Victory in The United States Supreme Court!
On June 26, 2008, by a vote of 5-4, The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a fundamental, INDIVIDUAL right to own a firearm.
Voting with the majority were Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, Justice Thomas, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Scalia, who wrote the opinion. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens voted to uphold D.C.’s complete gun ban.
Buckeye Firearms Foundation, together with a coalition of private security companies, filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Heller.
With this decision, the Court signaled an unequivocal end to the two-decade legal charade popularly referred to as the "collectivist theory." Your right to possess a firearm in your own home is an individual right and has nothing to do with your role, or lack of role, in any militia.
Prior to today’s decision, the majority of the federal court circuits had utilized the collectivist theory, mostly as a means to uphold criminal convictions for violations of federal firearm laws. Clearly bad facts make bad law, and today’s decision is the reprieve gun owners have been looking for.
But what does the Heller decision mean? The easiest way to answer this question is to look to the question that the Supreme Court asked: Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?
That is the scope of the decision in a nutshell. People living in D.C. have the right to possess firearms in their own homes, and D.C.’s law, which amounted to a ban, violated that right. However, even though the decision is limited to this specific holding, the Heller case will clearly have nationwide impact in the coming years as it is tested and applied against cities in lawsuits throughout the United States.
Heller - some initial follow up
By Ken Hanson, Esq.
Now that everyone has caught their breath, it is time to try and straighten out a lot of the confusion flowing around, largely due to networks rushing to fill airtime without actual information. I will try to keep this update brief and to the point of adding new information or rebutting incorrect information reported elsewhere.
The vote was 5-4, and that has been widely reported. “Sharply divided” court affirms Second Amendment right is a fundamental, individual right etc. However, what has really been lost in the coverage thus far is that even the dissent did not contest the individual rights theory versus the collectivist theory. The first few sentences of the dissent easily concede the issue.
The question presented by this case is not whether the Second Amendment protects a “collective right” or an “individual right.” Surely it protects a right that can be enforced by individuals. But a conclusion that the Second Amendment protects an individual right does not tell us anything about the scope of that right.
Think about that for a second. 9 of 9 sharply ideologically divided judges have considered all of the body of the law and 100% rejected the collectivist theory (fraud) foisted upon the American people for 2 decades. Saul Cornell and other scholars who have concluded for years that the Second Amendment is merely a collective right are 100% dead wrong on the body of their life’s work. The collectivist fraud has been as soundly rebuffed as it can be rebuffed.
Beyond that, I think people need to understand the scope of the decision and how the Supreme Court functions. The court had a very narrow, well defined question before it, and that was by design. Think about it in the context of every other constitutional right. The First Amendment did not begin with arguments that people had a right to view controversial websites on the internet in libraries. Rather, a core, well defined right was established, and then fleshed out by decades of litigation. We should not expect any different for the Second Amendment.
As I stated in my initial analysis of the Heller cert order, the Court clearly and concisely crafted the question before it, and it was limited to four main parts. This was in part due to the fact that only three D.C. laws were in front of the Court, and thus necessitated a narrow application. (In fact, it is notable that the dissent chastises the majority for not being activist and venturing beyond the facts before the Court. I think that alone necessarily rebuts anyone who claims that the Heller majority is an exercise in judicial activism.) It was also probably due to the Court having some idea of where a majority could be reached. Here is the original question presented, and the four important sub-points broken out from the question presented:
Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?
1. "...violate the Second Amendment Right of individuals..."
THE COURT RULED TODAY THAT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS AN INDIVIDUAL RIGHT, AND THE BAN VIOLATED IT.
2. "...who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia..."
THE COURT RULED TODAY THAT MILITIA STATUS IS IMMATERIAL.
3. "...handguns and other firearms..."
THE COURT RULED TODAY THAT HANDGUNS ARE INCLUDED, THOUGH SOME ROOM WAS LEFT FOR VERY NARROW TYPES OF GUN BANS
4. "...for private use in their homes."
THE RULING TODAY WAS LIMITED TO “IN THE HOME” AS THAT WAS ALL THAT WAS IN FRONT OF THE COURT
I won’t really expound upon the above for now, but some news reports are taking the approach of reporting that the Court decision says the right only exists inside the home; there is no support for this conclusion in the decision. Rather, that is what the court was limited to by the facts in front of it. Nothing suggests that the Court will not be inclined to move it outside the home once the first case presenting that scenario is before it.
