The American Legion position on the Second Amendment

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The American Legion position on the Second Amendment

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am getting a lot of calls and emails about our position on the various gun control measures Congress is looking at, and the Executive Orders that the President has issued in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.  Rest assured we look at each of them, but I haven't seen us make any specific comments on any of them yet.  Largely this is because there are so many it will take some time.

However, I did want you to see what our official position is overall.  All of our positions on issues come from the resolution process.  This is the resolution that deals with our support of the Second Amendment...

Resolution No. 68: Second Amendment

Origin: Maryland

Submitted by: Convention Committee on National Security

WHEREAS, The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees each law-abiding American citizen the right to keep and bear arms of his or her choice; and

WHEREAS, It is estimated that over 60 million individuals, representing over half of the households in America, have chosen to exercise that right by owning one or more firearms; and

WHEREAS, Gun bans, registration, and licensing of firearms and their owners of has had little or no effect in such urban areas such as New York City, California and Washington D.C. and has not prevented violent criminals from obtaining firearms illegally and committing crimes; and

WHEREAS, The restriction of firearms purchases by law-abiding citizens will create a black market in illegal firearms and incur further governmental costs to enforce such restriction; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 28, 29, 30, 2012, That The American Legion reaffirms its recognition that the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees each law-abiding American citizen the right to keep and bear arms; and, be it finally

RESOLVED, That the membership of The American Legion urges our nation's lawmakers to recognize, as part of their oaths of office, that the Second Amendment guarantees law-abiding citizens the right to keep and bear the arms of their choice, as do the millions of American veterans who have fought, and continue to fight, to preserve those rights, hereby advise the Congress of the United States and the Executive Department to cease and desist any and all efforts to restrict these rights by any legislation or order.

That's the resolution.  Now, how that applies to each of the initiatives is something I don't know.  I assure you that people much smarter than myself are currently looking at it, and as soon as I hear more, I will share it here. 

Posted in the burner | 105 comments
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Good resolution, add if I may "shall not be infringed". I have never seen a need for more than 15 round clips for civilian use however, there are so many out there now it is hard to address the issue.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees each law-abiding American citizen the right to keep and bear arms of his or her choice... When this was written, was assault rifles in existence, I don't think so?... Therefore, I agree with the Legions stand (and I'm a member), except I don't believe assault rifles and high capacity magazines and clips have any need for other than our military. Maybe the "of his or her choice" should be re-written.

Gregg----Don't know weather you have given it much thought BUT, in 1776, a Brown Bess Musket, WAS an Assault Rifle, and Sabres were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Apples to Apples. as for the Present time, the NEED for high capacity magazines can be debated forever, but in 1986, in Miami,Fla., 2 criminals, were confronted by FBI agents and Local authorities. As a Result, 2 FBI agents were Killed and other Officers were Wounded. It took 4 or 5 rounds to stop One of the criminals and TWELVE rounds, to stop the other ONE. These DIRECT shots were delivered by TRAINED, SKILLED, Local and Federal Officers, and STILL, it took TWELVE shots to stop JUST ONE MAN. Autopsy reports showed that NEITHER criminal was Drunk OR on Dope and neither was wearing Body Armor. SO MUCH for NEED. IF we Ever LOSE our Constutitional Rights, We'll NEVER get them back. I fully support the Legion, of which I am a Proud Member, as well as the NRA in their efforts to see that America Remains the Land Off The FREE. We dont NEED new Laws. Enforce the ones we have.

I don't know how you came to that conclusion, but I don't think you could load and shoot a brown bess rapidly enough to kill 28 people, or use a sword to do the same for that matter.

At the time the Second Amendment was written, civilians possessed essentially the same small arms as the most powerful military in the world (England). There was also private ownership of artillery pieces, again, of the same quality as the English military. A strict interpretation of the Second Amendment might allow private ownership of virtually any weapon in the government's inventory. What is currently allowed to civilians, even in small arms, is quite inferior to what the government has.

