right to bear arms

A University of Arizona professor who teaches constitutional law said he believes the Second Amendment does not grant citizens the right to own guns, that the right spelled out by Founding Fathers to “keep and bear arms” applies only to well-regulated militias.

Chad Westerland, an associate professor of political science and associate director of the School of Government and Public Policy, recently told the Arizona Daily Wildcat that “the Second Amendment is not clearly written.”

“It doesn’t say you have a right to carry a gun; there’s a right to bear arms that’s connected to maintaining a well-regulated militia.”

Subsequently contacted by The College Fix, Westerland said he was quoted accurately and stands by his statement in the campus newspaper.

Westerland was quoted in a student’s editorial calling for increased gun control in the aftermath of the mid-September Navy Yard mass shooting, which left 13 people dead.

Westerland, a popular professor among students, teaches undergraduate courses in American constitutional law, law and social change, and judicial process, as well as graduate courses on American politics and statistical methodology.

In an interview with The Fix, Westerland declined to state his personal beliefs on gun control or whether citizens would be able to own guns if he were in a leadership position.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In explaining his academic interpretation, he said only since 2008 have individual Americans been granted the right to keep and bear arms, citing the landmark 5-4 Supreme Court decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller, which abolished gun bans.

So it was the courts, not the framers, who recently gave citizens that right, he said.

He also referred to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago to note that an individual’s right to keep and bear arms was not applied to the states, via the Fourteenth Amendment, until three years ago.

Westerland said that his interpretation of the Second Amendment is mostly a matter of personal preference and study, as he comes from a family of gun owners, though he does not personally own any firearms.

When questioned about the National Rifle Association and its lobby efforts, Professor Westerland said that he does not condemn their beliefs and respects their right to have a presence in the gun control debate.

As for the NRA, statements on their website appear to refute Westerland’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

The advocacy group notes that “some people claim that there is no individual right to own firearms.”

“However, anyone familiar with the principles upon which this country was founded will recognize this claim’s most glaring flaw: in America, rights–by definition–belong to individuals.”

The website cites several Founding Fathers to that end: Thomas Jefferson: “No free man shall be debarred the use of arms”; Patrick Henry: “The great object is, that every man be armed”; Richard Henry Lee: “To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms”; Thomas Paine: “(Arms) discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property”; and Samuel Adams: “The said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.”

Fix contributor Katie Jones is a student at the University of Arizona.

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With more than 350 college presidents across the nation signing an open letter to D.C. politicians calling for strict gun control measures, one might think all higher education educators think alike.

But not everyone in the academe believes in over-the-top gun control.

Edward Erler, a noted constitutional law scholar and professor of political science at California State University San Bernardino, delivered a lecture in mid-February at Hillsdale College in which he defended Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Portions of an adaptation of his talk are reprinted below with permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College:

We are currently mired in a frantic debate about the rights of gun owners. One example should suffice to prove that the debate has become hysterical: Second Amendment supporters, one prominent but less than articulate member of Congress alleges, have become “enablers of mass murder.”

… The shooters in Arizona, Colorado, and Newtown were mentally ill persons who, by all accounts, should have been incarcerated. Even the Los Angeles Times admits that “there is a connection between mental illness and mass murder.” But the same progressives who advocate gun control also oppose the involuntary incarceration of mentally ill people who, in the case of these mass shootings, posed obvious dangers to society before they committed their horrendous acts of violence. From the point of view of the progressives who oppose involuntary incarceration of the mentally ill—you can thank the ACLU and like-minded organizations—it is better to disarm the entire population, and deprive them of their constitutional freedoms, than to incarcerate a few mentally ill persons who are prone to engage in violent crimes.

And we must be clear—the Second Amendment is not about assault weapons, hunting, or sport shooting. It is about something more fundamental. It reaches to the heart of constitutional principles—it reaches to first principles. A favorite refrain of thoughtful political writers during America’s founding era held that a frequent recurrence to first principles was an indispensable means of preserving free government—and so it is.

