Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Nasty Fight Is Looming

Many of us are aware that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a second amendment case involving the overturning of a Washington, DC gun law that prohibited law-abiding citizens from owning and keeping a handgun for personal protection in their own homes. This case is of critical importance.

A recent New York Times editorial on the subject shows just what fair-minded people are going to be up against in this continuing battle, and that we have to be prepared for a fight that promises to become just as dirty and in the gutter as any recent abortion or anti-war dispute. Notice the language of the editorial and also what it does not say.

It uses the scare language of - “violent consequences of denying government broad room to regulate guns” – as if allowing law-abiding citizens the right to have protection in their homes has violent consequences .

In another place the editorial says, “A decision that upends needed gun controls currently in place around the country would imperil the lives of Americans.”

Nowhere does this article make reference to the significant reductions in violent crimes that have followed state decisions to grant concealed carry licenses to qualified, peaceful citizens. This has been the *experience in every one of the 36 states that have put in place concealed-carry laws since 1986. What does concealed carry have to do with laws that prevent the private ownership of any guns? Clearly, if the Washington, DC law is upheld, and the constitutional right to bear arms is overthrown, it will eventually affect everyone’s rights, and all concealed-carry licenses may become null and void.

The New York Times editorial also does not mention the fact that Washington, DC, with its prohibition of gun ownership, and where only criminals can own guns, is considered the murder capital of the world.

It is up to every citizen to fight against this development and up to every gun owner to speak out and to contribute generously to fight a fight that cannot be fought on the facts and the data alone. Since when have liberals been interested in facts and history? They will employ the same smears and the same character assassinations and distortions that they have used against President Bush, VP Cheney, and Justices Roberts and Alito. They will lie and distort and pretend not to understand when the facts are laid out.

New York Times Editorial, November 21, 2007
The Court and the Second Amendment
Correction Appended

By agreeing yesterday to rule on whether provisions of the District of Columbia’s stringent gun control law violate the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has inserted itself into a roiling public controversy with large ramifications for public safety. The court’s move sowed hope and fear among supporters of reasonable gun control, and it ratcheted up the suspense surrounding the court’s current term.

The hope, which we share, is that the court will rise above the hard-right ideology of some justices to render a decision respectful of the Constitution’s text and the violent consequences of denying government broad room to regulate guns. The fear is that it will not.

At issue is a 2-to-1 ruling last March by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that found unconstitutional a law barring handguns in homes and requiring that shotguns and rifles be stored with trigger locks or disassembled. The ruling upheld a radical decision by a federal trial judge, who struck down the 31-year-old gun control law on spurious grounds that conform with the agenda of the anti-gun control lobby but cry out for rejection by the Supreme Court.

Much hinges on how the justices interpret the Second Amendment, which 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.”

Opponents of gun control sometimes claim a constitutional prohibition on any serious regulation of individual gun ownership. The court last weighed in on the amendment in 1939, concluding, correctly in our view, that the only absolute right conferred on individuals is for the private ownership of guns that has “some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well-regulated militia.” The federal, state and local governments may impose restrictions on other uses — like the trigger guards — or outright bans on types of weapons. Appellate courts followed that interpretation, until last spring’s departure.

A lot has changed since the nation’s founding, when people kept muskets to be ready for militia service. What has not changed is the actual language of the Constitution. To get past the first limiting clauses of the Second Amendment to find an unalienable individual right to bear arms seems to require creative editing.

Beyond grappling with fairly esoteric arguments about the Second Amendment, the justices need to responsibly confront modern-day reality. A decision that upends needed gun controls currently in place around the country would imperil the lives of Americans.

Correction: November 23, 2007
An editorial on Wednesday about a Supreme Court gun control case incorrectly described a lower court’s decision. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the District Court and ruled Washington’s law on gun ownership unconstitutional. The District Court did not overturn the law.

*A recent study by John Lott and David Mustard of the University of Chicago published in the Journal of Legal Studies found that concealed handgun laws reduced murder by 8.5% and severe assault by 7% from 1977 to '92. Had "right-to-carry" laws been in effect throughout the country, there would have been 1,600 fewer murders and 60,000 fewer assaults every year.

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