will england :: politics of shooting : US Govt says "No" to gun rights

U.S. Department of Justice: Americans Have No Gun Rights

June 29, 2000

I received this bit in the e-mail today from the Liberator Online, and had been hearing about it for a couple of weeks. No comments needed; this stands on it's own.

   The Clinton Justice Department has made its position on the Second
   Amendment shockingly plain and clear: there is no Constitutional right
   to buy, sell or own any firearm, and the government can take weapons
   away from you any time it chooses.

   The astonishing remarks came on Tuesday June 13, during oral arguments
   in the case of U.S. v. Emerson in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

   The case involves a routine restraining order placed on Dr. Timothy
   Emerson, issued while he was going through a divorce. Since 1994,
   federal law has prohibited possession of a firearm by a person under a
   restraining order -- even if, as in this case, there is no threat of

   Dr. Emerson - who was totally unaware of this obscure federal statute,
   as was the judge who issued the restraining order - was subsequently
   arrested for owning a pistol. He challenged the law. On March 30,
   1999, U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings of Lubbock, Texas declared
   that the statute, because it prohibited gun ownership without finding
   any threat of violence, violated Dr. Emerson's Second Amendment right
   to own firearms and was thus unconstitutional.

   The U.S. Justice Department appealed, and the result was one of the
   most dramatic gun rights court arguments in U.S. history.

   According to witnesses, Judge William L. Garwood, the senior judge,
   seemed startled by the government's statist interpretation of the
   Second Amendment.

   Here are some excerpts from the oral arguments, as recorded by
   observer (and radio talk show host) Tom Gresham:

   Judge Garwood (to U.S. Department of Justice attorney Meteja): "You
   are saying that the Second Amendment is consistent with a position
   that you can take guns away from the public? You can restrict
   ownership of rifles, pistols and shotguns from all people? Is that the
   position of the United States?"

   U.S. Department of Justice attorney Meteja: "Yes."

   Metaja argued that the Second Amendment only applied to members of the
   National Guard.

   Judge Garwood: "Is it the position of the United States that persons
   who are not in the National Guard are afforded no protections under
   the Second Amendment?"

   Meteja: "Exactly."

   Meteja added that even members of the National Guard had Second
   Amendment protection only for guns issued or used in the Guard.

   Judge Garwood: "Membership in the National Guard isn't enough? What
   else is needed?"

   Meteja: "The weapon in question must be used in the National Guard."

   Metaja further argued that the federal government had the right to
   regulate guns and gun ownership because of the interstate commerce
   clause of the Constitution. Because a firearm may have once traveled
   across state lines, the government presumes a gun is somehow involved
   in "interstate commerce," thus giving the federal government
   regulatory power over it.

   In response, Judge DeMoss asked, "I have a 16-gauge shotgun in my
   closet at home. I have a 20-gauge shotgun. I also have a 30-caliber
   rifle at home. Are you saying these are 'in or affecting interstate

   Meteja: "Yes."

   Witnesses say the judges seemed very unimpressed with the federal
   government's arguments. At one point, Judge Robert M. Parker
   commented: "You shouldn't let it bother your sleep that Judge Garwood
   and I, between us, own enough guns to start a revolution in most South
   American countries."

   A ruling can come any time this year, with the potential to propel the
   issue -including the key question of whether the Second Amendment does
   in fact protect an individual right to keep and bear arms -- into the
   Supreme Court.

   (Sources: Neal Knox/Shotgun News; Tom Gresham; WorldNetDaily.com)

"The Constitution shall never be construed..."

     "[T]he said Constitution shall never be 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 who are
     peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms..."
     -- Samuel Adams, 1788.

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