Gun Rights & The 2nd Amendment
Gregg F. Swift
“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.”
2nd Amendment, United States Constitution
The United States Constitution provides, in the Second Amendment, the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Much has been written about this subject over the last few years, due in large part to the sheer numbers of violent crimes perpetrated in the U.S. by people with guns. The Obama Administration, with the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, has not hidden the fact that it is opposed to the notion of individual gun rights and has made numerous attempts to place restrictions on private ownership of firearms.
In the first years of the Obama Administration a push was underway to restrict the ownership of certain types of firearms. Once the National Rifle Association (NRA) became aware of the exact nature of the Democratic plan to restrict the sale of certain types of firearms they began a campaign of their own, to bring national attention to the gun debate and to solicit support from Democratic congressmen and senators whose constituency supported individual ownership gun rights. This campaign by the NRA was extremely successful and the Democratic plan fell to the wayside, temporarily.
Gun rights in America seems to have fallen into some type of traditional category beyond the right granted by the Second Amendment, due in large measure to the lack of U.S. Supreme Court cases on the subject at hand. Many have just assumed that their interpretation, which they strongly believe in, is some sort of inalienable right to bear arms. The number of Supreme Court cases regarding the Second Amendment has been few. There are those who have always interpreted the Second Amendment to mean that the right to bear arms is without limits. It wasn’t until the 2008 United States Supreme Court case, Washington D.C. v. Heller, that some definitive interpretation was outlined as to the meaning of the Second Amendment in today’s society, “the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home (Washington D.C. v. Heller, 2008, United States Supreme Court).” While the Supreme Court ruling appears to have been in favor of gun owners it remains to be seen whether future challenges brought before the Supreme Court will serve to solidify Heller or open the door for its demise.
Justice Scalia, United States Supreme Court Justice, remarked after the July 20, 2012 Aurora Colorado theater shooting that the “the extent of gun ownership will have to be decided in future cases.” The Aurora shooting continues to fuel the debate over the role that guns have in American society and whether there is a place for them in the hands of everyday citizens. Since the Aurora shooting many lawmakers, mostly Democratic politicians, have called for tougher gun laws to make it harder for criminals to buy guns and ammunition, and rightfully so. The problem is that by doing that you may infringe on the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase, own, and carry a lawful firearm.
Right, wrong, or indifferent there will be challenges to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Some of the challenges will follow on the heels of the Heller case ruled on in 2008. With increased violence by persons using firearms the perceived need to prohibit firearms will continue mounting. With Justice Scalia’s comment about revisiting the extent of gun ownership in future cases one may conclude that the 5-4 decision in the Heller case could easily be turned around. What scenarios could give rise to a potential reversal? With the continued violence using firearms, party politics, or maybe even a challenge to the Heller case based on the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court may have an opportunity to reverse their position. On what basis, you ask? What about a challenge based on the Fourteenth Amendment?
Washington D.C. is not a state, but a federal district. If Justice Scalia and others are looking for a way to reverse their decision, maybe this will be their opportunity. There have been many places in the U.S. where gun control regulations have long been established. It is safe to assume that these laws and regulations will be challenged based on some new insight into the minds of Supreme Court Justices based on politics, or current events, or even new rulings from lower courts. They say there are two things that you never want to let people see, making laws and sausages. I would like to add a third; how the U.S. Supreme Court actually decides a politically charged case like Washington D.C. v. Heller.
Gregg Swift, J.D., IACSP is the Director of Operations for Tactical Weapons Solutions, an AR-15 manufacturer. Mr. Swift graduated from Barry Law School in 2001 and has written numerous articles relating to the manufacturing and selling of high quality AR-15 parts, components, rifles, 2nd Amendment rights, the political environment relating to guns, and survival related topics. Visit Tactical Weapons Solutions at http://twsarms.com/. For more on MilSpec parts and high quality AR-15 rifles and to enter a monthly drawing for a FREE AR-15 at http://twsarms.com/ar-15-monthly-drawing/.
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