US Supreme Court upholds right to bear arms!

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handgunds. More from Fox News

“The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact…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.”

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Posted by at 08:59 | Posted in Measure 37 | 20 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jason W.

    I am conflicted as to consider this a huge victory or a just a re-affirmation of what everyone already believes for the past 200+ years!

  • John Fairplay

    The decision shows you just how close we are to rule by Supreme Court in this country. Four Justices voted to deny Americans a right clearly spelled out in the Constitution itself and understood to exist since the founding of the nation. A swing of only one Justice could end Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, the right to vote or any other part of the Constitution. Scary.

  • Gene

    I agree with John’s comment.. It is scarey that our “Leaders” will not inforce the United States Constitution.

    The government does not give us our ‘Rights’, our ‘Rights’ our just ours and cannot be ratified by the government.

    • dean

      Jason…but “everyone” did not believe this for 200+ years. Some did, others did not, and that is still the case today. Scalia said the other day that people will die because of the decision on enemy combatants. Well…people are going to die as a consequence of the decision and his opinion this morning. Inner city neighborhoods could become well armed free fire zones depending on WHAT restrictions on individual gun ownership are eventually determined by the court.

      John…we are already ruled by the Supreme Court as the final interpreter of the constitutionality of ALL laws. This was established in Marbury vs. Madison, 1803 I think. Who is on the court, and what their background, decision record, and judicial philosophy is…matters in the real world. Fortunately justices usually adhere to long standing precedents (previous interpretation) so we are not at high risk of a radical change in existing rights based on contemporary decisions. The wheels of justice turn slowly.

      We also have 2 checks on the Court. They get old and retire or die, and a president appoints new members. And there is a process for constitutional amendments if we really dislike one of their interpretations.

      Gene….the government interprets the limits of our civil liberties, sometimes expanding them (Roe vs Wade, the recent California decision on gay marriage, the Supreme decision today on right to bear arms,) and other times contracting them (Schenk vs. United States). The government also enforces our rights. Always has and always will be the case for us unless we choose anarchy.

      • John Fairplay

        We only have checks on the Court because 5 current members are willing to allow us to have checks on the Court. You are being far too sanguine about the implications of those 4 votes. Tomorrow there may be 5 votes to eliminate a right you cherish and 5 votes to eliminate your right to do anything at all about it. To whom, then, will you turn for solace? This is the most dangerous Supreme Court decision in a generation. I don’t know for sure, but I would bet it’s also the first time any Supreme Court Justice has voted to strip the people of a right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

        • dean

          John…not really sanguine. The 4 justices in the minority have typically supported certain civil rights, Roe for example, while voting to restrict others (handguns). The justices on the right have supported some rights (handguns) while sometimes voting to restirct others (abortion, habeous corpus for enemy combatants, even for those who are American citizens.) The one in the middle (Kennedy) goes one way or the other….and no one seems to be able to predict which way he goes.

          Personally, I am more worried about a government that can listen to my phone calls without a warrant, peek at my library card data, tell an adult woman she cannot control her pregnancy, and arrest and hold me indefinitely without charge than I am worried about a government that restricts my right to own a particular type of weapon (handgun).

          So…depending on the next election, the court can go further towards expanding some rights and restricting others, or can do the opposite.

          In Schenk vs. United States the Supremes voted 9-0 to uphold a sentence on a man who was convicted of printing and distributing leaflets urging resistance to the military draft in WW1. That one bothers me. They restricted his First Amendment right to free speech. I am not a constitutional scholar, but I would bet there are many instances of the Supremes voting to “restrict” what we think are our rights. Yet we seem to muddle through.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    John Fairplay is quite right, the startling thing here is the 5-4 decision. I would not have thought it would be this close as I thought Stevens would side with the majority. Souter, Bryer and Ginsberg are pretty consistently opposed to individual rights, but I thought this case was so clear cut, only those three would be in the minority.

    Instead Stevens made quite a remarkable statement:

    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.” ”

    Um yes, John Paul, that’s exactly what they and I think most Americans would have you believe. The Bill of rights is exactly that, a set of ten limits upon government. What part of that did you not understand on day one of civics class?

    We are rapidly getting to a point in this country where two things are happening:

    1) People are becoming comfortable with the concept that rights are granted by government and that the constitution and amendments iterates those rights.

    2) Judicial tyranny. Even in cases like this, where I don’t think there was legislating from the bench, there is addition to precedent. It keeps this mindset going that it is appropriate for society to be ruled by the 9 seers. This engenders a mentality that we have now, that it is perfectly acceptable to be for a presidential candidate solely because he will appoint justices with a bias towards your side.

