ACLU Thinks the Second Amendment Is a Threat to the First Amendment

"Restrictions on guns in public spaces are appropriate to make public spaces safe for democratic participation."


On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its New York affiliate organization, the NYCLU, jointly announced they had submitted an amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, which could determine the future of New York's onerous, barely navigable process of concealed carry licensure. Unfortunately, the organization that refers to itself as "our nation's guardian of liberty" is on the side of this illiberal process.

In the press release announcing the brief, the ACLU averred that "restrictions on guns in public spaces are appropriate to make public spaces safe for democratic participation, including First Amendment activity such as assembly, association, and speech." In other words, the ACLU has decided that exercising one's Second Amendment rights may run counter to someone else's First Amendment rights, and is favoring the latter over the former. As evidence, the ACLU cites a case from last summer in which a Black Lives Matter rally in Florida was disrupted when a counter-protester—who also happened to be a concealed-carry license-holder—pulled out a handgun and threatened some marchers.

Regardless of one's permit status, it is already illegal to threateningly brandish a weapon, including in Florida. It remains to be seen how one could not defend both rights equally, even in such a scenario.

The ACLU has been and continues to be a forthright defender of civil liberties in many situations, and a thorn in the side of presidential administrations of both political parties. At the same time, however, its defense of the Second Amendment has been rather lackluster. Even the organization's internal philosophy on the subject is, at best, muddled, ranging from an erstwhile recognition of an individual right while pressing for "reasonable" regulations, to its most recent claim that the Constitution affords "a collective right rather than an individual right." How a "collective" right can be achieved without a lot of people exercising an "individual" right is left unaddressed.

In recent years, the ACLU has evolved on the issue even more distressingly: In 2017, the Virginia ACLU sued on behalf of alt-right activist Jason Kessler when the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, would not allow him to hold his approved rally, dubbed "Unite the Right," in his preferred location. The ACLU won the suit, but the rally infamously devolved into violence, with dozens of injuries and one death. In the aftermath, a portion of the ACLU staff revolted, signing an open letter in which they decried the organization's "rigid stance" on defending the rights of the alt-right and white supremacists.

The following year, the national organization put out an internal memo clarifying its case selection guidelines: Rather than stridently fighting for the right to speech and peaceful assembly even for the most detested people, the organization would now weigh such competing considerations as "the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values" and "whether the speakers seek to carry weapons." While the memo does reaffirm the ACLU's commitment to "continue our longstanding practice of representing [disfavored] groups," former Executive Director Ira Glasser and former board member Wendy Kaminer both questioned whether the language of the memo was simply to give the organization cover to refuse such cases in the future.

If that were the case, it would directly contradict the historical role of the ACLU, which has famously taken on such cases as National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie and Brandenburg v. Ohio, both of which it still touts on its website. In both cases, the ACLU won the right for neo-Nazis to march and chant hateful slogans, in the latter scenario while armed. Brandenburg, specifically, narrowed the rubric of speech that the government could criminalize, a big win for freedom of speech. Yet Kaminer wondered whether, "given its new guidelines," the ACLU would even take up such a case today.

More than a decade has passed since the Supreme Court weighed in on a major Second Amendment case, after affirming an individual right to armed self-defense in 2008's District of Columbia v. Heller and incorporating that right among the states in 2010's McDonald v. Chicago. Those cases, however, were limited to an individual's right to possess firearms in his own home, leaving the prospect of concealed carry for another day.

Concealed carry is a contentious topic in plenty of places around the country, but in New York, it can be especially inscrutable: In order to successfully obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon, applicants must demonstrate that they have a "proper cause" to do so. "Proper cause," of course, is never defined, and judicial decisions have even determined that a "generalized desire to carry a concealed weapon to protect one's person and property" is insufficient to qualify as "proper cause."

In practice, of course, this leads to unequal application of the law, wherein low-income individuals who want weapons for protection are denied, while the wealthy and well-connected are approved. Long before he was under the purview of the Secret Service, former President Donald Trump employed his own private security team, since at least the 1990s. Nonetheless, Trump acknowledged in 2012 that he personally did, in fact, have a New York concealed carry permit.