Greg Brooks doesn't think I "need" an "assault weapon" or a high-capacity magazine. I have a semi-automatic rifle (1 shot per trigger pull, the same as my revolver) with an adjustable stock and a bayonet mount. That makes it an "assault weapon." How silly! Limit the capacity of magazines I'm "allowed" to have, and I'll carry more magazines. I can swap magazines in about 1.3 seconds, and I'm not the fastest guy on the block.

Definitions of "assault weapon" aside, I have a RIGHT to my weapon of choice. Who is he to tell me what I "need?" I don't think he "needs" a car any bigger than a 4-cylinder Ford Focus to go to and from work. But it's his RIGHT to have the type of car he wants and can afford.

All these proposed restrictions do is hinder law-abiding citizens. Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law.


At the time the 2nd amedment was written the citizens were the military. Not so today so why do you think it is necessary to have the same weapons as the military. I know you need them to protect yourself from your government. That is such a lame and paranoid excuse it doesn't even deserve a reply

That "lame and paranoid exscuse" is partly why this country was founded.


Read the Second Amendment nowhere does it say the right to keep and bear arms of his or her choice.

Read the First Amendment nowhere does it say the right to Free Speech of his or her choice.

Explain to me how you add a limiting factor on one Amendment (that is part of the Bill Of Rights, ie reserved to the people) and yet not on another. Under your Constitutional view, is it okay for Congress to make a law restricting folks to words which do not belittle COngress?

(Written by MOTHAX)

Nowhere does it say the Government can restrict the type of arms a citizen has but it does state "Shall not be infringed. And I Quote from the United States Constitution "Amendment II

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." What part of "Shall not be infringed" is not understood?

By your reckoning, there is no right to free speech other than standing on a soap box in the city square- since there was no mass communication in 1776- no radio, tv, telephone or internet. Kind of makes you wonder why people use the 'musket' analogy. The 2nd Amendment is absolute and does not allow any restrictions on type or quantity of arms. The assaults on the 2nd started when Democrats fear of armed former slaves took the form of unlawful decrees rubber stamped by a compliant SCOTUS.

Hum, you have no idea what assault rifle is. It is currently against the law for Civilians to have assault rifles. Only the military and law enforcement are allow to have assault rifles. What a lot people take as assault rifles are military look a likes. For example AR-15 are not assault rifles, the are semi-automatics. a base ball bat is assault weapon, and if you don't believe that let beat you over the head with it a few times and then you can tell me any different.

Five round mag or hundred round mag, all it takes is one to end a life. Gun owership is about having fun and enjoying something can do outside like target shooting, hunting and protection. We already have law about killing, but does it stop criminals? Thou shall not kill.....

The first amendment guarantees each law-abiding American citizen the right to free speech. When it was written, was the internet in existence, I don't think so? Therefore, I agree with the Legions stand (on the first amendment), except I don't beleive internet and television and telephone and telegraph and radio have any need for any other than our government. Perhaps you should reconsider your argument!

Gregg, I agree with you100%. The second amendment was written for Americans to protect themselves, nowhere is it written "weapons of your own choice". Assault weapons and multiple firing clips should be in the hands of military and law enforcement. Yes, criminals will still find a way to get these, but the killings in Columbine, and Sandy hook as well as the other senseless multiple death shootings at schools,theaters and political gatherings, were not committed by criminals.WdNtm

The school shooters were criminals as soon as they stepped foot on the school grounds with a firearm; so if you want to ride this train you've lost one of three of your arguing points. As for the other two, more people are killed by drivers using cell phones. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a right to a cell phone, and in many states and counties it is illegal to drive while using one. What are your thoughts on outlawing cell phones?

The larger question is who deserves the blame, and who will ultimately pay for the crimes of others. The shooter (or driver from above) deserves the blame and will already be moving through the judicial process after their crime is committed. Those that will pay for the crime of the criminal are the law-abiding citizens.

Suppose the firearms (/cell phones) in question are declared illegal. That will immediately turn once law-abiding citizens into criminals just by definition alone. Those not stupid enough to turn their once legal weapons (/cell phones) in to the authorities may be prosecuted as criminals. A black market will form where these newly defined criminals will maintain their weapons (/cell phones), and the government will then have to try to enforce the new legislation which will require money. Where will this money come from? Higher taxes? Once these new criminals are caught, where will they go? Prison? Criminals are already being let out of prison due to overcrowding.

