Skip to comments.US Supreme Court justices seem favorable to constitutional gun rights for Americans
Posted on 03/19/2008 12:15:12 AM PDT by BellStar
WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans have a right to own guns, U.S. Supreme Court justices declared in a historic and lively debate that could lead to the most significant interpretation of whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees that right since the document's ratification two centuries ago.
On the other hand, a majority of justices seemed to agree, governments have a right to regulate those firearms.
There was less apparent agreement on the case they were arguing: whether the national capital's ban on handguns goes too far.
The justices dug deeply Tuesday into arguments about one of the Constitution's most hotly debated provisions as demonstrators shouted slogans outside the stately Supreme Court building. Guns are an American right, argued one side. "Guns kill," responded the other.
Inside the court, at the end of a session extended long past the normal one hour, a majority of justices appeared ready to say that Americans have a "right to keep and bear arms" that goes beyond the Second Amendment's reference to service in a militia as a condition.
Several justices were openly skeptical that the District of Columbia's 32-year-old handgun ban, perhaps the strictest in the nation, could survive under that reading of the Constitution.
"What is reasonable about a total ban on possession?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked.
Walter Dellinger, representing the district, replied that Washington residents could own rifles and shotguns and could use them for protection at home. The District of Columbia and Washington share joint administration, with more federal oversight than other U.S. cities.
"What is reasonable about a total ban on possession is that it's a ban only on the possession of one kind of weapon, of handguns, that's considered especially dangerous," Dellinger said.
Justice Stephen Breyer appeared reluctant to second-guess local officials.
Is it "unreasonable for a city with a very high crime rate ... to say `No handguns here?"' Breyer asked.
Alan Gura, representing a Washington resident who challenged the ban, said, "It's unreasonable, and it fails any standard of review."
The court has not interpreted the Second Amendment conclusively since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
The basic issue for the justices is whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is tied somehow to service in a state militia.
A crucial justice, Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote on the nine-justice court, seemed to settle that question early on when he said the Second Amendment gives "a general right to bear arms." He is likely to be joined by Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a majority.
Gun rights proponents were encouraged.
"What I heard from the court was the view that the D.C. law, which prohibits good people from having a firearm ... to defend themselves against bad people is not reasonable and (is) unconstitutional," National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said after leaving the court. The NRA is a powerful Washington advocacy group.
Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said he hoped the court would leave the ban in place and not vote for a compromise that would, for example, allow handguns in homes but not in public places. "More guns anywhere in the District of Columbia is going to lead to more crime. And that is why we stand so steadfastly against any repeal of our handgun ban," the mayor said after attending the arguments.
A decision that defines the amendment's meaning would be significant by itself, but the court also has to decide whether Washington's ban can stand and how to evaluate other gun control laws.
The justices have many options, including upholding a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban.
Solicitor General Paul Clement, the Bush administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, supported the individual right but urged the justices not to decide the other question. Instead, Clement said the court should say that governments may impose reasonable restrictions, including federal laws that ban certain types of weapons.
Clement wants the justices to order the appeals court to re-evaluate the Washington law. He did not take a position on it.
This issue has caused division within the administration, with Vice President Dick Cheney taking a harder line than the official position at the court.
While the arguments raged inside, dozens of protesters mingled with tourists and waved signs saying "Ban the Washington elitists, not our guns" or "The NRA helps criminals and terrorists buy guns."
Members of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence chanted "guns kill" as followers of the Second Amendment Sisters and Maryland Shall Issue.Org shouted "more guns, less crime."
The City Council that adopted the ban said it was justified because "handguns have no legitimate use in the purely urban environment of the District of Columbia."
Dick Anthony Heller, 65, an armed security guard, sued the district after it rejected his application to keep a handgun at his home for protection in the same neighborhood, near the Capitol, as the court.
The last Supreme Court ruling on the topic came in 1939 in U.S. v. Miller, which involved a sawed-off shotgun. Constitutional scholars disagree over what that case means but agree it did not squarely answer the question of individual versus collective rights.
Roberts said at his confirmation hearing that the correct reading of the Second Amendment was "still very much an open issue."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL. 03/18/08 20:11 EDT
These folks want to punish every law-abiding citizen of this country because of a schizophrenic jackass who should have been institutionalized long before he had a chance to shoot anyone!
