The Supreme Court's upcoming decision in a Washington, D.C. handgun ban case could potentially nullify thousands of gun laws on the books. The case stems from a security guard who was denied a request to keep a firearm in his District residence for self-protection.
Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty recently said that the District's handgun ban "has saved many lives since 1976 and will continue to do so if allowed to remain in force." How does he measure that? The truth is that murder by handguns has gone up substantially in the District since the handgun ban was passed. I wonder how many honest people in the District were killed by thugs with guns because they were deprived of the ability to adequately defend themselves.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in its entirety: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
What is it about "shall not" the anti-gun crowd doesn't understand? For years they have argued that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to individual gun ownership, when the comma between the words "free state" and "the right" clearly shows that the framers of the Constitution were masters of brevity and were addressing two different issues they obviously did not want tampered with. Some might not like what the amendment says, but it doesn't change the fact that it says it.
Let's suppose there is a constitutional amendment that reads: A well regulated free government health care system, being necessary to the health of the people, the right of women to have abortions on demand, shall not be infringed. Would the typical anti-gun advocate suddenly understand what "shall not" and "infringe" mean? Would conservative pro-gunners argue that abortions could be regulated, denied or restricted at every level of government?
In the worst case scenario for anti-gunners, the Supreme Court could negate all gun laws on the books because the Second Amendment is the gun law of the land. Keeping and bearing arms shall not be infringed. Gun laws infringe that right. Any law contrary to that is obviously unconstitutional. The amendment doesn't say the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except if you are a juvenile or a mental patient or live in the District of Columbia. It doesn't restrict convicted criminals from keeping and bearing arms either.
The ramifications of this decision could be enormous. "Keeping" and "bearing" arms are two different issues. Keeping arms would allow citizens to maintain a firearm in their residence, tent, vehicle, boat or other conveyance. Bearing arms could be interpreted as legally carrying firearms in public. Concealed weapon permits would be a thing of the past because they are designed by state governments to infringe residents from bearing firearms.
Should mentally deranged people, organized street gang members or convicted felons be allowed to carry concealed firearms? I don't think so. But they may suddenly regain that right. The Supreme Court could place restrictions on firearm ownership the same way it restricts free speech by excluding libel, slander and yelling fire in a crowded theater when there isn't one. But those restrictions came after decades of rulings handed down by the Court. It seems to me that the only constitutional way to restrict gun ownership is to have a separate amendment that specifies when a person loses his Second Amendment rights.
Even if all gun laws were declared unconstitutional, gun violence would probably not increase significantly because criminals have never followed gun laws, so why would they start now?
No matter where you stand on the issue, it will be exciting to see where the Justices stand on the literal interpretation of the Constitution.
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't
pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for,
protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend
our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it
was once like in the United States where men were free." -- Ronald Reagan
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