    Both of these are really a little scary and I have to admit I succumb to it too. One thing that would be nice is to see some reigning in of the Supremes power. Marbury v Madison set this little wheel in motion and it would be nice to see congress reign it in a little.

    • Tim Lyman

      Justice Stevens has apparently not read any of the writings of the Constitution’s authors.

  • dean

    Parts of Scalia’s opinion:
    “The Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” Also: “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.” *Licensing requirements were also held to be constitutional*.

    Bottom line…this may be a much less sweeping interpretation of the right to bear arms than at first blush. Governments at all levels will still be able to “restrict” the right of an individual to bear arms. They just won’t be able to “prohibit,” unless that individual is a felon, mentally ill, etc. They can still restrict the TYPE of weapon (assault rifles) and can restrict WHERE one can bring one’s weapon of choice…i.e. schools.

    And this from a 5-4 conservative majority. I would think the NRA would be upset.

    • devietro

      Dean your wrong again, the weapons you refer to as “assault rifles” would clearly pass the common usage test that is set out in the decision. The type argument is really more about NFA items, because the dont fit the common usage test (namely because they all have a $200 tax on them)

  • devietro

    This is at best a stop-loss victory. No protections for NFA items and no nationwide CCW. However its a launching pad, all in all its a good day for gun owners. We are moving in the right direction.

    • dean

      Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe not. Scalia’s opinion includes the provision that the Second Amendment’s protections apply only to weapons in common use, like rifles and pistols. If an assault rifle fits into that, then so be it. Automatics and semi-automatics appear to be out, as are grenade launchers. Scalia also upheld the right of government to require a license, and apparently he did not overturn DC’s concealed weapon ban.

      If I were a free gun advocate, I’m not sure I would be jumping for joy. Put it this way, I’m a gun control supporter, and this ruling does not seem all that bad to me. He appears to be saying that short of an outright ban and certain provisions on how one stores a gun inside the home, most everything else is on the table.

      So…we may get a gradual increase in child accidents, teen suicides, and occasionally a wounded burglar in some of the major cities of America. Beyond that…not much new here.

  • Crawdude

    I agree with the courts decision!

  • NotYourDaddy
  • Jerry

    Remember people – people don’t kill people, guns kill people. We all could have been spared all this senseless killing but for one vote! Woe is us.

  • Crawdude

    “The Constitution shall never be construed… to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” -Samuel Adams ( not the gay mayor of Portland )

    As James Madison, our Constitution’s principal author, wrote in the Federalist Papers (No. 46), “The ultimate authority… resides in the people alone… The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation… forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition.”

    More to the point, Justice Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by Madison, wrote in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833), “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people.

    For at least the foreseeable future, gun control is off the table. The American public is squarely against it, witness the number of states that have passed concealed carry. The politicians know its a losing issue as well. Look at Obama. The guy did a 180 on this one as soon as the decision came down. He was totally in support of the DC ban pre verdict, now, well, God knows what he said it was so mangled but he sure didn’t take the opportunity to make a stand. Obama might be a one man gaff machine, but he does know the political winds. If he thought there were any votes to be garnered from gun control, he would have taken the opportunity to make a stand and say “this is why you need me as president, I will appoint justices to overturn this horrible decision”. He didn’t, and that spoke volumes.

    • dean

      Rupert…I’m going to practice my LTRR skills here.

      What do you mean by “off the table?” As in will not be debated, discussed, litigated or legislated?

      What do you mean “forseable future”? A few months? A year? 10 years?

      What data do you have to support: ” The American People is squarely against it?” (I’ll take the risk of assuming “it” means gun control, as opposed to some other it).

      According to a Jue 4 CNN poll:

      88% of Americans support keeping guns out of the hands of certain people (convicted felons and loonies)
      86% support requiring a waiting period before purchase
      79% support gun registration requirements
      51% support limiting the number of guns one person can own
      48& support preventing people from carrying concealed weapons
      87% support the right of an individual to own a gun

      An April PEW poll that asked: “What do you think is more important — to protect the right of Americans to own guns, or to control gun ownership?”

      58% favored “control ownership
      37% favored “right to own guns”

      A February Gallop poll asked whether people thought gun laws should be more or less strict than they are.

      49% said more strict
      11% said less strict
      38% said remain as they are (presumably that includes the Washington DC law in place for 32 years that was just found partly unconstitutional.)

