Blog of Rights

⬅ Return to Heller Decision and the Second Amendment

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  1. slyputz Says:

    If any comments were indeed censored...

  2. Cordes Says:

    You were wrong before Heller and you are wrong now. Your stance on the 2nd is nothing short of asinine.

  3. Eric Says:

    I'm very disappointed. I thought with all nine justices finally declaring the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right, you would at the very least drop the collective rights theory hand waving you use to avoid addressing the second amendment. Not that it made sense before the decision, either - it's quite a stretch to think that our Founders, a bunch of violent revolutionaries, would decide to guarantee all of these great individual rights but would purposely word the second amendment in such a way as to permit banning the individual ownership of firearms. Just because an individual right to firearms makes you uncomfortable does not permit you to try to re-interpret the amendment to remove its teeth - of all organizations the world over, I thought you'd understand this.

    When I see the ACLU take an absolutist position on an individual right, and protect the rights of neo-Nazis, NAMBLA, the KKK, and others society would be better off without because respecting and upholding the limits on government enshrined in our Constitution is more important - it makes me proud. However, when the ACLU's leadership is working to weaken one individual right, for whatever reason, it makes that previous zealotry for the Constitution look absurd. It makes it look like the ACLU would choose to represent repugnant people because it makes a big splash in the news, consequences be damned.

    I'm too embarrassed to be associated with this organization anymore - I hope you will take an introspective look at this issue, reevaluate your purpose, and come back to the side of advocating for and protecting all of our civil liberties, not just a partisan subset of them. I you do that - I promise you I'll come back into the fold and advocate that much harder for you and your message. As it stand now, you're just as political as the NRA, but at least I expected it from the other guys who only claim to protect one civil liberty in the first place.

  4. Don Says:

    I'm surprised the ACLU's view of the 2nd Amendment has baffled the people who have left comments here. They had the same view before Heller. The ACLU has always had their collective heads in the sand on this one. While I've always observed their logic as flawed, it's just laughable now.

  5. Concerned Citizen. Says:

    Your hipocrisy knows no bounds. Your organization is just a stain in the fabric of this country.

  6. Andy Says:

    I think that everyone else has done a good job of pointing out how bad a decision this is. I simply wish to add my name to that list and increase the number by 1. The ACLU will not have my support until this absurd stance is changed.

  7. JR Ewing Says:


    First, I respect your opinion and beliefs about this issue. I have one quick question though, with a follow-up cause I think I may know what your answer may be.

    Here's the question: When it comes to issues such as abortion and etc, do you believe in the "Freedom of Choice"?

    I suspect your answer is an almost unequivocal 'Yes'.

    Well, here's my follow-up (assuming you did answer 'yes'): Do you begrudge me my "Freedom to Choose" to carry a handgun for my defense and the defense of my loved ones? If so, why?

    If no, great, and I don't begrudge you you "freedom to choose" not to have one. I would caution you though, read the SCOTUS decison "Castle Rock vs. Gonzales" and you may find the reason why so many of us choose to carry handguns for self-defense.

  8. NRA pwns ACLU Says:

    The NRA does a better job of protecting my rights than the ACLU. I've never heard of them disparage the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, but the ACLU just picks and chooses which rights to support and which ones to derail. Why send money to an organization that will protect some of your rights while undermining others? ACLU, if you don't care about the 2nd amendment shut your trap. Your members aren't part of the ACLU to support gun bans, they are part of the ACLU to support free speech. The reason the NAACP is irrelevant today is they are more concerned about banning guns than anything else.

  9. MRB Says:

    It would be nice for the ACLU to for once be able to say that they "support the bill of rights", and be truthful. It is pathetic to cling to this wrong-thingking despite the Supreme Court's correct decision. Thank God I cancelled my membership long ago.

  10. Tess Says:

    "As always, we welcome your comments."

    I thought the ACLU was dedicated to defending the Bill of Rights. But comments are welcome as long as they support the first, third, fourth ... amendments to the Constitution, and not the second.

    The prefatory clause may say why, but "The right of the people to keep and bear arms" should not have needed judges to interpret it. I am a people.

