Last August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a prohibition on gun ownership by illegal immigrants. But the ruling’s logic — which applies a complex “balancing” approach rather than declaring categorically that illegal immigrants cannot own firearms — could threaten your Second Amendment rights.

Heritage Foundation legal expert Andrew Kloster explains:

The Seventh Circuit decision in United States v. Mariano A. Meza-Rodriguez continues an unbroken appeals court trend of upholding prohibitions on gun ownership by illegal aliens. Regrettably, the court reached its decision by applying a flawed “balancing” approach that threatens Second Amendment rights in other contexts. It is to be hoped that to minimize uncertainty, future courts will eschew applying a Fourteenth Amendment “balancing” approach and hold conclusively either that illegal aliens are not included among “the people” protected by the Second Amendment or that prohibitions on the ownership of firearms by illegal aliens fall within a category of presumptively justifiable restrictions on gun ownership.

A balancing approach, Kloster argues, “is inherently uncertain in application, complicated, and often counterproductive.”

What do you think? Should a misreading like this affect your constitutional rights?

Comments (66)

Bob Wilson - March 18, 2016

By definition & logic, illegal immigrants are not “we the people”. Therefore, they don’t qualify for this right, period – end of story.

Orville G Kuipers - March 18, 2016

There should be no tampering of the second amendment, It should be up to the individual regarding firearms. I agree felonious criminals, etc., should not have firearms, otherwise the law abiding people of this nation must retain that right to bear arms, as written.

Gerald Dominick - March 18, 2016

The Courts must take action to clarify the law to clearly prohibit illegal aliens from owning firearms in the United States.

Jerry Metcalf - March 18, 2016

No the constitution is clear, shall not be infringed.

Tim Brewster - March 18, 2016

I always thought the Supreme Courts interprets the laws written in the constitution and acts . To change a law 2/3 of the people vote to change the law which is why we have a congress who represents the law. I have always felt the Bill o Rights are never to be touched.

Gary Van Norden - March 18, 2016

No, nothing so senseless as this should affect our constitutional rights! There are too many poorly defined laws whose interpretation is up for grabs because someone wanted to be politically correct. Political Correctness has got to go!

Martin Gomez - March 18, 2016

You’re right, of course. Individuals who cannot be in the country are not endowed with rights of citizens, any more than burglars are endowed with the rights to the properties they invade. It’s a cultural Marxist feat of anti-American logic to assert otherwise.

So what is Heritage going to do about this?

Bill Coates - March 18, 2016

It will affect them, until it is corrected. I suggest the rights of illegal aliens should be more like the ‘rights’ they had in their native country.

Ernest - March 18, 2016

The supreme court has NO legal authority to change what is our constitution!
Do attemp to do so, is treason, nothing less.

Rebecca Mayo - March 18, 2016

We need to – and MUST – keep our 2nd amendment rights intact, clear and legible.

James Traffanstedt - March 18, 2016

No. Thel Second Admendment needs no balanced interpretation. Every law abiding citizens should be free to own and bear arms freely without infringement. The gun control laws we already have are not Constitutional in my personal opinion and should be removed from our rule of law. Court were supposed to see that the laws did not infringe our rights, but they have failed to protect the document that eatablished them and failed to fulfill their oaths to defend it. All of it, not just those parts they belief in. Their own interpretation have lead to infringement of the Second Admendment at Federal and State levels. The courts of this nation have abused their Powers to make laws and to infringensure on our liberties.

Barbara McCann - March 18, 2016

We can’t let this happen the American people have a right to protect ourselves from the courts decision by the vote of the American people this President is not working for the American way of life. We want our Flags our freedom to choice the way our country should go not one who force a decision down the American people we don’t want I pray putting God back into our country and the free America to choose the way we want this country to go.


PamWeber - March 18, 2016

Seems like any small change in how a court rules, has unintended or hidden intent to set a precedent that erodes our liberties down the road, it’s disgusting!

Paul Burnett - March 18, 2016


Adrienne Jacobson - March 18, 2016

No, it should not. It appears the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals got itself lost in a morass of its own making.

Martin Kunstmann - March 18, 2016

No. Illegal aliens should not be protected unless and until they become legal.

Angelique Fehr - March 18, 2016

No it should not in any way affect our constitutional rights.

