Pledging to protect the Second Amendment is what brought millions of beleaguered American firearms owners to the polls Nov. 8 to elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, and one thing Trump can do to assure them that he deserves their trust would be to instruct his attorney general early in 2017 to name a special assistant whose job would be to protect Second Amendment rights.
Over the years, the Department of Justice has taken action against various other civil and constitutional rights abuses. It is time for the DOJ to prosecute violations of the Second Amendment and federal laws including the Firearms Owners Protection Act. The next attorney general should take action against states and local governments that adopt laws designed specifically to infringe on the rights of honest firearms owners or discourage people from exercising their right to keep and bear arms for legitimate reasons, including self-defense.
For too many years, cities including Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and states including New Jersey, New York and Maryland have prosecuted firearms owners, including those in transit from other states, for actions that would be legal anywhere else in the nation. This must cease, and those states must be held accountable for their abuses.
Egregious laws have been adopted also in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois. Bans on certain commonly-owned firearms in all of these states began as simple licensing and/or registration requirements. Earlier this year, for example, anti-gun Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey unilaterally decided to expand the definition of “assault weapon” in the Bay State, essentially rendering tens of thousands of legally owned firearms as contraband. Her claim that the state law on “assault weapons” has been misinterpreted for the past 18 years, and that she was merely correcting that problem is specious at best.
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California is another example of a state where rights have been gradually eroded to the point where owning a firearm has become little more than a privilege. The state initially banned a limited number of firearms, and has gradually expanded that to cover a whole class of firearms, making previously legal firearms illegal. A deputy U.S. attorney general could bring the full force of the Justice Department against such demagoguery.
That all of this has been done under the guise of “gun safety” is an insult to the intelligence of gun owners. They see their rights have been infringed, and they deserve to have those rights protected and defended by the Justice Department rather than surrendered piecemeal to gun control extremism.
It should not simply be up to gun rights organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation to challenge such laws while the Justice Department acts like a spectator.
It would also be the task of this special assistant AG to make sure the DOJ does not take anti-Second Amendment positions on any legal action. This individual would also serve as a liaison with gun rights organizations, working with them rather than against them to assure that the nation’s laws are used to prosecute criminals rather than persecute law-abiding gun owners.
This assistant AG could work with members of Congress and gun rights organizations to restore funding for the long-neglected rights restoration investigations that once were conducted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
President-elect Trump pledged to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia with someone who shared his view that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right not contingent with service in some militia. At some point, the high court must address the right to bear arms, sending a message to state governments that a right so encumbered by Draconian restrictions that its exercise is impossible is not a right at all, but a prohibitively-regulated privilege.
Donald Trump has been given an opportunity to right so many of the wrongs that have been committed against millions of citizens whose only crime has been a wish to exercise their constitutionally-delineated civil rights. They helped to make him president and it is time for the government to treat them as the first class citizens they are and have always been.
It is time to make the Second Amendment to be great again.
Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman are co-authors of “Right To Carry,” published by Merril Press. Gottlieb is founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. Workman is Senior Editor of TheGunMag.com.