When asked to respond, Obama said:
I’m gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see
I’m gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys i see
If I kill all the whiteys I see,
Then whitey won’t be bothering me!
I’m gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I seeeeeeeeeeeee!!
Slowly but surely, they are firing all 5 black people. WATCH UR ASS KEENAN
Where rights are dangerous. If rights are too dangerous in purely urban environments, what say we outlaw purely urban environments? Not only are they unconstitutional, but if you can't protect yourself in them they are a threat to health and safety. Let's ban cities!
A well regulated militia, being necesary to the security of a free stste, the right of the people ... shall not be infringed.EVERYBODY just plain knows that statement is equivalent to:
A well regulated electorate, being necessary to the secuirty of a free state, the right of the people...shal not be infringed.Clearly one object is lethal and the other isn't. Also, and just as clearly, the founding fathers were adament in thier vociferous proclifivity concerning their views.
Lets just get down to it: anything and everything can be banned by the government.
So how comes Pelosi, Murtha's (or Kennedy - my car killed more people than your gun ever did (so I'll legislate to take your gun) Kennedy) haven't been banned yet?
I allege graft.
But only to go to Jodi Foster movies.
I am afraid of governments right to regulate my firearms.
This is a wake up call for all those out there who do not think McCain is conservative enough for your vote. Imagine what a Clinton or Obama appointee would be like. I have a feeling they would make Bader Ginsburg look like Attila the Hun. Let’s face it, the next president could influence the court long after their four year term is done.
It shocked me when they put their whole argument on “Bear Arms”...DC gave up on fighting against the individual right immediately!
The urban environment is exactly where the right to keep and bear arms is most important. If you openly possess a weapon, the bad guys are far more likely to leave you alone and seek out victims who are unarmed. They aren’t stupid and their instinct for self preservation is not turned off just because they are criminals.
I think it will be a 5-4 ruling, with the majority being pro Second Amendment as an individual right above and beyond one’s association with a state militia. That was clearly the Founders’ intent.
Here is the 5-4 as I see it:
5: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy
4: Ginsburg, Breyer, Stevens, Souter
Dont fall for the BS of the gun rights groups. I thought Gura did a lousy job arguing for the pro gun side. He said at one point that handguns weren’t arms, that he had no problem with govt licencing, trigger locks and other storage requirements, and that “shall not be infringed” could mean “reasonable infringment”. To top it off he was of the opinion that it was ok for govts to regulate arms based on public safety arguments. Other than opposing an outright ban, Sarah Brady would be comfortable with his position. Listen for yourself and decide.
I suspect that they will either throw out the 2d Amendment altogether, or they will say we have a right in theory, but that the states have broad authority to regulate it.
You can’t predict the outcome of these cases by the comments at the oral argument. In fact, to the degree that you can, it’s usually because they are thinking the opposite of what they are saying.
I’m rereading it now. I’m not so sure about Stevens. He is probing for the difference between “shall not be infringed” and “shall not be unreasonably infringed”.
This is exciting! This is truly historic! We are living in interesting times. I watched a man take his first step on the moon. I watched the Soviet Union fall. I watched the millennium pass.
I expect they will decide it is an individual right. But they will add that it is subject to reasonable restrictions. And they will hopefully that the amendment encompasses two types of rights:
The right for the states to have a militia and
Individual rights of self defense of family and neighbors
But what's a "reasonable" restriction. To Teddey the fat, Obama, Feinstein, Brady, Earwax, Hillary, etc. it is absolutely reasonable to restrict all firearms to only their beloved police and their hated military. To me reasonable restrictions are if you can afford it then it's reasonable that you have it. When you have a right with restrictions, then it isn't a right.
Insane people can’t have guns. People previously convicted of a violent crime where there was a weapon as part of the crime may not have guns.
That sort of thing.
Even we disagree on what's "reasonable" And if we disagree on this forum, then obviously there is a wide range of what different people consider "reasonable." For example, I think if a person is incarcerated in either a mental institution or a jail, then no guns. Otherwise I say OK. Take criminals for example. If they're a danger to society what are they doing out of jail, and if they're not a danger to society, then they should be able to defend themselves legally the same as anyone else. Also there is the practical side of it that anyone intent on committing murder or assault with a firearm is obviously not going to pay any attention to a gun control law.
