Gun Rights & The 2nd Amendment

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David Ropeik read and published his observations about the Supreme Court ruling: District of Columbia v. Heller. In the interest of more rational gun laws and regulations Ropeik suggests that everyone read his article as well as the court ruling.

Ropeik introduces the subject by stating that:

There is no question that District of Columbia v. Heller was precisely the sort of judicial activism the conservative justices of the Supreme Court promised not to do. In a 5 to 4 decision those justices ruled that the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to own guns for personal self-defense, despite the amendment’s opening language – “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, ” –  which pretty clearly says that gun ownership was specifically preserved by the founding fathers in the interest of the common defense against a tyrannical government (remember, this was the issue on their minds back then). Gun rights advocates cheered. Gun control advocates cried foul.

However he points out that the ruling does not grant unlimited rights to own guns. Specifically, Ropeik quotes parts of  pp. 54 and 55 of the ruling:

…  the majority opinion, written by conservative bastion Justice Antonin Scalia, states:  “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

 “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ” 

The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

I recommend reading Ropeik’s article as well as the court ruling. It seems that Congress and NRA are way out of line with what the courts intended.