The essential claim (certainly not every claim–but the essential claim) advanced by the NRA with respect to the Second Amendment is extremely strong. Indeed, one may fairly declare, it is at least as well anchored in the Constitution in its own way as were the essential claims with respect to the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech as first advanced on the Supreme Court by Holmes and Brandeis, seventy years ago. And until the Supreme Court manages to express the central premise of the Second Amendment more fully and far more appropriately than it has done thus far, the constructive role of the NRA today, like the role of the ACLU in the 1920s with respect to the First Amendment (as it then was), ought itself not lightly to be dismissed. Indeed, it is largely by the “unreasonable” persistence of just such organizations in this country that the Bill of Rights has endured.
William Van Alstyne
THE SECOND AMENDMENT AND THE PERSONAL RIGHT TO ARMS
[I’m reminded of the adage that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. Keep that in mind when the anti-gun people demand “reasonable gun laws”. They are anti-progress.
But beyond that there can little doubt that the “unreasonableness” of the ACLU has shaped the legal contours of the First and Fifth Amendments. Many could claim the protections carved out by the courts under pressure from the ACLU extend well beyond “reasonable” limits. We certainly have those that claim the limits of the Second Amendment are too broad now with essentially just one win under our belt. Extending the elimination of gun bans to non-Federal jurisdictions expands the domain but not the shape of the protection. What I’m curious about is if perhaps the ACLU blazed a trail for SAF, NRA, et. al. such that Second Amendment protections will advance to boundaries comparable to the First Amendment at a much more rapid pace than it took for the ACLU to get us where we are today. Will there ever come a time somewhere along the way where the majority of people will concede that the limits on the Second should be similar to the limits on the First and the mass of repressive anti-gun laws all across the land will suddenly topple over like dominos. Will our fight take 70 years? Forever? Or will it only be 10?
I don’t know the answer. But I am certain that the more we push that meme the greater chance it has of becoming reality.—Joe]