  11. WuzYoungOnceToo Says:

    - "I agree with David here. Once again, people are commenting without knowing the full extent of the situation. And the excessive name calling in these comments is, at best, childish."

    That's both ironic and extremely hypocritical, considering that you then go on to demonstrate an understanding of the issue that would embarass a slow 3rd grader.

  12. John Graeme Says:

    The ACLU position doesn't make sense. First they stated that they could not defend an individual right to keep and bear arms because the courts had ruled it was not an individual right. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is an individual right, the ACLU says that it cannot support that right because it disagrees with the Court's decision. One would hope that the ACLU would support an interpretation of the Constitution that protects individual rights as much as possible in any case. The question that occurs to many of us is: Is the ACLU really a defender of our civil rights and liberties, or is it just a leftist pressure group that only defends those rights important to "liberals."

  13. Turk Turon Says:

    Harvard Law Professor Alan Derschowitz once said, "Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a safety hazard don't see the danger in the big picture. They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like."

    The ACLU is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. If the ACLU is going to countenance the defenestration of the Second Amendment this way, then similar arguments can be used to eliminate other parts of the Bill of Rights. Including other amendments that use the phrase, "the right of the people" to describe individuals.

    In its zeal to oppose the Second Amendment, the ACLU may be opposing them all.

  14. Manny Edwards Says:

    Proving with stunning clarity that the American Civil Liberties Union really isn't interested in American Civil Liberties at all.

  15. ES Says:

    If we just had a black Muslim who molested small children get charged with a gun crime the ACLU would be all over this!

  16. William J Chunko Says:

    Here's the important thing. How the ACLU interprets the Constitution is irrelevant. That's not your job. Now then, it's time to get busy protecting ALL of America's Civil Rights, not just the ones you like. It seems to me that if you can defend a "right" that isn't even in the Constitution, You Damn well ought to be able to defend one that is! Or, is that too hard for you to understand?

  17. Hielo Says:

    Stick a fork in the ACLU, it's done.

  18. kbarrett Says:

    Just sad.

    The ACLU cannot read simple english.

    Oh well ... apparently four SCOTUS justices are having similar cognitive problems.

  19. Liberty Bell Says:

    The ACLU's slogan: Because Freedom Can't Protect Itself.

    No it can't, but a well armed citizenry can.

    Our founding fathers understood that the greatest protection against the tyranny of despotic government is the right to bear arms.

    It's why every despotic government throughout history has one thing in common: a disarmed populace.

    The 2nd Amendment protects what the ACLU only claims to: FREEDOM.

  20. JR Ewing Says:

    Seems they really don't believe in the BoR after all...both my comments were deleted simply because I called them on their nonsensical position.

  21. NYer Says:

    After reading your "updated" stance on the 2A I'm doubly disgusted. To compare licensing and registering cars to guns is obtuse. The Constitution doesn't guarantee the right to drive, it guarantees the right to protect oneself. Driving is a privilage the 2A is a RIGHT!. The fact that the ACLU can't distinguish or chooses not to distinguish between a right and a privilage proves your hypocrisy/stupidity

  22. Daniel Says:

    HA! I was so glad when I saw this post! I was the one that initially raised this issue on your June 26th blog post, and I initially proposed they do this, and it looks like its gotten an amazing response rate - and a very clear verdict. I'm a very proud rabble-rouser now!

    So one question remains, Suzanne Ito - when is the ACLU going to announce a change in its position? I'm sure lots of news agencies would have a field day with this contradiction in the positions of the ACLU - it would just take a few emails for them to report on it. I think they'd be especially interested in the level of interest in the issue on this blog post. Sooner or later the pressure is going to be too much for you guys - so when will it be? When are you officially going to revise your position?

  23. Daniel Says:

    OK - I think everyone on the blog should send this form-email to their local news agencies. This should make a GREAT 4th of July news item:

    Dear _____:
    I think I have a news item that your viewers would find very interesting. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a strong supporter of civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, has insisted since the DC v. Heller Supreme Court case that they do not support the individual right to bear arms, guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Recently (July 1st), they opened the issue up for discussion on their blog and received an unusually high level of response. The vast majority of commenters have opposed the ACLU position that the right to bear arms is a collective, rather than an individual right, and yet the ACLU still has not agreed to change its position. Since its the 4th of July tomorrow, I thought this would be an interesting news item to explore - why doesn't the ACLU support this important American freedom despite the fact that most of its supporters seem to embrace the 2nd Amendment?"

