Thursday, June 26, 2008

Second Amendment Is Still Viable

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down a D.C. ordinance banning the possession of handguns as a violation of an individual's right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia emphasized in his ruling that today's decision does not prevent government from regulating sales of guns, prohibiting their possession by felons and the mentally ill or possession of concealed weapons. "In interpreting this text, we are guided by the principle that '[t]he Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical
meaning,'” Scalia writes. "A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad."

In the dissenting opinion written by Justice Stevens, four justices take a strikingly hostile view that the Second Amendment only protects an individual's right to possess a gun in connection with service in the militia. This decision makes this year's presidential election critical to gun owners. The bottom line is that through a single appointment to the Supreme Court, Sen. Barack Obama will be able to shift the balance and strike down an individual's right to bear arms. Sen. McCain has said he will appoint judges like Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts, who both sided with the majority in today's opinion. Sen. Obama has spoken approvingly of Justices Souter, Ginsberg and Breyer, each of whom voted to take away your right to bear arms today. Now, that would be the action of an activist judge. As Scalia put it, it's "the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon."

UPDATE: Sen. Barack Obama is already flip-flopping on his position on handgun bans. Last year, he told the Chicago Tribune he believed the D.C. ordinance, which is similar to a handgun ban in the City of Chicago, was constitutional:

But the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.'
After today's ruling, Obama is changing his position. The so-called constitutional scholar is now saying that his statement last year commenting on the constitutionality of the D.C. ordinance was "inartful." ABC News reports:

[T]he Obama campaign is disavowing what it calls an "inartful" statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as believing that the DC ban was constitutional.

"That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position," Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.

The statement which Burton describes as an inaccurate representation of the senator's views was made to the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 20, 2007.

In a story entitled, "Court to Hear Gun Case," the Chicago Tribune's James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins wrote ". . . the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense
laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional . . .

Asked by ABC News' Charlie Gibson if he considers the D.C. law to be consistent with an individual's right to bear arms at ABC's April 16, 2008, debate in Philadelphia, Obama said, "Well, Charlie, I confess I obviously haven't listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by contrast, has been forthcoming when it comes to the D.C. gun law. He signed an amicus brief in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, signaling not only his belief in the Second Amendment but also his view that the DC gun ban is incompatible with it.

16 comments:

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Too bad it was a split decision. At least five of them know how to read the Constitution.

Sir Hailstone said...

A victory for America indeed! My faith in SCOTUS is somewhat restored though after the swing vote went the other way on death penalty against child rapers ... at least we'll have the right to possess a firearm so we can shoot the baby raper if so desired.

spooknp said...

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote: “In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.”

This goes to show Breyer's elistism. He will never, ever have to step foot into a "crime-ridden urban area," thus he could careless about people stuck in such areas being able to defend themselves. Also, what is the primary race of people who live in "crime-ridden urban areas?"

So basically if you have enough money to live in the burbs or rural areas, it is OK for you to have a handgun. If you live in the hood, you can't be trusted with a gun for protection.

tarrandwoolley said...

I think your readers should look at this issue straight from the mouth of Obama:

"I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.

As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe."

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/stateupdates/gG5NxL

Is McCain still trying to court women voters while advocating the overturning of Roe v. Wade? Just curious.

Advance Indiana said...

Obama more recently stated he supported DC's handgun ban and said he believed it was constitutional. It's on tape. Check out the video tape here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wu9jE1MnAE&eurl=http://redstate.com/

small-question said...

I'm very conflicted by this decision. While I agree that the "militia" argument of the gun-control advocates was specious, I find much of the "self defense" slogans from the NRA side to be disingenuous as well. How often, REALLY, does a person gun down someone breaking into their home? I mean, I can think of numerous times where a homeowner killed an innocent person in the name of self defense (the Scott Lawson killing in 1986, where he was killed delivering the morning newspaper). Above that, what troubles me is the notion that we somehow have a near-obligation to arm ourselves. To protect ourselves from that unseen "other". To placate our fears of marauding hordes intent on harming us. It's a worldview that views our fellow citizens as all being potential murderers, and that our only recourse is "hot lead justice". It's a worldview that tells people that the police won't protect you, and it's only up to you to mete out private justice on the spot, even though you might possibly kill an innocent person as a result. If society believes that the police won't protect them, that will actually embolden the criminals to be even MORE brazen. Look at cities where there has been a virtual depolicing and private militias rule the roost. Rio, Baghdad, Mexican border towns. That's a kind of anarchy that America should be better than. It's interesting that the same people doing hosannas about this were the same ones who were utterly aghast that Justice Kennedy also voted to uphold habeus corpus and the notion that prisoners ought to be charged with a crime if they're going to be held in a camp and tortured.

tarrandwoolley said...

You are wrong. That is not "more recently" as you suggest. The quote I stated was from today, your video link was from an interview from February. In any event, if you listen to it, his position has not changed.

At least Obama did not take the position McCain usually does when he does not like an opinion from the Supreme Court. I believe McCain always states they are legislating from the bench.