As another interesting aside, the Court clearly, and unequivocally, stated today (by my reading) that the Second Amendment necessarily encompasses a right to self defense. This little commented upon part of the ruling IS HUGE. A Constitutional right to self-defense is not something that has been explicitly recognized before, and I honestly predict that future cases will turn much more upon the “right to self-defense” than the isolated “right to keep arms and the right to bear arms.” The right to self-defense is what is going to move us outside.
By implication, the Court seemed to indicate that open carry is the de facto manner to exercise the right, as it indicated restrictions on concealed carry were still permissible. This does not mean that the Court ruled open carry is legal; rather, the stage is set that in jurisdictions that ban ccw open carry will be protected.
A lot of gnashing of teeth has occurred over the Court saying licensing and registration are ok. All I can say is look at other Constitutional rights. Most every other right is subject to licensing or registration. CNN has to get a broadcast license to spew their biased reporting about this case, without regard to the First Amendment. (As an interesting exercise, I strongly encourage any citizen petition to make abortion subject to the exact same licensing provision as carrying a handgun. Let them untie that Gordian knot. I can imagine the screams now when a jurisdiction says someone must get a license prior to getting an abortion.) The Court also seems to clearly say that any licensing scheme or registration must be “shall issue” and discretionary systems are not going to survive. The Court's conclusion leaves no doubt; the District must issue the license and register the handgun, only that will satisfy the Court’s decision.
Beyond that, a lot of painstaking documentation went into the historical basis etc. and a tremendous amount of effort went into sniping back and forth at the authors of the majority and dissents.
One worrisome component that remains unresolved is “incorporation.” As the opinion clearly states, the Second Amendment applies against the Federal government. This does not mean the court ruled it ONLY applies against the Federal government; rather, that was the only issue before the court and they limited it to that. Honestly, I wish they had gone activist on that one point. By way of background, the Bill of Rights did not apply against the states until the 14th Amendment came around. In law school, they always drilled us that the correct way to term things is “xyz state law violates the 4th amendment as incorporated against the state by the 14th Amendment.” This might seem like an exercise of intellectual boasting, but it is an important point. Technically, today’s decision does not yet apply against any state. That is Round 2 of the litigation. I fully expect some of the more liberal, activist circuits in the coming years to seize on this “loophole” as a last, dying gasp to cling to failed gun control (“Heller applies against the Federal government only.”) Ultimately (my prediction) it will be incorporated against the States, but as no state was involved in Heller, that is a question for another day.
Finally, although the Court “affirmed” the appellate decision, the SCOTUS does specifically disavow establishing a standard of review for these cases, but does specifically rejected two standards proposed by the dissent that would make the right effectively meaningless. The majority rejected a “interests balancing test” and a “rational basis test.” These two paper-thin standards of review would have made the decision meaningless, and something stricter will be used to review these cases in the future. This is very good news, because just about any remaining sort of standard of review is going to involve requiring the government to prove the proposed laws actually accomplish something. We all know that is not the reality on the ground.
Ken Hanson is a gun rights attorney in Ohio and is the attorney of record for Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the Heller case. He is the author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws, is a certified firearms instructor and holds a Type 01 Federal Firearms License.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: July 28, 2008: Heller Files New Gun Case, Takes Aim at Semiauto Ban
- Associated Press - Supreme Court prohibits gun bans
The Supreme Court ruled today that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.
The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.
The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. 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."
The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.
The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks.
In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that 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."
He said such evidence "is nowhere to be found."
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."
- Canton Repository - What our representatives said about the Supreme Court's decision
"The decision underscores the purpose of the Second Amendment. With this particular ruling the citizens of Washington, D.C., will be able to use the full benefit of the Constitution and use firearms to protect themselves. I do think it is a victory for those who believe in the Second Amendment. There's no debating that. There will be a lot of speculation about how it might be applied to other situations across the United States."
State Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, and candidate for Congress
"I applaud the Supreme Court for affirming our individual Second Amendments rights, not only as a gun owner but as a member of the military. The Court has shown that the Constitution still protects Americans' bedrock rights and liberties."
State Sen. John Boccieri, D-Alliance, and candidate for Congress
"As a gun owner and NRA member, I appreciate what an historic event this is. This is a victory for gun owners everywhere, not just D.C., because it reaffirms our constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms. Americans deserve to know that their constitutional rights are not dependent upon where they live and this decision makes it clear that all Americans have the same rights."
