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The Second Amendment is not a second-class right

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But as gun owners know all too well, in blue states the Second Amendment is still being treated as a second-class right at best, and all too often a privilege to be doled out by the state. Gun Owners Action League executive director Jim Wallace joins today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co with a firsthand report at what’s happening in Massachusetts when it comes to the Second Amendment, and why he believes this is the most important civil rights fight of our time.

I reached out to Jim after he shared his most recent writings with me, which are spot-on in its analysis of what it means to treat the right to keep and bear arms with the same fundamental importance we give to our freedom of speech, right to worship as we choose, and our right to be secure in our persons and property.

On July 25, 2022 the Second Amendment rightfully rejoiced about an historic decision from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). In this now famous case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, (now commonly referred to as Bruen) the court dropped the hammer on the bigotry the 2A Community has faced for far too long.

In that ruling, the court reiterated an earlier statement form SCOTUS regarding the Second Amendment in a case referred to as McDonald: “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.”McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780”

In Bruen, the court went even further declaring: “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”

These were very groundbreaking and profound statements from the highest court in the U.S. It should have meant the immediate end of modern gun control as we know it. Sadly, those of us who have been in the trenches for a long time knew it wouldn’t be. Like many other communities that have faced social bigotry in the past, we knew the anti-civil rights crowd would fight to create scorched earth policies for lawful citizens.

There is one piece of this that really hasn’t been talked about. The phrase: “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right…”

As simple as it sounds, is it really? What does that one statement mean to the rest of Bill of Rights? The 2A Community needs to be shouting loud and clear that the ruling clearly means that whatever government does to the Second, it must also apply to every civil right, period! Imagine the true breadth of this.

If government, as a nation or state, places restrictions on or precents you entirely from exercising your Second Amendment civil rights, then why should we trust you to vote intelligently and responsibly? How about sitting on a jury? If we are not supposed to trust you with a gun, why would we ever trust you to dispense justice fairly? If, for example, a single drunk driving conviction with no jail time permanently revokes your Second Amendment rights, why should it no revoke all the rest.

Imagine all those people who believe healthcare and higher education are civil rights. Now imagine the public outcry if they were to lose those rights because they were declared “unsuitable”? There would be riots in the streets and possibly a real insurrection.

Imagine having to prove you’re of “good moral character” before you can address your city council, or wait ten days between purchasing a book and being allowed to walk out of the bookstore with it. Imagine your freedom to worship stopped at your state line, or if every “gun-free zone” was a rights-free zone, off-limits to your First, Fourth, Fourteenth Amendment rights in addition to your Second Amendment right to armed self-defense.

As Wallace notes, “if all of this seems a little far-fetched it is only because the Second Amendment being treated as a true civil right is sadly a brand-new concept,” and one that is still utterly foreign in states like Massachusetts, where lawmakers are currently on a “listening tour” around the state in advance of a major push to expand the state’s gun control laws. Wallace tells Bearing Arms that the new round of anti-2A restrictions are likely coming later this summer or early fall, but now is the time for gun owners to stand up and remind legislators that if what they propose is not acceptable for any other civil rights, then it’s not acceptable for the right to keep and bear arms either.

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