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An Open Letter to President Barack H. Obama

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Re: White House Website: The Need to Correct a
False Description of the Second Amendment

Dear President Obama:

As Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, Inc., and Executive Vice President of Gun Owners Foundation, and on behalf of our over 300,000 members and supporters, I respectfully bring to your attention a matter that requires your immediate action . . .

The official White House website includes a page1 which purports to describe key provisions of the United States Constitution. With respect to the Second Amendment, the complete description of the Second Amendment on the website is as follows:

“The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.” [Emphasis original.]

Even recognizing that the website attempts to present only a simple summary of provisions of the Constitution, the description is highly inaccurate, and should be immediately corrected so as not to mislead the American people as to the true nature and scope of the Second Amendment. There are two separate problems with the White House website.

Correction Number 1

The Second Amendment does not “give” citizens any rights. Rather, as the U.S. Supreme Court explained inDistrict of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Second Amendment “codifies,”2 “protects,”3 and “secure[s]”4 a right — rather than “grants,” “bestows,” or “gives” one.

The Supreme Court explicitly stated that “it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The Second Amendment text recognizes the right as pre-existent, declaring only that it ‘shall not be infringed.’” Id. at 592 (emphasis added). That is why the Court concluded in Heller that the right to keep and bear arms “belongs to all Americans.” Id. at 581 (emphasis added).5

Thus, the Second Amendment protects a right granted us by our Creator, as described in the nation’s charter, the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creatorwith certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. [Emphasis added.]

You can understand our concern here, for if the Second Amendment is a mere privilege given to American citizens by government, it is a privilege which can be overcome by naked assertions of public safety. Indeed, this misunderstanding of the Second Amendment undergirds the erroneous positions being argued in many cases across the country by your Attorney General and the U.S. Justice Department.

Correction Number 2

Additionally, the description on the White House website completely ignores the fact that the Second Amendment protects not only the right to “bear” arms but also to “keep” them.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller expressly addressed the right to “keep” a handgun for self-defense within the home. In its analysis, the Supreme Court, in parsing the words of the Second Amendment, analyzed the right to “keep” separately from the right to “bear” arms. Id. at 581. These two words have specific, and different, meanings, protecting different sets of activities. One must first enjoy the right to own (“keep”) a firearm in order to protect its use (“bear”).


On behalf of one of the largest and oldest firearms rights groups in the United States, we respectfully suggest that the White House adopt following language to replace the erroneous explanation:

“The Second Amendment seeks to preserve the United States as a free nation, by protecting the right of individual American citizens to acquire, own, possess, sell, carry and use modern firearms, both through service in a citizen’s militia as a final line of defense against government tyranny, as well as other personal uses such as self-defense, hunting, and other sporting activities.”

Please do not hesitate to contact me if we can be of further assistance in this matter. We look forward to these corrections to the White House’s website being made in the near future.


Sen. H.L. “Bill” Richardson (ret.)
Founder and Chairman

Tim Macy
Vice President

Gerry Ognibene
Board Member

Lawrence D. Pratt
Executive Director

Sam Paredes
Board Member


[1]  United States Constitution:

[2]  Id. at 576.

[3]  Id. at 599.

[4]  Id. at 603.

[5]  By way of contrast, the White House website correctly states that the First and Fourth Amendments “protect” rights, and nowhere except in reference to the Second Amendment does it describe rights as being granted by government.

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  1. If natural/god given rights meant anything it would not need to be codified.

    Agree with #2… but honestly, I expected something worse from this white house on the topic of the 2nd (maybe involving militias).

      • True, but really, how hard would this be to fix?

        All he’d have to do is send out a quick formal notification of the error to each of the 57 states…


        • 60 states! The number is 60! This gets misquoted all the time. “Obama thinks there are 57 states HA HA HA!” No, he said he had been to 57 states so far with one more to go (58) and they wouldn’t let him go to Alaska and Hawaii (59 and 60).

    • You make a very interesting comment. Many of the founding fathers felt the same way, thinking that these natural rights are so ingrained into the human being that they need to be written down.

      Boy were they wrong about that.

      • NO NO – think out of Africa Pretty sure it’s Pharaoh Barry.

        But with the White House may use Palatine, Czar of Czars or Grant Prince.

        Not possitive what the pet name for Val Jerrett is but I think “Dark Queen”

        • More angry white man tribalism from neiowa. Tribalism breeds tribalism, neiowa. So if you’re feeling tread upon by those mean ol’ minorities (a laughable notion in a country that has yet to shed the last vestiges of white supremecy), then maybe you should knock off the tribalism yourself.

        • Never mind the guilty white liberals in the peanut gallery. Your post was funny.

          Contrary to the tribalism begetting tribalism charge, it’s more like employing absurdity to illustrate absurdity. This president’s entire absurd worldview is steeped in anti-American racism and it’s about time someone called him out on it.

