The National Rifle Association has filed a brief in support of what backers are calling a potential landmark gun-rights case now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sponsored primarily by KeepAndBearArms.com, or KABA, a pro-gun rights website and organization, the case challenges “the California semi-auto rifle ban on the basis of Second Amendment protection of our individual right to keep and bear arms,” according to the group’s website.
Semi-automatic versions of military weapons that have been banned in California are at the center of a case before the Supreme Court to define Second Amendment rights.
California lawmakers banned a number of rifles under the Assault Weapons Control Act in 1989, but a decade later, the state also restricted the sale, manufacture, or importation into the state of all semi-automatic rifles having combinations of arbitrarily selected features – such as detachable magazines, folding stocks, flash suppressors and pistol grips.
NRA support, say the suit’s backers, was crucial not only to lend credibility but also as a way to boost fundraising for the effort, KABA officials said.
The Second Amendment says, “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.”
“The Second Amendment empowers individual citizens to defend themselves and their property against the acts of criminals, mob violence, and even state-sponsored oppression,” says the brief. “Only individual possession of firearms allows for the effective exercise of self-defense against such threats.”
Brian Puckett, a spokesman for KABA, told WorldNetDaily that Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, the Second Amendment Sisters, Women Against Gun Control, and even Pink Pistols – a homosexual gun-rights group – have filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in support of gun rights.
The NRA brief also quotes 19th Century Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, who observed that “the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary powers of rulers.”
“We are at a critical stage on what may turn out to be the most important Second Amendment case ever filed,” said KABA spokesman David Codrea.
Supporters appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that Americans have no individual right to keep and bear arms.
KABA said the suit “seeks to address at least two specific aspects of the Second Amendment, namely: Does the Second Amendment apply to the states in the same way that the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments apply, and does it guarantee an individual right, in the same manner as those other amendments to the Bill of Rights?”
The case is named after its primary plaintiff, Sean Silveira, and the California attorney general, Democrat Bill Lockyer.
Clinton administration Justice Department officials also held that the Second Amendment was a collective state right, not an individual right, a point laid out in an Aug. 22, 2000, letter by then-Solicitor General Seth Waxman.
However, Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft reversed course in a letter to the NRA shortly after taking office, telling the nation’s largest gun-rights organization he believes the Constitution supports an individual’s right to own firearms.