U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover
"The Supreme Court made a common-sense ruling today to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. This decision affirms that our Second Amendment right is an individual right and that firearms will continue to be a part of the American culture. This decision also underscores the importance of having a Supreme Court that defends our constitutional rights instead of legislating from the bench."
Fred Dailey, Republican candidate for 18th Congressional District
"I concur with today's landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which emphasizes what so many have long understood: The right to bear arms is a fundamental civil right like the freedoms of speech and to vote. And it's important that governments at all levels not infringe on those fundamental rights."
Gov. Ted Strickland
- Columbus Dispatch - High court hands victory to gun owners
The ruling also would seem to maintain the status quo in Ohio, which already allows such gun rights as concealed carry, and most local communities in the state. Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, is pro-gun rights and has received the enthusiastic backing of the National Rifle Association, the leading gun-rights advocacy group.
In a statement, Strickland said he agreed with the decision "which emphasizes what so many have long understood: The right to bear arms is a fundamental civil right like the freedoms of speech and to vote. And it's important that governments at all levels not infringe on those fundamental rights."
...Washington, D.C., had one of the nation’s most stringent gun bans. The case that wound up being decided by the Supreme Court started when a security guard named Dick Heller sued the city after it turned down his attempt to have a handgun in his home, on Capitol Hill not far from the marble Supreme Court building.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia also had ruled for Heller and said a complete gun ban is unconstitutional.
Gun-rights advocates and sympathetic lawmakers were quick to praise the Supreme Court decision.
“As a gun owner and NRA member, I appreciate what an historic event this is,” said Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover, one of the members of Congress who had signed on to a gun-rights friend of the court brief. “This is a victory for gun owners everywhere — not just D.C. — because it reaffirms our constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms. Gun owners’ rights became stronger today.”
- Cybercast News Service - Divided Court Finds Individual Right to Own Guns
The ruling "will go down as one of the Supreme Court's most important rulings on behalf of liberty," said Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.
Until today, the Court had never held that the Second Amendment directly applied to individuals. "Today's decision marks a new era for gun rights in America," said Barr, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association.
Barr said the right to self-defense is particularly important for people in cities where crime rates are high -- and where a gun may be the only means for law-abiding citizens to safeguard themselves and their families.
Barr also said it's important to have a president who supports the right of Americans to own firearms.
"Sen. Barack Obama says that he believes in such a constitutional right, but he supports the District of Columbia's ban, which gives criminals an advantage over law-abiding citizens," Barr said.
Sen. McCain has not advocated an absolute prohibition, "but he
Co-sponsored legislation which could require registration of attendees at gun shows and even ban such shows," Barr added.
- Dayton Daily News - Reaction mixed to high court ruling on guns
Local reaction to the Thursday, June 26, U. S. Supreme Court decision on handgun ownership ranged from enthusiastic support to concern on how the ruling limits a municipality's authority.
Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin said she was not surprised by the ruling. "But I am somewhat disappointed," she said. "I don't mind lawful citizens having guns, but it's the illegal guns that are the problem. Because of that, people feel a need to protect themselves."
McLin said she is a member of the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
"Our goals are to get the guns out of the hands of the criminals," she said.
Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph said that given the composition of the Supreme Court and a rightward lean, the ruling was not surprising.
"Republicans claim to be the party of small government pushing decisions down to the local level," Joseph said. "This was a constitutional issue. It just happens that it takes away power from local government."
The court ruling follows passage of Ohio laws that also pick away at municipal home rule provisions on issues such as carrying a concealed weapon and cable television franchise agreements.
Warren County resident Joe Eaton, southwest chair of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said he's thrilled the high court tackled an issue that has not been explored in decades.
"We are quite pleased," Eaton said. "The Supreme Court has decided the right to bear arms in one's home is an individual right."
- Lancaster Eagle-Gazette - Locals give perspective about Supreme Court's release on gun control ban
Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen served as a detective and a police officer in Washington D.C. prior to arriving in Ohio.
"I was there 38 years ago, and even at that time it had the second-highest crime rate outside of Detroit," Phalen said Thursday. "I'm not surprised (the law) was overturned. It was a pretty far-reaching thing to say citizens couldn't have a handgun in their own homes."
