Douglas Andrews / February 15, 2021

Second Amendment in the Crosshairs

Gun-grabbing leftists are newly emboldened, and Joe Biden appears eager to appease them.

In 2008, the District of Columbia v. Heller decision finally affirmed what the Founders knew all along: that the Second Amendment refers to an individual right to keep and bear arms, rather than a collective one meant strictly for militias. Like nearly every other amendment in the Bill of Rights, the Second was meant to empower individuals, not government.

“The notion,” wrote David Harsanyi in 2018, “of individual ownership of firearms was so unmistakable and so omnipresent in colonial days — and beyond — that Americans saw no more need to debate its existence than they did the right to drink water or breathe the air. Not a single Minuteman was asked to hand his musket over to the Continental Congress after chasing the British back to Boston. If they had been, the Revolution would have been short-lived, indeed.”

Still, the Heller decision hasn’t deterred the Left from its desire to restrict the gun rights of the citizenry. Like a hardy perennial, the gun grabbers keep reappearing even as cooler election-conscious heads within the Democrat caucus always seem to prevail.

But this time just feels a bit different. Joe Biden has a pen and a phone, and the radical elements of his party seem especially emboldened by both his diminished cognitive capacity and by “the fierce urgency of now.” One need only consider the continued presence of thousands of National Guard troops in our nation’s capital to be reminded of the Left’s willingness to use the power of the state to intimidate the people and to let them know who’s boss.

According to gun control advocate Peter Ambler following a virtual meeting with White House officials Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond, “President Biden is committed to taking executive action and working with Congress to put in place reforms that will keep this country’s kids and communities safe. Today’s meeting was a strong affirmation of that commitment.”

Biden himself seems like he wishes he could take the National Rifle Association “out behind the gym and beat the hell out of [it],” if we can redirect the inciteful rhetoric he aimed at then-President Donald Trump in 2018.

When asked whether Biden will resort to executive action, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “First I will say that the president addressing gun violence in the country and putting in place additional safety measures is something that the president has a personal commitment to, and his history on this issue is evidence of that. He has obviously taken on the NRA twice and won and he is happy and eager to do that in the future.”

So much for Joe Biden’s promise to “work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.”

Notably on Sunday, Biden used the third anniversary of the Parkland school assault to challenge congressional Democrats to act: “I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

This is a strategic redux of Bill Clinton’s so-called “Assault Weapons Ban,” which was enacted in 1994 prior to Republicans retaking Congress, and which does not preclude executive action in combination with congressional action.

Both the NRA and the clear language of the Second Amendment are in Joe and Kamala Harris’s crosshairs. And because this president has shown no reluctance to dictate via executive action what he’s unable to enact legislatively, this story bears watching.

As Justice Joseph Story noted in his classic Commentaries on the Constitution, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is “the palladium of the liberties of a republic.” Our Founders were clearheaded in its meaning when they ratified the Second Amendment, and we must be no less clearheaded in our zeal to defend it today.

(Updated)

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