Commentary

Bradley: Firearms possession a second-class right no longer

Supreme Court ruling demands strict interpretation of Second Amendment right to firearms

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By Chris Bradley

In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that honest and law-abiding citizens  had a right to self-defense in their own home. In making their decision, SCOTUS recognized that  firearms are a common means of self-defense, and they then struck down a D.C. law that required  firearms be unloaded and disassembled or otherwise kept locked up in a D.C. home as being  unconstitutional (Heller decision). 

In 2010, SCOTUS ruled that honest and law-abiding citizens have a right to self-defense by owning a  handgun, and again recognized that firearms are a common means of self-defense. SCOTUS therefore  struck down a Chicago law that banned possession of handguns as being unconstitutional (MacDonald  decision).  

“We do get it. No one wants gun violence, but it’s not the honest and law-abiding that are causing this  violence. It is no longer constitutionally acceptable to infringe on the rights of honest and law-abiding  citizens. This new standard needs to be front-and-center as new laws that relate to firearms are being  considered.” Chris Bradley, President, Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

In 2022, SCOTUS ruled that a New York firearm permitting scheme, which denied law-abiding citizens  from obtaining a permit required to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense outside the home, was  unconstitutional. In rendering that decision, SCOTUS established a new standard by which all cases  involving the 2nd Amendment must be resolved (Bruen decision). 

Simply put: SCOTUS mandated that cases involving the 2nd Amendment must be resolved by a single step test, with that single-step being a strict interpretation based on the constitutional text as informed  by history. No more second-step, “means-to-ends” tests. 

Using that lens, there are a number of laws passed across the country that do not meet constitutional muster.  

For years and years and years, the 2nd Amendment has been treated differently than all other rights,  with legislatures and courts making decisions / judgements that steadily infringed on the unalienable  right of self-defense. 

The right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely  different body of rules that the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” (2010, SCOTUS decision in McDonald v.  Chicago) 

In the coming months, you will hear of various firearm laws being struck down in courts across the  country as challenges are raised using the new standard. For example: Large Capacity Magazine bans;  “Assault-Weapon” bans; age 21 restrictions; as well as laws that force confiscation of firearms without  Due Process are now being challenged using this new standard, and are being found to be  unconstitutional. 

We do get it. No one wants gun violence, but it’s not the honest and law-abiding that are causing this  violence. It is no longer constitutionally acceptable to infringe on the rights of honest and law-abiding  citizens. This new standard needs to be front-and-center as new laws that relate to firearms are being  considered, in addition to scrutiny and challenges made against existing firearm laws that have been passed in consideration of this new standard.

If we want to drastically slow gun violence, then we need to embrace the existing laws that have harsh  penalties for committing crime with a firearm. We need our State and District attorneys to aggressively  prosecute gun crime, NOT allow those charges to be dropped or allow pleading to lesser charges. We  need to continue to enforce cash bail, especially with repeat offenders. We also need to properly fund,  and support, our law enforcement. We need: Deterrence. 

We can do these things now, today, and it will have an impact on gun violence. We know this because  it worked before we began treating extremely serious crimes with leniency.

The author is a Northfield resident and president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.

Categories: Commentary

19 replies »

  1. As a lobbyist in Montpelier for the gun lobby, Mr. Bradley presents a credible case. I support all of his recommendations as well as the right for self-defense. However, in the Oak Park, Illinois mass shooting, 83 rounds were fired in 60 seconds. Technology has progressed tremendously over the past 200 years. Don’t you think our Founding Fathers might have something to say about that knowing the carnage this amendment has caused?

    • The Founding Fathers were just fine with people owning warships with enough cannon firepower to destroy a small seaside village. Bradley is right. It’s the lack of enforcement and the leftist DA’s letting criminals go free. Not the guns, overwhelmingly used defensively. Going after the law abiding citizen instead of the violent criminal is a tactic of leftist authoritarianism called anarcho-tyranny, and it’s meant to destabilize society and make dissent impossible.

    • Arms in common use by law-abiding citizens today have no more ability to fire rounds quickly or to be reloaded quickly than those produced 100+ years ago. You could use a Colt 1911 model pistol and fire 83 rounds in 60 seconds. What has changed is the human element. Leftists have instilled a total lack of personal responsibility in much of the population. “Leftism” is not protected by the Constitution…common firearm use by responsible, law abiding citizens IS a protected right. Technology is not to blame for the moral failings of a society.

    • The Second Amendment did not cause any carnage. The carnage was caused by criminals who disobey the laws and are almost always known to law enforcement before the carnage was done, and should have been dealt with by the courts.
      The most horrific carnage has been done by governments to their own citizens who had no way to defend themselves, because that government rendered the citizens defenseless. That is what the Founding Fathers knew and had experienced when they enumerated (not granted) the God given right of self defense in the Second Amemdment.
      They were also aware of how technology had improved from clubs, spears, bows and arrows to firearms and cannons which made it ever easier and faster to kill people and they knew that citizens need access to that technology to defend themselves from their own government.

    • Copies from my comment on True North. Your question is answered within my comment.

