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John Ashcroft

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Several years ago, the U.S. Justice Department under John Ashcroft, the Attorney General at the time, declared that the Second Amendment refers to an individual right to keep and bear arms.
At the time, CCRKBA acclaimed this as a most significant development in the ongoing controversy over whether the Second Amendment refers to an individual or a collective right.
When the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared December 16, 2006 in the Federal Register that the Second Amendment refers to a collective right, gun rights activists were disappointed.
David Codrea, CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for April, wrote a letter of complaint to President George W. Bush regarding the FAA’s position, and used his website, http://www.waronguns.blogspot.com, to inform the public about the situation and to encourage supporters to follow suit.
Then, in late February, FAA changed its position and now recognizes that the Second Amendment does refer to an individual right.
When news of this development reached John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, he immediately nominated Codrea for the CCRKBA Award. “Although some gun rights activists may not yet realize it,” he said, “people who want to preserve our Second Amendment rights have to keep hawk’s eyes on the federal bureaucracy and take the necessary steps to correct the bureaucrats when they get out of line. In this FAA case, David Codrea took the lead and paved the way that led to the FAA’s correction of its error. He deserves the thanks of America’s law-abiding gun owners, and certainly is most deserving of this Award.”
When the FAA made its mistake late last year as part of a ruling on security aboard space flights, it stated that nearly all courts have “held that the Second Amendment is a collective right, rather than a personal right. Therefore, despite the Second Amendment collective right to bear arms, the FAA has the authority to prohibit firearms on launch and reentry vehicles for safety and security purposes.”
Laura Montgomery, Senior Attorney in the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel, wrote that the rule had been “reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the President.”
In his New Year’s Day open letter to the President, Codrea recalled that President Bush previously had stated he supports the individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment and even had declared that the Constitution refers to “a personal right to bear arms.”
Codrea wrote, “The language that the Senior Attorney, Office for the Chief Counsel for FAA says was ‘reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the President’ directly contradicts your earlier stated position.
“Some have suggested this is merely a bureaucratic oversight – a staffer issuing routine approval without a meticulous detail check and without your cognizance. Others feel it may signal a change in your administration’s official position on the Second Amendment. If it’s the former, will you take immediate steps to revise the Final Rule and delete all references to “collective rights,” as well as establish controls to prevent such oversights from happening in future rulemaking? If it’s the latter, will you issue a public explanation of your new position and the reasons behind it?”
In its February 20 Federal Register notice, the FAA wrote that, “when the FAA issued a final rule on human space flight, it described one rule as consistent with the Second Amendment of the Constitution because, among other things, the right to bear arms is a collective right. The FAA now withdraws that characterization and amends its description.”
The FAA noted further that, “The Executive Branch, through the Department of Justice, interprets the Second Amendment as securing a right of individuals to keep and bear arms…Regardless of the nature of the right, however, it remains true, as we noted, that the right is, like any other, not unfettered.”
Commenting, Codrea wrote, “now the debate can focus on the ‘fettering’ (read ‘infringing’) aspect of the rule…withdrawing the collective rights interpretation is significant.”
David was born in Akron, Ohio and now lives in Redondo Beach, California with his wife and two sons. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Kent State University where he majored in Journalism and Advertising. He says he’s “been everything from a lifeguard to a factory laborer to a procedures specialist in both defense electronics and medical practice management.”
He writes a monthly column for Guns magazine.