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Public Statements

Issue Position: Second Amendment Rights

Issue Position

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"The right of the people to keep and bear arms," as put forth in the Bill of Rights, is a fundamental right preserved for and guaranteed to each of us.

There are two clauses in the Second Amendment, an introductory clause and a main clause. While the introductory clause, also known as the purpose clause, is not superfluous, it does not override the main clause, which is that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." One of the better explanations of the introductory clause can be found in UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh's article "The Commonplace Second Amendment," which appeared in the New York University Law Review in 1998.

Anti-gun advocates argue that you cannot separate the introductory clause from the main clause of the amendment. Yet, the vast majority of Supreme Court opinions that have quoted the Second Amendment only contain a partial quote, the main clause. Therefore, fundamentally speaking, the Supreme Court justices have not considered the purpose clause at the beginning of the Second Amendment to be essential to the meaning of the main clause.

Consequently, there is no evidence to the contrary of the main clause from the writing of the Founding Fathers, early American legal commentators or pre-twentieth century Supreme Court decisions that would indicate that the Second Amendment was applicable solely to active militia members. Thus, the framers were preserving, not granting, what they saw as an inherent "right of the people to keep and bear arms."

As a member of both the National Rifle Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association and as a gun owner, I cherish my Second Amendment "right to...keep and bear arms" and, as your state representative, I will do everything in my power on the state-level to ensure that nothing takes place to infringe upon our right to do so.


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