Amy Coney Barrett: 2nd Amendment Is an ‘Individual Right’

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 14: Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies befor
Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images

During Wednesday confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) read from Barrett’s dissent in Kanter v. Barr (2019), noting that she holds “the Second Amendment confers an individual right.”

Breitbart News reported Durbin was questioning Barrett’s position on voting rights when he alluded to Kanter.

The Kanter case was brought by a non-violent felon, Rickey Kanter, who fought “felon dispossession statutes” on grounds that he thought he ought not be prohibited from exercising his Second Amendment rights after paying fines and serving a year in prison for a mail fraud scheme.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected Kanter’s contention, but Barrett dissented.

As Durbin noted, Barrett used her dissent to make clear that she holds Second Amendment rights to be “individual,” in nature.

A careful reading of Barrett’s dissent shows her rejection of the collectivist view of the Second Amendment, which holds that the right to keep and bear arms is a “civic right” tied to militia service for the common good. Rather, she sides with the majority in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), holding that Second Amendment rights are individual in nature and individually possessed: “Heller, however, expressly rejects the argument that the Second Amendment protects a purely civic right. … It squarely holds that ‘the Second Amendment confer[s] an individual right to keep and bear arms,’ Heller, 554 U.S. at 595, and it emphasizes that the Second Amendment is rooted in the individual’s right to defend himself — not in his right to serve in a well-regulated militia.”

Barrett explicitly wrote: “The Second Amendment confers an individual right, intimately connected with the natural right of self defense, and not limited to civic participation (i.e., militia service).”

Her emphasis on the right of self defense not only harkens to Heller decision but to McDonald v. Chicago (2010), too. After all, Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion for McDonald, noted, “Individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the 2nd Amendment right.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at You can sign up to get Down Range at


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