GUN U.S. justices could decide constitutionality of gun ownershi

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by bigman7903, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. bigman7903

    bigman7903 OT Supporter

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    U.S. justices could decide constitutionality of gun ownership
    By Linda Greenhouse
    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    WASHINGTON: Both sides in a closely watched legal battle over the District of Columbia's strict gun-control law are urging the Supreme Court to hear the case. If the justices agree - a step they may announce as early as Tuesday - the Roberts court is very likely to find itself back on the front lines of the culture wars with an intensity unmatched even by the cases on abortion and race that defined the court's last term.

    The question is whether the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects an individual right to "keep and bear arms." If the answer is yes, as a federal appeals court held in March, the justices must decide what such an interpretation means for a statute that bars all possession of handguns and that requires any other guns in the home to be disassembled or secured by trigger locks.

    The Supreme Court has never answered the Second Amendment question directly, and it has been nearly 70 years since the court even approached it obliquely. A decision in 1939, United States v. Miller, held that a sawed-off shotgun was not one of the "arms" to which the Second Amendment referred in its single, densely written and oddly punctuated sentence: "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."

    Asked during his confirmation hearing what he thought that sentence meant, Chief Justice John Roberts responded that the Miller decision had "side-stepped the issue" and had left "very open" the question of whether the amendment protects an individual right as opposed to a collective right.

    A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on which the chief justice formerly sat, ruled in March by a vote of 2 to 1 that "the right in question is individual," not tied to membership in a state militia. On that basis, the court declared that the 31-year-old statute, one of the country's strictest, was unconstitutional.

    Gun-control advocates have long maintained that the amendment's ambiguous opening reference to a "well regulated Militia" limited its scope to gun ownership in connection with service in a state militia. In the appeals court's view, the clause simply highlighted one of the amendment's "civic purposes." Since the militias of the time included nearly all able-bodied white men, the court said, the amendment served the purpose of assuring that the citizenry would have guns at hand if called up, while also guaranteeing the right to keep arms even if the call never came.

    The District of Columbia filed its Supreme Court appeal in September. The statute's challengers, who brought their lawsuit in 2003 for the precise purpose of getting a Second Amendment case before the Supreme Court, promptly agreed that the case merited the justices' attention.

    The lawsuit was the creation of a wealthy libertarian, Robert Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, a prominent libertarian research organization. With the blessing of Cato, Levy financed the lawsuit and recruited six plaintiffs, all of whom wanted to keep handguns in their homes for self-defense.

    His goal was to present the constitutional issue to the Supreme Court in its most attractive form: Not as a criminal appeal, as earlier Second Amendment cases, including the 1939 Supreme Court case, had been, but as an effort by law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. None asserted a desire to carry their weapons outside of their homes.

    The strategy was almost too good: The appeals court threw out five of the six plaintiffs for lack of standing, on the ground that their objection to the law was merely abstract. Only one plaintiff remained: a security guard at the building that houses the federal judicial system's administrative offices, where he carries a handgun on duty. He had applied for and was denied a license to keep the gun at home. That encounter with the law was sufficiently concrete to give him standing, in the court's view, and to allow the case, to proceed.

    The District of Columbia is not just another city, and its gun law has long been a major irritant to supporters of gun ownership around the country. The law was one of the first to be passed by the newly empowered District of Columbia in 1973, after it received home-rule authority from Congress, where the gun lobby remains strong.

    The district's petition calls the case "quite literally a matter of life and death," given the demonstrable dangers of handguns and the policy justifications for regulating them. The brief, filed by Linda Singer, the district's attorney general, tells the justices that the appeals court made three errors.

    First, it says, the Second Amendment's text and history, properly understood, show that the amendment grants a right that "may be exercised only in connection with service in a state-regulated militia."

    Second, the brief observes that the amendment was drafted as a limitation on the authority of the federal government, not of the states, and that even if the District of Columbia is considered the equivalent of a state, "legislation limited to the district can pose no threat to the interests the Second Amendment was enacted to protect."

    Finally, the District of Columbia argues that even if gun ownership is an individual right, the handgun ban is amply justified as a "reasonable regulation" by considerations of public safety and health, as well as by the fact that the law permits ownership of other weapons.

    The appeals court left the door open to "reasonable regulations," like prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons, or weapons in particular locations, or the ownership of guns by felons. But a flat ban on a type of weapon cannot be considered reasonable, the court said.

    Even though both sides are urging the court to hear the case, it is not a given that the justices will accept the invitation.
     
  2. idleprocess

    idleprocess Bring a dollar with you baby in the cold cold grou

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    Be nice if it were ruled an individual right given the realities of the militia at the time of the Bill of Rights' authorship...
     
  3. H.P.

    H.P. Guest

    I'm sorry, but if a nationwide gun ban went into affect, we are fucked
     
  4. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    i think they will decline to bring it before the supreme court. It's too big an issue to actually issue judgement on.

    If you say it's only legal to posses a firearm through the millitary, you shit on everyone that owns guns -- and outside of major cities, that's a lot of people. Even the UK doesn't do that -- they just outlaw handguns. But the way the constitution is, regardless of how it is interpreted, it's either ALL guns, or NO guns -- there's no room to pick and choose.

