January 15th, 2009
03:40 PM ET
14 years ago

Holder: Gun control options 'narrowed' after high court ruling

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/15/art.holdercu0115.gi.jpg caption="Eric Holder was asked about a recent Supreme Court gun rights case during his confirmation hearing Thursday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General-designate Eric Holder conceded during his confirmation hearing Thursday that the government's options for regulating the possession of firearms have been narrowed in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling that the Second Amendment ensures an individual right to bear arms.

"Reasonable restrictions are still possible," Holder said, including measures such as a ban on the sale of what are called "cop-killer" bullets.

But, he granted, "we're living in a different world" since the high court's 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Holder said that he previously viewed the Second Amendment as a "collective right" to bear arms, not an individual right.

The Heller ruling, Holder said, was a "very significant opinion."

Filed under: Eric Holder • Obama transition
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Ex-Republican

    The man seems to know his limits. Haven't seen a bad answer from this man yet (other then eluding to him not prosecuting our two most heinous criminals in US history, Bush and Cheney).

    Our Bill of Rights stands, and should not be toyed with, EVER, for any cause. They should not be 'over ridden' because a president is too cowardly to confront a situation in an honorable and intelligent manner.

    The right to bear arms, and the right to privacy, freedom of religion and freedom of speech...ALL OF OUR RIGHTS...they are unconditional rights, that have no business being undermined in any way, shape or form. To make lame excuses for deminishing our rights should be considered treason!

    January 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    The Right to Bear Arms was, thankfully, strengthened by the Supreme Court. How can anyone interpret the second amendment any differently? - especially those who believe the Right of Free Speech includes "actions" such as a pornographic public art display, and those who believe "Freedom of Religion" means God must stay out of our schools and public squares. Those in support of the second amendment as written and intended are on the firmer ground.

    January 15, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Marc Walker

    It's about time the Court clarified what most of us already knew.

    January 15, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. carol

    I think the right to bear arms is a load of nonsense, it may be in the constitution but that was written years ago when things were a lot different.
    Every law can be changed if for the better nothing is set in stone...this is just an excuse in this day and age for folks to own and carry guns and look at the mayhem them cause in the wrong hands.
    No amount of checking people or holding periods will make a scrap of difference to those who intend to do harm and many times it's done in the heat of the moment, which of course is too late.
    Guns are not necessary to anyone, if you are hunter that is a different story, even those should be locked away not left unattended for anyone to take and use. Even the police over step their bounds when they have guns at their disposal in many cases....so many lost lives all for a piece of paper that gives us the right to own a gun!!!

    January 15, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Dave C

    It doesn't make me comfortable that the Attorney General designate doesn't believe the second amendment doesn't protect individual gun rights. The point of the amendment is to ensure the local militias, made upof local citizens, had the right to keep arms to use to keep the GOVERNMENT in line and insure a free state. Militias are not government armies, they are citizens. We drafted a constitution when we didn't have a government. The protections in the document are there to protect individuals from the power of the state.

    January 15, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Billy Gibbons (TX)

    "Holder said that he previously viewed the Second Amendment as a "collective right" to bear arms, not an individual right."

    Excuse me, but The Constitution was written to ensure individual rights. How someone can twist the Constitution around to try to make it say "the rights are for everyone, but that does not mean for you"?

    January 15, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Rob

    Because as well all know, if a criminal wants to get a gun, and they can't because of the laws, they will say, "Oh gosh golly darn gee whiz." and won't be able to get a gun.

    As usual, gun-control kooks miss the point entirely. If a 'bad person' wants to get a gun they will, they are not going to be burdened by anti-gun laws. The only thing those laws do is let the criminals know their victims can't defend themselves.

    How about instead of taking away law-abiding citizens' right to protect themselves you focus on cracking down more on the thugs who commit their crimes with illegally obtained firearms...instead of covering for them or turning them into rap superstars.

    January 15, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. joe

    Looks like gutless politicians and brain-addled judges caved in to NRA money once again.

    Some day the useless slaughter will get so bad even the right wing crazies will cry "enough".

    January 15, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Jc

    Carol, even more people have lost their rights due to the restrictions (in cities) for people not being able to carry guns...you see, when they come to take guns like they did with katrina they only take away the GOOD GUYS GUNS see...an unmarked gun bought off the black market ISNT registered that means while they keep their gun tucked in tight and all the other people who owned firearms are disarmed guess who is going to come out on top...it's like 1+1=2 here I dont see why people dont get this...there will always be organized crime and gangs out there and with that being said there will always be a black market for someone to get the guns from overseas...there's money involved so it will always go on. So keep disarming people who want to just live in peace meanwhile the other guys are stocking up on guns they get that are untracable...what is so hard to understand?

    January 15, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. other Jim

    carol January 15th, 2009 4:26 pm ET

    I think the right to bear arms is a load of nonsense, it may be in the constitution but that was written years ago when things were a lot different.
    Every law can be changed if for the better nothing is set in stoneā€¦this is just an excuse in this day and age for folks to own and carry guns and look at the mayhem them cause in the wrong hands.

    If you don't like the constitution, there is a legal method for its amendment. Until, that legal method is followed, the same constitution that guarantees your right to voice your opinion guarantees my right to keep and bear arms.

    BTW: I have owned and shot firearms since I was 11 years old. I was taught to use them correctly and have never pointed a gun at another human being (and I hope I never need to.) However, if I need to defend myself or my family with one some day, I do hope I have one available, You may think the police should protect me but it should be obvious that the police only get invovled AFTER a crime is commited. If you are the victim, it too late for you then. I don't believe you should have the option to deny me the right of self-defense, just because you do not value it for yourself.

