Blog of Rights

⬅ Return to Heller Decision and the Second Amendment

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  1. gravedigger Says:

    Finally the ACLU has revealed itself as the anti-American, U.S. Constitution-hating, godless Socialist/Marxist/Communist organization the conservatives have always known it to be. Nothing has changed, but much has been REVEALED by their stated position on the 2nd Amendment.

  2. Another disappointed former ACLU supporter Says:

    I've long believed in the ACLU cause and looked the other way at their disregard of the 2nd amendment.

    This is just too much, though. The ACLU's position statement can be condensed to "Well, we just don't like it, so we're going to pretend it doesn't mean what it (and the Supreme Court) says."

    I have long defended the ACLU against the "Just a bunch of flaming liberals" charge, and I now honestly question whether I was right to have done that. Their response to the Heller ruling seems to leave no room for any explanation other than that they are indeed driven more by a particular political ideology than by genuine principles.

    I hope the ACLU continues to do good work. But their hypocritical stance on the 2nd has lost them an ardent supporter.

  3. Andrew U Says:

    I've been an enthusiastic supporter of the ACLU for some years and could tolerate your absenteeism on the Second Amendment when you took a pseudo-neutral stance. It wasn't a particularly well thought out position, mind you, but I could understand the rationale -- alienating would-be supporters are never good for business.

    In light of the support you've lost following this announcement, I hope the reasons you cling to this collectivist "interpretation" are not intellectual ones. That would truly be pitiful, as the Circuit brief and SCOTUS (majority AND minority) opinions so obviously spell out why the RKBA is an individual one. Put in that context, it's remarkably surprising the collectivist-school had as much credibility for so long.

    Do you actually get enough donations from wealthy partisan individuals and entities to makeup for the utter cognitive dissonance this must cause, or is it just flat-out denial? (I really hope it's the former.)

    The Constitution and the Bill of Rights aren't a Chinese take out menu. You don't pick one from column A, one from column B, and substitute out column C for a vegan option to appease the hippy chick you're dating. Every right enumerated in the Bill of Rights is vital and important.

  4. Mike Says:

    First off, I'd just like to say that I've always been a supporter of the ACLU, and have contributed money in the past.

    But now not only are you NOT going to recognize our constitutional right to own firearms, but you are going to do it in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. "Our mission is to protect the rights of American citizens... unless of course that right is the one we ignore."

    I agree with your positions and the actions taking on other issues and constitutional rights, but you really lose a lot of respect from me when you are so hypocritical about it.

    The only reasonable, logical conclusion that one can make (based on the definitions of words, grammar, and writings of the time it was written) about the 2nd Amendment is that it protects citizens' rights to own firearms. Even cursory readings of founding fathers' writings will show that that was the intention (to protect against both criminals and tyrants). Any other interpretation is based on a biased viewpoint, and anyone who does interpret it differently is just trying to justify their own opinions.

    Every single argument that gun control opponents make can and has been refuted either by peer-reviewed, empirical studies (ie: not one-sided studies from organizations like the Brady Campaign or VPC), government reports such as the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics or Department of Justice, CDC, or other agency reports, or simply from logic itself.

    The fact that otherwise intelligent people that run the ACLU ignore the facts and continue to disregard such an imperative constitutional right as the 2nd Amendment is ridiculous. I would have hoped that you would have turned your stance on the issue to at least neutral, but alas, you continue your illogical and emotionally-based policy.

    You won't be receiving another dime from me or my family.

  5. gravedigger Says:

    Since you deleted my last comment, I see that the first amendment means nothing to you either.

  6. Mike Says:

    I guess mostly the ACLU's response makes me kinda sad.

    You've always been the good guys. The white hats who come in and do what is right because it is right. Even if it meant standing up and defending someone who stands for all you find most abhorent, you stood up and defended them because everyones rights deserve defending.

    To have you now say that this right, well, not only do we not defend it, we don't even believe in it, well, it just makes me sad since those white hats are looking a little grey today.

  7. Ex-supporter Says:

    When did the bill of rights become a grab-bag?

    I could live with the neutrality expressed in the previous policy statement. I can't except overt opposition to a right guaranteed in the constitution.

  8. NeverLift Says:

    The court's ruling was dead on the money, and ACLU has now confirmed that it supports only the rights of the left, to coin a phrase.

    The history behind the Second Amendment defines its meaning. Those that created the United States and organized the Continental Army to fight the British had a distrust of a standing army, seeing it used by the British as an instrument of subjugation. Indeed, that army was disbanded after the Revolution, and a new standing army was created only after it became evident that one was needed. (It happened that the need was the conflicts with Native Americans, but that's another topic. And then the War of 1812 . . .)

