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MILLER: Senate Shame - Second Amendment is not up for ‘debate’
As President Obama authorized the U.S. to sign onto a United Nations arms treaty that does not recognize an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, it was revealed the U.S. Senate also does not view the Second Amendment as law of the land.
The U.S. Senate website has the Constitution and Bill of Right written out with a column for “original text” and also “explanation.” Under the second column, the Second Amendment is described as such: “Whether this provision protects the individual’s right to own firearms or whether it deals only with the collective right of the people to arm and maintain a militia has long been debated.”
That is no longer accurate. In 2008, the Supreme Court decision in the District of Columbia v Heller clarified that, “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.”
The website says the text was prepared by the Office of the Secretary of the Senate with the assistance of Johnny H. Killian of the Library of Congress. Senate Secretary Nancy Erickson did not respond to a request for comment.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who is on the Judiciary Committee, wants to see the website corrected. “Like Friday nights in Texas in fall, the Second Amendment is both sacred and not up for debate and the Senate’s website ought to reflect that,” his spokesman Drew Brandewie told me.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart affirmed that the Kentucky Republican “believes strongly that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an individual right and the Supreme Court has said the same.”
While outliers in the anti-gun movement may still be stewing over the ruling, the high court wrote extensively about how the Founding Fathers’ intent was to affirm two separate but related individual rights in the clauses —divided by the comma — when they wrote: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the context in which that amendment was written was that, “History showed that the way tyrants had eliminated a militia consisting of all the able bodied men was not by banning the militia but simply by taking away the people’s arms.”
The decision also explained that, “The threat that the new Federal Government would destroy the citizens’ militia by taking away their arms was the reason that right — unlike some other English rights — was codified in a written Constitution.”
The Senate is mired in a debate this week over how big the federal government should be. The White House and Democrats want to increase spending in Washington, borrow more money to pay for government programs and keep let Obamacare roll into full enactment next week.
Conservative Republicans in Washington are trying to keep spending at the sequestration level, defund Obamacare and tie the debt ceiling to smart things like tax reform and building the Keystone XL pipeline. In short, they are trying to rein in the oversized federal government.
While it may not be the top of their priority list, other senators should speak out about correcting the official government website to have accurate information about the Constitution.
Limiting the power and scope of the federal government was our framers’ intent with these documents. Unelected bureaucrats should not be interpreting our rights on a taxpayer-funded website.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times. She is the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun … But Obama Wants to Take Yours” (Regnery 2013). Miller won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism.
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