Chris Bradley: The Second Amendment a second-class right no longer

This commentary is by Chris Bradley, of Northfield. He is a registered lobbyist with the Vermont secretary of state on behalf of the Vermont Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, where he is president and executive director.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that honest and law-abiding citizens had a right to self-defense in their own home. In making their decision, SCOTUS recognized that firearms are a common means of self-defense, and they then struck down a D.C. law that required firearms be unloaded and dissembled or otherwise kept locked up in a D.C. home as being unconstitutional (Heller decision).

Chris Bradley, president and executive director of the Vermont Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs

In 2010, SCOTUS ruled that honest and law-abiding citizens have a right to self-defense by owning a handgun, and again recognized that firearms are a common means of self-defense. SCOTUS therefore struck down a Chicago law that banned possession of handguns as being unconstitutional (McDonald decision).

In 2022, SCOTUS ruled that a New York firearm permitting scheme, which denied law-abiding citizens from obtaining a permit required to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense outside the home, was unconstitutional. In rendering that decision, SCOTUS established a new standard by which all cases involving the Second Amendment must be resolved (Bruen decision).

Simply put, SCOTUS mandated that cases involving the Second Amendment must be resolved by a single-step test, with that single-step being a strict interpretation based on the constitutional text as informed by history. Using that lens, there are a number of laws passed across the country that do not meet constitutional muster.

For years and years and years, the Second Amendment has been treated differently than all other rights, with legislatures and courts making decisions and judgements that steadily infringed on the unalienable right of self-defense.

The right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules that the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” (2010, SCOTUS decision in McDonald v. Chicago)

In the coming months, you will hear of various firearm laws being struck down in courts across the country as challenges are raised using the new standard. For example, large capacity magazine bans,  “assault-weapon” bans, age 21 restrictions, as well as laws that force confiscation of firearms without due process are now being challenged using this new standard, and are being found to be unconstitutional.

We do get it — No one wants gun violence. But it’s not the honest and law-abiding that are causing this violence. It is no longer constitutionally acceptable to infringe on the rights of honest and law-abiding citizens. This new standard needs to be front-and-center as new laws that relate to firearms are being considered, in addition to scrutiny and challenges made against existing firearm laws that have been passed in consideration of this new standard.

If we want to drastically slow gun violence, we need to embrace the existing laws that have harsh penalties for committing crime with a firearm. We need our state and district attorneys to aggressively prosecute gun crime, not allow those charges to be dropped or allow pleading to lesser charges. We need to continue to enforce cash bail, especially with repeat offenders. We also need to properly fund and support our law enforcement. We need deterrence.

We can do these things now, today, and it will have an impact on gun violence. We know this because it worked before we began treating extremely serious crimes with leniency.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Ratha Grimes
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24 thoughts on “Chris Bradley: The Second Amendment a second-class right no longer

  1. Well, with 40 mass shootings in the first 26 days of the new year, gun homicide has clearly become a sport, so irresponsible gun ownership should be defended by the president and executive director of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.

    Funny that they don’t come up with a solution to the problem of irresponsible gun owners.

    • cgregory: Please explain the relationship between the responsible gun ownership that I represent and the mass shootings you cite that relate to “irresponsible gun ownership”.

      If your solution to “irresponsible gun ownership” is to penalize the vast majority of firearms-owners who are law-abiding: Your reasoning is why I am exceptionally pleased with the Bruen decision.

      • Chris,
        I have been thinking about the difference my grandsons have gone through getting in getting a hunting license and drivers license. Both involve acquiring something that requires great responsiblilty in its use and pose a potential danger if mishandled to others. Currently a drivers license requires considerable more training and testing than a firearm. While my grandsons took a valuable Hunters Safey course that teaches gun safety, this is just option for owning a gun.
        Given the horrific rate of mass shootings in thie country, I would be interested in your thoughts on requiring madatory training and testing to own a firearm or any other way you think we might lessen the deaths of so many innocents that we are currently seeing.