    So, at the time the Bill of Rights was debated and created, it was anticipated that there would be no "army" that was to be armed. The "militia" referred to in it is meant to describe the voluntary coming together of armed free men to resist oppressive government, should that reoccur.

    The ACLU's stand, then, is actually pro-oppression by a government run amok.

  9. Dan Says:

    Very disappointing, ACLU. I've donated in the past and am glad we have someone that stands up for first amendment (even the controversial stuff), but I don't think I'll be sending any more money your way until you start treating the second amendment like it's a part of the bill of rights.

  10. Eric Says:

    WTF? How can you pick and choose what individual rights to defend? It is either all or none. The second amendment is there Because Freedom Can't Protect Itself. Fuck you ACLU.

  11. Lonnie Wilson Says:


  12. jesse Says:

    It would be one thing if the ACLU was making a principled stand in favor of liberty against a wrongfully decided Supreme Court decision, but for the ACLU to actively support the side of oppression and advocate a police state rather than supporting fundamental civil liberties is disgusting.

    I've considered donating to the ACLU multiple times in the past, but could not and will not as long as the ACLU continues to support a intellectually dishonest and nonsensical view of the 2nd Amendment and the fundamental civil liberty that it protects.

  13. It's About Freedom Says:

    This means I'm not done sending you bricks with your return postage envelopes.
    Respect the decision; it is an individual right; as are all the others in the BOR.

  14. Matthew Shriver Says:

    It is unfortunate that the ACLU has chosen not to support the civil liberties protected and conferred by the second amendment.

    An intellectually honest position would be to say that the NRA, Cato Institute and similar organizations are dedicated to protecting our right to keep and bear arms, and the ACLU's resources are best spent elsewhere, in the full accounting of resources and rights.

    The ACLU is on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the fight to expand and protect civil liberties in its ill-conceived and plainly politicized decision to disregard Heller.

  15. G McDonald Says:

    Where in the heck were you people for decades when the ACLU sat by and allowed the infringements of the 2nd amendment? How could you have been giving them money before? I'm glad to see you have the nerve to speak up now, but where were you? And it's not just the 2nd amendment. "Life, liberty and property" and "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are two very basic phrases in our founding documents and both phrases begin with the word "Life." What more basic right is there than life, including the right to defend your life. It's one of the few circumstances in which the most proscribed act, the taking of a life, is allowed. Is this rocket science?

  16. Carl in Chicago Says:

    Suzanne Ito wrote:
    "As always, we welcome your comments."

    Welcome, as long as they don't exceed 150?

    It's your call ... I do realize, mind you, that it's only the government that is barred from abridging free speech.

  17. Bob Says:

    I have to love how the ACLU is beyond hypocritical in this case. There are no collective rights in the Bill of Rights. The rights are INDIVIDUAL rights.

    Let's apply the ACLU case of "collective rights" to the first amendment. That would mean that only the various governments have free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly.

    Now the 3rd Amendment where only the governments have the right against forcible quarter of soldiers.

    Now the 4th Amendment where only the governments have the rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

    You see a pattern here?

    Take a look at your financial records, take the money provided by George Soros and his "" and send it back. It's obvious the leadership of the ACLU is being paid off to parrot the failed attempts to re-write the history of the 2nd Amendment.

    Live up to the ideals and accept the plain and simple truth. The right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.

  18. George Says:

    As a libertarian, I agree with so much of what the ACLU does. But it is assinine stance on the 2nd Amendment which is so flat wrong that keeps me from being a card carrying member.

    The hypocrisy in the ACLU's position on the 2nd Amendment versus the others in the Bills of Rights is stunning and beyond disingenuous.

  19. Parrotjoe Says:

    Shame on you.

    Why won't you stand up for my rights.

    2A has now been heard and decided yet many states continue to inhibit my right to carry a gun through back door rules,policies,and laws that seem to me to be arbitary and only stop law-abiding people from carrying a gun.

    Sounds to me like there's a fox in the hen house. Where's my gun? Oh I forgot, the government took it.

  20. Blackbeard Says:

    I have always respected the ACLU and the work they do. They are a vital presence in the face of a government that seems bent on seizing as much personal liberty from its citizens as it can. Why they would choose to endorse government supremacy with respect to such a fundamental human right as self-defense to me is unfathomable. They have shown themselves to be nothing more than puppets of the wealthy left.