Connie Ellis - March 18, 2016

In one word….NO! Illegal immigrants are not U.S. citizens and the U.S. Constitution was written to provide laws for legal Americans living in the U.S. (at the time the Constitution was written there were no illegal aliens living in this country. Any ruling on the legality of illegals having weapons should just pertain the the fact that they are illegal and have nothing to do with the Second Amendment.

Glenda Alley - March 18, 2016

No, a misreading like this should NOT affect my 2nd amendment rights!!!

Karen Bartlett - March 18, 2016

The Courts should simply rule that because illegal aliens are not citizens, they are not covered by the 2nd Amendment. This ruling would minimize confusion and reduce the chance of setting precedents whereby illegal aliens could conceivably be allowed to own guns in the U.S. This would also affirm the decision in the Heller case that citizens of the U.S. have the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment.

James D Paisley - March 18, 2016

The Supreme Court has already done too much legislating from the bench. They are supposed to interpret the law, not make it!

David Kahn - March 18, 2016

Our 2nd amendment rights, among others, have been slowly chipped away since the beginning of the 20th century if not earlier. I suppose I should not be surprised. I am very concerned and unhappy with this most recent turn of events. Less surprising if it came from 9th circuit I guess

Bonnie Winslow - March 18, 2016

That illegal aliens should have any rights whatsoever other than being treated humanely while being ushered out of this country until they can come in legally is beyond me!!!!

James Livingston - March 18, 2016

I think.Obamba should go by the laws of our Country.

Steve - March 18, 2016

Illegal immigrants are law breakers and have NO rights in the matter.

Rayford Kimble - March 18, 2016

This is ridiculous. The second amendment was meant to insure the right for American citizens to bear arms. This is so simple. Why are the courts having so much trouble with it?

William Koontz - March 18, 2016

Any misreading by the Obama Regime will invariably be used to affect our constitutional rights in an adverse manner. That you may count upon!

James Owen - March 18, 2016

The phrase “WE THE PEOPLE” means those that make up the citizens of these United States, not those who come here ILLEGALLY and have no allegiance to this country. It boils down to defining the term “citizen” for those whose parents were obligated to, or serve their allegiance to the United States.( This should settle the dispute over the “anchor babies” also); Human rights yes, however rights as a U.S. Citizen is another matter, which should be easy to address if one would look at the Oath of Allegiance when becoming an US Citizen. One can not become a US Citizen with all the RIGHTS by stepping over the boarder !!!!

donna swanson - March 18, 2016

Our freedom to bear arms should NEVER be threatened in the United States

DORISANNE SHUEY - March 18, 2016

I’m not sure I understand all this,but since Amendment I I of the Bill of.Rghts says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, I believe they were addressing the citizens — We the people ! I don’t believe it includes illegal residents!!!

William Perkins - March 18, 2016

If an illegal alien possesses a gun why does the justice system have to complicate the situation by ruling on the possession. The simple solution is to deport the illegal alien and be done with it! It drives me crazy to witness our nation being abused by illegals. If a person breaks our laws by illegally entering our country they are illegal and should not be provided any legal status. They should be deported!

James Moses - March 19, 2016

No they should not

Michael Phillips - March 19, 2016

A balanced approach is the wrong answer. Illegal aliens should not be allowed to own firearms.

Edna Berniece Evans - March 19, 2016

President Obama should not name a person to the Supreme Court. It should
be done by the people!!

President Obama has kept open our borders for illegals and even allow them to vote. He has paid them welfare so that they did not even have to work for a living!! I do not believe in President Obama. I believe that her has been an

jim e schroeder - March 19, 2016

Leave second amendment alone. Hands off.

James M. Hammonds - March 19, 2016

As the term, “Illegal Immigrants,” eloquently states, these immigrants are here illegally! As sucheck they should be automatically excluded from receiving any and all rights and benefits. Any rights and benefits. All rights and benefits. The ONLY thing they should get is an immediate ticket back to their birth home!

HANK MATE - March 19, 2016

Of course illegal aliens should be prosecuted and deported for firearm use or possession, but in no way should that affect law abiding U.S. citizen’s rights.

