By Lee Williams
For more than 70 years, the American Civil Liberties Union’s official position on the Second Amendment has been rather silly and somewhat difficult for them to explain.
The ACLU, which describes itself as the “premier defender of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution,” still believes that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right to keep and bear arms. They base their argument on the 1939 Supreme Court decision, United States v. Miller, which they claim buttresses their interpretation.
Not even the Supreme Court has been able to change their minds. The landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision, D.C. v. Heller, in which the court found that the Second Amendment does in fact protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms didn’t alter the ACLU’s position on the Second Amendment.
“This position is currently under review and is being updated by the ACLU National Board in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Heller in 2008,” the ACLU explains on its website, without acknowledging that their National Board apparently has been studying the Heller decision for the past 14 years without producing any updates.
The reason? The ACLU knows the law better than the justices, they believe. “The ACLU disagrees with the Supreme Court’s conclusion about the nature of the right protected by the Second Amendment. However, particular federal or state laws on licensing, registration, prohibition, or other regulation of the manufacture, shipment, sale, purchase or possession of guns may raise civil liberties questions,” the group states. But as you can imagine, there’s no infringement of gun rights the ACLU finds constitutionally offensive.
“Many of the [gun control] options now being considered raise no civil liberties concerns. That includes bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks. Raising the minimum age for all gun ownership to 21, currently the legal age for purchasing a handgun, also raises no civil liberties issues, as research on brain development shows that young people’s impulse control differs from that of adults,” the group states.
Other Second Amendment “reforms” the ACLU supports include red-flag laws, gun-free zones, “smart gun” technology, CDC “gun violence” research, ending private firearm sales and even “requirements that gun owners first obtain a permit, much like a driver’s license, establishing that they know how to use guns safely and responsibly.” The latter would allow the licensing of a constitutional right, which is quite a legal leap for the alleged premier defenders of the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
In a perfect world, the ACLU would be working hand-in-hand with the gun-rights community. After all, they’re supposed to defend the Constitution, right? The Second Amendment is a constitutional right and given the extreme anti-gun actions of the Biden-Harris administration and legislatures in non-free states, violations of the Second Amendment are increasing. In fact, the Second Amendment Foundation has active litigation in dozens of states, and more are expected.
Besides, the ACLU would be a powerful ally. They took in more than $135 million in grants and contributions in 2019, according to the group’s most recent IRS form 990. The ACLU Foundation, received more than $156 million during the same period.
However, here in the real world the ACLU would never dream of defending anyone whose Second Amendment rights were violated, despite all of their history, lofty pronouncements and goals. They prefer to pick and choose the portion of the Constitution they want to defend, and that certainly excludes anything related to guns or the Second Amendment.
Over the years, I’ve asked a few of their staff attorneys about the group’s refusal to even acknowledge violations of the Second Amendment, much less take a case. Most just shrugged their shoulders. A few told me the ACLU leaves these Second Amendment cases for gun-rights groups to resolve. It wasn’t their call, they said, as their headquarters sets their policies and priorities.
Imagine the public outrage if the ACLU began ignoring other constitutional amendments, such as the First. That’s exactly what they are doing if a case involves guns.
A Harsh Critic
Ira Glasser ran the ACLU from 1978 to 2001. During his 23-year tenure as Executive Director, Glasser transformed the organization into a legal powerhouse, which became known as “Liberty’s Law Firm.” Despite the fact he lost relatives in the Holocaust, Glasser personally defended the First Amendment rights of a group of Nazis who sought to march through the predominantly Jewish section of Skokie, Illinois. The man was a titan – a champion of Free Speech.
Glasser recently blasted the ACLU for what he claims is their failing to defend free speech. He blew the whistle on a new set of guidelines which ACLU staff attorneys must use before they’re allowed to take a case.
“This is a requirement now for the national ACLU employers, that before they take a case defending someone’s free speech, they have to make sure that the speech doesn’t offend or threaten other civil liberties values,” Glasser said, during an episode of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” In other words, if the ACLU doesn’t agree with the speech, their attorneys won’t defend it.
Guns are now an immediate disqualifier, according to the new guidelines – even if they’re carried legally and in accordance with state and local laws:
“Whether the speakers seek to carry weapons: The presence of weapons can be intimidating and inimical to the free exchange of ideas. They can chill speech and justify state suppression of protest. Accordingly, the ACLU generally will not represent protesters who seek to march while armed. It is important that this content-neutral rule be applied without regard to a speaker’s political views. It should also apply whether or not state law permits or prohibits the carrying of weapons in a protest. To this end, and consistent with time and resource constraints (including assistance from the national office to affiliates and vice versa), we should exercise due diligence in assessing whether the potential client seeks to march while armed. If there is reason to believe that the clients do so intend, and we are unable to satisfy ourselves that they will not do so, we should be reluctant to accept representation,” the guidelines state.
In other words, if someone chooses to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights, and the government commits an unconstitutional infringement in response, the ACLU won’t get involved. Because guns.
The ACLU has always been a liberal organization. Now, it’s both liberal and woke. In fact, it’s so woke it has stopped defending free speech…unless the ACLU happens to agree with the speech and doesn’t find it offensive. How this non-offensive speech could ever become a constitutional issue is left unsaid.
There’s a duty that comes with calling themselves the “premier defender of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.” It requires the ACLU to defend the entire Constitution, not just the amendments that won’t stir the woke mob.
By only taking cases that promote their particular political agenda, based on a perverted interpretation of the Constitution, the ACLU has lost its objectivity and its value. Gun owners have known this for decades, but it’s high time the rest of the country understands this and sees the ACLU for what they truly are – a bunch of well-financed, woke hypocrites.
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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.