The law was both far-reaching and surprising to many inside Slater's Hardware in Lancaster. Jon Slater and his sister, Lou Ann Weisenstein, were somewhat familiar with Thursday's ruling. The store's co-owners also were happy Ohio is much more progressive in its firearms laws.
In addition to allowing private ownership, the state began issuing permits for concealed weapons in 2004.
"My opinion is that Ohio's laws are pretty much reflective of the people of the state of Ohio," Slater said. "We have a large hunting population. We've got a good section of Appalachia in Ohio. I think there's a tradition of firearms here."
Ryan Perkins took time away from helping a customer locate a hard-to-find washer to offer his opinion on the ruling and Ohio's gun laws.
"I'm an avid hunter. My wife and I do a lot of muzzle-loading," Perkins said. "We feel fortunate to have that ability."
Perkins' wife completed the requisite classes and is permitted to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio. Although she chooses not to, Perkins said his wife is comforted by the thought that she can.
"I was all for it," he said. "She went (to classes) not because she thought she would carry a gun, but because it was a right and a privilege she wanted to take advantage of.
"I was tickled to death that she got her concealed-carry permit."
Dave Drury's reaction to Thursday's court decision was decidedly supportive. An employee at Ohio Valley Outdoors, Drury strictly interprets the Constitution's second amendment.
"I feel you have a right to protect your home," he said. "I look back over history, and everybody had firearms. They hunted with them. They lived by them. They protected themselves with them. Why couldn't we just keep it the same way?"
- Los Angeles Times - Gun advocates' other weapon: lawsuits
Emboldened by Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of individuals to own handguns, advocates said they would immediately challenge a San Francisco law that prohibits guns in public housing and sue other cities nationwide to overturn gun restrictions.
The California lawsuit, which the National Rifle Assn. said it would file in federal court in San Francisco today, was one of several legal challenges that gun rights groups said they would pursue in the wake of the court decision.
"I expect there will be a significant number of California laws challenged because there have been a significant number of irrational and counterproductive laws passed in the state in recent years," said Chuck Michel, the NRA's chief attorney, who also represents other gun rights groups.
Hours after the Supreme Court ruling came down, two groups sued Chicago over its handgun ban, which is similar to the District of Columbia law the high court struck down. In addition, the NRA said it would file a lawsuit against Chicago today and would also sue surrounding cities that ban handguns.
"We are currently going over statutes at the local, state and federal level," NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox said. "I am certain there will be challenges to all sorts of statutes as we move forward."
California, considered to have the most restrictive gun laws in the country, is a particularly attractive target for lawsuits by the gun lobby. Cox said the NRA was considering action against another San Francisco law that requires gun owners to store their guns in locked containers or use trigger locks.
Other California laws that gun rights groups plan to scrutinize include the state's ban on assault weapons, the permitting process for carrying a concealed weapon in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and restrictions in Los Angeles on gun retailers, Michel said.
Some lawsuits were prepared in advance of the Supreme Court ruling. "The decision today was not entirely unanticipated," he said.
He said gun advocates hope the lawsuits will lead to a broader ruling that the right to have a firearm at home for self-defense is not limited to places falling under federal jurisdiction, such as Washington, D.C. The high court did not decide that question, because the law affected only the District of Columbia.
...As the NRA prepared to sue San Francisco, its leaders also were looking closely at a law in New York City that restricts the carrying of guns outside the home, Cox said.
"The only people who have permits to keep a firearm for self-defense outside the home are the mayor's rich buddies from Wall Street, his celebrity friends and his political cronies," Cox said.
He said the litigation would show that the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment "is a right as sacred and special as the 1st Amendment, the 4th Amendment and any other amendment."
- Mansfield News Journal - Area residents debate gun rights ruling
North central Ohio residents pondered the merits of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, which struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment.
Eric Johnson, who operates Johnson Brothers Jewelry & Loan, 32 S. Park St., believes the Supreme Court ruled correctly.
"If we look at the Constitution for what it is ... it says, "We the people" ... I believe we should have the choice whether we do or do not want to have a firearm in our house. It should be a choice. I don't think the government should be choosing for us," Johnson said.
Mansfield police Chief Phil Messer said he is surprised to learn the District of Columbia had such a prohibition in the first place.
"It is the basic right of a homeowner to protect their home and family by whatever means they choose," Messer said.