  24. LivingTheDream Says:

    I have a feeling all of this protest is a waste of energy. If the don't listen to the SCOTUS what makes you think they will listen to you?

    Please let's just be honest and state that everything in the BOR represents an individual right.

  25. Gary G. Says:

    I have been a member of the ACLU for many years and just received a mailing to renew my membership. Should I? Our (Your?) stance on the Second Amendment deeply disturbs me in light of the recent Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court has spoken, the 2nd Amendment is an individual right. The ACLU needs to rethink its position. We are not about what some of our members WANT the Constitution to say, we are about what it SAYS. We have to ask ourselves, do we support the Constitution or not? All of it? I want to stay a member of the ACLU, you (we?) are my heroes. We are not a lobbying organization, we are the defenders of the Constitution. Please don't make me leave the ACLU!

  26. Rochelle Funderburg Says:

    What happened to the ACLU that was willing to take on the task of defending Nazis' right to speech in Skokie? Are you not willing to protect the rest of our individual rights in the same way, or are you just concerned with the rights of the enemies of US citizens? Regardless of what you think, the Supreme Court has spoken on this issue--will you now step up to the plate to defend all Constitutional rights, or just the ones that you personally agree with (or find in the nonexistent penumbra of rights)?

  27. Daniel Says:

    Has ANYBODY responded affirming the ACLU's position? I've read a lot but don't have time to read all.

    Does anybody know if anybody supports the 2nd Amendment being a collective right???

    What a damning critique!!!!

  28. Ken in Illinois Says:

    Lucia: "I agree with David here..." (snip)

    Lucia, I'm not going to defend the inappropriate name calling, but I can understand why it's happening. ACLU's refusal to recognize the letter and spirit of the Heller decision is infuriating to those of us that support the entire Bill of Rights.

    You stated: "I don’t see the reason as to why someone needs an AK-47 or a pistol." So, you are entitled to be the arbiter of our Second Amendment rights? Because *you* do not see the benefit of semi-automatic rifles or handguns, we all must bow to your superior intellect? Of course - *you* know better. How elitist.

    You stated: "The 2nd amendment is widely misunderstood, it protects militias, not an individual’s right. All you need is a little American History lesson to realize why this amendment was enacted." Please point us to the amicus brief you filed supporting your position. I assume you were able to teleport back to discuss this with our founding fathers? Why is your position worth more than that of many recognized Constitutional scholars from across the political spectrum, let alone that of our Supreme Court?

    You stated: "It was not enacted so that some little old lady could shoot an African American man who is across the street because she feels threatened..." Here you imply both racist motives on the part of those that choose to support the *entire* Bill of Rights *and* mischaracterize those that choose to exercise the natural right of self-defense. Again, how elitist. No, I take that back - how insulting.

    Ken, ACLU member since 1986 - but no more.

  29. Jesse Says:

    Plain meaning of the 2nd Amendment was in little doubt for most of our history;Miller was an anomalous decision which never went as far as the ACLU and other anti-civil righter's said it did.

    Now that the ACLU is faced with the decision, it still maintains it is a collective right. Nonsense...our government is supposed to have delegated responsibilities, and individuals have rights. Since when does a government ask for permission to do anything. Collective rights means gov rights.

    Anyway, ACLU remains a liberal advocacy group and is not to be taken seriously on a legal basis.

  30. NW Shooter Says:

    Certainly you can disagree, but the decision of the Supreme Court is crystal clear -

    1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a
    firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for
    traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
    Pp. 2–53.

    Clear and concise. You don't have to agree, but you have to acknowledge that this is now settled law.

  31. David Says:

    I agree with the ACLU on almost every civil rights issue it stands up for, however in light of this stance I will refuse to aid or contribute to the organization at all until they support every right enumerated by the Bill of Rights. Sad.

  32. JR Ewing Says:

    Ok, so maybe they are deleting my comments, they're just ignoring them and putting the into perpetual "moderation".

