Federal Appeals Court: Illegal Immigrants have Right to Bear Arms

Led by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the left continues its crusade against Americans’ Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.  President Obama recently enacted executive action to institute stricter gun control regulations.  The woman he hopes to take his place in the Oval Office — Hillary Clinton — was recently recorded in a closed-door speech to donors saying that she believes “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.”

Hillary Clinton has had to swing to the left in order to appeal to Democratic primary voters over socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  One issue on which Clinton naturally “out-liberals” the aging Marxist is the issue of gun control.  And, Clinton has gone all-in on the gun debate.

Want to put a liberal between a rock and a hard place?  Ask them whether illegal immigrants should have Second Amendment rights.  Recently, a federal appeals court was posed that very question.

Despite the fact that liberals absolutely despise Americans’ rights to keep and bear arms, this attitude may only apply to actual American citizens.  When it comes to the horde of illegal immigrants who have flooded our borders, they are much more lenient.

Illegal aliens can now claim Second Amendment rights to own guns in violation of federal law, according to a federal appeals court that completely ignored the primary reason for the right to bear arms: to give Americans citizens the right to remove a tyrannical regime from power.

Mariano Meza-Rodriguez is an illegal alien from Mexico who was carrying ammunition for a .22-caliber firearm when he was arrested in 2013. He has been here since his parents brought him around age five. But federal law, found at 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5), makes it a crime for an illegal alien to have a gun. He was convicted, sentenced to time served, then deported to Mexico. He is appealing the federal district court’s decision not to dismiss his indictment that led to his conviction.

The Second Amendment provides that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In a seminal 2008 case, the Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to keep and bear arms. On August 20, 2015, Chief Judge Diane Wood (a liberal appointee of Bill Clinton who was on Barack Obama’s short-list for the Supreme Court) wrote for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that the panel could “see no principled way to carve out the Second Amendment and say that [illegal aliens] are excluded” from exercising Second Amendment rights.

The court’s opinion admitted, “some of Heller’s language does link Second Amendment rights with the notions of ‘law-abiding citizens’ and ‘members of the political community.’” But then the court incorrectly claims that Heller also “supports the opposite result: that all people, including non-U.S. citizens, whether or not they are authorized to be in the country, enjoy at least some rights under the Second Amendment.” The Seventh Circuit noted that three other federal appeals courts have said that illegal aliens do not have Second Amendment rights, but concluded that those courts were wrong, creating what lawyers call a “circuit split” by holding that § 922(g)(5) is unconstitutional.

But the court went on to sustain the indictment that led to Meza-Rodriguez’s conviction, with an analysis that’s bad news for gun owners. Chief Judge Wood wrote that while illegal aliens are entitled to Second Amendment rights, gun restrictions such as this one should only be subject to what courts call “intermediate scrutiny,” under which the court can uphold this statute, but also uphold a great many additional restrictions on the right to bear arms.

It’s true that the Supreme Court has noted that the term “the people” also shows up in the First and Fourth Amendments, and that Heller noted that gun rights were in some ways similar to free-speech rights. (In fact, I authored a legal scholarly work, “Making Second Amendment Law with First Amendment Rules,” published by Nebraska Law Review, that explains the relationship between these two parts of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.)

But as the Seventh Circuit admitted, other uses of “the people” in the Constitution—such as Article I, Section 2’s provision that members of Congress shall be elected every two years “by the People of the several States,” and the Seventeenth Amendment’s provision that senators will be elected in each state “by the People thereof”—clearly refer only to voting citizens, though even then the court tries to maintain some wiggle room by saying this is only “likely.”

This argument is one that is unlikely to end soon — despite what the appeals court has decided.  Americans are already unhappy with liberals telling them that illegal immigrants have equal rights to them.  They are sure to be furious with illegal immigrants having more rights than them.

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