    Neither does it make financial sense. There are many ridiculous gun laws out there just begging to be repealed in the light of Heller. Think about all the contributions that would roll in if the ACLU had announced that they will defend Second Amendment rights with the legendary vigor with which they defend the others!

    I guess "power to the people" is a bit anachronistic, too.

  21. Michael Says:

    I've never understood this bizarre blind spot in the US liberal community, and I still don't. Look, I'm a long-haired kinky polyamorous atheist. I believe in gay marriage, freedom for the speech I hate, and a wall of separation between church and state so high that Jesus couldn't see over it standing on Muhammad and Buddha's shoulders. I believe that the surveillance powers of the government should be wildly curtailed, even if that means an increased danger of terrorism. Racial and religious profiling makes me furious, and I don't much care whether it works. I am the freakin' poster child for your organization.

    And yet the ACLU and other US liberal groups continually alienate people like me by insisting that, while they'll fight tooth and nail to protect the Constitutional rights of the worst people in the country, they're going to ignore the flagrant offences against on right in particular. Freedom for the thought we hate... Unless it involves guns.

    Look, I'm completely with you on neo-Nazis, the KKK, and everybody like them: no matter how odious their actions may be, they're protected by the Bill of Rights, and thus we must hold our noses and stand up for them. An attack on them is an attack on us all. But that's equally true of my neighbor, who owns a handgun to protect his two little daughters.

    Gun owners _aren't_ bad people, and they certainly deserve to be stood up for as much as some horrible skinheads do. An attack on gun owners' rights is an attack on us all. If your organization can't separate its feelings about the victims from the principle of civil rights in this case, then I'm afraid I can't stand with you.

  22. Sal Gutierrez Says:

    So now instead of standing up for our RIGHTS, you decide which ones even apply to us now???

    Good luck with that.

  23. Christoph J. Ledinek Says:

    The ACLU's absurd stance on the 2nd amendment makes their defense of all other constitutional rights implausible.

  24. jrkarp Says:

    You have really shown your true colors on this one. You have shown that this organization is not motivated by a desire to protect the rights of Americans but is instead politically motivated.

  25. Hoosier Says:

    ke_future says: seeing as how there has never been a supreme court interpretation embracing 2A as a collective right, i’m unclear as to how the Heller decision is a significant and historic reinterpretation of the right to keep and bear arms.

    As interpreted by the ACLU of course.

  26. Paul Says:

    I first became involved with the ACLU as a 21 year old grad student who supported the organizations position on the Skokie marches despite the opposition of my family, who felt that defending people who espoused the same philosophy that sent so many relatives to the death camps in Germany and Poland was simply going to far. At the time I truely believed that the statement "I disagree with what you say but will defend your right to say it" was the best policy.

    I always looked at the ACLUs policy on the 2nd as a bit of sophistry; the Policy #47 seemed to be a deliberate misinterpretation of the SCOTUS decision in Miller, but there was wiggle room there. And since the ACLU did not actively pursue an anti-gun agenda, I was willing to ignore their lack of defense for the 2nd.

    Well, it took 30 years, but you did finally proved my older relatives correct; perhaps I should have taken their counsel 30 years ago when I first started sending you money.

    The ACLU no longer has a vague SCOTUS ruling to hide behind regarding the 2nd. And they have taken this opportunity to show their true colors.

    It does make me wonder; who was the big money supporter who wanted to see the ACLU out there defending the rights of the American Nazi Party 30 years ago, and how much does it cost to buy that kind of loyalty from the ACLU today?

    More than my 30 years of contributions, I'm sure. And infinitely more than any future funds the ACLU will receive from me.

  27. Fred Says:

    So, what you're saying is that you support our Constitutional rights except where they get in the way of your ideology? That's a very sad position for the ACLU, of all organizations, to be taking.

  28. William Platts Says:

    I am disappointed in the ACLU. Up to now you could have some basis for your belief in a collective right's interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. However, will Heller that is no longer true. The Court examined the history, context, language, terms and meaning of the 2nd Amendment and found they did not support a collective interpretation. By what basis do you now claim to be able to interpret the 2nd Amendment to be a collective right which was not addressed and shot down by SCOTUS? Do you have some legitimate basis for your denial of Heller, or is it simply you find yourself unable to accept this particular AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTY? Maybe it's time you considered changing your name?

  29. macx Says:

    So out of 150 comments thus far, only one (#146) could be considered pro- the ACLU 2nd decision. He bashes those that did little else but spout slander but himself did no more than to discount the whole thread based on the few. He didn't bother to respond to all of the other arguments (well reasoned or not) other than to suggest that every 2nd amendment supporter in the comments was a thinly veiled Cato supporter come to bash the ACLU.

