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High Court Hears Historic 2nd Amendment Gun Case

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by Quigley_Sharps, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    The Supreme Court has heard arguments about the meaning of the Second Amendment, and the constitutionality of a District of Columbia law that bans handguns.
    The justices seemed to be aware of the historical significance of their deliberations, which could provide the first definition of the meaning of the Second Amendment in its 216 years of existence.
    Justice Anthony Kennedy said early in the proceedings that the Second Amendment gives "a general right to bear arms."
    But what that means to the D.C. law is less clear.
    During the arguments, Justice Stephen Breyer asked if it's unreasonable for a city with a high crime rate "to say no to handguns."
    Chief Justice John Roberts took the oppposite side, asking at one point: "What is reasonable about a ban on possession" of handguns?
    The 32-year-old handgun ban, perhaps the strictest in the country, was overturned by a lower court.
    This is the first time the high court has looked at the Second Amendment since the 1930s.
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Supreme Court Hears Major 2nd Amendment Case
    CBS News Interactive: Guns In America
    CBS News Interactive: The Supreme Court
    WASHINGTON (CBS News) ― The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to endorse the view that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own guns, but was less clear about whether to retain the District of Columbia's ban on handguns.

    The justices were aware of the historic nature of their undertaking, engaging in an extended 98-minute session of questions and answers that could yield the first definition of the meaning of the Second Amendment in its 216 years.

    A key justice, Anthony Kennedy, left little doubt about his view when he said early in the proceedings that the Second Amendment gives "a general right to bear arms."

    Several justices were skeptical that the Constitution, if it gives individuals' gun rights, could allow a complete ban on handguns when, as Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out, those weapons are most suited for protection at home.

    "What is reasonable about a ban on possession" of handguns?" Roberts asked at one point.

    But Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that the District's public safety concerns could be relevant in evaluating its 32-year-old ban on handguns, perhaps the strictest gun control law in the nation.

    "Does that make it unreasonable for a city with a very high crime rate...to say no handguns here?" Breyer said.

    Solicitor General Paul Clement, the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, supported the individual right, but urged the justices not to decide the other question. Instead, Clement said the court should allow for reasonable restrictions that allow banning certain types of weapons, including existing federal laws.

    He did not take a position on the District law. Washington residents are not allowed to own handguns, period, CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports. And shotguns, which are allowed, are required to be kept unloaded and trigger-locked.

    The court has not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The basic issue for the justices is whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

    The amendment reads: "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."

    While the arguments raged inside, advocates of gun rights and opponents of gun violence demonstrated outside court Tuesday.

    Dozens of protesters mingled with tourists and waved signs saying "Ban the Washington elitists, not our guns" or "The NRA helps criminals and terrorist buy guns."

    Members of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence chanted "guns kill" as followers of the Second Amendment Sisters and Maryland Shall Issue.Org shouted "more guns, less crime."

    A line to get into the court for the historic arguments began forming two days earlier and extended more than a block by early Tuesday.

    The high court's first extensive examination of the Second Amendment since 1939 grew out of challenge to the District's ban.

    Anise Jenkins, president of a coalition called Stand Up for Democracy in D.C., defended the district's prohibition on handguns.

    "We feel our local council knows what we need for a good standard of life and to keep us safe," Jenkins said.

    But, Andrews reports that Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said: "This is a public saftey case. Handguns represent a disproportionate number of crimes in the District of Columbia."

    Genie Jennings, a resident of South Perwick, Maine, and national spokeswoman for Second Amendment Sisters, said the law banning handguns in Washington "is denying individuals the right to defend themselves."

    Even if the court determines there is an individual right, the justices still will have to decide whether the District's ban can stand and how to evaluate other gun control laws. This issue has caused division within the Bush administration, with Vice President Dick Cheney taking a harder line than the administration's official position at the court.

    The local Washington government argues that its law should be allowed to remain in force whether or not the amendment applies to individuals, although it reads the amendment as intended to allow states to have armed forces.

