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Morning Bell: A Big Victory For Individual Rights

Posted By Conn Carroll On June 27, 2008 @ 9:26 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Each morning, District of Columbia special police officer Dick Heller reports to his job protecting the Federal Judicial Center, where he takes possession of a handgun that he carriers throughout the day. Despite the fact that the city trusts Heller to carry a handgun all day in order to protect the courthouse, the city denied him a permit to keep a gun at home in order to protect his family. The District of Columbia has one of then nation’s most draconian handgun bans, and yesterday the Supreme Court struck down the law, finding that the Constitution’s Second Amendment does protect an individual’s right to to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense [1].

Far-left critics of the decision are already claiming that the decision represents “judicial activism [2].” Nothing could be further from the truth. Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion [3] is a textbook example of constitutional originalism. Using simple grammar and crystal-clear logic, Scalia destroys the argument of dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens that the first half of the Second Amendment — “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State” — negates the second — “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Scalia writes:

Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command. The Second Amendment would be nonsensical if it read, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to petition for redress of grievances shall not be infringed.” … That requirement of logical connection may cause a prefatory clause to resolve an ambiguity in the operative clause. But apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause.

Justice Stephen Breyer’s defense is equally specious, constructing a convoluted balancing test that ultimately reaches the conclusion that the state’s interest in controlling crime outweighs an individuals right to bear arms. Nevermind that since the District of Columbia first instituted its ban on handguns [4], there has been only one year (1985) that the homicide rate in the city fell below what it was in 1976. Worse, in 15 of the 29 years since the ban went into effect, D.C. had either the first or second highest murder rate among the nation’s 50 largest cities. A National Academy of Sciences report [5] based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications and a survey of 80 different gun-control laws, shows no link between restrictions on gun ownership and lower rates of crime, firearms violence or even accidents with guns.

Even if the court’s four far-left members who dissented in the decision do not understand the issue, the American people do. According to Gallup [6], 73% of the U.S. public believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns. And almost 7 out of 10 Americans are opposed to a law that would make the possession of a handgun illegal.

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Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2008/06/27/morning-bell-a-big-victory-for-individual-rights/

URLs in this post:

[1] the Constitution’s Second Amendment does protect an individual’s right to to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/washington/27scotus.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=todayspaper&adxnnlx=1214562763-vzUDz1EC0OOnZ70Dqvm83A

[2] judicial activism: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-chemerinsky27-2008jun27,0,1691470.story

[3] majority opinion: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-2901.pdf

[4] since the District of Columbia first instituted its ban on handguns: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,336689,00.html

[5] report: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42167

[6] According to Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/108394/Americans-Agreement-Supreme-Court-Gun-Rights.aspx

[7] Democrats abruptly ended a House Appropriations Committee meeting: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/11374.html

[8] carbon emissions tax on all flights: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/business/worldbusiness/27air.html?ref=todayspaper

[9] K Street lobbyists are applying strong pressure: http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0608/Housing_industry_lobby_frustrated_by_Senate_delay_.html

[10] will pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan until the next president takes office: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/06/26/national/w170756D82.DTL

[11] both the number and amount of earmarks have increased in several spending bills: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/washington/27earmarks.html?ref=todayspaper

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