What is the next possible action? Outlawing ammunition (/cell towers)? Now the citizenry cannot use even simple hunting rifles (/internet and a whole list of other things).

I hunt with a AR-15 for over 11 years and hear people say "Do you need to hunt with an AR?" or "There are other guns to use then an assault riffle so why this gun?" It is because the government using our tax monies sought the BEST made riffle possible! Firearms companies do not have this R&D cash because they are restricted to the economics of "cost benefit analysis. This is the sweetest deer riffle that I have EVER owned! Yes Sirs I am proud to be an American Legion member!

You must be a poor shot if you need an AR-15 to hunt deer or do you hunt them with dogs and run a whole herd in the snow, tire them out, and then slay them with your big manhood rifle. I hope you don't call yourself a real sportsman.

I hope you dont call yourself a real American.

wow, hate much, know what an AR is, or know anything about hunting?

An AR-15 is an excellent rife for hunting! A variety of scopes and sights can be added in seconds, and they are very accurate compared to other rifles.

You are a real IDIOT.

I've been a multi gun owner all my life so it's not the assault weapon that bothers me, it's the amount of ammo that it holds and is able to disperse in seconds. High capacity magazines should be limited to 10 MAX. and even that amount is questionable by many. JMHO

As a member of the Legion, I support President Obama's efforts to ban assault weapons; ban 30 round clips; and require registration of all gun purchases and their owners. We all have the right to own and drive a car, but thank goodness, for all our safety, you must first be trained and licensed before you can drive on the highway.

Smartest comment that I read so far

Do you support Obama's reducing the wages of current Veterans, Are you aware that because of Obama a E-4 Married is eligible for Food Stamps?
Obama wants to disarm America, he also has not a clue on directing a war.....His goal is to have fools like you in his back pocket with the Constitution of this Country as he writes a new one up
Finally explain to me how Fast and Furious was pulled off and Hillary deserting our Ambassodor was pulled off?
Wake up this Obama guy is not for America he is for himself and his greedy friends. Our constitution was written to not be changed for the same reason we are arguing about it now so that our right could not be taken from us.
You are a traitor if you stand on the same stage as Obama who is doing all he can to terminate Americam
Explain 23 Million unemployed and counting get you hear out of your rear. Our borders are not being protected while he feeds you the Kool Aid.
We hacve earned the right to own any weapon of our choosing just as our criminals and enemy has been allowed to by Obama and our Secretary of State and the entire staff Obama has.........

To Wayne Stevenson: Driving is not a Right, it's a privelage.

The constitution has wisely given by the seconed amendment the right to keep and bear arms -if.
It is the public's interpretation of that (if) as interprited by the State Police in Il that restricts me. You see I am a law abiding sitizen who served in the Special Forces and has hunted for over thirty years. I am safe and reliable yet I am restricted by no F.O.I.D. card.

What is the definition of a sportsman? I guess from reading here its hunting birds with an an assault weapon.
No one is or will come after you. Please do not feel paranoid. It really is just in your mind. We have checks and balances in our government. Do you not trust yourself in who you vote for? Take a deep breath step back and see what is being done with weapons.

Gee, I like to see you hunt birds with baseball bat. Yes, baseball bat is a assault weapon. If you do believe me ask someone was almost beaten to death with on.

I'm sure that in the days of our Founding Fathers no one expected a citizen to kill little children in a one room schoolhouse. Why do these macho men need assault weapons in the first place? I say ban those damn things. We have to start somewhere. I don't want to see my teaching children and little grandchildren getting slaughtered.

The sicko who shot all those poor kids didn't even use an assault rifle he had hand guns, the so-called assault rifle was in his car and not used.