  33. Will Wallace Says:

    Your interpretation of the Second Amendment indicates that the ACLU is duplicitous or plurally too stupid to understand English as written in the 18th century. The ACLU is so partisan that it has rendered itself irrelevant.

  34. Andy Says:

    Just bought my 3rd handgun this morning. I'll shoot a few rounds in the name of the ACLU.

  35. Nomen Nescio Says:

    people, don't panic if your comment doesn't show up straightaway. comments here are moderated, and some poor soul is having to read through each and every one to approve it for publishing. your browser will sometimes show you your own comment even before it's approved, but if you switch to another computer or lose the session cookie, you won't see it until it's officially published. don't panic, have patience.

    (by the way, have pity for the moderators here. i haven't seen such a sh!tstorm descend on any one target since Jim Zumbo dined on his foot. wow.)

    Lucia @ #197:

    please, step back and consider what you're saying. you surely cannot mean that nobody should have any specific right --- or even, less awful but still bad, any one material possession --- unless you, personally, can see a need for them to have it? that is not how we decide questions about our civil rights!

    and surely you've read the rest of the constitution, not just the bill of rights? congress already had the right to raise and support armies; why would they need the right to raise militias guaranteed in a separate amendment? that would make no sense.

    it's true that the ACLU does a lot of good, but in a perverse way, that almost makes their stance on this matter worse. why does the ACLU do so much good? previously, we could say it was because they're a principled bunch of people who believe in our liberties and rights, and work to protect those as a matter of principle. now, making that claim immediately raises the red flag of "what about this right, then? why do the ACLU's principles ignore it?"

    and quite frankly, i'd rather not join the NRA. they're too political an organization for my liking. the ACLU used to look better --- now i have to wonder if they're not a bit too politicized, also, to truly claim to be independent and neutral. an organization that wants to fight for the rights of every citizen needs to be politically neutral, but the ACLU is rapidly losing their claim to that status, now.

  36. Daniel Says:

    C'mon Ito - 283 comments moderated, and counting. You've gotta have some reflections on this by now. Has any post on your blog ever received this kind of attention before now?

    Give us a response! When will the ACLU stand up for the Bill of Rights! I challenge you not to moderate a single additional comment (this comment included) until you respond to what's been said and justify yourself!

  37. Ryan Knott Says:

    The ACLU is dead wrong on this issue. Now that Heller is settled law you should get with the program and work to protect all of our rights.

    Until then my money will continue to go to the NRA.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Suzanne Ito voice of the ACLU, looks like you should be working for a communist organization instead of the ACLU. You support the very same beliefs that Adolph Hitler made so "popular". I'm cancelling my ACLU membership and joining the NRA, Second Ammendment Foundation, Jews for the preservation of Firearms and every other gun rights organization that is really fighting for my "American Civil Liberties" unlike the ACLU which doesn't give a rat's a$$ about the rights endowed to us by "Our Creator" before the Bill of Rights was even written.

  39. Jewels Verne Says:

    Suzanne Ito voice of the ACLU, looks like you should be working for a communist organization instead of the ACLU. You support the very same beliefs that Adolph Hitler made so "popular". I'm cancelling my ACLU membership and joining the NRA, Second Ammendment Foundation, Jews for the preservation of Firearms and every other gun rights organization that is really fighting for my "American Civil Liberties" unlike the ACLU which doesn't give a rat's a$$ about the rights endowed to us by "Our Creator" before the Bill of Rights was even written.

  40. Greg M Says:

    The ACLU is correct. It's mission is to protect civil liberties. To the extent that the US Constitution advances civil liberties, the ACLU should support the Constitution. To the extent that the Supreme Court advances civil liberties and the Constitution, the ACLU should support their decisions.

    The Heller decision does not advance civil liberties, nor does it correctly interpret the Constitution. As such, the ACLU should not support it.

    It should be noted that the Constitution originally allowed slavery, and that the Supreme Court has allowed segregation, the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, and other errors. They're not perfect.

  41. Al B. Says:

    Sounds like our civil rights are interfering with the ACLU's left-wing socialist agenda. As a civil-libertarian, I've often thought about joining the ACLU, but some of their positions suggest that they aren't really about protecting our civil liberties. This one is a good example.

