Don't Confirm Holder
January 29, 2009
Stephen P. Halbrook
If the issue weren’t so serious for our nation, the irony would be delicious. Eric Holder, President Obama’s choice for Attorney General is justly criticized for many things. But the fact that he recommended that President Clinton pardon and release from prison unrepentant FALN terrorists while at nearly the same time advocating that law-abiding gun owners be imprisoned if their registration papers are not in order reveals a hard core left wing agenda.
Eric Holder’s agenda is to make exercise of Second Amendment rights a minefield where an innocent misstep will land you in the penitentiary.
When I testified against Holder’s nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 16, Senator Patrick Leahy replied that Holder promised not to change Vermont’s gun-friendly laws. That’s no consolation—the Feds have no power to change State laws, but they can make all the new Federal felonies they wish.
Also testifying with me was Joe Connor, whose father was murdered in a FALN bomb attack. He could not understand how illegal alien nanny problems could derail other nominations, but the recommendation to pardon FALN members could not.
Holder is a long-time adherent of the chicanery that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” means no such thing, and instead only protects a state’s power to conscript a person into a militia. He said as much in a friend-of-the-court brief filed just last year supporting a total handgun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller. The Supreme Court fortunately disagreed, holding that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to have a handgun for self defense.
Asked at his nomination hearing if he would support the Heller decision if the Court reconsidered it, he replied irrelevantly that it would depend on the “facts” and that precedent is “a factor” he would consider. The evasive response makes clear that he would seek to blot out the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights.
Even if he is stuck with Heller for now, it’s no problem for Holder, as he doesn’t think that any infringement of the right is “infringement.” He wants to reenact the expired “assault weapons” ban in which that derogatory term is applied to whatever firearm he doesn’t like. Yet Heller held that firearms that are commonly possessed by law-abiding persons are constitutionally protected.
He wants to “close the gun show loophole,” the left’s code phrase for making any private transfer of a firearm without government permission a felony, and for registering all gun owners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He advocated that just after hijackers armed with box cutters struck on 9/11. Speaking of gun shows, anyone who so much as “plans” one should go to prison unless they are registered with the ATF, Holder proposes.
Holder wants to ban “cop killer bullets,” even though armor piercing bullets have been restricted since the 1980s, leaving only hunting ammunition to ban. He wants to ban gun possession by persons in the 18–21 age group, even though they may serve in the military and vote. Waiting periods, one-gun-a-month, the list goes on. Just how many new federal felonies does he want?
The District of Columbia requires every firearm to be registered and imposes one year imprisonment for violation. When he was U.S. Attorney for the District, Holder tried to make possession of an unregistered firearm a felony punishable by five years imprisonment. At a time when D.C. was the “murder capital” of the U.S., his focus was on incarcerating those who hurt no one.
Much was said in the Holder hearings about unjust prison sentences imposed on persons who traffic in crack cocaine, not to mention the rights of alleged terrorists held at Gitmo. One would hope for sympathy to be shown to Americans who bother no one and who merely wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights without being sent to prison because they possess a gun without the government’s permission.
Americans have reason to be uneasy about Holder’s nomination for Attorney General. They deserve to have a person in this role that is committed to upholding all parts of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. Holder has proven himself not to be that person.
|Stephen P. Halbrook
Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the book, The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, which has formed the basis for the Second Amendment Book Bomb as well as his earlier Amici Curiae Brief in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller on behalf of 55 members of the Senate, the Senate President, and 250 members of the House of Representatives. Dr. Halbrook is also the author of the books, That Every Man Be Armed (Independent Institute) and Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms.
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THE FOUNDERS’ SECOND AMENDMENT: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms
The authoritative account of the origins of the Second Amendment and the most readable, comprehensive, and compelling work ever assembled arguing that the individual right to own a gun is as fundamental under the U.S. Constitution as is freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Learn More »»