- MSNBC.com - MCCAIN: GUN RULING, A 'LANDMARK VICTORY'
McCain called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the D.C. gun ban a “landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom” and said Obama has reversed his positions on guns.
Speaking on his bus before making a stop at Skyline Chili, McCain acknowledged the amicus brief he filed in the case and said he was “pleased with the ruling.” But he said Obama has changed his positions on gun control.
“All I can say it’s one in a long, in a long series in reversals of positions,” McCain said. “In a few days he has gone from opposing nuclear power, to not a proponent, to willing to explore. I fully anticipate -- whether it be on his pledge on public financing or his position on the Second Amendment, or any other issues -- he is changing his positions. So it's not surprising.”
Obama released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling: “I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.
“As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.”
...In a written statement, McCain took a swipe at comments Obama made about gun owners in Pennsylvania, suggesting that Americans cling to religion or guns because of financial hardship.
“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,” he said.
In a conference call with reporters, McCain supporter Sen. Sam Brownback went further.
“This is either an incredible flip flop or incredible inexperience on this issue,” Brownback said. “Anybody whose been around politics in Washington D.C. knows the center of this gun ban debate is whether this is an individual right.”
- Politico.com - GOP aims at Obama after gun ruling
In a landmark decision that returns the gun control debate to the forefront of the presidential race, the Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the District of Columbia's restrictive ban on handguns and declared for the first time an individual right to possess a gun.
The D.C. gun ban had prohibited residents from keeping handguns inside their homes and required legal guns like hunting rifles to be registered and kept unloaded in a locked area.
The Republican National Committee and John McCain's campaign seized on the ruling and used it to frame Democrat Barack Obama as a radical liberal on the issue of gun rights, in the first step toward a media and advertising push in more rural battleground states that “highlights that Barack Obama is the most anti gun candidate in American presidential history,” according to RNC spokesman Danny Diaz.
“This issue is a big fat wedge in target states,” said Matt McDonald, a senior adviser to McCain, citing Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia. “Obviously it is an issue where he is at odds with working-class voters.”
In the long term, McDonald said the McCain campaign planned to highlight Obama’s past stances on gun issues to “fit into the narrative that we are looking at for Barack Obama: one, that is he coreless and, two, he's unwilling to stand up for issues that risk his political future."
The Obama campaign distanced itself Thursday from a statement made last year to the Chicago Tribune that "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional." Spokesman Bill Burton said that the statement "was not worded as well as it could have been" and that Obama believes that generally the Constitution "doesn't prevent local and state governments from enacting their own gun laws."
In a February interview with WJLA's Leon Harris, Obama didn't dispute the characterization that he believes the D.C. gun law is constitutional.
...McCain was one of 55 lawmakers who signed a “friend of the court” brief opposing the D.C. gun ban. Obama, who did not sign the document, has refused throughout the presidential campaign to clarify his stand on the D.C. ban despite persistent questions from reporters.
...The McCain campaign immediately used the ruling to raise Obama’s more liberal positions on guns, reaching back to the presumptive Democratic nominee's voting record as an Illinois state legislator.
As a state senator, Obama generally supported tighter state restrictions on firearms and a ban on all forms of semiautomatic weapons, and he served on the board of a foundation that supported position papers advocating strict gun control measures.
The National Rifle Association plans to spend upwards of $40 million on a campaign to highlight Obama's record and define him as a supporter of "Chicago-style gun control," said the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox.
“Barack Obama’s views on gun rights, despite what he might say on Iowa or Montana, are very radical,” Cox said. "Never before have we had a presidential candidate who has been so open and clear on his position on self defense with a firearm in your own home."
Cox added that the NRA will also draw attention to Obama's comments at a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Americans "cling to guns" because they are "bitter" over the difficult economy.
"There are a lot of bitter gun owners who are looking to vote against Obama," Cox said, with a note of sarcasm.
...Returning for the first time to the Pittsburgh area since the Democratic primary, a region with a high rate of gun ownership, Obama suddenly found himself on the other end of a domestic debate that has long undermined Democratic presidential candidates, including Al Gore in 2000.
Eight years later, Republicans believe that the gun debate will help ground Obama’s effort to “transcend” the culture wars. “We will blast him about this ruling,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, as the Republican’s communication team prepared to organize a morning conference call to raise Obama’s prior votes on guns and challenge his silence on the ban. “It’s a hard contrast issue, and we are going to hit it out of the park.”