In the ACLU/NYCLU joint press release, the organizations even concede that "like so many other laws in our country, some gun restrictions were historically enacted and targeted disproportionately against Black people." This is undoubtedly true. And yet, they nonetheless argue that "across-the-board restrictions on open and concealed public carry have long been applied universally to all persons, and are an important means to maintain safety and peace in public spaces and help curb threats of violence against protestors." Therefore, if a legal restriction is applied to everyone, rather than simply people of color, it passes muster.

Interestingly, this puts the ACLU/NYCLU on the opposite side of the issue as a consortium of public defender organizations. Earlier this year they filed a brief of their own in favor of scrapping the New York law, based upon the "hundreds of indigent people" they represent each year, who are prosecuted for keeping handguns for self-defense, "virtually all [of whom]…are Black and Hispanic."

The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in November. In the meantime, though, it is a shame that the ACLU has continued to take a position contrary to its own explicitly stated goals. When the organization calls itself "the nation's premier defender of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution," it apparently refers to all but one.

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  1. Because if there are laws against concealed carry, no one is going to carry concealed, right?

    Just look at peaceful Washington D.C. for an example of how this works.

    1. Or Chicago, or LA, etc, etc.

      1. Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening…FGt And i get surly a check of $12600 what’s awesome is I m working from home so I get more time with my kids.

        Try it, you won’t regret it!……………Cash APP

    2. Exactly. The three states with the lowest violent crime rates in the US are all Constitutional Carry.

      1. “Don’t bring your reality into our delusional fairy-land”, screams the leftards, “the ONLY one’s pure enough to use Guns is our Gov-Gods of the Nazi-Regime.”

    3. Look at Australia for what gun control tends to lead to.

  2. The New York Times once did not hesitate to invoke the Second Amendment in defense of the First:

  3. Bullshit. Harassment and cancel culture censorship is the biggest threat to free speech.

    Free speech doesn’t mean the right to harass people until they kowtow to your way of thinking.

    If anything, carrying a gun makes people safer from physical harassment and probably better behaved.

    1. Obviously it’s illegal to pull a gun on someone because you don’t like what they say, but what if someone twice your size gets into your face and starts screaming at you? It’s that them being all freedom of speech? When does freedom to speak turn into intimidation?

      1. When they get in your face and start yelling.

        Its not hard to draw that line.

      2. “When does freedom to speak turn into intimidation?”

        Better question: when does “intimidation” become a crime? When someone physically restrains you from going somewhere you have a legal right to go. And yes, blocking your path would be “physical.” Or, when “intimidation” involves a physical threat on your or someone else’s, body, and, dependent on the jurisdiction, your property.

    2. The ACLU has it backwards. When violent protesters violate other peoples personal freedoms, such as life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and security in ones personal effects, they are no longer exercising a right. It is a crime to detain someone against their will, it is called kidnapping, and yes people have gone to prison for it. It is a crime to steal and destroy other peoples property. It is also a crime to beat or kill another person. If you have so little self control, and have to engage in suck violent manner, then you deserve what you get.

  4. Well I guess the Illinois Nazi rally is off.

    1. Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis.

  5. This is an example of market forces at work. The reason environmentalist groups opposed fracking–despite the fact that natural gas was displacing coal and releases about 40% less carbon than coal–is because their biggest donors were against fracking. Those environmentalist groups would rather see the environment fry than go against their biggest donors.

    The ACLU is the same way. It’s a charitable organization that gets a lot of money from certain donors, and those donors are hostile to the Second Amendment. That’s all there is to it.

    There are few higher principles than, “He who pays the piper calls the tune”. It’s not a rule that people either adhere to or not. It’s more like gravity. It’s like saying that snowmelt takes the path of least resistance. That’s the way the world works, and it’s always worked that way. Our job is to push for what we want anyway.

