When Solicitor General Theodore Olson filed briefs in the Supreme Court embracing the expansive individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, we warned that the primary beneficiaries of the Ashcroft Justice Department’s novel interpretation would be criminal defendants. An expansive individual right under the Second Amendment simply is not supported by history of the Constitution or binding Supreme Court precedent and threatens to undermine the Justice Department’s enforcement of existing gun laws.
“Now, the chickens have come home to roost. As the Washington Post today reported, the defendants are charged in separate cases with unlawful possession of a handgun and ammunition respectively. They both rely explicitly on the Justice Department’s briefs “and a memorandum from Attorney General Ashcroft to all 93 U.S. Attorneys in which he directs them to follow his interpretation of the Second Amendment” to support their Second Amendment challenges to the District’s gun laws. According to the brief in one of the cases: “As made clear by the various government representations, the United States now understands and represents before tribunals that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an individual and personal right, not a collective right of the state to form a militia.’ On this basis, the defendants seek to have the District’s laws, which impose a virtual ban on the private possession of handguns and ammunition, struck down.
Violence Policy Center’s litigation director and legislative counsel
May 30, 2002
Statement of Violence Policy Center in Response to D.C. Gun Crime Defendants Using U.S. Department of Justice Second Amendment Policy Shift to Strike Down Gun Laws
[I’m sure there were similar complaints when challenges were made against whites only drinking fountains and restrooms, and prohibitions against mix race marriages.
Undermining existing unconstitutional and discriminatory laws are a good thing.
That the VPC put itself on a parallel track headed into the same dustbin in history, nearly nine years ago, as the KKK is icing on the cake.—Joe]