COEUR d'ALENE - Folks were packing heat Friday night at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library, but no lead flew when Dr. David Adler took aim at some views on gun rights.
He spoke for an hour about the Second Amendment to 100 people in the library's community room, appearing as a guest of the Idaho Humanities Council and the Friends of the Library.
He said it's a myth that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is "absolute."
"It's utterly untrue, undermined by the practices, by the laws, by the language of statutes, reaching far back into the 17th Century," Adler said.
Adler said the Second Amendment was viewed for 200 years as a collective right for militia formation and readiness, not something that provided individuals with a right to guns for personal protection.
"All of the discussions and debates in the first Congress, that wrote the Second Amendment as part of the entire Bill of Rights, had to do with military questions," Adler said. "Not with an asserted personal right of defense. Not with an individual right to keep and bear arms."
He said District of Columbia v. Heller - the landmark 2008 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to guns for self protection - doesn't match with the Second Amendment's application throughout history.
For political reasons, he said, law professors - both conservative and liberal - began writing law review articles pushing the idea of individual gun rights in the 1980s.
"Here politics enters the fold," said Adler, who is president of the Sun Valley Institute, a nonprofit organization focusing on civic education and dialogue. He also is an expert on the Constitution and the office of the president.
Lyle Lee, who drove from Fernwood to hear the lecture, said he is frustrated by other people and businesses not understanding gun freedoms.
He complained that he sees too many signs prohibiting guns and weapons when he enters businesses, hospitals and other establishments. He has also seen signs saying a person can be searched for weapons at any time in some buildings.
"Where's it say that in the Constitution?" Lee asked prior to Adler's speech.
People are too quick to give away some freedoms, he said.
"Once you give it up, you don't get them back," Lee said.
Adler said Americans are sensitive about their gun rights, and aren't likely to let go of them.
Talk of government instituting "gun control" can whip up public anger, and it's also a good way for some candidates to raise campaign contributions and for organizations like the National Rifle Association to gain support.
Adler said the NRA has for years put forward the idea that there is a constitutional right to own guns as a means of protecting American citizens from tyrannical government.
This right to protect citizens from their government through firepower is a myth, Adler said.
"No constitution contains the seeds of its own destruction," Adler said.
CDA-TV, or local TV Channel 19, recorded the speech and will broadcast it at a later date. The library will make copies of the speech available for view. It will also be available for viewing on the Idaho Humanities Council's website, www.idahohumanities.org.