1) They weren't macho men - they were cowards, some even children the selfs.
2) Your just another example of ingnorance, they didn't us assault weapons.
3) if your referring to the common individual, why have a semi auto rifle or pistol. It is the same reason people drive corvettes instead of driving Prius, it is enjoyable, fun.
4) Our founding father never expected that our right to defend ourselfs would of been questioned no matter what type of weapon we choose, baseball bat, a semi-auto, shot gun, slingshot, bow and arrow.
5) This whole issue is that the elite want to be the only ones with any means of defending themselfs. Just ask everone of the anti-gun, gun grabbers if they have body guards with semi-autos or even they carry concealed or not. Just ask I dear you.
6). I have kids and I was mortified by what happened in Connecticut and Colorado. I even cried because I have been to both places and felt the great remorse. It just not right that cowards have to take advanage of our children that are helpless because of laws preventing them from being protected from weak, sick, coward individuals.
7) We have the right and oblgation to protect ourselves, our children and friends. Some just believe that is just not the case.
8). When I was little, second grade, I was taught that you just don't side there and let someone punch you in the face. Fight back. Take the first punch but fight back.

I'm glad to see a lot of Legionaires have a reasonable view of gun control vs. the second amendment. I don't know that I agree with the section of the Legion position re guns "of their choice" if that would include semi-automatic rifles with large capacity clips. Frankly, we have so many guns of all description so easily available, it has become a public health hazard. Our gun death statistics are 4 times what they are in the other first world countries.

True our gun deaths are 4 times those of other 1st world countries but our deaths by automobile are 11 times those of the same countries. Do you condone banning automobiles?

For those of you that say get rid of the assault weapons I say what's next. Let the camel get his nose under the tent and it's only the beginning, give in inch and a foot will be taken. I don't trust our government and that's the reason for the second amendment. It's not about hunting folks...

I support the resolution just as iut stands! All of you people need to settle down and look at the facts. The FBI's report on murders says that only 1.5% of murders were from rifles and they make no further break down as to type of rifles. Over 4% was death by hammer. I don't see any of you asking to ban hammers. Had the current laws been obeyed these school shootings would not have happened. So why should honest blaw abiding veterans like my self be denied our right just because some people are acting strictly out of emotion to limit our 2nd amendment rights? Criminla don't obey laws. If criminals attack you or try to break into your home 10 rounds may not be enough! It is not about what tool is used to hunt with.

It amuses me at the attitudes of todays P C American. as my DD-214 verifies i am a 1st class 30 cal Machine Gunner and as an infantryman i am (was ) pretty good with the B A R and M-1 and my personal weapon the the 19- 11 45. i have 4 guns in my home and they can be loaded and hammer back and will not do anything till i make them do what i want them to do .. passing more laws will not do a thing to keep people safe! changes in people's hearts will do more than all the laws already being broken aka Chicago NY LA name any city and the results are there .. Thank You--The American Legion <><

Do not get hung-up on the idea that the second Amendment only gives you the right to bear arms for hunting and target practice. The founding fathers would have rolled on the floor laughing at that idea. When the constitution was written most everyone hunted. It was a way of life. As for target practice, it would have been way too expensive, a waste of time and unnecessary because of the constant use of fire arms in those days. As pointed out earlier, it was for protection from an oppressive government and bad guys in general. As for the need for an “assault” weapons and large clips… simple because the bad guy have them. If you want to go up against a home invader or a rioting gang who are armed with heavy fire power and large clips while you carry a single shot 22 be my guest. But I do not think it is one of the brightest of ideas.

The Legions resolution which states the positon that the guiding leadership has decided is now our official understanding of the 2nd Amendment appears to be stated without input from the membership at large.

If the Legion believes that miltary style weapons which are designed solely to be killing machines have a legitimate use by civilians It is time that I re-examine my membership to the American Legion. This by no means that I am anti-gun, on the contrary my personal gun ownership includes handguns, rifles, shotguns and black powder pistols. All of these weapons are appropriate for hunting, self defense and/or target shooting. The only weapon I own that could or should be considered an "assault rifle" is a Korean War vintage M1 carbine. With a 5 round clip it makes an excellent short range deer or varmin gun. If this rfle is loaded with clips of 10 rounds or greater it becomes an "assault rifle".

