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Justice Antonin Scalia: Bulwark For Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms


The late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was a bulwark for the individual right to keep and bear arms.

He voted with the majority in the seminal case of District of Columbia v Heller (2008), a decision that defended the right to keep and bear arms as one individually possessed rather than collectively held.  Two years later he voted with the majority in McDonald v Chicago (2010), a decision that clarified the protections on the individual right to gun ownership by showing that Second Amendment rights are incorporated with Fourteenth Amendment protections.


Heller resulted in the abolition of the gun ban in Washington DC, a federal district. McDonald resulted in the abolition of the gun ban in Chicago.

The fact that Second Amendment rights are individual—like all other rights in the Bill of Rights—means the federal government cannot infringe upon them. The fact that they are incorporated means cities and states are limited in actions they can take to curtail the exercise of Second Amendment rights as well.

Criticism of Scalia was intertwined with criticism of both Heller and McDonald. For example, The New York Times responded to Heller by intimating that Scalia had literally created the individual right to keep and bear arms in 2008. They denied the existence of any “individual right” to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment, but suggested Scalia found one anyway via Heller. For this reason, NYT pointed to judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, whom the  Virginia Law Review quoted as saying, “Heller represents a form of judicial activism that is new, yet familiar.”

The Los Angeles Times followed the same pattern. While not naming Scalia by name, they did name Heller and made clear the LA Times editorial board’s position that Heller created a right which had not previously existed. The Associated Press went a bit further, claiming Heller and McDonald combined to “a nationwide right to defend one’s home with a gun.”

Breitbart News previously reported that the one of left’s goals in keeping the Hellen and McDonald decisions at the forefront was to set it up for reversal when a Supreme Court majority could outvote Scalia and his fellow defenders of intrinsic, God-given rights; the very rights Thomas Jefferson was referencing when he declared the colonists had been “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson wrote that the chief end of government is “secure these rights,” not to pillage them.

Scalia concurred and stood for their defense. And that included defending the individual right to keep and bear arms (Heller) from machinations coming from all levels of government (McDonald).

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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