Whether President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General will be too soft on Robert Mueller or not, at least we now know that William Barr will likely be pretty darn good on protecting our Second Amendment rights.
During his confirmation hearings, Barr was asked about guns and his answers are encouraging and seem to say that he is very pro-Second Amendment.
With his answer on guns to a question by Senator John Cornyn, it appears that Barr thinks that the Second Amendment is an individual right (not a “collective” right open to vast regulation like leftists think). His answer also showed that he thinks new regulations need to be tested against how it will affect law-abiding gun owners first (not crime, or criminals first), and that he feels the amendment is an extension of our god-given rights under “natural law” concepts. He also opposes an “assault weapons” ban, which is also a good thing.
This is all good stuff because his base assumptions seem to put him in a position to look askance at any new gun control measures. In other words he starts out skeptical that any new regulations are constitutional and goes from there.
Here is a transcript of Barr’s answers to Cornyn’s questions (courtesy of Ammoland)…
After Sen. Cornyn asked Barr about his stance on an assault weapons ban, Barr responded saying:
I think I opposed an assault weapon ban because I felt that was really sort of the aesthetics of the gun.
Since that time Heller has been decided. Actually, before Heller, I did work on OLC on this issue, and I personally concluded that the Second Amendment creates a personal right, under the Constitution.
It’s based on the Lockean notion of the right of self-preservation. It’s tied to that. I was glad to see Heller come out and vindicate that initial view that I had.
And so there is no question under Heller that the right to have weapons, firearms, is protected under the Second Amendment and is a personal right. At the same time there is room for reasonable regulation.
From my standpoint, what I would look for, in assessing a regulation, is what is the burden on law-abiding people and is it proportionate to whatever benefit, in terms of safety and effectiveness, will be conferred.
As I said, just a moment ago, let’s get down to the real problem we are confronting, which is keeping these weapons out of the hands of people who are mentally ill. I think all the rest of this stuff is really, essentially rhetoric, until we get that problem dealt with; in terms of regulatory approaches.
This is all pretty good stuff.
Barr opposes an assault weapons ban because it is meaningless since it is “really sort of the aesthetics of the gun.” In other words, an assault weapons ban is superficial because it is based on how a gun looks, not what it does or how it operates.
It is also important to note that he had these positions long before the more recent Heller case where the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment was an individual right. Barr opposed the prevailing wisdom pre-Heller that the Second Amendment was a “collective” right. This means he has been pro-2A for a long time, not just recently and it means his ideals are long-held and thought out, not incidental and unexamined.
This is also good for us because it might tend to show that his ideas on the Second Amendment are not so superficial that he might be easily led away from them if he becomes Attorney General.
In any case, whatever his feelings about Mueller, at least we know he is pretty solid on the Second Amendment.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.