    Some of the best things in life, from punk rock and marijuana to street motorcycles and yoga pants, emerged and thrived in spite of the array of entrenched interests that opposed them. If the ACLU now sides with the establishment forces arrayed against individual freedom, then fuck the ACLU. We’ll continue to exercise our rights anyway.

    1. Pretty much.

      If the second amendment is a threat to the first, then it seems to me that sticks and stones might be just as big of a threat given BLM antics. Not to mention gasoline and liquor bottles.

    2. TIL that Ken is a fan of punk rock.

      First wave, I presume?

      Ramones, Dead Kennedys, the Clash, Black Flag???.

        1. Excellent example of the genre. Everything about that one is punk.

          Blast from the past from about my freshman year.

          1. Demonstrating once again the need for a “like” button.

            Peak of my punk period was seeing Husker Du live in Seattle a couple years after this came out. Guys at college used to joke that you could tell if I was last in the bathroom cause the radio was set to this music.

            1. go on Youtube and type in “new math die trying”…..a western NY punk band that was very good.

              Dead Kennedy’s were fing great. Black Flag, Clash, Jam (ok not really punk)..what a time for real music unlike the crap today

    3. It’s not just following the money, you have to look at who is on the ACLU’s board too. Every single one of them is a Democratic Party member, and like every Democrat controlled institution it’s evolved into just another Super-PAC for the Party.

      1. Very good point. liberalism has changed to pushing cultural marxism and communicated as “diversity, inclusion, equity” where European American Christians are the enemy of all things.

        ACLU doesn’t seem to have diverse leadership at all..sort of like the heads of censorship at FB, Twitter, Google..take a look and its very non diverse so to speak..

    4. …market forces at work…

      I have to disagree.

      I think they feel they’re going to get a seat at the table along with Facebook, Twitter, etc as “the official word” on approved news and what American’s rights actually are.

      Such as “This week the rally to support Ivanka Trump’s presidential bid in San Diego was shutdown by police due to supporters not properly filling out form 12345abc with the San Diego police department. Professor WW Longbottom of the ACLU explains that this isn’t a 1st amendment issue because…”

      Who else has more credibility with the public regarding civil rights? The ACLU is just pandering to obtain a position of power with the fucking Democrats, like every other two-bit political action group in the country if they’re smart. Get ‘em while you can while there’s still some left.

    5. “There are few higher principles than, “He who pays the piper calls the tune”.“

      Do you think you can clearly describe one of them?

    6. Sure, he who pays the piper calls the tune, but in this case the piper sought out donors who wouldn’t call a tune it didn’t want to play.

  6. And once upon a time, the ACLU and NRA teamed up against the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold act (campaign finance reform).

  7. “across-the-board restrictions on open and concealed public carry have long been applied universally to all persons”

    Do they really think may-issue concealed carry laws are applied equally to all persons? Heck even with total bans on concealed carry during the reconstruction period it was understood that it only applied to blacks who wanted weapons, and not whites

    1. They say that, ignoring the structural racism in society and especially dealing with police?

      Check and mate, ACLU.

      1. You think the woke left actually cares about “structural racism”? It’s a bunch of white dudes shouting at other white dudes. Racism is a political bludgeon, nothing more.

        1. The ACLU would have been witch hunters 300 years ago.

  8. “restrictions on guns in public spaces are appropriate to make public spaces safe for democratic participation, including First Amendment activity such as assembly, association, and speech.”


    ” . . . shall not be infringed.”

    Can we get someone to sue the ACLU for false advertising, with a ruling that they must change their name?

    1. They already announced an officially unofficial change to the charter that says they no longer represent the rights of disfavored groups.

    2. vs. “well regulated militia.”

      Let’s stop pretending lovers of the second amendment don’t cherry pick the parts they like best of it.

      1. vs the whole thing.

        A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…
        How to keep a free State secure

        …the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
        Complete restriction imposed on the government.

        Pretty simple.