    The City Council that adopted the ban said it was justified because "handguns have no legitimate use in the purely urban environment of the District of Columbia."

    Dick Anthony Heller, 65, an armed security guard, sued the District after it rejected his application to keep a handgun at his home for protection. His lawyers say the amendment plainly protects an individual's right.

    The last Supreme Court ruling on the topic came in 1939 in U.S. v. Miller, which involved a sawed-off shotgun. Constitutional scholars disagree over what that case means but agree it did not squarely answer the question of individual versus collective rights.

    Given the Court's strong conservative makeup, it is likely that both a right to own, possess and use a firearm and the government's right to restrict that ownership, possession will survive the Heller case, says CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. The only thing that remains reasonably unpredictable and mysterious is the language the Court's majority will use in conjuring up the legal standard that will govern review of gun control legislation.

    Chief Justice John Roberts said at his confirmation hearing that the correct reading of the Second Amendment was "still very much an open issue."

    (© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,
  3. CBMS

    CBMS Looking for a safe place

    I got a crazy idea. Why not let them try out full gun possession (CCW, even open carry) for a year or two and see if the crime rates drop. If they dont, then hell make the people sell their fire arms and re-instate the city wide ban.
  4. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Ever see a law retracted????
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Yes. Usually after the unintended consequences become too obvious to ignore. (Also usually local idiocy, not national.)[beer]taser1[booze]
  6. CBMS

    CBMS Looking for a safe place

    I still think they should do it, but I believe there true worry is about how all the government types might be targeted. I think they should call it the "ToEOtG" Theory of Evolution Over the Government.
    What could be bad about it, if they are all really good governing officials, no one will have a beef with them. However if they stink, well, then they never should have been in office that long anyways.
    I guess I can be a bit cut throat because of the times i spent in the shady areas of DC. It truly is a parable of our country. A single wealthy, corrupt stretch of land surrounded by poverty and despair.
  7. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

  8. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    This is related to this topic so didn't want to start a new thread.

    Searching private homes for guns proposed in D.C.

    The District of Columbia police department is preparing to launch a massive new home-by-home search program to confiscate and destroy handguns, despite arguments pending before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges the constitutionality of its ban on residents having such weapons.

    "Right now we're working under the laws that we have, and we'll continue working under the laws that we have," Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in announcing the program that targets all handguns in the district.

    The voluntary program would work like this, according to Traci Hughes, an official with the Metropolitan Police Department: Residents of homes or apartments would contact police and ask them to come and search for such weaponry, they would sign a release, and officers would conduct the search.

    She said those who voluntarily contact police would be granted amnesty for any illegal weapons uncovered during the search, although they would not be granted amnesty if those weapons would be traced to any previous crime.

    Lanier announced the program, calling it a new anti-violence campaign, during a visit to the DC's 7th District Police headquarters.

    Officials estimate authorities already are confiscating and destroying 2,000 handguns annually, but that's not enough.

    "For those people who have handguns in their home that become stolen or get out in the street in some other way, a child carries it out and puts it in his backpack and takes it to school, or whatever, worries me," Lanier said in a video posted on WUSA-Television.

    The announcement comes just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is to hear arguments that challenge the district's handgun ban as a violation of the Second Amendment.

    Lawyers for Dick Anthony Heller, a security guard, sued to overturn Washington's law that prohibits citizens from owning or having handguns. It also imposes severe restrictions on other firearms such as shotguns.

    Several other city residents joined in the action, claiming the Second Amendment's individual right to own a gun. A district court judge rejected their claims, but in 2007 a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the amendment also protects the right of individuals to privately own guns.

    The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments March 18 in the dispute, in which dozens of outside groups have filed arguments in support of the appellate decision.

    The district's perspective is that the Second Amendment only allows people to have guns in connection with service in a militia – not to own guns as an individual. That is the perspective under which Lanier, a graduate in management from Johns Hopkins University, is operating.

