va capitol open carry
Open carry...formerly legal in the Virginia capitol. (Courtesy Jeff Hulbert)
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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.

Open carry gun rights protest
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“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.

Louisville nfa coalition open carry protest
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

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.

open carry florida feat
Luis Valdes for TTAG

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.

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  1. “Why the ACLU Won’t Defend the Free Speech of Those Who Carry Firearms”

    I always figured because we can defend it ourselves… 😉

  2. ACLU has defended nothing but pedophiles and pornographers’ for 60 years…

    • @Missouri_Mule Resident Historian

      “ACLU has defended nothing but pedophiles and pornographers’ for 60 years…”

      and Nazis, don’t forget the Nazis.

  3. Let me get this straight.

    The left is pushing for voting age to be lowered to 16 (because 16 year olds have the experience and maturity to vote) while raising the age to own a firearm of any kind to 21 (because any younger is too immature to exercise proper self control.)

    Makes perfect sense.

    • Well, voting isn’t really important, unless you are threatening the voting rights of illegal aliens, convicts, crazy people, or dead people. Anyone can vote without a license, and new mothers should get two votes – one for the baby.

      • Giving the unborn votes; that *may* cause pro-choice progressives a dilemma. Kill the baby, to be “empowered”, or claim an extra vote, to elect a ‘progressive’ politician. What to do?

  4. Gun owners looking for the ACLU to defend them have already missed the point and have lost the argument. That organization is part of what wants to get rid of guns and make gun owners into insurrectionist maniacs to be put down.

  5. “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.”
    how fast would that stop if they allied with pro 2a?

  6. They’re showing their Communistic roots again. Founded by Communists, led by Communists, staffed by Communists, funded by people who probably don’t know/don’t care about it.

  7. The ACLU stopped being about Americans and Civil liberties years ago.

    They’re a democrat fundraising group at this point, nothing more.

  8. “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.”

    Or translated into sanity terms: The Nazi group used him to further their hate agenda and the WWII Nazis used his relatives to further their hate agenda.

    That’s not a champion, its a fool.

    • No. The legal techniques used to halt their march were also used by the government on other groups in that day. He was defending rights in the abstract, even for people he disliked.

      Remember that defending 4A and 1A rights of citizens 20 years ago during the post-9/11 hysteria is not “siding with Islamist terrorists” even though an Islamist terrorist might benefit from such.

    • His relatives in Germany were probably the ones advising their congregations not to do anything to anger the Nazis. Don’t anger the Nazis? What were they going to do, shoot you down in the streets like an animal? Oh, that’s right they were already doing that. Jam twice as many people as would fit in cattle cars and imprison you in death camps? Oh, that’s right. they were already doing that. Gas anyone who looked like they couldn’t do a days worth of hard labor? Oh, they were already doing that too.

      Personally, I would have a guy doing that to my family, friends and neighbors totally P.O. at me than the cold, mechanical, officious way the Nazis operated.

      I can’t believe it actually happened, but according to what I believe were accurate reports, many rabbis actually advised their congregations not to make the Nazis angry.
      Certainly among the most idiotic advice I have ever heard.

      And since it was FDR, a demonokratic aristocrat who kept a whole boatload of Jewish refugees from landing in the U.S. after they managed to escape the Nazi’s grasp, I don’t understand the Jew’s love of the demonokratic party.

      And, Dave, the Skokie march that Booger has reference to took place long before 9/11. Look it up. You missed the point of Booger’s comment. I agreed with the ACLU’s stand in that matter. Free speech is free speech. Just because I don’t like what you are saying doesn’t give me the right to throw you in prison or cut you off from speaking. You are free to speak and I am freer to ignore whatever drivel you utter. The challenges to free speech today are highly disturbing. Colleges should be a hotbed of free speech but instead they are too much like Communist China or Russia. There probably is more free speech in Russia today than on all liberal college campuses.

      I don’t know what it is with most Jews. It is like they have completely forgotten the Holocaust. They have forgotten the relatives that they never knew because they were burned up in the Nazis’ ovens.

      • I am quite aware of the Skokie march. Your post changes nothing about what I wrote; it is not Nazi-sympathizing to defend 1A free speech of all citizens, even if Nazis gain benefit from such.

        • If those Nazis had been white, Christian gun owners instead of socialists, the ACLU would have laughed them out of the office- and bragged about how they had “given those rednecks a piece of their minds” that night at dinner.
          And you know it.
          The Skokie march defense wasn’t laudable defense of freedom; it was propaganda.

  9. F the aclu, un, atf, blm, etc.etc.etc.
    F all the alphabet bs
    Except for USA, which keeps getting f’ed by them all.
    And FJB

  10. “Why the ACLU Won’t Defend the Free Speech of Those Who Carry Firearms?” What a stupid question to ask. ACLU is and always has been a Marxist power grubbing organization which has nothing to do with Free Speech. They use Bill Of Rights to achieve their goals and then ditch it into trash.

    • You’re just proving yourself an idjit again dacian. The text of your cited article makes it clear that the ACLU saw a threat to BLM, so they acted to thwart that threat.

    • dacian, it was purely a first amendment case. Not a gun rights or 2A case. One again you fail to understand what you are reading.

