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Supremes hand major victory to gun owners

By MARK SHERMAN
June 28, 2010

The Supreme Court held Monday that the Constitution’s Second Amendment restrains government’s ability to significantly limit “the right to keep and bear arms,” advancing a recent trend by the John Roberts-led bench to embrace gun rights.

By a narrow, 5-4 vote, the justices also signaled, however, that some limitations on the right could survive legal challenges.

Writing for the court in a case involving restrictive laws in Chicago and one of its suburbs, Justice Samuel Alito said that the Second Amendment right “applies equally to the federal government and the states.”

The court was split along familiar ideological lines, with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and four liberals opposed. Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority.

Two years ago, the court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess guns, at least for purposes of self-defense in the home.

That ruling applied only to federal laws. It struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in the District of Columbia, a federal city with a unique legal standing. At the same time, the court was careful not to cast doubt on other regulations of firearms here.

Gun rights proponents almost immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging gun control laws in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill, where handguns have been banned for nearly 30 years. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says those laws appear to be the last two remaining outright bans.

Lower federal courts upheld the two laws, noting that judges on those benches were bound by Supreme Court precedent and that it would be up to the high court justices to ultimately rule on the true reach of the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court already has said that most of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights serve as a check on state and local, as well as federal, laws.

Monday’s decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws, ordering a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. But it left little doubt that they would eventually fall.

Still, Alito noted that the declaration that the Second Amendment is fully binding on states and cities “limits (but by no means eliminates) their ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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13 Responses to Supremes hand major victory to gun owners

  1. woody188

    June 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Sort of a mixed bag, win for the 2nd Amendment, but a loss for State/local rights.

    • griff

      June 28, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Indeed. A tough call for a believer in state’s rights. The first ten amendments should be immune to a state’s override.

      My older brother was just in town from Anchorage for a long overdue visit. He says folks are a tad more respectable of each other (excepting thugs and gangs, of course) and less apt to cause trouble because you just never know when some one may be armed.

      I particularly enjoy Kristen Rand’s (Violence Policy Center) press release, which reads in part…

      “People will die because of this decision. It is a victory only for the gun lobby and America’s fading firearms industry … The gun lobby and gunmakers are seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of our nation’s gun laws in a cynical effort to try and stem the long-term drop in gun ownership and save the dwindling gun industry.”

      Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/06/28/supreme-court-rules-that-right-to-bear-arms-applies-to-states-in-5-4-decision-on-mcdonald-v-chicago/#ixzz0sC78QL5A

      Lives will be saved by this ruling. And where does she get the idea that gun ownership is dropping? What kind of dream world does these do-gooders live in? Only the criminals should be allowed to carry guns because they are…well, criminals!

      • Almandine

        June 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

        “A tough call for a believer in state’s rights.”

        I don’t see that, unless one substitutes “states” for “federal” as the source of govt control over the populace. I always thought of “states rights” as analogy for individual freedoms, given the context of federal leviathan. State govts are administratively and politically closer to the people (smaller groups), thus individuals have greater control of govt at the state, then local, level.

        • griff

          June 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm

          What I meant in saying it is a tough call is indeed related to your view of states rights being synonymous with individual rights, meaning the states have the right to govern themselves in matters not under the juirisdiction (sorry, long day – brain is mush), if you will, of the federal government. Which of course, I fully support.

          So I would normally support localities or states in crafting such laws, but when it comes to the inalienable rights set forth by the Bill of Rights, I have to fall in line on the inalienable side. And this ruling doesn’t force people that don’t want to own guns to buy them, so it isn’t forcing an individual to do some thing he or she doesn’t want to do, as is often the case in Tenth Amendment arguments. It merely reinforces the right of a law-abiding citizen to own a gun if he or she so chooses.

  2. Almandine

    June 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Maybe not. Alito’s statement that the ability to devise solutions – to social problems – that suit local needs and values – may reflect a focus on criminal / antisocial behaviors and not alternative gun control legislation.