    Well I haven't happened on the Cato site in years. I believe the cherry picking of our rights is a fair and accurate criticism. I want to be behind an organization that believes in all of my rights, and not just their flavor of what they think it should be. For such a logical organization to provide such an illogical stance is beyond me. I can only hope that the ACLU changes their official policy; then I will support them with one of the few things an American citizen has left--my pocketbook.

  30. Gregory Morris Says:

    JNH: That wasn't on Second Amendment "collective rights" grounds though. The reason that the ACLU never sued to even protect a "collective" 2A right is because the entire theory is indefensible. They aren't sticking to it because it is the best, most correct theory. It is pure political agenda.

  31. Irritated Libertarian Says:

    I will be sending my membership card back to the ACLU tonight due to this BS. I will advise other ACLU members to do the same, and discourage potential members until the ACLU sees the light. The ACLU leadership is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. The RKBA has always been interpreted by the vast majority of scholars and, I believe, any reasonable citizen as an individual right and it is now codified in law as such by Heller. The ACLU's interpretation of the issue is twisted and I am disgusted.

    I have supported the ACLU as a bulwark against the dangerous expansion of power granted to the Bush administration since 9/11 and for their principled stands, defending even the despised from bad laws which surely would be expanded sooner or later to unjustly oppress average Americans. I can not support your position on Heller, and will not.

  32. newsguy35 Says:

    Interesting that the rest of the Bill of Rights' Amendments 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 are in recognition of individual rights, not government right. Why do you commie left-wingers believe the 2nd different?

  33. David Says:

    Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

    How about this:

    Gee, I think freedom of the press is a collective right. I think you, individually, aren't free to publish viewpoints on your blog against the Supreme Court - or any government entity for that matter. If you can ignore the 2nd, I can ignore the 1st.

    Someone throw these crazy ACLU lawyers on a waterboard for a few hours and see if they can remember other so-called "collective rights" mentioned in the Bill of Rights.

    The only reason for the Bill of Rights is due to the fact that the signers of the Constitution were afraid of the government having too much power - of course the second amendment grants people their rights.

    But hey, here's the whole 2nd amendment explained in under a minute for you ADD ACLU folks:

  34. GRF Says:

    The ACLU has officially lost any credibility they may have had.

  35. Don Says:

    Without the Second amendment the rest of the amendments and the Constitution itself aren't worth the paper they are printed on. It is the People(individuals) who made this great country! It is also those individuals that keep the government in line.

    An armed man is a citizen and unarmed man is a subject!

  36. Bewildered Says:

    The ACLU STILL thinks that the 2nd is a collective right? Geesh, so much papered education amongst the group, yet so little cognitive ability.

    Well, let's take a moment to look at what some of the State Conventions had to say while the Bill of Rights was being developed, shall we?

    New Hampshire, June 21, 1788; Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion.

    New York, July 26, 1788; That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, including the body of the People capable of bearing Arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free State.

    Pennsylvania Minority, December 12, 1787; That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game, and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any or them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals;...

    Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia's proposals also presented that the people have a right to keep and bear arms.

    From Madison himself, in House, June 8, 1789; The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country:... Congressional Register, June 8, 1789, vol. 1, p. 427.

    Being that Madison himself proposed the creation of the Bill of Rights, I'll take his word long before I'll believe the obvious misinterpretation of the ACLU's.

    Anyone interested in how our Country's Bill of Rights came to be, would do well to read "The Complete Bill of Rights, The Drafts, Debates, Sources, and Origins", edited by Neil H. Cogan.

  37. Mcculver5 Says:

    As an attorney who is not backed by a large endowment from liberal purses, I think I am free to look at rights objectively. The ACLU cannot.

    Your stance on this issue is not rights driven. Rather, your stance on the Second is a calculated political position done with the intent to keep your doners happy.

    You simply cannot be seen to side with rednecks. Moreover, you refuse to be seen as an organization that could facilitate inner city minority gun ownership.

    In other words, your stance is classist and racist. Your stance is intelectualy disshonest. Your stance is driven by endowment not rights.


  38. Texas Gunowner Says:

    You're supposed to defend our constitional rights regardless of your stance. You'll not receive any more money from me!!!

  39. Harry E. OConnell III Says:

    If the 2nd Amendment can be construed only as a collective right, what prevents the entire Bill of Rights from being construed as only valid when exercised collectively? I don't think it a wise practice to trample rights just because we don't choose to exercise them.

  40. Ryan Says:

    Shame on you!

