GOP, Romney Promote Strong Second Amendment Platform

The Republican Party platform strongly supports the right to keep and bear arms, including evolving enhancements to the civil right of self-defense like Stand Your Ground laws. The party's Second Amendment plank begins:

We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We acknowledge, support, and defend the law-abiding citizen’s God-given right of self-defense.

This language is constitutionally accurate: the Second Amendment acknowledges a sacrosanct personal right. In contrast, Obama’s White House believes: “The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.” [emphasis added]

The GOP:

  • Opposes “federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners.”
  • Believes Americans have “the right to obtain and store ammunition without registration.”
  • Opposes “legislation that is intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the ill-considered Clinton gun ban.”
  • Opposes “the improper collection of firearms sales information in the four southern border states, which was imposed without congressional authority.”

The platform continues:

We support the fundamental right to self-defense wherever a law-abiding citizen has a legal right to be, and we support federal legislation that would expand the exercise of that right by allowing those with state-issued carry permits to carry firearms in any state that issues such permits to its own residents.

But the party also referenced District of Columbia v. Heller, which conflicts with this support of Stand Your Ground laws. While stating the Second Amendment includes “traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home,” Heller also concluded:

It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.

Stand Your Ground laws are toothless without concealed carry.

The GOP’s concealed carry rhetoric is similar to the NRA-backed National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 (H.R. 822). But could such federal legislation damage states’ rights, or create a precedent for a future infringement of Second Amendment rights?

John Frazer, NRA-ILA’s director of research and information, explains this isn’t possible. When asked if a future Congress could amend this law to include federal licensing and registration, Frazer replied:

The issues are different. If anti-gun activists had enough votes in Congress to pass federal licensing and registration -- which might require them to repeal several existing laws that prohibit gun registration -- they wouldn’t need to depend on a reciprocity law, and would probably even have enough votes to repeal any reciprocity law that already existed.