"Will the 2011 Senate be friendlier to the Second Amendment than the current Senate?"


Writing in the New Ledger, Independence Institute research director and Reason contributor David Kopel looks at what the upcoming Senate elections could mean for gun rights. It's a detailed piece, breaking down the possible results state by state. Here's a snippet:

Whatever the size of the pro-gun gains in the Senate, the Second Amendment may be worse off in the 2011-12 Senate if Charles Schumer or Dick Durbin are in charge. Anti-rights legislation would be assigned to committees where it will get favorable and highly-publicized hearings, and be ready for floor action if circumstances gave it a chance of passage.

Thus, a Republican gain of less than 10 seats, coupled with the defeat of Harry Reid, could leave Second Amendment rights in the Senate in a worse position than today.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. I think the Senate, and the House for that matter, has been pretty good on gun rights since 94. The NRA’s strategy of building up support in the Democratic Party has been an effective one (maybe libertarians should take note). I think gun rights fights are going to be more on the local level these days, which is why McDonald was so important.

    1. MNG,

      If you look at the polling results, libertarians did swing to Democrats in 2002, 2004, and 2006. The problem for libertarians is:

      1) They got nothing from Democrats (killing US citizens abroad, invoking state secrets, wiretapping, etc. is perfectly fine so long as a Democratic President is doing it)

      2) The size of the libertarian swing vote just isn’t that large. In, say, 2002 and 2004, the libertarian swing against the GOP was equalled or exceeded by a “moderate” swing towards it.

      The NRA both has Democrats who will vote for gun rights, and has shown a strong ability to defeat Democrats who switch, including Speaker Foley.

      1. Some of us have the good sense to not vote Democrat… OR Republican.

  2. The 2nd is on thin ice no matter who controls the senate. No federal restrictions/regulations will be repealed. Efforts to create more ‘prohibited persons’ will proceed apace with ongoing fedmed legislation.

  3. “Thus, a Republican gain of less than 10 seats, coupled with the defeat of Harry Reid, could leave Second Amendment rights in the Senate in a worse position than today.”

    es, and once newly re-elected Senator McCain trips his breaker back to “maverick” anything goes.

  4. Interesting.

    I wonder if the Dems will think they can distract from their catastrophic mismanagement with “small-ball” gun control hearings and bills. Looks to me like more red meat for the Tea Party folks, and a good way to make sure they get the snot kicked out of them again in 2012.

    1. That was my thought, if they want to solidify any 2010 losses in 2012, then they should try to pass a gun bill.

      I thought the dems had learned that it was a non-starter issue?

  5. It’s an urban vs. rural thing with the 2nd Amendment. All of the Dems that I know are hunters and outdoorsmen.

    Nobody’s gonna take away anybody’s guns in this country.

    1. Mongo, Field and Stream Democrats do not seem to have any problem at all with handgun and “Assault weapon” bans.

      And the Gun and Garden crowd don’t care how much paperwork they have to fill out for their fifteen thousand dollar side-by-sides if it will save the life of just one child.

      1. Handgun and assault weapon bans are measures by city folk — both Dems and Reps. When you get out of the city, the dynamics change.

  6. Nobody’s gonna take away anybody’s guns in this country.

    They already have.

    Just try to get exactly the kind of weapon the Founders had in mind when they talked about a “well-regulated militia” (which would be a standard-issue infantry rifle).

  7. A standard infantry rifle falls under “well-regulated militia”? Can you elaborate (or educate), RC?

    1. The “well-regulated” militia refers to citizens that can function as an emergency army. I think part of the US Code defined it as any able-bodied male over 17 or so.

      A standard infantry rifle right now is an AR-15 that will fire full-auto and possibly have a grenade launcher attached.

    2. The purpose of a well regulated militia is to defend the republic against external threats as well as internal tyranny. Towards that end, it is important that citizens are able to equip themselves with the same weapons that the military would use to fight a war, such as infantry rifles and light machine guns.

      1. Ok — makes sense. Thanks.

    3. Indeed – the “arms” mentioned in the Second Amendment, which “the people” have the right to “keep and bear” were always understood to be those necessary and useful to military-style activities – i.e., a “well-[organized] militia”.

      The Supreme Court as much as acknowledged this in U.S. v. Miller.

      My favorite quote on this topic is from Tench Coxe, who wrote against the need for a Bill of Rights to the new Constitution:

      “The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for THE POWERS OF THE SWORD ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE YEOMANRY OF AMERICA FROM SIXTEEN TO SIXTY. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? are they not ourselves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. What clause in the state or federal constitution hath given away that important right…. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the foederal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

      The understanding of the Second Amendment, as recognized in the Federalist and other contemporary writings, was that the federal government could not maintain a standing army to impose tyranny over the people, because the people (or at least white males between 16 and 45) would be armed and trained just as well as any army, with the same types of arms, and would vastly outnumber any group of professional soldiers.

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