    Hughes told WND the program is scheduled to launch on March 24, during spring break for District of Columbia public school students, and the goal is to get "more weapons off the streets" by taking them out of closets and off shelves in residents' homes.

    "We're hoping that if the custodian of the premises voluntarily allows the police department to search for weapons, we can immediately remove those weapons. We hope it would prevent [it] from being used in other crimes or against other members of the household," she said.

    She said attorneys have developed a release form that grants permission for the officers to search, confiscate and destroy weapons and for the resident to be given amnesty for violating the ban on handgun possession.

    However, "if it's tied to a crime, then we do have to investigate," she said.

    She said there aren't specific plans if the law is overturned. "We've not crossed that bridge," she said.

    "I cannot think of a more inappropriate thing to do," Larry Pratt, chief of Gun Owners of America, told WND. "It may very soon be legal [to own handguns in DC]."

    "And do they really think that criminals will be inviting them in?" he asked.

    In a commentary on WND, Sandy Froman, the immediate past president of the National Rifle Association of American, and Kenneth Blackwell, the former mayor of Cincinnati and a visiting fellow at the American Civil Rights Union, discussed the issue.

    From Froman's perspective came this comment: "My political awakening came in the form of terror when a thug tried to break into my house in the middle of the night. Unable to defend myself, it suddenly became very clear that the person responsible for protecting my life and safety was I. I refused to be a helpless victim. It was time to buy a gun and learn how to use it. Later when I joined the NRA and began receiving their flagship publication, The American Rifleman, I knew that Chuck Connors was right. Guns in the hands of good people save lives."

    And from Blackwell: "Things were tougher in the South where the Deacons of Defense, most of whom were veterans like my father, chased away KKK riders and thugs. These groups of armed men patrolled their neighborhoods to keep them safe at night. Whether individuals or families, against random criminals or organized threats, our lives are evidence that women and minorities – especially in today's urban areas – need our Second Amendment rights."

    They noted the Supreme Court for the first time is settling the question whether individual citizens have a constitutional right to possess private firearms.

    The amendment 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."

    The current case will decide whether that right refers to private, law-abiding citizens as individuals, or whether the right is a "collective" right that refers to the National Guard or some other militia.

    Among the 92 different law enforcement voices speaking in support of the individual's right to own guns is the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, which said in its brief:

    "Numerous surveys show that firearms are used (usually without a shot needing to be fired) for self-defense at least 97,000 times a year, and probably several hundred thousands times a year. The anti-crime effects of citizen handgun ownership provide enormous benefits to law enforcement, because there are fewer home invasion emergencies requiring an immediate police response, and because the substantial reductions in rates of burglary, assault, and other crimes allow the police and district attorneys to concentrate more resources on other cases and on deterrence."

    "Guns save lives," the brief said. "In the hands of law-abiding citizens, guns provide very substantial public safety benefits. In all 50 states – but not the District – it is lawful to use firearms for defense against home invaders. The legal ownership of firearms for home defense is an important reason why the American rate of home invasion burglaries is far lower than in countries which prohibit or discourage home handgun defense."

    Montana officials already have argued the U.S. already resolved any dispute about the meaning of the Second Amendment when it defined in Montana's compact under which it became a state that "any person" has the right to bear arms.

    And U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., has led a congressional delegation in asking President Bush to order the U.S. Justice Department to submit a brief to the high court supporting the rights of individuals under the Second Amendment.

    A similar request already has been submitted by officials for the Gun Owners of America.

    The government's position is available in a document submitted by by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement. He said since "unrestricted" private ownership of guns clearly threatens the public safety, the Second Amendment can be interpreted to allow a variety of gun restrictions.

  9. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    This is modeled on the program NYPD set up in Queens. Should be a good intimidator, and the PD will have a list of places to go first, now won't they, when the residents don't "voluntarily" let them in.
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