        1. Still to complicated for razzie

        2. Let’s not forget what ‘a free State’ means. To many of the control freaks it means a State where the state government can make any rules they like. Of course the entire purpose of the Constitution is to bind and restrict the powers of both state and federal governments so the it can only mean a State in which the citizenry is free.

      2. “‘vs. “well regulated militia.”’

        Almost a “non sequitur.”

        The “well-regulated militia” has nothing to do with the “right to keep and bear arms,” historically or legally, excepting that the right to keep and bear arms helps ensure a well-regulated militia. It’s not a “vs” thing, but rather, a “here is one reason” thing.

      3. This dumbfvck doesn’t even know what “well regulated” meant in 1789

    3. American Communist liberal union…

  9. “As evidence, the ACLU cites a case from last summer in which a Black Lives Matter rally in Florida was disrupted when a counter-protester—who also happened to be a concealed-carry license-holder—pulled out a handgun and threatened some marchers.”

    I notice that neither the ACLU press release nor the Reason article provide a link where we might find any information about this case. Given the nature of last summer’s “rallys,” it’s not hard to guess why someone might find it necessary to draw a weapon on “some marchers.”

    1. There is some more detail in the press release linked in that paragraph

    2. Some people did something…

      1. Mostly peaceful brandishing, I don’t understand what the issue is.

    3. I guess if leftist violence is just “speech”, then this case might be an illustration of someone using the 2nd to infringe on BLM’s ability to chase down and beat people they suspect of disagreeing with them.

      The ACLU apparently believes that you cannot be exercise free speech as long as there is any possibility that the people you attack might defend themselves.

      1. If leftist violence is “free speech” then so is my CZ 45.

    4. The reference to the Florida BLM rally takes on a totally different meaning if you look up the videos of the incident. BLM protesters had surrounded and were attacking the CCL holder, and he only deployed his weapon when they put him on the ground and continued attacking him. Obviously, the ACLU thinks he should have just allowed himself to be beaten to death, maybe counting on the “protestors” to have some decency and stop.

  10. looking to the ACLU for valid opinions is a waste of time.

      1. Sir, that is a little too close to dinger

  11. How a “collective” right can be achieved without a lot of people exercising an “individual” right is left unaddressed.

    The Bill of Rights is all about collective rights.

    The ACLU isn’t here just rather lackluster in its defense of the 2nd Amendment, it’s actively working to see it denied.

  12. As evidence, the ACLU cites a case from last summer in which a Black Lives Matter rally in Florida was disrupted when a counter-protester—who also happened to be a concealed-carry license-holder—pulled out a handgun and threatened some marchers.


    I guess it’s impossible to have a chilling effect on speech when you’re burning a city down.

    1. The flames provide effective lighting when making nighttime speeches. Otherwise…right to free speech infringed!

  13. “our nation’s guardian of liberty”

    I see a false advertising lawsuit in the future.

    1. “I see a false advertising lawsuit in the future.”

      Ironically, the first amendment will save them from that.

      By the way, your pseudonym here is, in my opinion, the title of the best American novel of the second half of the 20th century.

  14. The end of every day is the perfect time to let your imagination run wild and declare yourself to that special someone. A simple goodnight message can bring a smile, but a very passionate and romantic phrase is even better!

  15. You have to give the ACLU people a break – they’re all infants and haven’t figured out ‘object permanence’ yet.

    Its why they think if you can’t see a gun then it doesn’t exist.

  16. “Even the organization’s internal philosophy on the subject is, at best, muddled, ranging from an erstwhile recognition of an individual right while pressing for “reasonable” regulations, to its most recent claim that the Constitution affords “a collective right rather than an individual right.” How a “collective” right can be achieved without a lot of people exercising an “individual” right is left unaddressed.”

    COLLECTIVE RIGHTS are those afforded only to those allowed in the Collective.

    1. allowed in the Collective.

      Sucks to be Bernie Sanders then.

    2. “Shall not be infringed” is pretty clear, and quite stark.

      *Any* infringement by the government is illegal. The language of the highest law of the land is unambiguous.

      It might be terrible policy, but it is the law.