      I’ve been saying this many times. These gun laws do nothing to stop crime. A criminal is a criminal and laws do not stop criminals. So if we know this, how does another law stop a criminal? Criminals don’t buy their firearms at licensed dealer shops and they don’t pass background checks, felons carry illegal guns obtained illegally. Continually, restricting people who are not the problem does not accomplish anything except make a mockery of laws and our constitutional rights.

      Liberals always screaming about their rights, abortion rights, protesting rights, equity and inclusion rights, Transgender rights, homosexual rights to marry and on and on. America and freedom isn’t about your rights or my rights they are our rights except when it comes to the 2nd amendment. Such restrictions passed by do-gooders actually help criminals conduct their devious and dangerous crimes against the people.

      Mr. Bradley is correct in implying that these unconstitutional laws will be struck down. Liberals complaining that the founders never envisioned modern firearms is false. If they had, they would have written, the right to bear muskets instead of arms shall not be infringed. They said arms, meaning all implements and weapons designed for protection of a free state and the individual rights to own and bear or carrying them for self protection. And if what liberals profess to be was true then modern printing, the TV, the internet and all such modern communications would not apply to the 1st amendment rights of free speech.

      The current magazine capacity law in Vermont was decided constitutional under the states safety standard which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Bruen decision against NY. This law is now unconstitutional but liberal lawmakers could care less and violate their oaths of office knowing that the laws will have to be overturned by the courts. This is dishonest representation because they lied when taking their oaths of office to defend and not harm the constitution. The only case before the court concerning the new magazine law was a retribution case brought against an unpopular citizen who allegedly harassed a black legislator and the attorney general didn’t prosecute that person for a hate crime. So when this person went to NH to buy two so-called illegal magazines, they found anther way to prosecute. No, he’s not a model citizen but that doesn’t mean that the state should find a way to charge him with another unrelated crime. His case is now 2 years old and is under appeal again because the new ruling on magazines is unconstitutional. Will the VT Supreme Court rule properly this time?

      There are currently thousands of legal standard round (high capacity) magazines in Vermont as they were grandfathered legal when the new law took affect. Prior to the law, there is not one case in which one of these magazines was used in a crime. This was another feel good law that has no value, does not make anyone safer and will eventually be stuck down. Instead of making our schools safer by using new technology, hiring school safety officers and any number of other security related protocols, the legislature and the governor came up with this to feel like they did something when all they did was nothing to protect children.

    • The Amendment provides for Americans to possess the same weapons as the Military.
      So actually, the Founding Fathers did consider this. And they made it Law.
      If you are concerned about technology advancing, perhaps you should submit your comment in a hand written letter.

  2. Perfect. And I hope that the attempts which this new legislature is very obviously plotting re: “gun control” by passing a plethora of bills which will slowly but surely undermine Vermonters (i.e.: Americans) rights to own, carry, and potentially utilize firearms – will also be challenged in the courts – inevitably rendering them unconstitutional as well.

  3. Eight children each and every day of the year are shot in instances of Family Fire, an improperly used or stored gun found in the family home resulting in injury or death. 6,294 children or teens survive gunshot injuries. The presence of a gun in the home increases the odds of suicide by gun some 300%. Americans kill each other with guns at 25 times the rate of other high income countries. 155% more people are shot in incidents where assault type weapons or high capacity magazines are used.

    On a broader scale, some 97% of Americans want expanded background checks. Gun violence costs the American economy $229 billion every year.

    Allowing anyone to own a gun without mandatory safety training makes about as much sense as allowing anyone to drive a car, a big rig or a motorcycle without proper training.

    • Add in allowing a child to make the decision to change their gender thru sexual molestation by the State and some psychotic pretending to be a health care provider. How about safe schools free from pornography, drag queens and equity ? ( which actually destroys equality )
      Completely disregard generations of Vermonters that own and use guns that have made VT consistently the 1st, 2nd or 3rd safest State in America.
      ( because responsible Law abiding Vermonters teach safety as the priority. )

      There are Laws that provide for the protection of innocent people from gun violence.
      But Sarah George, liberal judges and prosecutors don’t enforce them.

      You could also site drunk driving, texting and any other number of ways Americans die or kill someone else. If only people were taught not to drive drunk or text or……..

    • Except that you can get a license to drive a car or motorcycle in public without any training at all. You just need to pass tests. But unlike driving, the US Second Amendment, as well as VT Article 16, establish that you have the fundamental right to bear arms. In the case of VT, that’s specifically for self defense, among other things, which is how guns are overwhelmingly used. See the Obama-era CDC study on that subject, which they recently tried to memory-hole. As far as accidents go… be more careful. Not the gun’s fault. Suicide? Maybe we should deal with the causes. Not the gun’s fault. As far as “America’s” gun problem, well, you can boil almost all of it down to one demographic comprising about 4% of the population, and they are both the perpetrators as well as the primary victims. After accounting for that demographic, America is as safe as Europe used to be. Until we can talk about that fact openly, rationally, and with compassion in mind, we’re not going to fix it. But it’s not the gun’s fault. People need to be held accountable for their actions. Because whoever pulls the trigger… is the one at fault.

