Bush Administration Out of Line in DC Gun Case

The Knox Report

From the Firearms Coalition


Bush Administration

Out of Line in DC Gun Case


By Jeff Knox

(January 15, 2008) Late in the day on Friday, January 11, the Solicitor General of the United States, an office appointed by the President and tasked with representing the Administration view in court, filed an amicus brief in support of the District of Columbia in the case of DC v. Heller now before the Supreme Court.  The brief includes thoughtful, scholarly review of the history and meaning of the Second Amendment, concluding that it refers to, and protects, a preexisting, right which has no militia membership requirement.  The brief then stresses the idea that, like other rights, the right to arms may be restricted by the government for a variety of reasons.  And that the Supreme Court should render a decision affirming the individual nature of the right to arms, but should reject the Circuit Court’s conclusion that the DC laws are a violation of that right.  The Solicitor General would have the Court send the case back down to the lower courts for them to determine which, if any, of DC’s laws cross the threshold of “reasonable restrictions” and are therefore unconstitutional.

In other words, the Solicitor General of the United States says that the Second Amendment means exactly what gun rights advocates have long said it means, but that if a politician or a judge thinks that infringing the peoples’ right to arms will reduce crime or make people feel safer, such infringements could be considered reasonable and prudent and be acceptable under the Constitution.  He props up the Second Amendment and then declares that it is meaningless because it can be simply ignored in the name of public safety or the greater good. 

Consider this quote from the brief: “Given the unquestionable threat to public safety that unrestricted private firearm possession would entail, various categories of firearm-related regulation are permitted by the Second Amendment under that constitutional understanding, as illustrated by the existing federal laws regulating firearms.”             

So this Republican appointee who represents the President of the United States and our government and who serves at the President’s pleasure, speaking for this supposedly pro-gun, Republican President, is saying that gun control works and makes us safer and is therefore not a violation of constitutional rights.  Then he tells us that this is proven by the fact that there are federal firearms regulations now so they must be constitutional. 

Whether treachery or stupidity, this is a clear betrayal by an administration and a Party that are supposed to be allies to gunowners.  As such it deserves a strong and unequivocal response from the gun rights community.  NRA’s response was less than thunderous:  The National Rifle Association believes that the Court should use the highest level of scrutiny in reviewing the D.C. gun ban.” 

None of this is new, of course.  In 1983 the supposedly pro-gun Reagan administration argued against Pat Mulcahey’s motion to reclaim his guns after he was acquitted of “engaging in the business” of gun dealing without an FFL.  Although he was acquitted, he lost his guns.  U.S. v. One Assortment of 89 Firearms remains the law of the land today.

In this election year GunVoters could be a critical factor in deciding the direction of the country for the next several years – not just in the Presidential Election, but in Congressional, state, and local races as well.  Politicians from virtually any district outside of a major metropolitan area desperately need GunVoter support to win their races.  This stupid move by the Administration will make that critical GunVoter support much more difficult to lock up and is likely to result in the loss of close races that GunVoters could have swung.  Republican candidates and party leaders need to hear from angry GunVoters and understand the extent of the damage this decision has caused. 

If the Court decides to take the Solicitor Generals advice and send the case back to the Circuit Court to let them hash out the question of what is “reasonable” under the Second Amendment, the repercussions will be even more dramatic because GunVoters will blame the decision on the Republican administration.  That will hurt Republican candidates and probably hurt the gun rights movement in the short run, but would be worth it if the politicians learned not to take GunVoters for granted.

Republicans – from the President down to local Central Committees – need to get an earful over the Solicitor General’s brief, and candidates, especially candidates for President, need to be asked over and over again about their position on the Heller case and on the Solicitor General’s amicus brief.  Then GunVoters must do whatever it takes to make sure that true gun rights supporters are elected come November.


Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included.  Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org.  To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA  20108. 

©Copyright 2008 Neal Knox Associates