- Washington Times - Gun control still in force, chief says semiautomatics banned
The Supreme Court decision overturning the District's handgun ban won't trigger an open season for guns, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Friday, because D.C. law still bans all semiautomatic weapons — such as the common 9 mm pistols used by police and the military.
But the D.C. ordinance — which, like the overall handgun ban, is among the strictest in the country - could be next in gun rights advocates' cross hairs.
"I can't say right now what we'll do legally, but there's definitely a problem with this law," said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), during an exclusive online live chat with The Washington Times Friday morning.
Chief Lanier, responding to online questions in her own live chat noted that, "Automatic and semiautomatic handguns generally remain illegal ... and the Supreme Court's ruling is limited to handguns in the home only and does not allow them to be carried outside the home."
Meanwhile, the NRA filed lawsuits Friday in San Francisco and Chicago against their gun bans.
The D.C. semiautomatic weapon ban applies to any firearm capable of carrying 12 rounds or more. In effect, that restricts purchasers of modern handguns to revolvers -- such as the .38 Special or its powerful successor, the .357 Magnum -- which typically carry five or six rounds at a time and cannot be modified to hold more.
Most other handguns are outlawed, even though most are designed for magazines that carry 10 rounds or less, because they could carry more rounds with modified magazines. Weapons capable of holding such magazines are illegal "machine guns" under D.C. law.
"It doesn't matter if the gun owner actually has a magazine that size — all it takes is for one to exist somewhere," Mr. LaPierre said, outlining his organization's continued opposition to aspects of D.C. law.
The NRA supports a bill proposed in March 2007 by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Texas Republican, that would redefine a machine gun as a weapon that is designed or could be modified to shoot multiple rounds with one squeeze of the trigger, Mr. LaPierre said. Forty-five senators co-sponsored the measure, although its chances of passage are considered slim.
- WDTN (NBC Dayton) - Ohio pols praise ruling on gun rights
Ohio politicians including Gov. Ted Strickland are hailing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that Americans have a right to keep guns for self-defense.
In the court's very first ruling on gun rights under the Second Amendment, the justices on Thursday struck down a handgun ban on the books in the District of Columbia.
In a statement, Strickland says the court understands that the right to bear arms is as fundamental as free speech and the right to vote.
Democratic Ohio Congressman Zack Space calls the court's 5-4 ruling a victory for gun owners everywhere.
And, Delaware County prosecutor Dave Yost says taking guns away from law-abiding citizens doesn't solve the problem of "bad guys" who have them.
- WKYC(NBC Cleveland) - Buckeye Firearms group applauds Supreme Court gun ruling
The Buckeye Firearms Association says there will be a nationwide impact beyond Washington D. C., following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday.
By a vote of 5-4, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a fundamental, individual right to keep a firearm in your own home, the association said, in a statement.
The ruling was handed down following a challenge to the Washington D.C. complete ban on handguns. The court said Americans have a right to keep guns at home for self-defense.
"People living in D.C. have the right to possess firearms in their own homes, and D.C.'s law, which amounted to a ban, violated that right," Buckeye Firearms attorney Ken Hanson said.
Hanson addded that, even though the decision is limited to this specific (city), the case will clearly have nationwide impact in the coming years as it is tested and applied against cities in lawsuits throughout the United States.
The Buckeye Web site also has a "countdown" until Ohio's "Castle Doctrine" becomes law in the state, a countdown that, as of June 27, had reached 74 days.
That doctrine, recently signed into law by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, gives Ohioans the right to defend their home with a gun.
The doctrine played off the metaphor that "a man's home is his castle," thus giving it the name.
The Buckeye Firearms Foundation, together with a coalition of private security companies, filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in the Washington D.C. lawsuit.
With this decision, the court "signaled an unequivocal end to the two-decade legal charade popularly referred to as the 'collectivisttheory,'" the Buckeye statement read.
"Your right to possess a firearm in your own home is an individual right and has nothing to do with your role, or lack of role, in any militia. Prior to (Thursday's)decision, the majority of the federal court circuits had utilized the collectivist theory, mostly as a means to uphold criminal convictions for violations of federal firearm laws. Clearly, bad facts make bad law, and (Thursday's)decision is the reprieve gun owners have been looking for."
Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots political action committee dedicated to defending and advancing the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting,ompetition, and recreation.