Do Second Amendment rights apply to illegal aliens?

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We who advocate for the Second Amendment rights of Americans typically argue that gun rights are actually human rights. That’s not just because a gun is an inanimate object and thus actually has no rights, either, because we also understand what the term means.

However, as human rights, that means they should apply to anyone, not just American citizens.

This is something we sometimes bring up in discussions of gun control laws in other countries. After all, just because they lack a Second Amendment of their very own, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to keep and bear arms. It’s just not a right recognized by their government, which is a shame.

But what about people in our country who happen to be here illegally?

That’s at the heart of an upcoming Supreme Court case.

Felix Alva took to the streets of Denver in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020.

He cruised downtown, jeering at police. He became drunk and challenged officers to fights, at one point telling an undercover police officer that “this ain’t no peaceful protest.” He waved a pistol at bystanders and at one point, according to investigators, fired eight shots into the air at a police helicopter circling overhead.

His big mistake, however, was holding that gun while being an illegal immigrant.

But the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms to “the people,” and a series of cases is testing whether that term also includes illegal immigrants.

One of those cases is now before the Supreme Court, with attorneys for Javier Perez, an illegal immigrant who used a gun to disperse a gang of teens attacking another teen, asking the justices to take up the matter and settle the question.

A federal judge found Perez guilty and slapped a 20-month sentence for the gun crime. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with that ruling, though the three-judge panel differed sharply on whether Perez had Second Amendment rights.

Two judges said he did — but ruled that the state had a valid reason to restrict those rights.

Now, this is, to me, an interesting discussion.

People who are in this country illegally are an issue and I’m not going to deny that. I don’t care where they are from originally, they shouldn’t be here unless they complied with immigration laws.

That said, the question isn’t about whether they should be here or not. The question is whether coming here illegally negates their right to keep and bear arms.

Frankly, I don’t think it should.

See, if the right to keep and bear arms is a basic human right, one doesn’t give it up simply because they crossed a border. If Perez were being punished for being in this country illegally, then fine. Whatever. That’s the law and he broke it, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep over his punishment.

But this isn’t about being punished for the law we know he broke. This is about punishing him for exercising the very right we argue is granted to us by nature of being human.

If we really believe that, then maybe we should be standing up for Javier Perez and his Second Amendment rights.

Any infringement of those rights, any infringement, simply becomes a justification for further infringement. “We already do X, so why is it a problem to do Y?”

Yes, that includes declaring that illegal immigrants don’t have Second Amendment rights.

If we’re going to say they can speak freely, worship freely, and gather in public to air out their grievances–all things that the courts have failed to deny them despite their illegal immigrant status–then they have the right to keep and bear arms as well.