"Reasonable restrictions" only affect the law abiding.
Oh yes they can...I hear ya. The joke of course is that “reasonable restrictions” weren’t intended to prevent the criminally insane or convicted felons from getting guns. Such restrictions have been proven ineffective in preventing crime. They serve only to control the law-abiding (Sheeple).
Of course they did. For proof, and I haven't heard any one speak of it, we have The Bill of Rights.
Are we to believe that BOR, which are Of The People, By The People and For The Poeple....All 10 of those amendments are for US...all of them EXCEPT THAT ONE ???? Why not the 1st? You know, give the state the right to speak freely? Why isn't any one bringing that up? It's simple to see & understand, yet nary a peep.
Our Fore Fathers were brilliant, yet they dropped the ball on this one?
Ok. As I see it, there are three possible outcomes.
1) they rule that there is no such thing as an individual right to keep and bear arms
2) they rule that such a right does exist, subject to reasonable restrictions
3) they rule that there is an absolute, unqualified right to keep and bear arms by anyone and everyone
From what I’m reading:
1) ain’t gonna happen, so that means it’s 2) or 3)
3) ain’t gonna happen, because unfettered unqualified rights have already been reviewed and rejected. The ole “can’t yell fire in a theatre” stuff
That leaves 2).
I’m just trying to call it as I see it, not how I want it.
The thing about 2) is that it ALLOWS for some differences in geographical circumstances.
But there is an absolute result if it ends up being 2).
“Gun bans” would be banned.
Well, Thrownatbirth, I detect by your above writing that you are pro-gun as I am. So, I will ever so gently correct your stated premise concerning the reason for the 2nd ammendment as I can see that you are one of the good guys for sure. Here in Texas one will occasionally see a bumper sticker that states “The 2nd Amendment ain't about duck hunting”. While this statement is written in Bubba’ese, it absolutely nails the 2nd amendment. To put it more succinctly, the 2nd Amendment was written so to provide a last recourse for the general public (we the people aka individuals) to defend themselves against a corrupt government gone bad. And, it's no accident that the 2nd Amendment was #2 in the Bill of Rights as it was written to specifically to protect the 1st Amendment. All one must do to confirm this, along with the fact that the 2nd was written to apply to individuals as is the entire Constitution, is to read the Federalist Papers. I wish the Federalist Papers would be mandatory reading for all high school students but alas, with all the lib's in control of our public schools that ain't gonna happen. But, that's another subject...
Yep. You’re right. I believe it’ll be Nr. 2 as well. The pessimist in me, however, warns that Nr. 1 is not outside the realm of possibility. After all, the Black Robes have issued stranger edicts, such as our recent loss of private property rights. Once a right is taken away...
When can I start the lawsuits against the Massholes in charge of this awful state??? 10# triggers, gun locks, no Taurus, No Colts, $100 F.I.D. cards , $100 dollar licenses to carry... Get the lawyers ready!!!!!!
I agree with your analysis. There’s every indication that George W. Bush will get his way in support of gun-control regulations.
I am shocked...shocked, I tell you...that FReepers aren’t whining about how foreign law is being used to support the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, though. :-)
The figurehead of the "Brady Bunch" got shot.
The leader of the "Brady Bunch" is his unscrupulous, abusive wife.
Well, there is another issue, and that issue is the question of enforceability.
It is often commented on that gun laws only effect the law abiding, that sort of thing.
But let’s be honest. There have been cases where violent convicted felons were caught after their release and found to have guns. So it does sometimes work.
But if we get 2. as an outcome, then THE TYPE OF RESTRICTIONS that people are talking about would no longer be allowed... no more blanket bans.
And that, to me, would seem to be a step in the right direction.
So while no restrictions at all is the most easily enforceable choice, a “reasonable restrictions” clause is only slightly more difficult to enforce.
Now, if they were to go with 1, then they better have 400 million armed Chinese guys in boats off the coast ready to come in and go door to door.
They know that. They’re not fools.
How does that indicate the restrictions work?!?
And that, to me, would seem to be a step in the right direction.
Both sides can say that.
So while no restrictions at all is the most easily enforceable choice, a reasonable restrictions clause is only slightly more difficult to enforce.
I'm not in favor of removing rights just because it's "easily enforceable"...sorry.
