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Handgun ban shotdown

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http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/06/26/scotus.guns/

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Washington D.C.'s sweeping ban on handguns is unconstitutional.

A gun ownership supporter holds a placard in March outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

 

A gun ownership supporter holds a placard in March outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

 

The justices voted 5-4 against the ban with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority.

 

At issue in District of Columbia v. Heller was whether the city's ban violated the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" by preventing individuals -- as opposed to state militias -- from having guns in their homes.

 

District of Columbia officials argued they had the responsibility to impose "reasonable" weapons restrictions to reduce violent crime, but several Washingtonians challenged the 32-year-old law. Some said they had been constant victims of crimes and needed guns for protection.

 

In March, two women went before the justices with starkly different opinions on the handgun ban.

 

Shelly Parker told the court she is a single woman who has been threatened by drug dealers in her Washington neighborhood.

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"In the event that someone does get in my home, I would have no defense, except maybe throw my paper towels at them," she said, explaining she told police she had an alarm, bars on her windows and a dog.

 

"What more am I supposed to do?" Parker recalled asking authorities. "The police turned to me and said, 'Get a gun.' " See how proponents, opponents argued »

 

Elilta "Lily" Habtu, however, told the high court that she supports the handgun ban, and tighter gun control in general. Habtu was in a Virginia Tech classroom in April 2007 when fellow student Seung-Hui Cho burst in and began shooting. She survived bullets to the head and arm.

 

"There has to be tighter gun control; we can't let another Virginia Tech to happen," she told the court. "And we're just not doing it; we're sitting around; we're doing nothing. We let the opportunity arise for more massacres."

 

In March 2007, a federal appeals court overturned the ban, which keeps most private citizens from owning handguns and keeping them in their homes.

 

It was the first time a federal appeals court ruled a gun law unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds.

 

City attorneys urged the high court to intervene, warning, "The District of Columbia -- a densely populated urban locality where the violence caused by handguns is well-documented -- will be unable to enforce a law that its elected officials have sensibly concluded saves lives."

 

There were 143 gun-related murders in Washington last year, compared with 135 in 1976, when the handgun ban was enacted.

 

The Second Amendment says, "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 wording repeatedly has raised the question of whether gun ownership is an individual right, or a collective one pertaining to state militias and therefore subject to regulation.

 

The Supreme Court has avoided the question since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. The high court last examined the issue in 1939 but stayed away from the broad constitutional question.

 

Only Chicago, Illinois, has a handgun ban as sweeping as Washington's, though Maryland, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California, joined the Windy City in issuing briefs supporting the district's ban.

 

The National Rifle Association, Disabled Veterans for Self-Defense and the transgender group Pink Pistols -- along with 31 states -- filed briefs supporting the District of Columbia's gun owners.

 

In February, a majority of U.S. congressmen -- 55 senators and 250 representatives -- filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down Washington's ordinance.

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"Our founders didn't intend for the laws to be applied to some folks and not to others," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, said at the time.

 

Washington's ban applies only to handguns. The city allows possession of rifles and shotguns, although it requires that they be kept in the home, unloaded and fitted with locks or dissembled.

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reading the majority and the dissent, this was a very interesting ruling with two GREAT writings. Scalia has some of the best written opinions, and Stevens dissent was equally as interesting. Although, I still have the impression that Roberts and Alito are just schills.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 09:14 AM)
reading the majority and the dissent, this was a very interesting ruling with two GREAT writings. Scalia has some of the best written opinions, and Stevens dissent was equally as interesting. Although, I still have the impression that Roberts and Alito are just schills.

Alito is absolutely a shill, and was a joke of a nomination. But Stevens I think is a little more grounded.

 

That all said, I agree with the ruling, and I look forward to reading the opinions.

 

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lol, I love Scalia's style:

 

"Giving “bear Arms” its idiomatic meaning would cause the protected right to consist of the right to be a soldier or to wage war—an absurdity that no commentator has ever endorsed. See L. Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights 135 (1999). Worse still, the phrase“keep and bear Arms” would be incoherent. The word “Arms” would have two different meanings at once:“weapons” (as the object of “keep”) and (as the object of“bear”) one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying “He filled and kicked the bucket” to mean “He filled the bucket and died.” Grotesque."

