The American (some, but not all) Civil Liberties Union and Guns


American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union

Fayetteville, AR –-(   Since 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been a key defender of basic rights in America, fighting cases in the courts, and often winning, to protect the ability of people in the unpopular minority to express themselves in speech and belief, to control their own bodies, and to insist that the judiciary affords them due process.

The organization’s one consistent blind spot has been their views on gun rights.

This is not hard to understand. The emphasis on civil liberties—the protections afforded by law, instead of rights that are inherent in human beings—shapes the group’s thinking, and the case law on the Second Amendment was mixed prior to the Heller decision. Still, the ACLU isn’t actively a part of the anti-gun lobby, and in the same way that attacks on the NRA because they don’t work on some activist’s pet obsession are misdirected, criticizing the ACLU for their views on guns is mostly a waste of effort.

That’s especially the case since on some important points of contention, the ACLU has discovered the concept of consistency.

When, for example, the Social Security Administration was contemplating a change in the rules regarding the exercise of gun rights by persons whom the agency determined to be incapable of managing their own affairs, the ACLU objected, saying that an administrative finding cannot be a substitute for due process, even when members of the organization might approve of the result.

This is a good test of anyone’s intellectual honesty. As stated above, the ACLU has spent decades defending due process, and it would have been hypocritical to sacrifice the same in pursuit of the objective of making legal gun ownership more difficult—though again, that’s not a primary goal of the organization.

Gun control advocates all too often demonstrate their willingness to discard any other right that stands in the way of their desires.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union is speaking out against the efforts of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to silence the NRA by cutting off the latter’s access to financial services. A statement from the ACLU put it this way:

“Political advocacy organizations like the NRA (or the ACLU or Planned Parenthood) need basic business services, like insurance and banking, to operate. The NRA says that the state, using its regulatory powers over those industries, is threatening financial companies that do business with the NRA.”

This, of course, is a declaration of the obvious, but it has to be said to people who obviously are more desirous of the rule of whim over the rule of law.

Why would the ACLU take this position? That is explained further down:

“Substitute Planned Parenthood or the Communist Party for the NRA, and the point is clear. If Cuomo can do this to the NRA, then conservative governors could have their financial regulators threaten banks and financial institutions that do business with any other group whose political views the governor opposes. The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.”

In other words, the American Civil Liberties Union understands, to borrow a line from Martin Niemöller, that if the government comes after one type of political advocacy and we say nothing, the government will come after us soon enough and there will be no one left to speak on our behalf.

The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting for the principle summed up by Voltaire’s biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is in keeping with American values, and we should be pleased to welcome the ACLU to this much of the cause.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

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Larry Brickey:

Regarding your post concerning the ACLU’s newly discovered love for The Second Amendment, if they really have come to support it, let them is an appropriate tack to take. For whatever it might be worth however, I wonder as to,exactly what is is that gives rise to,a seemingly quite significant change of thinking and action on their part.


I believe the true name and goal should be listed as what they represent and that is

willy d

ACLU more bad than good!!!!!!!!!!


I find that this article is not only even handed, but solid on it’s premise, that the ACLU is being consistent when it comes to this area of rights. And while the organization might have many things that I don’t agree with, the fact that they recognize that the right to protest and to lobby must extend to everyone, no matter how much you disagree with them, is a positive. Remember the case against Larry Flynt, and his right to publish porn, when the Jerry Falwell LIberty University bunch found themselves defending that same right, even though they found Larry… Read more »


By the way, which Civil Liberties and also, whose Civil Liberties”

A.X. Perez

Freedom lf speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association,, freedom from unreasonable search, etc.


I don’t think the ACLU is for any American any more!

Richard L

I have referred to it as the: Alien Civil Liberties Union.

Rev R Vincent Warde

The ACLU also opposed the use of the “terror watch list” for NICS checks on due process grounds. The bottom line is that the ACLU is being dragged into defending the 2A – but they are defending it when other rights are also involved.

Green Mtn. Boy

I have long referred to it as American Civil Liberties Union.


how about protecting my “civil rights” from attack by unconstitutional-ruling judges, politicians, and unelected goober-mint types?


This is a Communist organization. They and others like them are destroying AMERICA!!!!

Larry Brickey

Liberal, yes, but Communist? Do you know what Communism is?


The ACLU was founded to defend Communists. They do that by using Constitutional protections of the Bill of Rights. That was (is) their primary mission. They do understand that if the process is corrupted, they go down too.

Leonard R Jones

The ACLU was founded as an adjunct one of the major American communist
parties back in 1920 if my memory serves. There is plenty of documentary
evidence on the Internet. America in that era was teeming with radical
communist and anarchist groups. The reason that the ACLU has been
historically antithetical to only one amendment (the 2nd) is that an armed
populous makes a communist revolution unlikely. It is also the reason
the modern Democrat party is so hell-bent on gun control, followed by
outright confiscation of firearms in civilian hands.

Larry Brickey

Someone puts up a post line that THEY should provide links.


Larry Brickey, I have a link to the wikipedia entry for the ACLU. Of course, we must remember what wikipedia is, but it says that the ACLU was founded in 1920 to help protect anti war protesters. Then during the 30’s, they expanded to helping defend communists, and the NAACP was also one of their causes. Come 1940, they banned communists from their leadership positions, presumably due to the war. They rescinded that policy in 1968. I don’t have much respect for the ACLU, due to some of their more liberal positions, but like I said, sometimes politics makes strange… Read more »

A.X. Perez

Get in Court over the Government violating your rights, then bring them in on your side.
The fact is we need an organization like the ACLU to support Court fights over the Bill of
Rights and other civil rights against overly powerful government agencies and officials. Also,
please remember that the Constitution is neither a liberal or conservative document, that many
of us find the Constitutions restraints of government power a hinderance in achieving their
goals. Now if only we could get them on board about the econd Amendment.