      • Mr. Bradley, the mass shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. 80% of all gun homicides are committed with second-hand weapons– ones sold, mislaid, lost, left unsecured, given, pawned, etc. In other words, guns originally bought by people who didn’t think what they might be used for if somebody else got their hands on them. Just as King Arthur never let Excalibur pass into unworthy hands, truly responsible gun owners would move heaven and earth to follow his example.

        For those unwilling to protect the public by voluntarily exercising the highest standard of ownership, we need a law that compels them to keep their weapon until either they destroy it or they die. If it is ever used by another party in commission of a crime, they will suffer the same penalty as the user. This will prevent 11,000 deaths a year. That is responsible gun ownership.

  2. Adolf Hitler: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So, let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country”.

  3. The left will ALWAYS go after your right to own firearms because their just modern day socialist nazis.Like their forefathers from the 3rd reich they are now going after your rights to free speech as well. The newest push is for more commies on the supreme court who will rule by decree not constitutional law. If that happens only your 2nd amendment right will save the country.

  4. McDonald v Chicago 2010 is a landmark Supreme Court case that is important to understand. In its most basic form, the decision dismisses the proposition that a State (e.g., NY, IL, CT) or lower government (e.g., Chicago) can supersede or ignore the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment.

    “None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.”

    This ruling clarifies the principle that Americans can keep and bear arms that are equivalent to those in common use by the National Guard, which the court considers an example of a “well regulated militia.” We have a RIGHT to the SAME arms and accessories issued to the National Guard that they use in defense of the United States.

    The National Guard’s rifle of issue (and rifle in common use) is the 5.56 x 45mm (.223) M16A2 a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder or hip-fired weapon designed for either automatic fire (3-round bursts) or semiautomatic fire (single shot) through the use of a selector lever and has a magazine capacity of 30 rounds. Civilians can only own (except with the purchase of a special tax stamp from BATFE) the semiautomatic version called the M15 or AR15 not the M16 military rifle version.

  5. I’ve been saying this many times. These gun laws do nothing to stop crime. A criminal is a criminal and laws do not stop criminals. So if we know this, how does another law stop a criminal? Criminals don’t buy their firearms at licensed dealer shops and they don’t pass background checks, felons carry illegal guns obtained illegally. Continually, restricting people who are not the problem does not accomplish anything except make a mockery of laws and our constitutional rights.

    Liberals always screaming about their rights, abortion rights, protesting rights, equity and inclusion rights, Transgender rights, homosexual rights to marry and on and on. America and freedom isn’t about your rights or my rights they are our rights except when it comes to the 2nd amendment. Such restrictions passed by do-gooders actually help criminals conduct their devious and dangerous crimes against the people.

    Mr. Bradley is correct in implying that these unconstitutional laws will be struck down. Liberals complaining that the founders never envisioned modern firearms is false. If they had, they would have written, the right to bear muskets instead of arms shall not be infringed. They said arms, meaning all implements and weapons designed for protection of a free state and the individual rights to own and bear or carrying them for self protection. And if what liberals profess to be was true then modern printing, the TV, the internet and all such modern communications would not apply to the 1st amendment rights of free speech.

    The current magazine capacity law in Vermont was decided constitutional under the states safety standard which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Bruen decision against NY. This law is now unconstitutional but liberal lawmakers could care less and violate their oaths of office knowing that the laws will have to be overturned by the courts. This is dishonest representation because they lied when taking their oaths of office to defend and not harm the constitution. The only case before the court concerning the new magazine law was a retribution case brought against an unpopular citizen who allegedly harassed a black legislator and the attorney general didn’t prosecute that person for a hate crime. So when this person went to NH to buy two so-called illegal magazines, they found anther way to prosecute. No, he’s not a model citizen but that doesn’t mean that the state should find a way to charge him with another unrelated crime. His case is now 2 years old and is under appeal again because the new ruling on magazines is unconstitutional. Will the VT Supreme Court rule properly this time?