  3. Alfred J Supe

    June 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    About damn time. I kinda like Florida’s law, to the effect of “If you meet the requirements of the law, the jurisdiction WILL (not MAY) issue a permit to carry.”
    Although I’m a liberal on some issues, I agree with the NRA on the Second Amendment issue. I believe that if you meet the requirements of the law, you should be able to carry ANY gun except full automatics, machine guns, and the like. Just try to get a permit to carry in NYC. The so-called Sullivan Law there meant that a woman who was being fondled against her will by a fellow subway rider was actually arrested for jabbing him with a hatpin! Yep, it did happen – I was living in NYC at the time. Some places have laws as ridiculous as the one proposed for the so-called Combat Zone in Boston, which would have banned baseball bats. Stats have proved that crime goes down where guns are allowed. They ain’t gonna try to rob you if they might get shot!

  4. dvl666

    June 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Since we’re now all part of a “well regulated militria” which is the reason for being able to bear arms in the first place which one of you will be first to line up to serve in Afghanistan ? The founding fathers were against standing armies and too cheap to pay for a military other than a Navy. That was the rationale for Amendment II . Interestingly that the ‘non-activist ‘ judges apply the 21st century to it. What happened to strict constructionalists?

    • griff

      June 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm

      To understand the meaning behind the Second Amendment one needs to look beyond the one sentence and into the writings of the Founders to fully appreciate its meaning. There are actually two parts to it, the first being the need for a well-regulated militia, and the second being the right of an individual to keep and bear arms. They’re neither mutually exclusive nor are they unrelated.

      The job of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution using those very means, i.e. what the intentions of the Founders were at the time.

      Firstly, the Second Amendment says nothing of imperialist endeavors, such as your Afghanistan reference. Of course, if we followed the Founders’ advice in that respect, we wouldn’t be in Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, Germany, etc.

      In fact, if we followed the Founders’ advice and not gone abroad “seeking monsters to slay,” chances are the rest of the planet probably wouldn’t be gunning for us.

      Secondly, this goes beyond military matters and strikes at the heart of what it means for a people to be free to defend themselves against others that would do them harm, be it another nation, one’s own government, or any other common criminal.

      Early on there was neither the means nor the pressing necessity for a national, standing army.

      “One loves to possess arms, thought they hope never to have occasion for them.” – Thomas Jefferson

      ” On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” – Thomas Jefferson

      “The whole of the Bill (of Rights) is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals…. It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.” – Albert Gallatin

      “The Constitution shall never be construed….to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms” – Samuel Adams

      “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?” – Thomas Jefferson

      “The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” -= Thomas Jefferson

    • jim0001

      June 29, 2010 at 9:10 am

      You may wish to become more informed about the Second Amendment. If I may suggest reading “The Second Ammendment Primer” ( Les Adams, 1996, Palladium Press). It traces the right to keep and bear arms back to Plato and the founding fathers. So many have said if you have no right to keep and bear arms you are not free. It is one of the best sources I have read on the right to keep and bear arms. Everything is footnoted to the origional source.
      A lot of Freedom restricting laws (i.e. gun control) can have their origins traced back to racist roots. As long as a person is a law abiding citizen, I do not care if they own a full automatic weapon. They are not criminals.
      The first ten amendments to our Constitution (AKA the Bill of Rights) as stated are inalienable. States rights are supposed to be all those that are enumerated for the federal government in the Constitution, see number ten!
      Incidentally, I am a veteran of the “Global War on Terror” as it was called before “O” outlawed the term. Now it is the war of compassionate restraint.

      • griff

        June 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

        I would hope your “compassionate restraint” remark was meant to be sarcastic.

        As for the rest, I’m not sure where we disagree, if at all. Other than your typo, that is.

        Of course the Founders didn’t dream all this up on their own. History, sadly that we all but ignore today. They had millenia of history to draw upon, to include the classical philosophers

      • griff

        June 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

        P.S. jim0001 for Prez! I’d like to own an FA before I die. Ha.

  5. Almandine

    June 29, 2010 at 9:48 am

    “States rights are supposed to be all those that are enumerated for the federal government in the Constitution”…

    O contraire… states rights are not the concern of the US federal govt (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial). In fact, the 10th amendment declares exactly the opposite of what you have written:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States [govt] by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    • jim0001

      June 29, 2010 at 10:22 am

      Thank you ror correcting my mistake. I accidentally omitted the word NOT.
      I was trying to say that the second amendment is in the Constitution therefore not a states right. I confuse myself sometimes.