      Any judge who cannot comprehend that and rule accordingly should be impeached.

      If you want “sensible gun regulations”, you need a constitutional amendment. Under the current constitution, a ban on owning and carrying .50 caliber, belt-fed machine guns is unconstitutional. Even a licensing scheme is an infringement.

      We would be much better off if we would just enforce the law as written and get narrowly tailored amendments to address powers we would like the government to have.

      As it is, most of what the feds are doing is clearly illegal.

  17. What the ACLU means here is that the right to free speech in the public square is only guaranteed to the majority and those whom the majority allows to speak.

    The second amendment allows disfavored minorities to speak in public and provides a means to protect that right from mob rule.

    Of course, that is kinda the point, isn’t it. Assaulting journalists who cover the violence of political groups is a protected right, if the political group in question is on the correct team.

    Telling the truth about the corrupt dealings of a powerful politician can be suppressed, if that politician is on the right team. No rights violations to be found.

    The ACLU publicly announced that they are no longer a civil rights group that protects civil liberties. They declared their allegiance to the democrat party and the progressive movement. Everyone should reconfigure the weight they give to the positions of the ACLU accordingly.

    1. I don’t think I can downgrade them any farther from “zero”…

  18. Wait until they decide that the 1st amendment is a threat to the 13th. Then we can really get cooking on this nightmare dystopia.

    1. It is already a clear threat to the free exercise of the 16th amendment.

      So there is a clear government interest in regulating speech as relates to the tax code.

      1. “Compelling government interest”, I meant to say. That is the legal magic phrase the courts use to turn the illegal into the legal.

  19. Fuck the ACL JEW. It has become just another liberal mouthpiece.

    1. Fuck off, worthless cunt. The ACLU might be scum, but it’s got fuck all to do with “T3h J000000z!”

      1. Your response is needlessly combative.

  20. I know shyt, from Shinola; and this is shyt.

    Assuming you cannot curtail, abridge my right to assemble, you cannot put qualifications upon it, either.

    Thi stands, to reason.

  21. Unfortunately, the organization that refers to itself as “our nation’s guardian of liberty” is on the side of this illiberal process.

    The UCLA isn’t the only one’s working for the Nazi-Regime these days…

    The federal government has been working for the Nazi-Regime criminals instead of abiding by “The People’s” law over them ensuring that every Individual gets maximum Liberty and Justice.

    1. I’m no fan, but since when are the Bruins Nazis?

      Bill Walton is going to be so disappointed….

  22. The ACLU is hardly a pro liberty group. The few I have run across are usually made up of socialists and communists from eastern europe who are driven by cultural marxism. Enemies of Liberty sort of like the SPLC…all libertarians should expose them for what they are..communists

  23. The ACLU has been slipping for years. I wonder if they would still defend the nazis right to march in this our current year of 2021?

  24. The ACLU’s reasoning, that a person’s 2nd amendment rights, abridges anothers 1st amendments rights, is spurious and easily discounted. Abusum non tollit usum, abuse is not use, and you cannot contend because somebody misused an object, that an object is dangerous. A coke bottle, some gasoline and a handkerchief can be misused, too.

    1. Don’t remind them that they also want to take away our coke, gasoline, and presumably before long, handkerchiefs.

  25. The ACLU doesn’t give a shit about 1A OR 2A. They’ve been around too long. Now the ACLU only cares about the ACLU.

  26. Completely wrong take by the ACLU. Free speech is not threatened by the right to keep and bear arms. It is threatened by abuse of the right. If the ACLU’s position is valid, then the 4th Amendment right to be secure in one’s effects is threatened by free speech, as was evidenced during the so-called protests of 2020. But we know that the First Amendment isn’t to blame for the millions of dollars in property destruction, its abuse was.

    ACLU needs to distinguish between a right and the abuse of that right.

  27. The problem with our country is lawyers. Just think about it.
    Why do we allow people whos job it is to bend and twist the words of a law so it can be broken to run for office and write law when they can’t be trusted to accept law in the first place?

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