    There are currently thousands of legal standard round (high capacity) magazines in Vermont as they were grandfathered legal when the new law took affect. Prior to the law, there is not one case in which one of these magazines was used in a crime. This was another feel good law that has no value, does not make anyone safer and will eventually be stuck down. Instead of making our schools safer by using new technology, hiring school safety officers and any number of other security related protocols, the legislature and the governor came up with this to feel like they did something when all they did was nothing to protect children.

  6. Gun control as it has been known is over as it not Constitutional to infringe on that which”Shall Not Be Infringed,I understand his Fraudulency is under the delusion that the second has limits and it does and the last line reads Shall Not Be Infringed as a warning to governments

    As to Benedict Scott all the gun control laws you signed in 2018 are Un Constitutional and you had the responsibility to know that and they will fall thru the courts, one by one.

    The second amendment means what it says and the variuos leftists will cry scream and whine but it holds the same importance of every other right, like it or not.

  7. The US Liberal-Communist understand the only way they can have complete charge of
    its citizens are to make sure they cannot defend themselves against crime or tyranny.

    They always push their nonsense on gun safety after any and all tragedies that happen,
    but never mention that the perpetrators are either mentally deficient or have an entire life
    of crime, but law-abiding citizens are the issue agenda-driven fools, and Vermont has a
    statehouse full of them …………………….

    To all the Liberal-Communist in your political role when you are in power, remember what
    Adm.Yamamoto stated, “I would never invade America, there is a gun behind every blade
    of grass”,…….. remember liberals, you may get a few, but you’ll never get them all !!

    It’s the Second Amendment for a reason, and most of us took an oath to support and defend
    against all enemies foreign or domestic ……………. we know where you stand !!!

    Wake up people

    • They will only get them from the stoopid people.

      Donald L. Cline: “You cannot arm slaves and expect them to remain slaves.
      Nor can you disarm a free people and expect them to remain free”.

  8. “This new standard needs to be front-and-center … ”

    Of course a gun lobbyist would immorally put gun ownership of assault weapons before people. No, we to need to ban all assault weapons that are used to murder children in schools and other Americans.
    The U.S. is f….. up. We need to stop claiming that we are the best country in the world.

    • You, as all Libs, have two words on the brain: “assault weapone”….you all just walk in circles repeating it so you “feel better” and thus are “morally superior”? An assault weapon is NOT a military automatic fire one. It is semi automatic…you have to pull the trigger each time. Yes, I agree that they DO look like deadly automatic military ones, but they aren’t. A gun is a gun. A pistol is a pistol. A lever action Winchester Model 94, 30-30 can shoot just as fast as an “assault weapon”. A pump action deadly shotgun can kill just as fast (and MORE deadly at close ranges). A Colt 45 pistol can shoot as fast as you pull the trigger….a Glock with 10 rounds even faster. There is NO DIFFERENCE between all these firearms and the “assault” ones you seek to ban. GO AHEAD and ban semi automatic scary looking “assault weapons” DO YOU FEEL BETTER???….Bad people & criminals will just switch to lever actions, bolt actions, pump action shotguns or rapid fire pistols. SO WHAT DO YOU ACCOMPLISH by banning one type? NOT A SINGLE THING.. you have to ban all firearms and pistols….to do what you wish.. Can’t you see how totally ignorant you are ?…Have you ever shot , owned or understood what a firearm is and does?

    • You would quite obviously be much happier in a different country Joy – perhaps one where law enforcement can just enter private homes without having to worry about any pesky ‘Constitutional Rights’ stuff.

    • “You know if the Chinese could buy guns they wouldn’t be welded in their apartments. Because we can we aren’t”. – Kurt Schlichter

      L. Neil Smith: “People who object to weapons aren’t abolishing violence, they’re begging for rule by brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were always automatically ‘right.’ Guns ended that, and social democracy is a hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work.”

    • Well since you feel good parroting the “assault weapon” BS I will mention that if you know anyone serving in the military, ask them how they would like to go up against a chicom soldier with one of your assault weapons.
      They could use a good laugh.

    • I base the quality of a nation state on the magnitude of the inherent rights that it’s people enjoy.
      That makes the US #1…it’s not complicated…

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