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Individual rights protected by amendments

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I read with interest Doug Berry’s letter “What the Second Amendment really means.” Mr. Berry and some others mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment refers to military groups as opposed to individual rights of gun owners. In spite of Mr. Berry’s cherry-picking individual court cases, our nation’s highest courts have consistently interpreted the Second Amendment as an individual right. Reading all the amendments to the Constitution it is clear that all are interpreted as such.

As an example, if you look at the First Amendment, there are references to “people,” “press” and “establishment,” but this has clearly been interpreted time and time again by our courts as an individual’s right to free speech. Further if you read the Fourth Amendment, you will discover words like “persons,” “houses,” “place” and “papers,” but again this is clearly a protection for individuals against illegal search and seizures. In fact, all of amendments to the Constitution are meant to protect the rights of individuals. To somehow think the Second Amendment would be singled out as Mr. Berry describes would be inconsistent to the other amendments.

Hyping up the argument to somehow think that the ongoing Second Amendment debate relates to things such as marriage and abortion is ludicrous and a distraction to the issue.

I was curious about the book Mr. Berry mentioned — “The Second Amendment in Law and History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms” by Carl T. Bogus. After a little research I noted that he did not mention the author’s contributor, Michael A. Bellesiles. If that name rings a bell you may recall that he was the same person who wrote another anti-gun book in 2000 called “Arming America.” This book won the coveted Bancroft Prize, the highest honor for a book on American history.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bellesiles was stripped of this prize by the Bancroft Committee when they discovered gross inaccuracies and falsified sources in this publication. Mr. Bogus has been supported by the Joyce Foundation, which has a history of being anti-gun. Neither is a source for impartial information on gun rights.

As an alternative to the above publication I would offer a short speech I came across: “The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles” by Edward J. Erler at http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2013&month=03.

Ben Gruda

Potsdam

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