    I read Justice Stevens dissent in Heller. I found it to be a well-written, well-researched treatise on the origins and legislative intent of the 2nd amendment. As an argument for why the 2nd amendment doesn't mean what it says, however, I found it to be specious and totally off-point. Stevens argues that we can infer the meaning of the amendment from what it doesn't say. E.g., some states offered up language that referred to an individual right to self-defense, but that language wasn't used, therefore we should infer that the framers left it out because they didn't intend the amendment to be about a right to self-defense.

    Stevens, however, conveniently glosses over the fact that some of the states also offered up language specifically stating that the right being protected was the right to maintain a militia, but that language wasn't used either. The amendment doesn't say, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms for any lawful purpose shall not be infringed." It also doesn't say, "the right of the militia to keep and bear arms shall no be infringed," or, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the purpose of serving in the militia shall not be infringed."

    So what are we left with? How about, it means exactly what it says, an absolute prohibition against the government infringing on the right of the people (i.e., individuals) to keep and bear arms, nothing more, and certainly nothing less. As a matter of fact, the language that the amendment used in its final form encompasses both the right to maintain a militia and the right to keep weapons for self-defense.

    The position of the dissenting justices and of the ACLU is a perfect example of twisting your analysis to suit your agenda. Very sad.

  42. Larry Says:

    This is laughable. Look at Iraq.

    " order to preserve the power of the people to resist government tyranny, then it must allow individuals to possess bazookas, torpedoes, SCUD missiles and even nuclear warheads, for they, like handguns, rifles and M-16s, are arms. Moreover, it is hard to imagine any serious resistance to the military without such arms."

  43. Daniel Says:

    So Ito - no response? Overwhelming opposition to the ACLU's position from it's prime constituency... you've moderated 283 of these posts and counting - don't you have a response for us yet?

  44. Mike A Says:

    That's too bad.... because I don't care what your stand is. The continuing fact is that the bad guys (criminals) have guns. Until someone can legitimately change that fact, this INDIVIDUAL (not to be confused with a COLLECTIVE) will continue to defend himself, his family, and his home with AT LEAST the equivalent firepower that the criminals have.

    P.S. As an honorably discharged law enforcement officer, I'm not suggesting that the bad guys have guns. I'm TELLING you that a criminal will get his/her hand on a gun by any means available.

    P.P.S. If you're wondering why I'm an "honorably discharged" law enforcement officer instead of a "current" officer or a "retired" officer... the answer is simple. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. Quite frankly, I enjoy professional computer work more than professional law enforcement.

  45. Geoff Says:

    Who are you to pick and choose what is and isn't an individual right? How can you continue to ignore what is and was an individual right?

    Fuck the ACLU.

  46. WuzYoungOnceToo Says:

    - "I have a feeling all of this protest is a waste of energy. If the don’t listen to the SCOTUS what makes you think they will listen to you?"

    Well, for starters, ACLU isn't dependant on SCOTUS for funding.

  47. Random Says:

    So the ACLU still counts to ten '1,3,4,5...'

    Of course, the consistent stance to take now will be for the collective right of states to run their own newspapers and churches, of course.

  48. Nate Says:

    Since I generally agree with the stances of the ACLU, I find this disappointing. I can only hope that there hasn't been enough time for the organization to fully digest the Heller ruling and reconsider its position.

    I disagreed with the "collective rights" interpretation before the ruling, but at least then you could legitimately argue for it based on Supreme Court precedent. Not anymore.

    Get together, discuss it, and formulate a better statement.

  49. Steve Says:

    Not one single justice considers the second amendment a collective right. None. Your interpretation is a joke. I lost a lot of respect for you guys today.

  50. Trip Volpe Says:

    Well, so much for the ACLU. Ostensibly a champion of the rights of Americans, now revealed beyond any shadow of a doubt to be simply a partisan organization that would rather uphold their prejudice than defend our liberty. Here they show themselves capable of the same arrogant superiority claimed by the Bush Administration in deciding which freedoms we deserve to keep and which we must relinquish.

    This declaration dispels any doubt: the ACLU is an enemy, not a defender, of the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution.

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