A pre-existing right

The verdict is, for most fundamental rights crusaders, a happy one. Yes, there are still a lot of problems with D.C. v. Heller. There are reason to be not entirely satisfied with the outcome. However, in a way the decision was more than I expected or hoped for, because of this:

c. Meaning of the Operative Clause. Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed…

Pre-existing right.”  And the italicization is their emphasis.  This simple recognition of fact should be trumpeted far and wide.  Many so-called “Second Amendment Activists” make the mistake of arguing for this right from the basis of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment is only secondary to the ultimate, inherent and fundamental right of self-preservation.

Download the entire text of D.C. v. Heller here.

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One Response to “A pre-existing right”

  1. […] was stated in the syllabus of the decision that the Second Amendment only recognizes a pre-existing right. It establishes nothing. It creates nothing. Again I will quote: We look to this because it […]

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