Bush Administration Stands By Individual's Right to Bear Arms

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - It's official: The Bush administration believes that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms, a position described in press reports as a major reversal of longstanding policy.

In two court filings this week, Solicitor General Theodore Olson (the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer) said: "The current position of the United States ... is that the Second Amendment more broadly protects the rights of individuals, including persons who are not members of any militia or engaged in active military service or training, to possess and bear their own firearms."

In those court filings, Olson also wrote that the right to bear arms is "subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse."

Last year, in a letter to the National Rifle Association, Attorney General John Ashcroft expressed the same opinion, writing, "While some have argued that the Second Amendment guarantees only a 'collective' right of the states to maintain militias, I believe the amendment's plain meaning and original intent prove otherwise."

While gun owners are delighted with the policy change, gun opponents are appalled.

Wire reports quoted Michael Barnes, a spokesman for the anti-gun Brady Campaign as saying, "This action is proof positive that the worst fears about Attorney General Ashcroft have come true: his extreme ideology on guns has now become government policy."

People on both sides of the gun issue are waiting for the Supreme Court to offer a clear interpretation of the Second Amendment, but no such ruling is imminent.

According to wire reports, the last time the Supreme Court ruled on the scope of the Second Amendment was in 1939.

See Earlier Stories:
The Conservative Agenda 2002: Gun Owners' Rights (17 Jan. 2002)