          If only the snivelling cowards in the courts and Congress
          would have done that, we wouldn’t have an executive branch out of control and setting dangerous precedents for future Constitution-dismissive presidents.

        • Which proves, contrary to common belief, that robots can be programmed to do the illogical

    • Reminds me of the Art Carney line in the Honeymooners….”First thing you do in golf is address the ball………Hello ball …..” Breaks me up.

    • – His stepfather Soetoro adopted him and allegedly renounced his American citizenship.
      – Barry attended school in Indonesia. They apparently don’t allow dual citizenship students to attend there.

      But this is all just crazy talk. Theres no way a non American citizen could come to control the White House.

  2. I don’t see why it needs to be expanded so far. If you want a short, 1-line form, it could simply be changed to:

    The Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.

    • +1 Keep it simple. No need to throw “modern firearms” in there, and really…you think this White House (or any other) is going to even give lip service to “defense against government tyranny”? I got a laugh out of that part.

    • “A free and armed people being necessary to secure protection of inalienable rights, the state shall have no right to infringe on their bearing, whether individually or as part of a citizen militia, of said arms.”

    • yeah they really overcooked that one. They needed 1 run to win but tried to go for the grand slam as opposed to the single into the outfield that drives in the game winning run.

  3. and in other news, the IRS announced several new expansive audits of certain individuals affliated with Gun Owners of America, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Department of Justice. The IRS indicated the audits would be wide-ranging and go back more than 20 yrs to find evidence of something.

    • You got that right. Additionally the NSA has our real names, IPO, home address and phone. Sharing information over the internet is uniting the world.

    • Would not surprise me one single bit. If anyone gets to hip you take them out. Anybody else about to give up on this dried husk of a country?

    • Brave indeed; quite an in your face demand letter, a bit more than a respectful suggestion.

      I’d expect…silence…and like Dirk said, a letter from the IRS…somewhere down the road.

  4. Mr. Richardson must be smoking the good stuff if he thinks he’ll see;

    “final line of defense against government tyranny,”

    Gracing the 2A description on the official White House website.

    Especially under this administration.

    Overall, outstanding points, but that bit just won’t fly…

  5. This Administration won’t change anything they don’t agree with until they are forced to, all the while kicking and screaming with resistance.

    Any effort to induce such a change will simply be put on perpetual ‘hold’.

      • I wish I could believe. I keep seeing nutbar religious fruitcake republicans throwing this election into the weeds over what heyzoos said, when fiscal restraint and reduction in the size of government would have won. I expect Hillary, because we cannot figure out what is important in the real world.

        • Or there could be a miracle and enough people will figure out that Libertarian is the closest thing to “None of the Above” that the ballot has to offer.

          Libertarians – slowly taking over the soul of the nation with our secret plot to leave you alone.

        • You mean McCain Palin? Yeah that ticket ran on expanding government spending…NOT!
          McCain promised to freeze spending and outlaw earmarks. (He never earmarked a bill in 3 decades while Hillary had over 600 in her one term).

  6. They had a good thing going until they overcooked it with “The Second Amendment seeks to preserve the United States as a free nation, by protecting the right of individual American citizens to acquire, own, possess, sell, carry and use modern firearms, both through service in a citizen’s militia as a final line of defense against government tyranny, as well as other personal uses such as self-defense, hunting, and other sporting activities.”

    Dont get me wrong I agree with that 100% but given the audience a simple “we suggest the following correction of ‘The second amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms'” Has a whole hell of a lot more of a chance of getting in there.

  7. There are two separate problems with the [description of the second amendment on the] White House website.

    …the erroneous positions being argued in many cases across the country by your Attorney General and the U.S. Justice Department.

    I’m sure the watered down view of the second amendment on the Obama controlled website, and the watered down view of gun rights pushed by the Obama appointed AG are just a coincidence.

  8. I like the Pennsylvania version of the Second, which was the blueprint for Federal version:

    Section 21.

    The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

    As in, don’t even bring the topic up.

    • Shouldn’t be “The State.” “Security of a Free State” doesn’t mean a geopolitical entity; “Free State” means a state of being, or condition, of unencumberedness, like water molecules in steam are in a Free State. In order to perserve the condition of Liberty, the Right of the Individual to have and carry weapons shall stand inviolate!

  9. The problem isn’t the White House, or the President, it’s everyone that voted for these things.

    If you’re from a Blue state you may be part of the problem, if you are liberal, rino, or have a (D) after your name, the problem is part-of-you.

    • The right to keep and bear arms is unassailable, the only jeopardy are the people who are in possession of the right. Therefore, if you threaten 2nd Amendment Liberties, you are instead directly threatening citizens

  10. Don’t think they will care.
    Codify is a legal term. A better lay-man’s term that means the same thing is describe. The constitution does not give or grant us the right; rather it describes and puts the pre existing right into words so that everyone (ie the government) can be expected to understand it and abide by it. Undefined rights are worthless until defined by the supreme court, by the way.