  41. 6Kings Says:

    Are you people that naive and ignorant of what the ACLU has become over the last 10+ years?! This is status quo in their cherry picking rights to defend. Never would I give a dime to the ACLU and I can't believe they suckered so many people for so long. Criminy!

  42. John R. Says:

    Huh, my comment, lucid and free of foul language, was apparently deleted. Censorship, ironic! Hopefully this summary gets by any "reasonable restrictions":

    1)I am a member, and I am sending my card back over ACLU's position on the RKBA

    2)I will encourage other members to follow suit and discourage others from joining until this position changes

    3)I am doing this because ACLU leadership is performing extraordinary mental gymnastics to restrict an important constitutional right that SCOTUS and the vast majority of Americans support

    4)I hope the ACLU changes their position on the 2nd amendment because I joined out of concern for Bush administration shenanigans, which continue, as well as other governmental intrusions and I would like to rejoin one day with a clear conscience so as to continue supporting those efforts. But I won't rejoin as long as the ACLU closes their eyes and wishes Heller and reality in general away.

  43. G30_doug Says:

    Hey ACLU! Are you feeling the heat yet?

    I see members leaving, money leaving and still you cling to your communist agenda.

    Meh, you are not worth it.

  44. Wayne Says:

    If the ACLU can read, how can you say that it is a "collective" right? Give the 2nd to a 7th grader, and ask them what it means (without coaching either way) and see what they say.

  45. AKD Says:

    No clearer sign is needed that the ACLU is a morally corrupt organization. Perhaps this was floated in a blog to give the ACLU an opportunity to word smith their official statement to make it less offensive, but at least we all now know the true organizational value that will underly any eventual "official position."

  46. Jason Doxey Says:

    It was always very disturbing to me that the ACLU refused to defend our Second Amendment right in the same manner that the ACLU defends other fundamental constitutional rights. Prior to the Heller decision, the ACLU could rest its Second Amendment policy on the fact that the right to keep and bear arms had not been judicially recognized by the highest court of the land. That has changed now. It is the province of the Court to say what the law is. The law is that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental individual right. The Second Amendment still says what it has always said. The Supreme Court has not created a new right, but, rather, has recognized a right that was created when the Second Amendment was ratified more than 200 years ago. The ACLU's refusal to defend this fundamental constitutional right solidifies the suspicion of many that the ACLU is not a steadfast defender of civil liberties, but is instead an organization that pursues a particular social policy agenda, regardless of the guarantees that are actually conferred on the people by the United States Constitution.

  47. Andre Ronley Says:

    I never understood why my US History teacher didn't support the ACLU when she was such an advocate for civil liberties. I do now, and sadly I won't be supporting this organization.

  48. Tammy Says:

    As the "defender" of the Bill of Rights, it is the ACLU's obligation to do all in it's power to protect our rights. It is not the ACLU's business to have a "collective" opinion on these rights. As a group, you must remain non-partisan. Just as a lawyer ensures the right to a fair trial regardless of guilt, your mission is defend our rights, regardless of your opinion. Once you start to pick and choose which ammendment to support, you lose ALL credibility with the Americans the Consitution provides liberties to.

  49. Mike Stollenwerk Says:

    This is insane! What ever happenned to "Law of the Land"?

    I am canceling my Guardian of Liberty status right now - no more monthly cash payments from me.

    I'll buy more ammunition instead!

  50. benEzra Says:

    As a center-left independent, a regular on Democratic Underground and Huffington Post, and a general admirer of the ACLU, I cannot FATHOM why you continue to adhere to an authoritarian reading of the Second Amendment. How is it that you rightly recognize a general right to privacy in the penumbra of the Fourth Amendment, but cannot find a right of the people (not the government, the PEOPLE) to responsibly own and use guns in the Second Amendment, even when the Court has explicitly recognized that right?

    Your position on the Second Amendment is little different that that of the late Jerry Falwell on the First Amendment. Your website tosses up the lame straw-man argument that if the 2ndA doesn't protect nukes and bazookas, then it is not a right at all, and guns can be restricted or banned to any degree that Congress wishes. But the 1stA doesn't protect child porn, libel, slander, or ritual sacrifice either, yet freedom of religion, speech, and press are STILL individual rights.

    I would urge you to please reconsider your position, and support the right of mentally competent adults with clean records to continue to lawfully own and use non-automatic, non-sound-suppressed NFA Title 1 (civilian) firearms in this country. To do otherwise merely harms the cause of civil liberties in general, by alienating many (most?) civil libertarians and providing political cover for authoritarians of all political stripes.

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