The Corner

Is the Second Amendment Really in the Bill of Rights?

After reading Kevin’s excellent piece about Meredith Graves, I’m reminded yet again that many liberal enclaves have not yet absorbed the lessons of McDonald v. Chicago. In McDonald (as most of you recall) the Supreme Court declared the right to keep and bear arms to be “fundamental” to the nation’s system of “ordered liberty” and applied its protections to state and local law through the doctrine of “incorporation.” In other words, the Supreme Court treated the Second Amendment the way it treats, for example, the First Amendment — as limiting government power at all levels.

In other contexts, incorporation has led to a remarkable degree of legal conformity. My First Amendment rights, for example, don’t vary much from New York to Los Angeles. While there are still individual permitting schemes and other relevant local ordinances, they stand and fall based not just on local conditions and facts but also (and primarily) on fealty to overarching federal constitutional principles.

Assuming the McDonald majority holds (yet another reason why judicial appointments matter), we’re at the beginning of a decades-long leveling process, and it’s entirely possible that five years from now Meredith Graves will face a very different — and more just — legal landscape, one that truly recognizes the Second Amendment’s place within the Bill of Rights. It’s possible that Ms. Graves’s own case could be the legal catalyst for change in New York. Yet we know the Left will fight every step of the way, seeking not only to imprison Meredith Graves (and others like her) but to convince judges and the public that the Second Amendment — for all practical purposes — does not even exist.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular


Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More