BELLEVUE, WA – Leaders at one the nation’s foremost firearms civil rights organizations today applauded Attorney General John Ashcroft and Solicitor General Ted Olson for reversing “forty years of constitutional illiteracy” on the Second Amendment.

“The Justice Department’s acknowledgement that the Second Amendment affirms an individual right is not simply refreshing, it is supported by contemporary scholarly research, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, and an objective reading of history,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA).

Added CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron: “For over 40 years, anti-gun Attorneys General, along with some federal courts that blindly accepted – apparently without reading – a popular, if erroneous, interpretation of the 1939 Miller decision, have practiced what amounts to constitutional illiteracy. It is time that the Second Amendment be recognized for what it is, an individual right.

“No one questioned the individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment in the first 150 years of our national existence,” Waldron continued. “In the Dred Scott decision, Chief Justice Taney noted that if Scott were considered a ‘citizen,’ he would also have a right to bear arms.”

Gottlieb and Waldron blasted anti-gun groups for clinging to the so-called “collective rights” interpretation, which holds that the Second Amendment only allows states to organize militias. They also criticized various media reports that portray the Second Amendment as “granting” a right to bear arms.

“Careful reading of the Second Amendment and its history,” Gottlieb stated, “confirms to everyone other than anti-gun extremists that it refers to an individual right. Leading constitutional scholars agree, sometimes going against their own long-held personal beliefs.”

Waldron noted that the Second Amendment, like all other amendments contained in the Bill of Rights, “doesn’t grant anything.”

“The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment,” he said, “affirms that certain individual rights exist. The fact that the Framers specifically included the right to bear arms in our Bill of Rights is proof that they held this individual right in high regard, and thus wanted it protected. Anti-gunners want to perpetuate a myth that rights are granted by the Constitution, and thus may be subject to political whim. The Justice Department’s announcement should moot that argument.”