State law.” While she struggled to conceive of a responsive example, Justice Thomas persisted in his line of questions, noting, “[Y]ou’re saying that recklessness is sufficient to trigger a … misdemeanor violation of domestic conduct that results in a lifetime ban on possession of a gun, which, at least as of now, is still a constitutional right.”

Apart from being a stark reminder that the Court today is not what it was four weeks ago before Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death, this signals just how close the Court may be to undermining the Second Amendment interpretation offered in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. Only four of the current eight justices joined the late Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller, recognizing that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home. Since then, several lower courts have chipped away at or ignored Heller’s fundamental premise.

Justice Thomas had previously warned of this slide towards what he called “relegating the Second Amendment to a second-class right,” in his dissent over the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the “assault weapons” ban case, Friedman v. City of Highland Park. Joined by Justice Scalia, he observed that the “Court’s refusal to review a decision that flouts two of our Second Amendment precedents stands in marked contrast to the Court’s willingness to summarily reverse courts that disregard our other constitutional decisions.”

As we pointed out in an earlier alert, given these numbers, “future appointments to the Court will determine whether Heller is overturned, limited to nothing more than the possession of a handgun for protection within the home, or expanded to expressly protect the right to keep and bear all arms that are necessary for the entire range of defensive purposes, as the Framers of the Bill of Rights intended.”

The decision in the Voisine case is pending. So is the future of the Second Amendment.

TRENDING NOW
NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of “Pencils” and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of “Pencils” and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

It is refreshing to finally see some common sense coming out of a court in NJ, as the state is notoriously known for its illogical and Draconian gun laws that do little more than make ...

Goodyear Fires Australian Competitive Shooter over Simple Miscommunication

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Goodyear Fires Australian Competitive Shooter over Simple Miscommunication

In the United States there have been a handful of high-profile incidents in which an employer has terminated an employee following the employee’s use of a gun in self-defense while at the workplace. In recent ...

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

In March, we reported on a series of restrictive policies governing firearms that had been approved by the governing body of the well-known networking and service club, Rotary International. This week came a welcome turn ...

Ohio: Pro-Gun Bills Scheduled for Committee Hearing Tomorrow

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ohio: Pro-Gun Bills Scheduled for Committee Hearing Tomorrow

  Tomorrow, June 20, several Second Amendment-related bills are scheduled to be heard in the House Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations.  Please contact the committee members in support of the following pro-gun bills!

Delaware: Hearing Scheduled for Radical Gun Seizure Legislation

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Delaware: Hearing Scheduled for Radical Gun Seizure Legislation

Tomorrow, the House Administration Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 222.

UK: Police Commissioner Suggests Value of Armed Citizenry, is Quickly Rebuffed

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

UK: Police Commissioner Suggests Value of Armed Citizenry, is Quickly Rebuffed

Every once in a great while, an independent-minded United Kingdom official is overcome with a bout of common sense on firearms. However, such outbursts of reason are typically short-lived, as the gun control apostate becomes ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Kansas: Governor Brownback Allows Anti-Gun Legislation to Become Law

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Kansas: Governor Brownback Allows Anti-Gun Legislation to Become Law

Today, Governor Sam Brownback announced that he intends to let House Bill 2278 become law without his signature.  HB 2278 makes it unlawful for individuals to carry a firearm for self-defense into a state or municipal-owned ...

Why The United States Needs To Unite On Carry Reciprocity

News  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why The United States Needs To Unite On Carry Reciprocity

In an educational op-ed posted Thursday at newyorkdailynews.com, criminologist and author John Lott makes the case that the previous day’s shooting at a GOP Congressional baseball practice proves why the country needs national Right-to-Carry reciprocity.

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

On Monday, June 19, the NRA and CRPA’s legal team submitted a joint-letter to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of Administrative law demanding that the regulations be withdrawn or not approved as the regulations exceed ...

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.