      If these polls are in the ballpark, they suggest there is a lot of support for “gun control,” but very little support for “absoulte” gun control. Given that Scalia’s opinion appears to leave a lot of room for interpreting how much gun control is permitted, it would seem that the topic of “gun control” is now very much back on the table of American politics and jurisprudence and will be for the “forseable future.” Obama’s position appears to be well within the mainstream, as is my own.

      And…I would like a grade on my LTRR skills. Please check one of the following:

      1) You remain an ignoramous with a 3rd grade LTRR level
      2) Still pathetic but show signs of improvement
      3) Satisfactory for a left-wing nut case
      4) Above average maybe
      5) Leave me alone you liberal creep

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >What do you mean by “off the table?”

    Legislatively. I do not think there will be a lot of states passing more gun control any time soon. I do not think it will happen federally as well.

    >What do you mean “forseable future”? A few months? A year? 10 years?

    Foreseeable future, when I am talking politics always means one million and nine years. So in this case, I do not think there will be much gun control passed at the state or federal level for the next one million and nine years.

    Those are people years, not dog years. I am also not going by the Jewish, Chinese or Mayan calendar. Gun control means any law whatsoever about a gun. State or Federal means the government bodies, not the electrical quanta of an electron or pi meson, Federal does not refer to a furniture or architectural style. Gun means any device with a handle and trigger. Thus I am also including caulk guns, hot melt glue guns, toy guns in this as well.

    >What data do you have to support: ” The American People is squarely against it?”

    None, my post is comprised in its entirety of two examples for why I think as I do.

    Here’s more – The Democrats sure seem to be running from the issue. In both of the special elections this year, the Democrats won their seats with candidates who specifically rejected gun control. I contrast that with the actions in 1990, when Chuck Schumer et. al. couldn’t wait to get more gun control. They were successful, they got the assault weapons ban and lost the house in 1994 due in large part to that issue according to many senior Dems. That bill sunsetted after ten years, not exactly a ringing endorsement for its popularity.

    I guess I believe actions you believe polls.

    >According to a Jue 4 CNN poll:….48% support preventing people from carrying concealed weapons

    Oh come one. This is too easy.

    If 48% of the people were against concealed carry, it would sure be hard to explain why so many states have passed shall issue concealed carry legislation in recent years.

    Do you even think about this stuff before you post it or do you just blithely accept a poll you agree with without any critical thought of your own?

    My guess, this poll was taken on the Upper West Side in the middle of a pledge break for a public television Yannie special. Pollsters were probably huddled in the doorway, hoping to catch their random sample as they made a mad dash for another wheel of Brie before the pledge break was up.


    Gee, why do none of the answers in these polls support any of the actions in state legislatures? They are doing the exact opposite, enacting “shall issue” CCW legislation as well as castle doctrine legislation. Now why could that be?

    I would check box number 1 as you somehow managed to cut and paste a quote from me but substituted some weird grammar. I mean is cut and paste really that hard? It does mean you have to quote someone correctly though. I realize that is not exactly your milieu

    Oh, and for the record, my stating that states passed “shall issue” CCW legislation does not mean the same thing as me saying I think NRA members should be allowed so use babies under three years of age for target practice.

    Just clearing that up ahead of time.

    • dean

      Rupert wrote: “If 48% of the people were against concealed carry, it would sure be hard to explain why so many states have passed shall issue concealed carry legislation in recent years.”

      (Note the cut and paste job. I am petitioning for an upgrade to #2.)

      Try this for an explanation. Concealed handguns are primarily an issue in big cities, which is where the most restrictive laws have been passed. Some states lack big cities altogether and even many that have them also have more combined rural and suburban voters or jerrymandered districts that result in big city problems (thousands of handgun deaths a year, many of these gangbangers shooting up the ghetto…and who gives a rip about these people?) being ignored or thwarted at the state level.

      And if that explanation fails, the same poll says 51% of Americans support concealed weapon carry rights. That poll included gangbangers by the way.

      Yes…Democrats are conflicted on “gun control,” as they (we) are on so many issues. In part this is because we have rural, suburban, and urban constituents and representatives with different sorts of voters jerking their chain. (I don’t think the Democratic governor or the 2 Democratic Senators from Montana are going to promote much gun control any time in the “forseable future”). In part it is because Democrats tend to be an unruly lot that does not easily fall in behind a fixed list of must dos. I don’t even think we have an equivelent to “RINO” for example, or at least I have not come across it.

      We even have Joe Lieberman as McCain’s right hand man. Go figure.

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