    • Apparently you didn’t read the whole article. Before you post something, you really need to to read all the way down to the bottom of the article. You remind me of attorneys who used to argue from case law that they hadn’t read all the way through. The judge I worked for would continuously ask them, “But did you read the court’s decision?” because he had read the whole damned report and knew that despite all the rhetoric in the beginning, by the time the court reached its decisions, it was, “notwithstanding all of the above, we find that . . .”

  11. The ACLU has always been an enigma to me. They will take on case after case, representing batshit crazy views, and then they’ll take one that I can really get behind them on. It’s like they use a random number generator to determine their positions or something. Chaos, anarchy, and undermining the authority of the government seems to be their goal most of the time. When they do land on the “correct” side of an issue, it makes me wonder what I’m missing. I know they’re not trying to right any wrongs.

    • As with much of what the left claims, they got things backwards. The anti gun rights agenda has always been about keeping guns away from “Those People”. Those people meaning whichever group is perceived as a threat to the wealthy or privileged classes. Today it is not only the poor inner city minorities, but the conservatives and right of center citizens who do the majority of the hated things like work, try to be somewhat responsible adults and pay their bills without trying to claim perpetual victimhood.

  12. “Imagine the public outrage if the ACLU began ignoring other constitutional amendments, such as the First.”

    The without A CLU quit defending the First Amendment quite a while ago. They don’t *entirely* ignore it…they just undermine it by defending only people they like and positions that make them look good to the other bien pensants.

    Even the New York Times has acknowledged it — — but I haven’t heard anything to indicate that the general public cares.

  13. The ACLU is the NLG (National Lawyers Guild) is the Communist (Democratic) Party USA it IS that simple. What is abominable is ACLU attorneys (both leadership & trial attorneys) in their national and local offices and a majority of their donors possess surnames ending in “itz”/”stein”/”berg”/”baum”/”man”/”er”/”in”/”ohn”/” en” THAT my friends is a monumental problem as those whose favorite mantra is “Never Forget” have forgotten and/or have consciously become the totalitarians themselves.

  14. The point here is that is the ARMS INDUSTY engaged in selling unnessessary weapons to the gullible Americvan Public and who are pouring literally billions of dollars into preventing any kind of gun control that are the real culprits in they ongoing gun-control debate in the USA. It is these people that are behind the fomenting of insurrection in the pursuit of profits IT’s is these people that must bear some of the responsibility for the ever increasing annual casualty list of victims of guncrime in the USA. Just as it is they USERS of DRUGS that are financing the everlasting Drug wars across the world.
    Having said that, and though I am all for stringent gun controls in my own neck of the woods I do understand that if I lived in such a dangerous place as the USA I might just be tempted to acquire a means of self defence. I have absolutely no interest in any kind of ‘hunting’ other than maybe, just maybe, for the pot and have taken a few small game in my time. But I see no nessessity for anybody to possess for the purpose of self defence anything other than a compentent 9mm [ or .38 calibre] Pistol An S7W .38 or a Browning 9mm Hi-Power is as much pistol has anybody will ever need and half the world’s Armed and Police Forces think the same.
    For hunting why would anybody require anything more than a single reliable bolt action 7.62mm/0.300 and a decentb ‘scope’?

    [I might add here that for most of my life I have lived in rural surrounds or at least as it as rural as it gets inthe UK and spent my formative years ‘down on our farm’ I also joined the Local rmy Cadets Force and by the age of 16as ‘badged’ as UK Infantry Marksman’ Standard withtheLee Enfield N04 .303 and the BREN .303 LMG. I then spent the best part of two decades in the UK Forces as an Armourer in the RAF where I trained, as a Smalls arms Instructor. hundreds of recruits of both sexes and as a Trained Im nfantry in the UK Infantry Reservess ]
    Sonner or later the US Civilian Arms Industry WILL be taken to task, as the US Automobile Industry was, for it’s contribution to the death and destruction in has brought down upon the population. IT seem’s, to me. very odd indeed, that there was no screaming about Civil Rights when Automobile safety measures, and very restrictive ones at that, were brought in against industrial pressures and yet the US Public allow the Civil Arms INdustry to literally get away with willful negligence.

    As you might have guessed I’m from the other side of the pond

    • “I see no need for…”

      I see no need to care what you do or do not see the need for. All people should be free to acquire what we want and decide for ourselves what we need.

  15. The ACLU is as anti-civil rights as the Klu Klux Klan. The major difference is the ACLU has a much larger membership. And a higher operating budget. Mostly through donations, from very stupid and or racist people. And the ACLU negatively effects more people than the Klan does.

    The ACLU has never been a civil rights organization. They supported the internment thousands of innocent Japanese, German, and Italian American Citizens. They never supported the civil rights of abortion protesters. But they did support the rights of anti-war protesters.

    The ACLU is about a supporter of civil rights, as the NRA is a supporter of gun rights. Unfortunately both of these organizations fooled a lot of people into giving the money.

  16. If The Democrat Totalitarian Party takes the mid terms The Constitution will be banned by their congress as white supremacist racist document(s) and the ban will be upheld by their Supreme Court. Their law enforcement will back it up. Political military leaders will switch to protecting and defending The Party. It’s not just about The 2nd Amendment.

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