By Errol Castens
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD – The immediate past president of the National Rifle Association told an audience at the University of Mississippi on Thursday that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution defines “a civil right.”
“The founders recognized that,” said Sandra Froman, a life member of the NRA’s executive council. “The Second Amendment was written just to remind us of this.”
Froman was at Ole Miss to discuss “District of Columbia v. Heller,” in which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms.
She was a guest of the Ole Miss Federalist Society, a group contending that “the state exists to preserve freedom, and … the separation of governmental powers is central to the Constitution.”
Froman said Second Amendment debate once divided largely between the view that gun ownership is an individual right and the view that gun rights belong collectively to the “militia” – often argued as the National Guard or military reserves.
A “sophisticated collective right” view that gained ground in recent decades allows that individuals may own arms if they are in training for the militia, she said.
Froman was 32 years old before she fired a gun. She became interested in self-defense after a man tried to break into her house and she waited, helpless, until police arrived.
The experience convinced her that gun rights are most valuable to those at greatest disadvantage against violent criminals.
“Women, minorities, the disabled and the elderly – those are the people who most need … ‘the Great Equalizer,'” Froman said.
In “D.C. v. Heller,” the U.S. Supreme Court last year affirmed the individual-right interpretation. Froman said the decision was a victory for gun-rights advocates, but other than the individual-right issue, Heller leaves many related issues yet to be solved.
“It opened all kinds of new questions for people to investigate,” Froman said.
A Harvard Law graduate, longtime attorney and law professor, Froman asserted that the proper role of the judiciary is limited to interpreting laws, not creating them.
“America needs judges … who don’t inject policy judgments or personal social preferences into their legal decisions.”
Ole Miss Federalist Society Chapter President Isaac Callison said the Second Amendment, for all its unpopularity in some circles, is no less vital than the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech, among other rights.
“The First Amendment wasn’t written to protect nice speech,” he said. “It was written to protect hated speech.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Errol Castens/Daily Journal