Herbert G. Branch - March 19, 2016

Please refer to my opinion on the prior article in this web-page set of articles. It covers the matter of the Second Amendment as an example of liberal reinterpretation of what American Rights should consist of. Their entire mental framework for human rights is a statist, collectivist orientation, wherein the social collective good of the whole outweighs any individual right in all cases.
Except, oddly enough, in the case of the rights of a murderer often outweighing those of the victims, which constitutes a general and serious inversion of principle, to the favor of the dysfunctional over the social good.! And that pattern, within the pursuits of the ACLU and all politicians so alligned, speaks to a much larger mental abberation among those who pursue these “Liberal” goals in society. They undermine the existing order and aid in the gradual multiplication of wide societal disorder. That is a truly astounding, counter-intuitive result for the ACLU-types to have achieved during the past 70 years of effort. Makes one scratch his head in general disbelief!

Robert S. Licata - March 19, 2016

This is totally wrong and will be the camel’s nose under the tent for the future abolition of the 2nd Amendment! It is hard to believe that people with such presumed intellect can make this kind of preposterous decision(s). Where did common sense go in the total scheme of things? The liberal/progressives are trying to drive this country off a cliff into the river of socialism as fast as they can, which is intolerable!

Gaylan Abood - March 19, 2016

The Second Amendment right to own guns must be honored by our government. We have a right to protect ourselves and studies show more gun ownership reduces crime. Likewise, Australia denying this right has resulted in much more crime. Gun free zones are targeted by criminals because they do not have to fear an armed citizen.

Mark Morton - March 19, 2016

A clarification must be made to distinguish illegal aliens from “The People” as designated by the Second Amendment.

Mike Clark - March 19, 2016

Illegal aliens should not have the right to own firearms. This should not have any affect on legal citizens rights to own or carry firearms.

Douglas A Slawter - March 19, 2016

it is our God givin right as well as our constitutional right.its all about controlling the people and nothing else.History has taught or should of taught us this.It has and will lead to mass murder.I wish some would read what has happened everytime Guns were took,Never ends well

Clair Williams - March 19, 2016


Dr. John R. Ridpath - March 19, 2016

Just finished reading “How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution” by Richard A. Epstein. It is an excellent review of how the Progressive court has made incredibly bad decisions with little rational for anything but to further their own ideology for about 100 years through misinterpretations of the “Commerce” Clause and the “Necessary and Proper” Clause as well as others. If we allow Progressives to again have their way we may never be able to recover from the damage they will do.

Linda G. White - March 19, 2016

I do not believe a flawed reading by the 7th Court should be utilized in any application of our 2nd Amendment rights given only to legal citizens of the U.S.A. I believe this misreading could and would be used to affect my constitutional rights. I am dismayed at the sloppiness and perhaps “intended” consequences by this judge for a ruling. We have all sorts of people making interpretations of our specific laws rather than correct applications as defined in the Constitution by law. We should accept only clean decisions rather than a slipping away from what is right and true.
This is another issue, but if liberal leaning judges won’t stop this bending of our laws until they break, they should be recalled and removed.

Bruce Mehew - March 19, 2016

Liberals are perennial liars and would do anything to subvert the Constitution of the United States. Leaving the issue up to them is ALWAYS a disaster. We need to keep them out of office as much as possible.

David Woodward - March 19, 2016


Robert Kassin - March 19, 2016

Illegal aliens have no rights anymore than anybody who breaks the law. Coming into this country without authorization is breaking the law. Persons applying for aid, foodstamps, etc should need proof of citizenship or authorization to be here. I have children and grandchildren who need aid and were denied because they made $10 too much. Now illegal run across our borders and demand rights they don’t have. Some come here illegally and GET injured so they can draw SSI for life so long as they return periodically to retain elligability. On and on, now our president is importing people who call us the great Satan and vow to kill us. Our government isn’t even tell us how many our country every month for fear there would be riots in the streets. The ISIS vows they will take over the free world by refugees intermarrying with locals until they have a majority where they can institute Sharia Law by popular vote. Our heads come next, in basketfulls.

