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Court to Decide If Individuals Have Right to Bear Arms

The groundbreaking lawsuit challenging Washington DC's strict gun-control laws will go before the US Supreme Court this week. District of Columbia v. Heller, funded by a rich libertarian lawyer, is a shot in the dark for Second Amendment activists. The Supreme Court will have the extremely rare opportunity to rule on a provision of the Constitution that never has gone directly before the Supreme Court — the Second Amendment.

DC has the nation's strictest gun-control law, and effectively bans the private possession of handguns. The law states that rifles and shotguns must be kept unloaded and disassembled, or trigger locked, at home. DC argues that the law is a logical decision to make in a dangerous city, although the other party maintains that crime and homicide rates have not been reduced. To see how the Bush administration is making a case for the restrictions,


The Constitutional question is whether the Second Amendment provides an individual right, or whether it only extends to militias as a collective right. In fact the Bush Administration has helped the district, arguing that while the Second Amendment conveys an individual right, such a right is subject to reasonable government restrictions. The government's official position has infuriated gun activists, including Dick Cheney. Check out some exerpts from the briefs filed with the court by interested parties.

We'll have to wait a while to get the court's decision on one of the most important cases in American history. The opinion should be released this summer. And here's an extra twist — liberals who favor expansive interpretations of other amendments, like those protecting the rights of criminal defendants, logically should embrace a broad reading of the Second Amendment, a blow to liberal gun control.

Do you think gun rights belong to the individual? If so, when do restrictions stop being reasonable?