    January 15, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Wow

    An Attorney General that respects the Supreme Court?

    What's up with that?!?

    January 15, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. boered1

    @ Rob well said and agreed with, good job!

    January 15, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. Chuckles

    There are three reasons for citizens to own guns:
    2-Personal protection against crime
    3-As a last resort of defense against enslavement by a totalitarian government.

    The Framers of the Constitution understood this. I would hope our present politicians would also.

    Gun control is presently in effect. There are procedures to lawful ownership and use. Lawful owners and those with licenses to carry very seldom commit a crime with a gun. Unlicensed owners commit the crimes.

    Someone who wants to use a gun to commit a crime is not going to go through the permission, registration, and training to own and carry a firearm because they don't want this on record. Someone who has committed a crime with a gun cannot legally own one. That's the way the laws work.

    A criminal who uses a firearm in committing a crime generally breaks 4 to 5 laws related to obtaining and carrying the gun before even starting to commit the crime.

    Americans need to be aware of what is meant by the use of the words "gun control." It is sometimes used as a euphemism for denial of ownership and confiscation.

    I would hope that Mr. Holder would understand that lawful private ownership is a deterrent to crime. If he thinks the American public cannot be trusted with firearms, perhaps he knows the wrong people.

    As a member of the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama was entitled to have a special handgun license to carry a gun for his personal protection. Whether he did so or not has not been told to the best of my knowledge. Mayor Daley, who strenuously objects to private ownership, has such a license, while being a party to denying such rights to Illinois citizens, and also while protected by bodyguards.

    This strikes me as hypocritical - a double standard.

    Gun ownership should be a matter of personal choice. You have no more right to tell me I shouldn't own one than I have to tell you that you should.

    Lawful ownership (in Michigan) requires a police background check, safety test, purchase from a licensed dealer who registers the purchase, and then a safety check and gun registration by police.

    Lawful concealed carry requires much more stringent procedures including non-violent conflict resolution training. You can expect a person with a concealed carry permit to be one of the safest, most responsible people you can meet.

    January 15, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Scott Tucson

    Holder as is Obama are totally anti-gun, you only need to look at their records. And just what does the good Mr. Holder views as a cop-killing bullet...anything more powerful than a .22 ?

    Now England have banned the possession of guns and did that deterred crime? No the crime rate over there have increased and with a steep rise in knife attacks, and now possession of knives are being banned there. Guess the anti-gun nuts like Holder, wants us to go back to stick and stone but than they would only ban the use of them too. More people have died from medical mistakes at the hands of their doctors each year than from guns.

    Instead of going after and tearing down our Constitutional Rights, maybe he should be more concerned with enforcing them.

    January 15, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. pam Eugene OR

    I don't think the framers of the Second Amendment thought about automatic weapons and "cop killer" bullets when they wrote it.

    January 15, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. Kenneth

    Obama's position on gun control was the main reason I did not vote for him. We have service members risking their lives to protect the rights we have under our government as citizens of the United States. Why would we simply give them up in an election? Nobody says you have to own a gun, and in the same token you cannot be denied ownership of a gun to protect yourself and your family. It is a decision you can make for yourself. I'm not here to argue the point to someone who doesn't want to own one but why try and tell me I shouldn't be allowed to own one? I obay the laws and hope I never have to use my firearm against anyone (to date have never even came close to it) but if I ever need to, if after calling 911 the response isn't fast enough, I've got my gun to protect my family. The idea of taking that right away from me as a U.S. citizen brings up images of Hitler. Its these very guns that were ment to protect our rights when these laws were first established.

    January 15, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. Matt

    Holder has no moral standing to be the AG. This guy allowed for bombers who maimed and killed police officers to recieve clemency. This is what you can expect from a ego maniac with no leadership skill as president, another ego maniac liar as the Secretary of State. A tax cheat for the Secretary of the treasury and now a person who will take money to free terrorists and call it part of the job as the Attorney General.

    This "Change" stinks to high heaven.

    January 15, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. MsRotten

    Keep your hands off my guns!!

    I was/am ecstatic that we elected a highly Intelligent, educated, common sense President who was/is a Constitutional Attorney whom also taught Constitutional Law.

    Now lets see if he governs by the Constitution! Unlike GW who eroded our Constitutional Rights over the past 8 years.


    January 15, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. Houston

    Kevin in Ohio said it perfectly.

    January 15, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Nick

    I think most of you are missing Holder's point and the point that should be taken from his view. If you read into what he says he's saying he will prosecute and uphold the laws as they are defined by the legislature and interpretted by the courts. Whether he personally believes one should have the right to bear arms is immaterial because he intends to uphold the laws. This is a good thing for America when so much of the time in the last 8 years the laws have been "interpretted and bent" as it suits the administration.

    January 15, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  21. Eric

    The problem is that the wrong people acquiring these guns, and using them. I am not just referring to criminals, but to those people people who has never been tested for borderline mental disorder.

    January 15, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. nina in chattanooga

    People that want to believe that the constitution is wrong to give individual rights to everyone to bear arms should fgo back to Mother Russia. This is America!!! The government of this great America will see a war in this nation the day they ban individuals from owning guns. I for one will die for that right before I hand my gun over to a communist nation! The day guns are banned from america is the day we are no longer America land of the free!

    January 15, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |