During a September 2019 “townhall” hosted by New Hampshire ABC affiliate WMUR, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made clear that he does not believe the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms and that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller was incorrect.
During the event, Biden was asked, “Do you agree with the D.C. v. Heller decision in regards to protecting the individual right to bear arms that are in common use and which are utilized for lawful purposes?”
Biden responded in part, “If I were on the court I wouldn’t have made the same ruling. OK, that’s number one.”
And I taught for years Constitutional law and separation of powers, I taught the Second Amendment. And the Second Amendment is not absolute. And we can argue, the fundamental argument is well regulated militia and all those things, I won’t get into that. I think that the fundamental argument is the reason that was given as a right because we needed to be able to muster people to deal with an enemy called Great Britain we were fighting in a war.
Aside from his denunciation of Heller and denial that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, Biden also displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment was not “given as a right”by the U.S. Constitution. Rather, as the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Heller, the Second Amendment protects a right that pre-existed the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Biden’s position on Heller and the Second Amendment is in line with that of his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
As District Attorney of San Francisco, Harris signed on to an amicus curiae brief in Heller that argued the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Advocating against the individual right to keep and bear arms, the brief argued,
courts have consistently sustained criminal firearms laws against Second Amendment challenges by holding that, inter alia, (i) the Second Amendment provides only a militia-related right to bear arms, (ii) the Second Amendment does not apply to legislation passed by state or local governments,
According to the document, the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right, but rather, the lower court in Heller “create[d]”this right. The brief stated,
The lower court’s decision, however, creates a broad private right to possess any firearm that is a “lineal descendant” of a founding era weapon and that is in “common use” with a “military application” today.
Biden’s position on the Second Amendment is also in alignment with recent versions of the Democratic Party Platform. The 2004, 2008, and 2012 editions of the party platform recognized that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Such recognition of the Second Amendment was conspicuously absent from the 2016 and 2020 versions of the platform.
The Democratic presidential ticket’s rejection of the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment helps to explain the pair’s advocacy for blatantly unconstitutional gun control measures. Both Biden and Harris have called to ban and confiscate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. Biden has made clear that his desired ban would extend to arguably the most popular firearms in America - 9mm pistols. The Heller decision made clear that the Second Amendment protects the right to own firearms “in common use”for lawful purposes like self-defense.
It is hard to overemphasize the extremism of the Democratic presidential ticket’s position on the Second Amendment. A February 2008 USA Today/Gallup poll conducted prior to the Heller decision, asked those surveyed, “Do you believe the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns, or do you believe it only guarantees members of state militias such as National Guard units the right to own guns?”The response was unambiguous; 73-percent responded that the Second Amendment guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns, while a mere 20-percent limited that right to state militia members.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted shortly after the Heller decision, in July 2008, mirrored these results. This poll asked respondents, “Would you support or oppose amending the United States Constitution to ban individual gun ownership?”78-percent opposed such a measure, while only 17-percent were found to be in favor.
And in May 2009, CNN and ORC conducted a similar poll that asked “Which of the following comes closer to your interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? In addition to addressing the need for citizen-militias, it was intended to give individual Americans the right to keep and bear arms for their own defense. It was only intended to preserve the existence of citizen-militias, and does not give individual Americans the right to keep and bear arms for their own defense.”Once again, the American public made their position clear; with 77-percent choosing “individual gun ownership”to 21-percent answering “only citizen-militias.”
Knowing that Biden’s true position on the Second Amendment is political poison, the Biden campaign and its surrogates have done their best to hide the candidate’s views.
In March, when a pro-gun Michigan autoworker accurately confronted Biden about the candidate’s attacks on the Second Amendment, a visibly defensive Biden responded that the worker was “full of s***.”Biden went on to falsely claim “I support the Second Amendment.”
More recently, longtime gun control activist John Rosenthal made the ludicrous claim that “a vote for Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress will…protect gun rights for law-abiding gun owners…”Rosenthal didn’t address how Biden will go about protecting a right that the candidate does not acknowledge exists.
The importance of Biden’s radical view of the Second Amendment cannot be overstated. The fate of the Second Amendment literally hangs in the balance of this election.