Join The Conversation
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Ha! Sensationalism! I love it when people do that.
remedios remedios 9 years
if I form my own militia, can I keep my tax dollars from going to the military? I'm just trying to understand the law here.
remedios remedios 9 years
so does this mean i can have my own personal nuclear bomb? i promise it's just for personal protection.
littlemissme littlemissme 9 years
Thanks for the link Liberty...very interesting.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
This site has some interesting stats on gun control, homicide rates, etc.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Your dad is a smart man. While I respect and thank those who do not chose to be gun owners themselves, but still support the 2nd amendment. I would be a little happier to read, instead, your dad give you his guns when he can not longer hit a target. Afterall, he can no longer protect you without them. Who will you rely on then? Take a gun saftey course, and ask your dad to take you shooting. Better yet, find a shooting range in the phone book and go yourself. Or, tell your dad you found the shooting range and want him to go with you, as a father daughter day. ;-)
beachykeen beachykeen 9 years
I agree with what my dad said that the moment he can not hit a target he will sell all of his guns and he also has told me the other time to get rid of guns is when you hear a sound if you jump to get the gun you dont need it. They personally make me nervous but I feel safer knowing my dad has one seeing that criminals have them I want my dad to have his so he can protect my family if something did happen
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
As far as Constitutional right to bear arms, the second amendment can be interpreted as being iffy. But in the 4th Amendement it explicitly states that people have the right to be secure in their persons and possesions. Of course that was in regard to unreasonable searches and seizures, but nonetheless it does state that we have that right. And in order to be secure in our persons and possessions we need to have the right to defend those things reasonably. Quite a few states require people to take classes in order to get a concealed carry permit (although Washington doesn't). Those with permits actually tend to be very responsible gun owners and in comand of their weapons. I believe that the shooter at the Tacoma Mall a few years ago was taken down by a guy with a permit. The fact is the police just can't get somewhere fast enough to stop a lot of damage, but private citizens can. As for the comment about the liberal posters not advocating a complete gun ban, I would like to think that it's because the Citizen Sugar readers are smarter than that. If you look at the facts it just doesn't make sense.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
spelling errors now and forever, I try to proof read but don't a lot. Crazy baby near by and all have write really fast.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Thanks cabaker. Sorry about the spelling errors. I wish I could have seen it on tv. I was glad to read it though. I can never get anything on You tube. I live in the middle of no-where and we still have dial up. Things either take forever to download or they don't come up at all. Anyway, b-t-w, I'm really glad to have found this site!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I do agree with you, cine. I just think it's an interesting point to bring up. Overall, though, I do think the need to bear arms has shifted from being a need to be able to protect oneself from the government to need to be able to protect oneself from other citizens. Also, I think it's interesting that even the more liberal citizen posters are not for a complete gun ban. I just don't think it's something that citizens really support. Some people support different, stricter restrictions, but it really seems like people (on here at least) aren't really in support of a total ban. I am thinking this is just the District's way of testing the theory that they should be allowed to have more self-governance. Any thoughts on that?
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
"Let's be honest, if the government wanted to wage a war on its citizens, hand guns, rifles, etc. would do little to protect us from the organized U.S. military and all of their tanks, etc." True. But who knows if part of the military would be on the side of the "rebels". Then it would be a great asset to have the population armed and loaded (and trained). I sound sort of crazy now.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I highly encourage everyone to watch that Stossel piece, it is fascinating!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
harts - THANK YOU! I totally forgot about that Stossel interview... I watched the video of it a while back, I think its on YouTube - And excellent point about that church too! I was reading about concealed carry laws, and the stats say that only in about 3% of crimes where the victim has pulled out a gun, have the victims actually had to shoot their attacker.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Well as John Stossel pointed out, victims without guns to protect themselves are at a disadvantage. Instances where people had a gun to bring to the gun fight, that person saved lives. I know of plenty of instances where a person with a gun stopped someone else with a gun. The security gaurd for instance at a church (sorry, I forget how recently it happend) shot and killed a man who had already shot 2 people. But, she prevented him of killing more. My brother in law was sitting in his car at night, a guy tapped on his window with a gun. My brother in law picked up his gun and showed it to him. The guy left. I have had a gun and hunters safety course, so has my daughter. She took hers at 10 now she's 13. True, some gun owners shouldn't have them, my ex-husband and his friends come to mind. I remember one of my ex's friends put a hole in our wall while he was cleaning his gun. None of them were hunters or law enforcers. They just thought the guns made them look cool. I agree that a mandatory gun safety course taken for all gun owners might be a good idea. Then again, I remember another guy I knew, a very long time ago, was almost shot by another of his friends who made a gun out of a pipe and a potato. You know, there are no pipe and potato classes. Anyway, I'd rather be able to protect and provide for myself and my family, and not rely on the government. Let's keep them out of our personal lives as much as posible.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Florida is a great example. Like you mentioned, cine, you can't necessarily look at other countries and compare them to the U.S. because the culture in other places is completely different. I do think it's interesting to look at how things changed in the other countries after stricter gun control laws were enacted. As for the right to own guns, I think it has evolved in a way, because law-abiding citizens do often use guns for protection, but not necessarily to guarantee protection against the government, which seems to be the original intent of the law. Let's be honest, if the government wanted to wage a war on its citizens, hand guns, rifles, etc. would do little to protect us from the organized U.S. military and all of their tanks, etc.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Good job you two!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
cabaker I was writing about Floridia too! Great example!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Hmmm...janneth I would have disagree with this comment. If we are to compare ourselves to lets say, England, then lets get into it shall we. England has had a much lower homicide rate then the U.S.A since before they outlawed guns (which outlawing guns, I believe is against their Constitution). In fact they had a very low violent crime rate in general before the outlaw of guns. Interestingly enough, between the years, I believe 1981-1995, while the American crime rate fell, crime rates in Britain were on the rise and now surpass the United States. These crimes include, Burglary, car theft, assault, and robbery. We can also go into statistics of Australia. It is well known that their crime rate increased when they outlawed guns, but of course the government is trying to cover that up, by saying they are reporting crime differently now, so that is having the effect on the statistics. So for arguments sake we will take the government side. Prior to the gun Ban, Australia's crime rate was on a very steady decrease. After, even if the police are reporting crime differently, crime has still increased in most areas, and if they have not increased then they have stayed the same and are no longer decreasing. Also, when a state enacts laws that allow concealed guns, the crime rate drops. If you need an example of this look no further then Florida. In 1987 Florida enacted concealed gun legislation. Homicide rates dropped faster then the national average. And in fact only one homicide was committed by a permit holder out of 350,000. So, yes, in a sense you are correct that SOME countries with gun bans have a lower homicide rate, but they always have compared to the USA, even when they had liberal gun laws.
syako syako 9 years
:rotfl: pop! :notworthy:
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
In this country, Florida in 1987 adopted a right to carry law. Between 1987 and 1996 the crime stats were recorded as such: - homicide rate -36% - firearm homicide rate -37% - handgun homicide rate -41% Those are negative %, just to be sure we're on the same page. This is just a small sampling and I'd love for someone to find some facts that guns cause more violence.. because I honestly can't find any.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
:rotfl: I also forgot to look at the moon and Mars.....
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
mymellowman, all you have to do is look at a continent like Antartica to prove that statement is a fact.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
If anyone is interested, CSPAN will be airing the arguments at 11:15 EST.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"In countries where handguns are banned, the homicide rate is much lower." - You're going to need to back up this comment with a link to some facts, miss, as there are many who would say other wise.
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