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Neil Gorsuch, Guns & the Second Amendment: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

neil gorsuch

Neil Gorsuch (Getty)

Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court is generally regarded as a supporter of the Second Amendment and gun rights.

Vigorously praised by the National Rifle Association, Neil Gorsuch “has endorsed Second Amendment rights,” says FiveThirtyEight. However, there is one ruling that gives some conservatives concern, relating to when police can disarm those carrying firearms.

Although Gorsuch’s positions on some hot button issues – like abortion – are less clear, his stances on the Second Amendment and guns are clearer.

Trump chose Gorsuch, 49 – a Denver appellate judge who is known as an “originalist” – to replace the late conservative justice Antonin Scalia.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The NRA Applauded Gorsuch’s Nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court

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Judge Neil Gorsuch (Getty)

In a statement, the National Rifle Association made it clear the group is thrilled with Trump’s choice of Gorsuch for the court.

“President Trump has made an outstanding choice in nominating Judge Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court. He has an impressive record that demonstrates his support for the Second Amendment,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director, NRA-Institute for Legislative Action, in a statement.

“We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, just as it did in confirming him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by a unanimous voice vote.”


2. Gorsuch Wrote That an Individual’s Right to Bear Arms Can Not Be ‘Infringed Lightly’

neil gorsuch

Neil Gorsuch (Getty)

One reason the NRA likes Gorsuch is because he once wrote in a legal opinion: “The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms and may not be infringed lightly.”

That comment case in United States v. Games-Perez. He also wrote: “There is ‘a long tradition of widespread gun ownership by private individuals in this country.”

The case involved a man who claimed he didn’t know he was a felon in an illegal gun possession case.


3. Gorsuch Has Supported the Second Amendment in Legal Opinions

neil gorsuch

Judge Neil Gorsuch a and his wife, Marie Louise, look on, after President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. (Getty)

According to the Charlotte Observer, “Gorsuch has supported the Second Amendment in his case readings,” although some of the cases only “tangentially involve gun rights.”

For example, in the 2012 case, United States v. Games-Perez, Gorsuch also argued that a felon “needed to know not only that he possessed the gun but also that he was a felon for the criminal law to apply,” according to the newspaper.

More critically for those trying to assess where Gorsuch stands on gun rights issues, “his dissent included a defense of the Second Amendment, in which he wrote, “gun possession is often lawful and sometimes even protected as a matter of constitutional right.” But he did question whether a felon could be wrongfully imprisoned for possessing a gun, according to the decision.


4. Some Conservatives Are Concerned About a Gun Case Involving Police Power

(Getty)

(Getty)

The American Thinker noted that Gorsuch had joined in the majority in a case called United States v. Rodriguez. The case in New Mexico involved a police officer disarming a man who was carrying a concealed handgun. The officer disarmed Rodriguez before determining he was a convicted felon who didn’t have a right to carry, wrote the American Thinker.

The magazine expressed concern that the officer’s actions would have been upheld even if Rodriguez had been lawfully carrying. “According to the 10th Circuit’s opinion, the police are justified in forcibly disarming every armed citizen based on nothing more than the presence of a concealed firearm. This allows the police to treat every law-abiding gun owner like a criminal,” the site reported.


5. Gorsuch Is Considered to Be Similar in Philosophy to Scalia, Who Was Extraordinarily Influential on Gun Issues

When describing the type of justice he wanted, Trump had said he wanted someone in Scalia’s mold who “will respect the constitution of the United States. And I think that this is so important–also, the Second Amendment which is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton.”

Gorsuch is widely described to be similar to Scalia in intellectualism and philosophy. Scalia was a lynchpin on gun issues. According to Newsweek, in 2008’s Heller 5-4 decision, “Scalia wrote a landmark opinion for the majority of the court that upheld an individual’s right to bear arms. His ruling infuriated liberals and settled the questions, at least for now, about whether the phrase ‘well regulated militia’ in the Second Amendment means people” have an individual right to bear arms. Scalia found that they do.

During his nomination press conference, Gorsuch spoke fondly and emotionally about the late justice, calling him a lion of the law.

Gorsuch is described as both an originalist and textualist. As The Washington Post explains them, “Like Scalia, Gorsuch is a proponent of originalism — meaning that judges should attempt to interpret the words of the Constitution as they were understood at the time they were written — and a textualist who considers only the words of the law being reviewed, not legislators’ intent or the consequences of the decision.”

Neil Gorsuch & Antonin Scalia: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

How similar is Neil Gorsuch to Antonin Scalia? Gorsuch, Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick and nominee, has praised Scalia in a speech.

Click here to read more

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14 comments

  1. “The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms and may not be infringed lightly.”
    Sorry, but no. The Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED…PERIOD.

    • Don’t be silly, the Second Amendment says that State Militias have a right to bear arms. As a strict constitutionalist, Gorsuch will interpret the constitution as the Founding Fathers intended. They never intended any citizen to have a right to guns.

      • Philosopher Jay, Thank you for stating what the Second Amendment really means. It is amazing that the gun lobby cannot understand the english language.

        • Anon:

          Thanks for revealing the benefits of a public education and a finishing degree at a community college. Compound this with a profound ignorance and lack of knowledge and we get a degree of historical illiteracy that is amazing. One might be bothered to read the Federalist or any of the founders written statements regarding the right to be armed, but for the libtard the mere mouthing of a tired bromide is meant to persuade us that all evidence that exists should be discarded.