  11. The Second Amendment gives citizens the collective right to only bear arms when in service in the military or police. All other times, citizens have a basic right to total gun control. What the White House really dreams for.

  12. The Whitehouse is worse than simply always wrong. It ever invents new and novel, psychotic and kaleidoscopic, ways of outdoing itself in being wrong. It is so deceptively and willfully fraudulent, that it cannot even be counted on as a reliable negative barometer of the truth.

  13. I can’t believe that so far I’m the fist one on this blog to realize that there’s a third factual mistake with with “The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.”

    The second amendment applies to all legal residents, not just “citizens”. Citizenship has been legally defined as separate and distinct from residency.

  14. I get it. But you’d have a better chance of getting Obama to show up at your kid’s birthday party dressed as a clown with the secret service performing Chinese acrobatics than you will getting them to actually consider your email.

      • Interesting assertion. I would bet he would NOT have to sign for it, and, further, if he did have to he would refuse, take it away. I do have enough evidence to convince myself that neither he nor anyone else reads his email; I have cursed him, called him names, advised him to do things which probably cannot be done without dislocating something, etc, etc, and all I get back is “thank you for your input, it is important to me, send money”.

    • Oh. I don’t know. He looks like a clown, acts like a clown, tells clown stories (lies), he must be a clown.
      So why wouldn’t he show up at your kids birthday party dressed like one.
      As for the Secret Service; I guess it would depend on the gender and ‘profession’ of the guests.

  15. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –…”

    Note: Government instituted for the primary purpose of ‘Securing Rights’, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

    Note: Further declaratory and restrictive clause added in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers as follows:

    Amendment II “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.”
    ( two additional commas added by the scribe )

    Current revulsion:
    “The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.”

    Note: Back in the days of one-room schoolhouses, a third-grader would have known better.
    Nowadays, there’s at least a 50/50 chance the person who typed it truly is that ignorant.

    H/T to GOA.

  16. I’d say it’s well written an truthful. Not that the White House website has any overriding power over the US Constitution, but it may be misleading to those not too familiar with the US Constitution, and assist in solidifying/backing future propaganda from anti-gun rights groups that the right to firearms was provided by the government through the Constitution versus being a natural right.

  17. He lost me in the first sentence. Asking for Obama’s immediate action on anything that isn’t on a golf course is a non-starter.

  18. Obama’s re-written 2A:
    A well complacent populace, being necessary to the power of the govenrment, the right of the people to keep double barrel shotguns in a safe so they can hunt and stuff, shall only be infringed when we need more power.

  19. Um,………..what guns? I don’t own a firearm and none of my associates have guns either. Heck, I don’t even think that there are more than six shotguns for hunting ducks in all of upstate New York.

    I’m pretty sure that if you look around, you will realize that you don’t own a firearm either. Some of you may have once owned a gun but I’m almost sure that if you think about it, you will remember that you lost it overboard on a canoe trip. (obama is considering using Governor Cuomo’s S.A.F.E. gun law as a model for a Federal gun law.)

    The rest of you probably just imagined that you once thought about actually purchasing a firearm. Here in the People’s Republic of New York, our Dear Leader, Governor Andrew Cuomo, has initiated the New York S.A.F.E. gun law which pretty much makes any gun owner a criminal.

    On January 5, 2013, the day after our trusted Democrats and RINOs passed the S.A.F.E. gun law, (at midnight), many open letters were sent to our Governor Cuomo assuring him that none of the 140 different gun brands and models were known to be in private hands. That list of 140 rifles and shotguns was sent to Governor Cuomo by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to aid our Dear Governor Cuomo. Her staff had already poured over the gun catalogues and picked out the menacing looking ones. More brands and models have since been added to that list of “dangerous” guns. Each of these rifles and shotguns must be registered just like handguns.

    Oh, those six shotgun owners? They usually go to Pennsylvania or Vermont to buy shotgun shells for duck hunting. They resented having to go through a N.I.C.S. background check when they needed to buy another box of five shells.

    I don’t know why our Dear Governor Cuomo fast tracked his gun law through the State legislature in three days because most New Yorkers already understood that guns are evil devices that always lead to criminal behavior. I do hope that Governor Cuomo felt better about his firearms concerns after he read our letters assuring him that none of his state residents have any of these infernal implements.

    All of the upstate New York citizens think the world of our Democrat Governor and we want him to know that he can count on us next November on election day. We really like him because of his crime fighting efforts. New Yorkers just feel safer because we know that the criminals will think twice before using a pump shotgun that must be registered. After all, they couldn’t use handguns before the new gun law, so now they can’t use the newly designated shotguns and rifles either.

    I mean, one gets a warm and fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.

  20. Correction to my previous post. The New York S.A.F.E. gun law was passed on January 15, 2013, not January 5, 2013.


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