Heller opens a can of wormsv
|Photo by GORDON HUTCHINSON|
Before the Heller ruling, handgun ownership was illegal in the District of Columbia.
The court ruled against the outrageous prohibitions of the Washington D.C. firearms ownership laws — among the most restrictive in the nation. The decision will go down in history as one of the court’s groundbreaking decisions.
Simply put, the court held that private ownership of firearms is an individual right. The D.C. law banned private ownership of handguns completely, and allowed private ownership of long guns only if they were disassembled or rendered inoperable by some sort of locking device.
The Supreme Court held that such a law was intrusive, violating the rights of private citizens to protect themselves in their own homes. Some of the justices commented on the ridiculous notion that a homeowner, upon hearing a criminal begin a home invasion, would have time to assemble a long gun or remove the locking mechanism to utilize the gun for self-defense.
What the decision has done is answer the long-fought argument between gun owners and anti-gunners over the meaning of the Second Amendment — the one amendment that has been most contentiously discussed and ignored as if it did not exist in many cases.
Witness the thousands of guns confiscated by law enforcement and federal officials in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans if you think such cannot and would not ever happen in the United States.
The Second Amendment states: “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.”
It is that first clause, “A well-regulated militia …” that the anti-gunners have seized upon over the last few decades, and argued the Founders, in writing this amendment, meant only the “militia,” or the National Guard, should be armed.
Thousands of constitutional scholars have found comparable writings by the Founders in other essays and treatises. And these clearly referred to the belief by these writers that personal ownership of firearms was an individual right, as God-given a right as the right of free assembly and speech, the right to worship in one’s chosen religion and every other one of the basic rights of free men.
Remember, these were a group of men who had just come out of a revolutionary war against a foreign ruler who paid little attention to their needs and complaints, and drove them to rebel to protect their rights. What the Founders intended was for the people to be armed to ensure their government would never be able to tyrannize them.
The people have the right to make their government rule them properly through the method of ballot. But if the government should ever become despotic, the people would be armed and able to overthrow it. Such was the design of the Founders.
Now the Supreme Court has upheld this belief, certifying what has been argued all along, that the first clause of the amendment is exactly what it appears to be — a modifying clause that cannot stand on its own like the second clause.
Within a day of the announcement of the Heller decision, a lawsuit was filed in Chicago to overthrow that city’s gun law, as restrictive as that of Washington, D.C. More have followed and will continue to be filed in an attempt to “incorporate” this new constitutional stand into states’ rights.
That means the Second Amendment restricts only the federal government from limiting gun rights. Until it is determined by decision in lower courts, it does not apply to city and state governments, where most of the restrictive gun laws exist.
But that is coming. Many gun-rights groups and attorneys have been waiting for this decision to occur — a decision that gives a rock-solid constitutional determination by the Supreme Court that you and I have the individual right to own firearms for personal use and self-defense.
The decision has been made. Now we’ll see the lawsuits to overturn the restrictive and ignorant gun laws in municipalities across the land.
Incidentally, the Washington, D.C. law that banned handguns and restricted ownership of long guns went into effect in 1976 to stifle the burgeoning murder rate. In fact, the murder rate has increased in that city since that time, giving it one of the highest murder rates per capita in the country.
Let the lawsuits begin.
Gordon Hutchinson’s newest book, written with Todd Masson, is “The Great New Orleans Gun Grab.” It’s a searing expose’ of the scandal of gun confiscations in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is available from the publisher at www.neworleansgungrab.com.
Hutchinson’s first book, “The Quest and the Quarry,” is a best-selling generational tale that parallels the lives of a line of trophy bucks and the youth of a farm family that hunts them. It was chosen as a book of the year by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. It is available from the publisher at www.thequestandthequarry.com
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