U.S. Supreme Court
Responding immediately to the Supreme Court’s historic decision striking down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, the National Rifle Association has launched plans for further legal challenges in cities such as Chicago and San Francisco.
In its first conclusive interpretation of the Second Amendment, the high court affirmed an individual right to own firearms, not merely a right for states to form armed militias.
The Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in the majority opinion.
“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling today. This is a win for all Americans, and it vindicates the individual’s right to keep and bear arms,” Rachel Parsons, a spokeswoman for the NRA, told WND. “We are now going to go after other cities’ laws that unlawfully ban gun ownership by law-abiding people.”
The bull’s-eyes will be on Chicago and San Francisco first.
“We will be going into those cities looking to overturn their bans,” she said. “We’re going to be filing lawsuits.”
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told Fox News the lawsuits also will be filed in various Chicago suburbs “to make sure every American everywhere” has access to guns for self-defense.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing in dissent, said the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.”
Scalia said the ruling should not “cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Joining Stevens in dissent were Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.
Parsons noted the highly charged issue comes to a resolution during an election year.
“I certainly will let you know Barack Obama has an F-rating with the NRA. He’s never voted for a piece of pro-gun legislation,” she said. “John McCain, prior to 2000, had a very pro-gun record. Then we had two highly publicized disagreements withi him, over gun shows and campaign finance. But since 2004 he’s voted with the NRA 100 percent of the time.”
Alan Korwin, whose Bloomfield Press publishes gun law, called it a “great day for America, for human and civil rights.”
He noted one of the footnotes in the court’s majority opinion said the Second Amendment should be given equal emphasis as the First Amendment, which provides for free press, free speech and free exercise of religion.
However, he pointed out the minority in the 5-4 split was only one vote from being the decision.
“A lot of people hold with what the dissenters say. They will continue their fight to deny our rights,” he told WND. “I don’t think a Supreme Court decision will prevent that.”
The district’s law barred handgun ownership by residents who did not own one before the law was enacted in 1976.
The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, came to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the ban unconstitutional, reversing a U.S. District Court decision.
Security guard Dick A. Heller, 66, was one of six district residents who filed the challenge to the ban. The others were determined by the appeals court to not have legal standing.
The district required residents who owned handguns or rifles before the 1976 ban took effect to keep the weapons in their homes. Any legal firearms had to be kept unloaded and fitted with trigger locks or disassembled.
McCain: Gun ownership ‘sacred’
McCain called the decision a “landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States.”
The Republican presumptive presidential nominee signed a friend-of-the-court brief in the D.C. case affirming his belief the Second Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms.
He criticized his Democratic Party rival, Obama, for refusing to sign the brief.
“Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly,” McCain said.
Obama has sidestepped the issue. In an April debate, he was asked by ABC News’ Charlie Gibson if he considered the D.C. law to be consistent with an individual’s right to bear arms.
“Well, Charlie, I confess I obviously haven’t listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence,” Obama said.
The Illinois senator has said the Second Amendment provides an individual right but insists it is not absolute. The Constitution, he has contended, does not bar local governments from enacting “common sense laws.”
ABC News reports the Obama campaign is disavowing an “inartful” statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Obama as believing the D.C. ban was constitutional.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the statement to the paper was inaccurate, because the senator has refrained from developing a position on whether the D.C. gun law violates the Second Amendment.
The Nov. 20 Tribune story quoted the aide saying Obama “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.”
The amendment, ratified in 1791, says: “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.”
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the White House is “pleased by the decision upholding Americans’ right to bear arms.”
John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, said, “With this decision, the Supreme Court has aligned itself with the intent of those who drafted our Constitution. The right of an individual to own a handgun is protected by our Bill of Rights. To decide otherwise would have undermined the rule of law.”
House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms “applies to every law-abiding American, not just those who live and work in Washington, D.C.”
“‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition’ is the best way to describe today’s decision,” said Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law. “The right to self-defense is a liberty at the core of the American Revolution. It was ordinary people who defended life and liberty against organized tyranny.”
“Every American has the right to defend his/her self. Our Founders believed that; now even anti-gun extremists must accept that truth,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Legal Institute.
“This is a great day for law-abiding citizens of the nation’s capital who have unjustly been denied their full right to protect themselves and families for over 30 years,” said Deneen Borelli of the Project 21 leadership network. “The Second Amendment guarantees the individual right of citizens to arm themselves for self-defense and not become easy prey.”