Michael Dalrymple - March 19, 2016

To me, the real problem is the developing idea that Constitutional rights belong only to US citizens. It was an argument used to justify the Dred Scott decision. If that is correct, then the founders were wrong to state that “all men are created equal, [and] endowed by their Creator with … unalienable rights”. Some felons may have certain rights restricted as part of their sentence for crime. Illegal immigration may be a crime (whether it should be or not), but until one is convicted of that or another crime, no right should be restricted. If the Second Amendment right can be eliminated, then too can First , or Fourth, or Fifth, or any other. Making ‘who one is’ the crime rather than the act for which one has been convicted is a sure road to tyranny.

Marvin J Marcotte - March 19, 2016

No, the President should not appoint a nominee. He has already appointed two very, very liberals judges to the Supreme Court. It is too late in his term to appoint anyone.

Scott Brooks - March 19, 2016

Illegal immigrants are not citizens of the US and therefore do not have the same rights as properly naturalized citizens of the US. This also applies to birthright claims.

All they have is some basic human rights.

Johnny miller - March 20, 2016


Ron Marotta - March 20, 2016

It seems very obvious that the Bill of Rights in our Constitution defines the rights of citizens of the country. If a person is here illegally, they are not a citizen and the Bill of Rights does not apply to them. End of story. It’s no more complex than that.

Henry C. Holder - March 20, 2016

Yes, with the wacky judges we have today. The Constitution was written for American citizens, we had no illegals at that time, and apply only to American citizens.

George E. Saurman - March 20, 2016

ch is to control that neither of the other violates the law. therefore, no one has supremacy over the others. The Supreme,Court is not empowered to write laws, but when they overstep their bounds, either of the other two ihas the power to override them. If this were not true, the government would only have one body with power, the court. We need to have the courage to take legislative action to take back the nation from a court who is biased, rather than just. that’s what happens when justices are appointed on the basis of their political beliefs, rather than their knowledge of, and pursuit of the interpretation of the law. Also, I would like your comments on the book “Extortion” by Peter Schweizer. It is well documented and describes a cesspool in Washington D>C. I know that you were unhappy with the way the government was behaving, but I have not seen restorative recommendations from heritage. Please respond. George E. Saurman (33 years in state and local government as a true Republican).

William Rivers - March 20, 2016

I understand that Liberalism understands what the Constitution says but it does not fit the progressive agenda. Conservative Ducks quack so don’t try and tell me otherwise or put a spin on that they bark which sounds like a quack, you liberals.

Bill & Betty Whitehead - March 21, 2016

The operative term here is “illegal”. I am sure the courts will have a heyday with the “balancing” logic of the 14th Amendment but any jurist or lawyer worth their weight will see through this and appropriately apply the correct Constitutional meaning of the 2nd Amendment and We the People are to be sure they do that with our input to them!

Patrick j. Gilhooly - March 21, 2016

It absolutely should not have any adverse effect on our second amendment rights. No more encroachment on that right should be tolerated on any level. It is backdoor confiscation ushered in under the guise of “common sense regulation”. There is no such thing. The 2nd amendment is the absolute last bastion of freedom we have…

Linda Braden - March 21, 2016

Illegal immigrants are NOT citizens. The constitution is clear and our rights should not be affected. Illegals by definition have already broken laws by being present illegally. They should not have any protections as non-citizens.

Elaine Coles - March 21, 2016

Of course not! But it is the governments plan to disarm the public…and destroy the Constitution.

Walter Aldridge - March 22, 2016

There is nothing in the Constitution that says that amendments should be balanced. It is clear the We the People are citizens of the USA. Illegal immigrants are just that illegal. They do not have rights under the Constitution!

Jim Cavanagh - March 23, 2016


GAry and Patti - March 24, 2016

They should leave our constitution the way it was written, it works, our constitution is what made America great, FOr the people, they only want to ruin America, NO, leave 2nd and all of constitution alone.

Ken Hanson - March 27, 2016

The Seventh Circuit made the decision needlessly complex. Illegal immigrants should be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms by a law that specifically says so, justified by the fact that they have broken the immigration laws. This would follow the same theory that allows us to prohibit felons from owning or possessing firearms.

Because our theory is that our rights are God given (not bestowed by the government), legal immigrants who aren’t yet citizens should have the right to own and possess firearms.

Linda Shields - April 8, 2016

Illegal aliens should not be allowed to own firearms. They should not even be living here in the first place.

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