Not a Second-Class Right – The Second Amendment
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.
What if anyone running for any public office had to meet the local standards and restrictions faced by the 2A community? After all, if someone is not eligible under local laws to exercise their 2A civil rights, then why should they have the ability to pass laws about it? How interesting would it be for the local police chief to have suitability authority over political candidates.
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. If indeed the Second is not a “second class” civil right, which it is not, then there is going to have to be a profound awaking across the board with all civil rights. Moving forward, the message from the 2A community to government officials everywhere and the anti-civil rights crowd: “Whatever you do to us, you must do to everyone and every civil right, period. If what you propose is not acceptable for any other civil rights, then it is not acceptable for the Second!”