I saw an article about Joyce Lee Malcolm today and decided to make her my VIP for this week. I had not previously heard of her, but apparently I should be thanking her. According to the article about her, Malcolm is a historian, a professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Virginia, and a leading scholar on the Second Amendment. Malcolm gets upset when people leap on every school shooting and try to gain political benefit from it. She thinks that people should have a “cooling-off period” prior to making decisions.
Malcolm is “a hardened veteran of the gun-control wars,” but she is not a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) nor does she hunt. She does have an old shotgun that she uses to shoot at clay targets, but she admits that she does not hit many of them. So, why is she such a strong supporter of the Second Amendment? “Something deep inside of me says that people never should be victims. And they never should be put in the position of being disarmed by their government.”
Malcolm’s claim to fame is being the “lady who saved the Second Amendment.” Her “work helped make possible the Supreme Court’s landmark Heller decision, which in 2008 recognized an individual right to possess a firearm.”
While teaching at several schools, Malcolm did research on a topic important to her. She wanted to know “how the right to bear arms migrated across the ocean and took root in colonial America. It seems that this is “an American question” and “American constitutional scholars didn’t know the English material very well.” Malcolm is not only an American, but she spent several years in Great Britain. She knew the subject from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and her “research led to a groundbreaking book on the history of gun rights, To Keep and Bear Arms. She had a difficult time finding a publisher, but she eventually had it published by the Harvard University Press.
Malcolm insists that the “individual right to gun ownership [is] an essential feature of limited government.” In the preface to her book, she wrote that it is the “least understood of those liberties secured by Englishmen and bequeathed to their American colonists. … The language of the Second Amendment, considered perfectly clear by the framers and their contemporaries, is no longer clear.” She warns that the Second Amendment right “is a right in decline.”
Admitting that she was a little naïve, Malcolm was surprised to learn that there were many people who were not pleased with the findings of her research. She was a Democrat at the time but was invited by the House Republicans to testify before a subcommittee on crime. Even though it was not a political issue for her, she learned that it was one for her fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill. After the hearing, she came to the following realization: “For some people, opposition to individual gun rights is an article of faith, and they don’t care about the historical evidence.” She is now a Republican.
Leftists were doing their best to destroy Malcolm’s credibility when Heller was decided in 2008. The 5-4 decision was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, and he cited Malcolm three times. Scalia was not the only Justice who had read Malcolm’s work. Heller declared that “Americans enjoy an individual right to gun ownership.”
Malcolm says, “If we had lost Heller, it would have been a big blow. Instead, it gave us this substantial right.” She remembers this thought after the Court ruled: “if I have done nothing else my whole life, I have accomplished something important.” All supporters of the Second Amendment should recognize that we owe a debt of gratitude to Malcolm for her excellent research and her unwillingness to back down on this right to keep and bear arms.