The Second Amendment reads as follows: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”…

The Second Amendment is unique among the amendments in the Bill of Rights, in that it contains a preface explaining the reason for the right protected: Militias are necessary for the security of a free state. We cannot read the words “free State” here as a reference to the several states that make up the Union. The frequent use of the phrase “free State” in the founding era makes it abundantly clear that it means a non-tyrannical or non-despotic state. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), rightly remarked that the term and its “close variations” were “terms of art in 18th-century political discourse, meaning a free country or free polity.”

… Madison frequently stated that all “just and free government” is derived from social compact—the idea embodied in the Declaration of Independence, which notes that the “just powers” of government are derived “from the consent of the governed.” Social compact, wrote Madison, “contemplates a certain number of individuals as meeting and agreeing to form one political society, in order that the rights, the safety, and the interests of each may be under the safeguard of the whole.” The rights to be protected by the political society are not created by government—they exist by nature—although governments are necessary to secure them. Thus political society exists to secure the equal protection of the equal rights of all who consent to be governed. This is the original understanding of what we know today as “equal protection of the laws”—the equal protection of equal rights.

Each person who consents to become a member of civil society thus enjoys the equal protection of his own rights, while at the same time incurring the obligation to protect the rights of his fellow citizens. In the first instance, then, the people are a militia, formed for the mutual protection of equal rights. This makes it impossible to mistake both the meaning and the vital importance of the Second Amendment: The whole people are the militia, and disarming the people dissolves their moral and political existence.

… Furthermore, the Declaration specifies that when government becomes destructive of the ends for which it is established—the “Safety and Happiness” of the people—then “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” This is what has become known as the right of revolution, an essential ingredient of the social compact and a right which is always reserved to the people. The people can never cede or delegate this ultimate expression of sovereign power. Thus, in a very important sense, the right of revolution (or even its threat) is the right that guarantees every other right. And if the people have this right as an indefeasible aspect of their sovereignty, then, by necessity, the people also have a right to the means to revolution. Only an armed people are a sovereign people, and only an armed people are a free people—the people are indeed a militia.

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Controversy created by actor Danny Glover after he said in a recent speech at Texas A&M University that the Second Amendment was created to protect slavery was addressed by the school’s chancellor Wednesday. He dismissed the comments as protected free speech.

“Second Amendment comes from the right to protect, settlers to protect themselves from slave revolts and from up risings by Native Americans,” Chancellor John Sharp said. “I haven’t met an Aggie the yet that agrees with Mr. Glover, but I’ve met every Aggie that agrees he should be able to have the right, uniquely American to say anything he wants to say about any subject and there are plenty of people on that campus who have died to make sure that stays the same, that’s our attitude about it.”

Meanwhile, reports Fox News, “a petition from members of the Texas Aggie conservatives is demanding that A&M stop inviting what they describe to be ‘radical leftist speakers.’ ”

Click here to read more about Glover’s original comments.

Click here to read the Fox News story on the response to those comments.

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Actor Danny Glover, known for his wacky political statements, has opened his mouth yet again to bash the U.S. Constitution, and gun owners rights. And he even seems to equate gun ownership with racism.

Higher ed watchdog group Campus Reform reports on a talk Glover gave to students this week:

The Constitution’s Second Amendment was created to bolster slavery and capture land from Native Americans, award winning actor Danny Glover told a group of students at a Texas A&M sponsored event on Thursday.

“I don’t know if you know the genesis of the right to bear arms,” he said. “The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans.”

“A revolt from people who were stolen from their land or revolt from people whose land was stolen from, that’s what the genesis of the second amendment is,” he continued.

Glover, best known for roles in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise… was addressing students at an event being held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Apparently, Danny Glover thinks that if you support 2nd Amendment rights, you are a racist.

It’s truly hypocritical when a guy who makes millions off movies called “Lethal Weapon” tells students he has a problem with legal gun ownership.

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