I'll admit that the connection broke after only 38 minutes and I can't seem to restart it at that point, so I'll have to listen to the end when I have more time. Note that many important inflections and nuances (yes, nuances) of the discussion are lost when just reading the transcript, IMHO.
What’s the URL for the audio?
I tried the CNN feed but it looked like it required realplayer or some such junk.
Have you read the briefs and the transcript/heard the audio from yesterday? Surprisingly, it seems that your argument is what DC is saying...and then arguing that the Second Amendment isn't protective of handguns since individuals can use rifles or shotguns to be part of the citizen militia.
It's an interesting twist to the gun-grabbers' argument...and something we have to be sure to note in the fight, as they can use words against us if we don't take the next step and explain why that argument falls apart.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is just my own interpretation and opinion, not any sort of legal advice!
Instead of RealPlayer, I use Real Alternative (since RealPlayer was started by a leftie and I don’t want to support it so he can donate more to leftist causes!).
Here’s the link from CSPAN:
One place you can find it is here:
(Note...I have no affiliation with them, so use at your own risk. I just know that it has worked well for me and it’s free, and the Media Player Classic it installs can also be used to view .FLV videos, with the right codec. Also, though, . .smi and .smil files sometimes only play the first part of a clip.)
Hope that helps!
Oh, one drawback of Real Alternative: I was going to get a very nice program (WM Recorder)to capture streaming RealMedia files, but it required RealPlayer to be installed, not Real Alternative. It looked like a great program and the tech support folks were very responsive and helpful, but without installing RealPlayer, it’s not any use to me.
I suppose I can give it a shot. Gives me a good reason to GHOST my boot drive before I install it.
(and I been a slacker, been about a month since last backup!)
If the court rules an individual right that cannot be infringed, that opens the machine gun/asault weapon argument and the gun controllers will go absolutely ape$hit. There may even be talk of judicial impeachment.
So, with a wink and nudge, the fix is in. It will be declared an individual right that may be reasonably regulated or, as Justice Stevens opined, "It shall not be unreasonably infringed".
Like I said, this proves that nothing has changed...
We have the right to “own”??? How utterly arrogant...
Yet the flipside is that they “feel” government has the authority to continue to “regulate”...
I feel the need to flush the entire system is in order...
And its not just because of this issue alone...
The justices have many options, including upholding a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban.
No media bias here. I think the libtards are scared sh*tless of this case.
He traded all of that away for an “individual right” interpretation by the court. Give me that, he was saying, and I’’ll give you anything you want.
However, the Founders knew that simply arming the population (all the militia) was insufficient. Training was required. And training everyone to the proficiency required for battle was impossible.
So they settled on a select group of "well regulated" Militia -- trained, disciplined, organized, armed and accoutered, with officers appointed by each state. It was this "well regulated Militia" that was necessary to the security of a free state, not an armed populace.
Their RKBA was protected by the second amendment.
They can start with Wilkes-Barre...
The government doesn’t HAVE A RIGHT to regulate your guns.
“The government doesnt HAVE A RIGHT to regulate your guns.”
That’s not what OUR SIDE was saying yesterday. We were sold down the river.
“So, with a wink and nudge, the fix is in. It will be declared an individual right that may be reasonably regulated or, as Justice Stevens opined, “It shall not be unreasonably infringed”.
I think that is what the final decision will say. It really wont change or settle anything.
Same applies to this sh**hole known as DC.
No, you are wrong.
The right to bear arms has NOTHING to do with the wilderness or wild animals. Thomas Jefferson told us very CLEARLY what the 2nd amendment means. Unfortunately social facists and a intentional dumbing down of our education system has created a very contitutionally stupid american citizen.
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. - Thomas Jefferson
Robert that is utter BS, they did not “settle on a select group” of well regulated militia. The second part of that amendment says that the right of the people shall not be infringed regardless of whom the “militia” happens to be.
So, let me make something perfectly clear to you, gun-grabber... I am a “well trained” militia person - I spent 26 years in the military to defend our country, and your rights to make idiotic statements, but I promise that people like you will NOT take the guns of the people of this country.
You’re what we call a “domestic enemy”.... you’re someone who lives in this country that wants to impose YOUR will on everyone else, because you don’t like that they have guns.
Tough, RobertPaulsen, you’re a TROLL now and that’s all you’ve been in all these threads.
Here, you’re an enemy of the people of the United States.