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Posted: 5/7/2002 4:06:42 PM EDT
Justice Dept. Reverses Gun Stance
Tue May 7, 6:55 PM ET

By ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration has told the Supreme Court for the first time that it believes the Constitution protects an individual's right to possess guns, reversing the government's longstanding interpretation of the Second Amendment.

At the same time, Justice Department (news - web sites) lawyers said the high court need not test that principle now.

"The current position of the United States ... is that the Second Amendment more broadly protects the rights of individuals, including persons who are not members of any militia or engaged in active military service or training, to possess and bear their own firearms," Solicitor General Theodore Olson wrote in two court filings this week.

That right, however, is "subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse."

Olson, the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, was reflecting the view of Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) that the Second Amendment confers the right to "keep and bear arms" to private citizens, and not merely to the "well-regulated militia" mentioned in the amendment's text.

Ashcroft caused a stir when he expressed a similar statement in a letter to the National Rifle Association last year.

"While some have argued that the Second Amendment guarantees only a 'collective' right of the states to maintain militias, I believe the amendment's plain meaning and original intent prove otherwise," Ashcroft wrote.

Critics accused him of kowtowing to the NRA and of undermining federal prosecutors by endorsing a legal view 180 degrees from what has been official Justice Department policy for some 40 years.

At the time it was not clear whether Ashcroft was expressing his personal view, or stating a new policy position for the federal government. That question was mostly answered last November, when Ashcroft sent a letter to federal prosecutors praising an appeals court decision that found "the Second Amendment does protect individual rights," but noting that those rights could be subject to "limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions."

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals (news - web sites) went on to reject arguments from Texas physician Timothy Emerson that a 1994 federal gun law was unconstitutional. The law was intended to deny guns to people under restraining orders.

"In my view, the Emerson opinion, and the balance is strikes, generally reflect the correct understanding of the Second Amendment," Ashcroft told prosecutors.

(Edited for Space Restrictions)
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 4:13:47 PM EDT
Cool deal, now all they have to do is inform the state of California that it is violating my constitutional rights.
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 4:20:27 PM EDT
time to go out and buy that preban!
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 7:02:15 PM EDT
So, the "current position" is that I have a constitutional right to own those guns that they don't object to?

I guess this means I'm safe to let my NRA membership expire.
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 7:04:47 PM EDT
You can go a long way with those but's!
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 7:31:29 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/7/2002 7:40:18 PM EDT by warlord]

Originally Posted By drshame:
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restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse."
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Does this mean "assault weapons" and Sat. Nite Spls? Lets see what happens in a few years when the current Fed Assualt Weapons ban expires during an election year, but those words & deeds are encouraging though. Politicians have a funny way of twisting words around. Bush Sr. was the genesis of the current federal AW ban and Bill Clinton just finished it.

OT: Thomas Olson is this the same Olson whose wife died when the 747 hit the Pentagon?
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 7:49:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By warlord:
OT: Thomas Olson is this the same Olson whose wife died when the 747 hit the Pentagon?



Yes, he is. Olson is the Solicitor General.
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 8:13:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Fuzzbean:
So, the "current position" is that I have a constitutional right to own those guns that they don't object to?



No the "current position" is that you have a constitutional right to own guns if they don't object to you. They are protecting the governments right to deny firearms to criminals, the mentally ill, and illegal aliens. Or more specificly the Administration is putting itself in a position where it cannot be accused by the left of letting criminals have guns. They seem to want to avoid any media attention that would resusitate the anti-gun movement.
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 8:22:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
No the "current position" is that you have a constitutional right to own guns if they don't object to you.



Then what does "types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse" mean?

You can't spin this massive "loophole" like it's aimed only at convicted criminals or something.

But then, them objecting to me could be pretty ominous, too. [:\]
Link Posted: 5/7/2002 9:34:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Fuzzbean:
[Then what does "types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse" mean?



Nothing, since it is impossible to prove that any particular type of firearm is particularly suited to criminal misuse...

More attempts to coddle a opposition that no longer exists...
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 12:33:42 AM EDT
"types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse"

In other words a gun capable of firing a bullet!! Ya think they'll let us keep and bear water pistols?
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 4:56:55 AM EDT

... shall not be infringed




That right, however, is "subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse."



Hmmm.
Link Posted: 5/8/2002 5:04:39 AM EDT
Maybe Bush Jr. is trying to attone for the sins of his Father,,As Warlord said, Bush Sr. , with the stroke of a pen , in the form of an executive order, with no vote from congress or senate, banned over 40 assault rifles, most of which have not been brought back in any form. Lets hope he stays the course..
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