    If you say it's an individual right to be able to posses a firearm, then you officially end the debate and all the gun control lobbiests are gonna be pissed, and overall it's going to be a political uproar. Plus every soccer mom in their Dodge Caravan is going to be irrationally screaming "think of the children"... And then you have people that would honestly take that "right" way beyond what a "right" could be considered, and then that simply wouldn't be good for business, either. Because, honestly, if it's now a right, backed by supreme court precident, now we start attacking various other anti-gun legislation and there starts the mahem all over again.

    So the only sensible thing for the Supreme Court to do is to actually NOT hear the case at all, and best not make any judgements. Despite the uncertaintly of the Second Amendment as it is, that uncertainty is something that right and left have both been able to live with. There are battles along the way, but overall the situation holds itself together.
     
  5. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    but but but but then criminals can more easily get guns.









    :mamoru:
     
  6. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    well, if you haven't noticed, that didn't really prevent crime. So now they want to ban guns all-together. Because, after all, triggers pull themselves. Just like beers drink themselves, cars drive themselves, and midgets do porn by themselves.
     
  7. striker754

    striker754 Chillin

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    I assume they will take up the issue with split interpretations of it between different federal appeals circuits.
     
  8. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

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    That isn't a possible outcome from this case. Remember that the bill of rights don't provide you with protection from state governments, those rights are protected by incorporation and the 14th amendment. So far the 2nd amendment has not been incorporated. They do provide you with protection from the fed though and DC residents are just federal residents, they belong to no state. A ruling here could not only help get them out of their ban but also maybe wind up being used against federal bans for the whole nation in the future. Note, may, not promise because it probably will do nothing to address what restrictions if any would be permissable by the fed. Its a great first step, but we won't be out buying new machine guns when its over.
     
  9. Cannondale

    Cannondale OT Supporter

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    I'm really hoping they either vote against the ban, or not even see it. This could turn out really bad if they approve a gun ban.
     
  10. VladTemplar

    VladTemplar New Member

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    The 14th ammedment technically applied the 2nd to the states, there's just no common law that incorporates it because the USSC hasn't heard a case with the 2nd amendment viewed through the lens of the 14th.

    Unitl then the 14th applies to the 2nd, just not by common law. Which basically means state legislatures can ignore it until it's challenged. I think there have been attempted, but the USSC hasn't heard any of the cases. This case has the potential, depending on how they do it, to firmly apply the 2nd to the states.
     
  11. KNYTE

    KNYTE I'm Not Kidding.

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    Honestly I don't think this is going anywhere substantial. If there were some kind of large-scale restriction on personal firearm ownership there would be an incredible hit to the country's economy and political spectrum. Something we most certainly do not need right now.

    My guess is that the SC will refuse to review the case.
     
  12. bigman7903

    bigman7903 OT Supporter

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    very well said, pretty much the way i feel except put into words. as much as i would love for them to basically say "go have fun" that's not feasible, and I dont see them ruling it the other way around.
     
  13. VladTemplar

    VladTemplar New Member

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    I don't see what's wrong with them saying that gun's are an inalienable right and that any restrictions are unconstitutional.

    This is all about individual responsibility people. If there's anything this forum is full of it's full of people who expouse libertarian ideals: I should be able to do whatever I want so long as I do not INFRINGE or HARM the ability for anyone else to do whatever they want. If I brandish a firearm with the intent to scare a bunch of people then I interfere with that, if I go shooting up a street I interfere with that, if you do anything that violates the non-firearms related laws we have then you break the law and are prosecuted.

    If I want to own a 5" naval deck gun and blast the hell out of a giant dirt mound on my 10,000 acre ranch in the middle of Montana, the only question the government should be asking is whether or not I paid my sales taxes on the weapon and the shells and perhaps politely asking me not to fire over the Canuckistan border.
     
  14. bigman7903

    bigman7903 OT Supporter

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    it's not that we dont agree, because I for one completely agree, but we all know for the most part that that will not be the decision of the SC, we wish it were, but there are too many fruits w/ panties in a twist to allow that, reguardless of logic or reason
     
  15. Paul Revere

    Paul Revere OT Supporter

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    certain guns are banned :dunno:
     
  16. TwistedMind

    TwistedMind New Member

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    If the supreme court refused to hear the case then the lower courts ruling of individual ownership would stand correct?
     
  17. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    :bowdown:
     
  18. RonJeremey

    RonJeremey OT Supporter

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    Correct
     
  19. TwistedMind

    TwistedMind New Member

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    So as for as gun owners as a whole, we should hope for the supreme court to refuse the case. That way we have a solid ruling to start knocking down some stupid legislation.
     
  20. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    not really, it wouldn't prove jack shit. And that may force the USSC to hear a case in the future, and they may rule less than favorably.
     
  21. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    wrong, since the lower court decision only applies to DC
     
  22. Paul Revere

    Paul Revere OT Supporter

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    this is true. im talking about the roberti-roos list, though :dunno:

    if the CA, IL and DC bans were eliminated that would amazing :hs:
     
  23. Paul Revere

    Paul Revere OT Supporter

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    in all honesty, it's probably worse :dunno: i hope you guys get your shit lifted too
     
  24. Keesh

    Keesh New Member

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    why come? Gangstas talk about them in their rap? :hsugh:
     
  25. Keesh

    Keesh New Member

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    Any specific reason why they are banned in MA?
     

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