          How Obamaesque.

        • what part of the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arm shall not be infringed. Do you not understand stand? I thought you understand the english language

      • OK, let’s talk history. The militia at the time of the revolution was made up solely of citizens–farmers, lawyers, shopkeepers, and others–who answered the call to defend the town or settlement when needed. They were, quite simply, your average town or country citizens. The Bill of Rights was created as a response to the fear of tyranny a “big government” might impose on the populace at the time–one of the reasons for separating from England. This list–more than twenty at the time they were originally considered–stated quite clearly the rights average citizens possessed naturally and were not given by the state nor could they be taken away by the state. The right to “keep” and also “to bear” arms is among them. It comes second in the list–according to most scholars–because it follows the most important amendment, the First, and as such, gives it teeth and shows any future tyrannical government that the rights stated in the first amendment would be defended to the utmost.

        As for the Second Amendment saying “State Militias have the right to bear arms” as you say in your above statement, nothing could be further from the truth. Reread the amendment again and it says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” and you will se the difference between the two statements. I hope that makes it clear to both you and Anonymous that yes, many of us do read as well as understand the English Language. Best, Dr. Bill

      • You are ignorant of our history. The militia, as of the time the Constitution was penned, was every male of fighting age not working for the Federal government. All men were expected to own arms and maintain them in working condition and to muster with those arms when called. Do you think these men stopped by the armory and signed out a weapon? No. They used their own.

      • The Constitution absolutely grants individuals the right to own and carry guns, and that is what the founding fathers intended. Thankfully, the supreme Court will affirm this time and time again, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it.

      • You clearly did not read the analysis delivered in Scalia’s (he was a Supreme Court judge if you didn’t know) in Heller versus Washington D.C and the opinion in McDonald versus Chicago. But, hey, we have come to expect utter ignorance on the left.

      • Jay, your English comprehension is clouded by your agenda. Let’s recap on what the full text of the Second actually is.

        “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.”

        Now, let’s get rid of the “arms” and “militia” and rephrase it to refer to “books” by changing just four words and making about the government:

        “A well educated Administration, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed.”

        Would you claim that in order to be “allowed” to own books, you would have to be in employ of the government?
        Would you try to reason that if you were not employed by the government, you could be perhaps be allowed to buy and read certain government approved books (so long as you were a good citizen), but that other books were “too dangerous”?

        I doubt it.

        Or how about another take on it:

        “A well-crafted pepperoni pizza, being necessary to the preservation of a diverse menu, the right of the people to keep and cook tomatoes, shall not be infringed.”

        I guess only pepperoni pizzas can keep and cook tomatoes, and only well-crafted ones at that.

        The 2nd Amendment means what it says. There’s a process to change it. Feel free to go that route if you like. For now, though, forget legislating from the bench. Even more so when Ginsburg kicks the bucket and President Trump gets another nomination pick. Then it’s really going to be fun.

        We be president now.

  2. “Not lightly infringed?” Are there any other rights individuals have that may also not “lightly be infringed?”

  3. For those still beating the dead horse of the “collective right” invention of the supposed meaning of the 2nd Amendment — restricting the “right of the people” to ONLY the “Militia” —- perhaps the following will help them see the light.
    Robert Levy offered this hypothetical parallel to illustrate the “collective right”, or “Only the militia is allowed to keep and bear arms by the 2 A.” misinterpretation:
    “Suppose the Second Amendment said,
    ‘A well-educated electorate being necessary for self-governance in a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.’
    Is there anyone who would suggest that means only registered voters have a right to read?”
    Levy illustrates the flaw in the “interpretation” that “the right of the Militia”, and not “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is stated and guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment. The organized (“well regulated”) militia, originally defined as free, White, able-bodied male citizens, 18-45 years of age (Militia Act – 1792) is a sub-set of the “people” (far less than 50% since women, Blacks, indentured servants, minors, the aged and infirm, etc. were excluded from the militia). That spurious “interpretation” of the 2nd Amendment ignores the plainly expressed right of the citizenry in general (“the right of the people”), merely because of the mention of a benefit which occurs simultaneously to the advantage of both the Union and its component states. An effective fighting force – the contemporaneous meaning of ‘well regulated’ when applied to “Militia”, drawn from the body of armed citizens, will be available for the defense of all the states in the Union and the new-born Federal Republic because of that broad-based “right of [all] the PEOPLE to keep and bear Arms”.
    The analogy is apt. Consider the parallel to the structure of the 2nd A. Levy offers:
    “A well-educated electorate”, a sub-set of “the people”, citizens who have been qualified to vote, (again less than 50% since women, minors, slaves, and all non-citizens were generally excluded from the electorate) results in a co-incidental benefit to the country (an educated electorate will presumably vote wisely, as opposed to an ignorant electorate voting foolishly, to the preservation of the self-governance of the country) because of that broad-based “right of [all] the PEOPLE to keep and read books”.
    In neither the 2nd Amendment, nor Levy’s parallel, does the mention of a co-incidental benefit to the nation involving a sub-set of “the PEOPLE” (Militia, or electorate) justify the restriction of that “right of [all] the PEOPLE” to ONLY that sub-set of the people (Militia, or electorate) mentioned in that stated benefit.