How The Second Amendment Was Won

Even if you don't have a few free minutes, make time to read Brian Doherty's history of the Heller case. It gives a quick run-down of how the case came to be and the numerous near-misses it had along the way.

Particularly interesting is how the NRA played an obstructionist role in an effort to block Heller in the early stages out of fear that the time wasn't right for a Second Amendment challenge.

The Heller case quickly found a powerful opponent in the National Rifle Association. This surprises nearly every layman I discuss the case with, most of whom assume the NRA was behind the lawsuit in the first place. The Parker lawyers received backroom visits from allies of the NRA before their case was filed, discouraging them from going forward. The Supreme Court (which still had Sandra Day O'Conner back then) would not reliably deliver a victory, they argued, and an authoritative statement from the Supremes that the Second Amendment did not protect an individual right could prove devastating to the long-term cause.

Concluding, Doherty says:

The Heller case was a prime example of how calm, dedicated, and strategic thinking on the part of crusaders for smaller government can achieve real and (probably) lasting victories. Fighting against even those who should have been their staunchest allies, Levy and his team of libertarian lawyers watched the zeitgeist, crafted a smart (though risky) strategy, and won.

An excellent piece.
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—John Snow_