Once in a while, our government actually gets one right
June 26th, 2008.
Just another day…until this year.
Now…it is a date that will forever mark the Supreme Court’s first definitive ruling on the 2nd Amendment in our great nation’s history. And, making it all the sweeter for us gun enthusiasts, and clear-thinking people everywhere, the enrobed ennead came to the correct decision, albeit by the narrow margin of 5-4.
Make no mistake about it: this is a momentous day for gun-rights advocates in the USA. But, before we go reveling into the streets until the wee hours, let’s briefly review what this ruling means to us.
First, and foremost, the Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment is/was indeed meant to protect *individual* rights of gun ownership. That this very issue was in question is evidence of how far the anti-gun nuts are willing to distort the truth, in order to further their cause. It’s been well confirmed by legal historians, time and time again, that the wording of the 2nd Amendment, while admittedly somewhat unwieldy and unfamiliar to modern speakers, was *not* confining the right to guns to militia members. Further discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this superficial editorial, but the gist is that the writers of the 2nd Amendment were thinking of private civilians as well as militia members, when they captured the very necessary freedom in writing.
Second, the ruling means that state and federal governments are no longer at liberty to ignore the point above. The DC law banning handguns was the issue at bar, and is now unenforceable due to its unconstitutionality. Any other laws that deprive legal ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens are also at risk for being similarly challenged. Look for Chicago, IL and Toledo, OH, among others to face challenges to their gun laws very soon. And…no other municipality, country or state will be able to entertain such silliness in the future. This is a Very Good Thing.
Now, it’s important to bear in mind that the Court didn’t declare the right gun ownership to be absolute, and above *all* government authority. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, did acknowledge the legality of “reasonable government restrictions.” (Get ready for a whole new fight on interpreting THIS!) Government agencies, therefore, will still be able to require registration of guns. He also pointed out that guns will still remain out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill, and will be controlled in “sensitive areas” such as schools and government facilities. Frankly, this writer has trouble finding too much heartburn in these realities; in the big picture, we won…and we won big.
Finally, it should be pointed out that this ruling will likely do nothing to further the cause of concealed carry in jurisdictions that are reluctant to allow this. This battle was over the right to own guns, not to carry them with us wherever we wish.
The above limitations notwithstanding, we enthusiasts of the hunting and shooting sports should consider today to mark a major victory for our gun rights, and a celebration of another successful blow for liberty in these times of rapidly eroding civil freedoms. And for this, we should be thankful. But not too thankful…after all, we were in the right all along.