I dropped my membership to the NRA years ago due solely to their radical belief that every home should own military style weaponry. If you carefully review Mr. LaPierres's statements, made over many years, he draws no distinction between "assault style " weapons and RPG's, fully automatic machine guns, anti-tank weapons, SAM's and other styles and types of military armament. Possibly You and the Legion feel this is a responsible, logical way to approach the legitimate, civilian use of guns, but I don't.

If thorough background checks, bans on high capacity magazines (clips), increased waiting periods or outright ban on "assault style weapons" is the price I have to pay to better help authorities to weed out those that would misuse their right to "bear arms", so be it. This unreasonable fear that the government is going to send the black helicopters to take away our guns is ridiculous. Not withstanding the immense logistical problems, the entire government and all of the military would have to be complicite. Ridiculous is not adequate to describe such statements. Do you believe that your children or your childrens-children in the military are going to abandon their vow to protect the Constitution or the United States of America? How many of us have fought, bled and died to protect this country, do you truly think the children of today would do less?

I have heard the arguments of Waco and other such called infringements on the rights of Americans. I also remember Oklahoma City and Timothy McVey. If the Legion seriously believes that type of person with such a radical, violent, belief system should be able to procur and use military style weaponry then it is time for the Legion to re-examine its values.

As you can see from the resolution, it was passed by our Annual Convention. The resolution was passed first by a post, then a Department, and then at the National Level. At each level it received 50%. I'm not sure if you attended that convention, but all those present who were voting delegates voted on that resolution. If anyone wishes to change the position of The American Legion on this position or any other issue, they can follow the same exact manner, by writing up the resolution and passing it at the Post, Department and National levels. Just as some are upset by a national election when they lose, so others are upset by our positions from time to time. But each is based on a vote. Employees and officers don't make the positions anymore that anyone else who is at the post level.

Diane Feinstein "if i had my way, Mr. and Mrs. America turn 'em all in" (yes Micheal, she actually said that)
fast and furious; the crisis made to get the gun registration foot in the door, which is in effect in 5 States.
It's very concerning to see these 'alleged' Veterans rail against freedom. so what's next all you 'alleged' Vets? infringe on the right to peacefully assemble? or the right to have a different opinion than you?
you people sound like what i imagine all those German Citizens must have sounded like in the thirties and forties that just went along with what hitler and his ilk were bringing about, but after the war claimed ignorance. at least a little justice was all the Allied Commanders forcing them through the camps to see first-hand the atrocities committed by their Govt. and furthered by their own inaction. what will you say when our Govt goes in that direction? i didn't do it? i didn't know? never be foolish enough to think it can't happen here

Sir I resent your implied position that owning a modern fire arm will make me a terrorist or murderer. I am in fact far more likely to defend the innocent, assist the police and keep the peace with my fire arms. Like most veterans here i need not defend my service, honor, or rights under the second amendment. I also affirm the oath I took several times in 26 years of service.

Mr Reynolds hit the homerun so far. A marine and city police vet, have seen most all and this guy has it right..

Good bye and good riddence

Thank you for bringing up Timothy McVey. It is a great exaple of how gun bans do not prevent violence. It should also be noted the millitary would not need to be complicite. It is easy to get the millitary out of the country (you know, like a war).

All the baloney that they have been coming up with lately is just another gimmick to try to take away your guns.
How will they stop illegal guns from coming here over the border from Mexico and how will they stop illegal guns from another (Eric Holder fast and furious deal) going into Mexico.

Drugs are smuggled into the country along with illegal firearms.

Kid killing isn't going to stop until the laws change in this country. For all those that think you got to have your gun, you become indirectly responsible for every kid that gets killed by a gun. It's not someone's elses problem. It's yours. Stop passing the buck. 2nd ammendment intrepretation is wrong. I don't see a well formed malitia.Expect more death. Lots more. how many are going to have to die before you come to your senses? Until the problem is at your own doorstep and someone in your household is killed, you look the other way. How american of you.

You don't see a "well armed militia", because you don't know anything about American history. Jefferson defined such a "militia" as "The people, all the people". Everytime someone gets killed by a car, should all drivers feel indirectly responsible? Of course not! No one in my household will ever be gunned down by a wacko, because we own guns. It's really pretty simple when you man up and stop expecting someone else to take care of you.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.