  4. Eight children each and every day of the year are shot in instances of Family Fire, an improperly used or stored gun found in the family home resulting in injury or death. 6,294 children or teens survive gunshot

    injuries. The presence of a gun in the home increases the odds of suicide by gun some 300%. Americans kill each other with guns at 25 times the rate of other high income countries. 155% more people are shot in incidents where assault type weapons or high capacity magazines are used.

    On a broader scale, some 97% of Americans want expanded background checks. Gun violence costs the American economy $229 billion every year.

    Allowing anyone to own a gun without mandatory safety training makes about as much sense as allowing anyone to drive a car, a big rig or a motorcycle without proper training.

    • Larry, What about the hundreds of children who died in a swimming pools or automobiles. How about the injuries being detected from the Safe and Effective jabs as well as the deaths? Perhaps you should be required to pass a free speech test and obtain a license before you are allowed to comment. Liberals believe they can stop criminals by banning firearms owned by responsible law abiding people. Murder is illegal, illicit drugs are illegal, mental health issues are off the scale and almost all of the mass shooters (more than 3) there are already known to the police. Also, there are already 21,000 federal, state and local gun laws.
      I’m sure just one more will stop these occurrences. We even mandate instructions on a cup of hot coffee alerting the user that the contents are hot. Some people are bad parents, others are stupid and careless so lets punish everyone and destroy our natural born rights as in self protection. No!

    • This is where Larry got his number. Safe storage of a firearm is only a part of how they were shot. The ages range from infant to 19 years old.

      Another embellished story to make a point from the Brady Campaign which goes further on to say, “The circumstances range widely: accidental shootings by adults, kids who gained access to unsecured guns, gang violence, suicide and planned shootings like the incident at Reynolds High School on June 10”. Unsecured firearms were mentioned but not as the sole cause.

      The analysis:
      In an email, Brady Campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Fuson said the number is based on a five-year average of government data recording children who died from gunshot wounds. The ages range from infants to 19. Gang violence is probably the number one cause.

  5. McDonald v Chicago 2010 is a landmark Supreme Court case that is important to understand. In its most basic form, the decision dismisses the proposition that a State (e.g., NY, IL, CT) or lower government (e.g., Chicago) can supersede or ignore the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment.

    “None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.”

    This ruling clarifies the principle that Americans can keep and bear arms that are equivalent to those in common use by the National Guard, which the court considers an example of a “well-regulated militia.” We have a RIGHT to the SAME arms and accessories issued to the National Guard that they use in defense of the United States.

    The National Guard’s rifle of issue (and rifle in common use) is the 5.56 x 45mm (.223) M16A2 a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder or hip-fired weapon designed for either automatic fire (3-round bursts) or semiautomatic fire (single shot) through the use of a selector lever and has a magazine capacity of 30 rounds. Civilians can only own (except with the purchase of a special tax stamp from BATFE) the semiautomatic version called the M15 or AR15 not the M16 military rifle version.

  6. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/12/11/police-woman-took-carjackers-gun-shot-him-in-head/

    https://bearingarms.com/tomknighton/2022/12/13/armed-citizen-parking-n65209

    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/12/14/man-allegedly-attacks-armed-driver-mcdonalds-gets-shot-dead/

    https://www.breitbart.com/2nd-amendment/2022/12/27/tow-truck-driver-with-concealed-permit-shoots-alleged-armed-robber-dead/

    https://www.breitbart.com/2nd-amendment/2023/01/06/watch-customer-opens-fire-kills-masked-alleged-robber-houston-restaurant/

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/04/79-year-old-man-takes-on-zoomer-home-invader-and-wins-n65822

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/california-concealed-carry-holder-shoots-ax-wielding-attacker-on-his-property/ar-AA165mlN?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=285d9cf1a8d24c9586c07543b3df3a0b

    https://www.breitbart.com/2nd-amendment/2023/01/09/mother-shoots-kills-alleged-intruder-save-children/

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/05/armed-bingo-hall-patrons-halt-shooting-hold-suspect-at-gunpoint-n65879

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/10/louisiana-mom-shoots-home-invader-armed-with-shovel-n65996

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/11/armed-mom-thwarts-attempted-child-abduction-n66059

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/12/armed-robber-picks-target-full-of-armed-citizens-n66097

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/16/armed-patron-stops-attack-on-applebees-employee-n66165

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/18/ohio-teen-uses-moms-gun-to-defend-against-home-invasion-n66340

    https://bearingarms.com/tomknighton/2018/04/20/ar-15-used-repeal-home-invasion-30-rounds-fired-n32314

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/23/chicago-man-shot-by-concealed-carry-holder-on-green-line-train-has-32-arrests-in-last-10-years-n66513

    https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2023/01/24/nashville-woman-speaks-out-after-using-gun-to-defend-against-teen-carjackers-n66543

  7. “The Amendment provides for Americans to possess the same weapons as the Military”, says one forum respondent. So I guess it’s OK to own a machine gun, a mortar, a tank, and maybe a F-35!.

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