Thank you for contacting me about the Second Amendment. As your voice in Washington, I appreciate being made aware of your views.
When I was sworn in after being elected to the Congress, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The intent of the legislation at the time it was adopted was crystal clear. The Founding Fathers included the Second Amendment because they believed a well-armed populace was the ultimate check on the power of the federal government. If one were to argue the Second Amendment does not prevent the federal government from abridging the individual right of citizens to own a gun, the second half of the Amendment is rendered meaningless.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in Commonplace Book, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
I am very satisfied that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2008 in a landmark 5-4 decision (District of Columbia v. Heller) that the Washington D.C. gun ban is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also positively affirmed that "(t)he Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
Before the Supreme Court heard this case, I joined former Vice President Cheney, 54 other Senators, and 250 Members of the House of Representatives - including all members of the Oklahoma delegation - in submitting an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hold that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms.
Recently, the Supreme Court heard another Second Amendment case (McDonald v. City of Chicago) regarding Chicago's handgun ban. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment applies to state and local government gun laws. I signed another amicus brief filed in McDonald, asking the Supreme Court to affirm that the right to keep and bear arms applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment. You will be interested to know that when I signed the amicus brief in District of Colombia v. Heller, it had the support of more Members of Congress than any other amicus brief in history. I am now pleased to say the amicus brief filed in McDonald v. City of Chicago has even more signatories, with a total of 251 Members of the House of Representatives and 58 Senators signing on to the brief.
As your Senator, I will continue to strongly oppose any effort to undermine the Second Amendment and an individual citizen's right to keep and bear arms. Again, thank you for your comments. Please do not hesitate to contact me again.
James M. Inhofe
United States Senator