Still curious - Is McCain still trying to court women voters while consistently advocating the overturning of Roe v. Wade? I believe this is very important to women since it has been reported that 3 Justices are prepared to step down in the next four years.

Bart Lies said...

The Barack-O-matic 'misfires' again. Priceless.

Advance Indiana said...

Josh, the video clip is more recent than the quote from the interview he gave in last year's Chicago Tribune. On both occasions he clearly stated that he believed the D.C. ban on handguns was constitutional and he supports that ordinance just like the one he supports in Chicago. His statement today is completely at odds with that position. If you think his statement a year ago and on that video are consistent with his b/s statement today, then you are too blinded by your support of Obama to think clearly on this one.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Here's why we need rulings like today's:

www.nraila.org/Multimedia/MMPlayer_Set.aspx?ID=105

Sir Hailstone said...

"How often, REALLY, does a person gun down someone breaking into their home?"

Read "Armed Citizen" on the NRA-ILA website. These are bits from newspapers around the country of citizens using force against criminals.

Here in Indy, a few years ago a pizza delivery driver was robbed on the Far Eastside multiple times. He started packing. He was robbed again and the pizza delivery driver shot the robber. He was fired by *PH* for possession of a firearm while working (which, IMO, they are within their privilege to do so... and people don't have to eat their cardboard PH pizzas either).

February 2007 - someone attempted a carjacking on a fella getting fuel at 25th & Keystone. The carjacker got more than he bargained for - he met the business end of a 9mm. Couple of shots later the carjacker was on his way to Wishard then to jail.

Foiling home invasions happens more often than you think and they aren't always reported in the MSM because it doesn't fit into the liberal slant of most news outlets.

tarrandwoolley said...

Possibly, but I don't think its my blind support for Obama. I completely cognizant of what is going on. However, with that said, my comments are likely driving by the fact that I believe in banning hand guns for public use. People don't use hand guns to hunt. They can use riffles to protect their home should they feel the need. Less hand guns = less armed robberies, etc., as I believe you would notice person carrying a riffle down the street to rob a store.

Ipdcop said...

Small-question said: "If society believes that the police won't protect them, that will actually embolden the criminals to be even MORE brazen."

Newsflash Mr.Ostrich: Get your head out of the ground and open your eyes. Criminals HAVE become more brazen for a number of reasons, none of which have anything to do with what society believes or doesn't believe about the police "protecting" them.

"I find much of the "self defense" slogans from the NRA side to be disingenuous as well. How often, REALLY, does a person gun down someone breaking into their home?"

More than you apparently know. I've been on two of these shootings in the last 3 months. You cite the incident in Broad Ripple 22 years ago to make your point. A bit of a stretch don't you think? The shooter was a senile old man with mental issues who, under current law, could have his guns taken from him.

"It's a worldview that tells people that the police won't protect you, and it's only up to you to mete out private justice on the spot, even though you might possibly kill an innocent person as a result."

It's not about meteing out "private justice", it's about personal responsibility and self reliance. I'd like nothing more to be there when a thug puts a gun to the head of an innocent victim and robs them but thugs usually wait until the police are gone before they commit felonies.

Hopefully you won't become the victim of a violent crime, or any crime for that matter, but if you do don't get all pissy when the police arrive after the fact. And please don't ask us that age old question: "where were you when I was being robbed"? You may not like the answer you receive.

Arm Yourself Dammit!

spooknp said...

I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne.

Yup. White folks can be trusted to keep firearms. Black folks, poor folks, and inner city yuppie liberals can never be trusted to own firearms. Nice to see that maybe the nice areas of the country will be left alone when it comes to gun bans.

indyernie said...

Twenty years ago in downtown Indy across from The Spaghetti Factory I stopped a knife wielding man from robbing and maybe harming a young couple. How did I do it? By pulling my handgun and ordering the robber away from the couple. He dropped his knife and fled down an alley.
No shots fired, no one injured. Guns in the right hands work. They will work as well in DC and Chicago as well.

George said...

11 US colleges allow conceal/carry of firearms. (All 9 public colleges in Utah, Colorado State University, Blue Ridge Community College) Of all these, there have been no reports of gun violence, no reports of gun accidents, and no gun thefts.
Has anyone ever heard of Edinboro Penn, Appalachian School of Law in Grundy VA, or Pearl High School? Each of these could have become the next Columbine or Virginia Tech, but in each case, the killer was stopped by a law abiding citizens with a gun. In each of these cases, the perpitrator was intent on killing more victims but was stopped before they had the chance by these brave citizens.
With the average resopnse time of greater than 5 minutes from the time you dial 911 until police arrive (1997 FBI report), a psycho can kill a lot more people. These are times that personal protection is needed. If you witness a person being attacked by a knife, a child being harmed or a person being killed, do you believe that 5 minutes or more is acceptable?
More people die in car wrecks in a week that from gun violence in a year, but no one cries to have them banned. You are required to liscense them, be educated on them, and use them responsibly or you use will be taken away. Are thee drivers who drive without a liscense? Yes, they are called criminals. Should we ban all cars beause there are criminals out there driving illegally? No, just as we shouldn't ban lawful citizens from owning gun because of the actions of criminals.

George