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An interesting note on this case, and 2nd amendment cases in general... SCOTUS had, until this case, seemed downright allergic to touching 2A. The seminal case had been Miller, which was (I think) a 19th century decision, and which had all sorts of oddities. So this is a very big deal.

 

Also of note... one of the justices from the Miller case had put a warning of sorts in his opinion on the case. He noted that 2nd amendment protections should be taken with a grain of logical salt, and that it should not be allowed to protect ALL arms to ALL citizens in ALL cases and uses. 2A, in its essence, was written as a check against a potentially corrupt government. That being the case, the end game of 2A as written would then extend to protecting even the most powerful weapons available. Such protections, while in some interperetations Constitutionally valid, are probably not a good idea for the public welfare.

 

In this case though, pistols do not seem to fit in that category, so its hard to justify the handgun ban as a move for public safety.

 

Fascinating stuff.

 

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John McCain:

Today's decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

 

Does anyone know if McCain is for allowing convicted felons and gang members to own guns? I'd be curious.

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QUOTE (Athomeboy_2000 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 01:45 PM)
John McCain:

 

 

Does anyone know if McCain is for allowing convicted felons and gang members to own guns? I'd be curious.

Why would he? I seriously doubt it. That would be just plain bats***.

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QUOTE (Athomeboy_2000 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 11:52 AM)
but that infringes on the right over every American to own a gun. You cant say "the right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right , but just not these people"

 

PS: my comment comes off as rather simple, give me a few moments to come up with a clearer response.

Voting is an individual right, but we don't allow people younger than 18 to do it. And the method of voting does prevent some people from being able to do so, due to work or other circumstances.

 

The freedom to practice religion is an individual right, but there are limitations on that too. You can't legally sacrifice animals or people, even if your religion says to.

 

The freedom of speech is an individual right, but you can't yell fire in a crowded theatre.

 

The common thread here is that there are exceptions made in regards to basic public welfare, or just plain practicality. You can't allow violence, and you can't possibly address every problem present for voters. So, even with individual rights, they are not truly unbounded.

 

SCOTUS is saying that restrictions on types of weapons violates the individual right, when the law in essence prevents an entire city from having ownership of a practical weapon. A pistol is dangerous, but not significantly more so than a rifle. Less so in some ways, in fact. So its not a limitation on the extremity, to prevent pandemonium. A law banning nuclear weapons from individual ownership - now that is a ban on the extremity.

 

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QUOTE (NorthSideSox72 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 11:59 AM)
SCOTUS is saying that restrictions on types of weapons violates the individual right, when the law in essence prevents an entire city from having ownership of a practical weapon. A pistol is dangerous, but not significantly more so than a rifle. Less so in some ways, in fact. So its not a limitation on the extremity, to prevent pandemonium. A law banning nuclear weapons from individual ownership - now that is a ban on the extremity.

I think that's a very good argument. thanks.

 

PS: I pulled my previous comment until i could flush things out in my head and I think you have a point. I have always said I am VERY conflicted on gun control and the 2nd amendment.

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I know I'm in the minority but I feel that the 2nd amendment is completely outdated. I don't see why we need to own guns as individuals. It just doesn't seem like something a civilized society would require. I could see a case where hunting specific rifles were allowed but that's about it.

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:07 PM)
I know I'm in the minority but I feel that the 2nd amendment is completely outdated. I don't see why we need to own guns as individuals. It just doesn't seem like something a civilized society would require. I could see a case where hunting specific rifles were allowed but that's about it.

The 2nd amendment has nothing to do with hunting.

 

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 01:07 PM)
I know I'm in the minority but I feel that the 2nd amendment is completely outdated. I don't see why we need to own guns as individuals. It just doesn't seem like something a civilized society would require. I could see a case where hunting specific rifles were allowed but that's about it.

In a perfect world we could wave a magic wand and take everybody's guns away, so everyone is on equal footing. The problem IMO is that you can easily take guns away from people who obey the law, but by definition you can't take them away from criminals. So by taking away guns from law-abiding citizens all you do is leave them vulnerable to criminals.

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QUOTE (NorthSideSox72 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:09 PM)
The 2nd amendment has nothing to do with hunting.
Right. I'm saying I see no reason that a civilized society should have a need to bear arms.

 

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:07 PM)
I know I'm in the minority but I feel that the 2nd amendment is completely outdated. I don't see why we need to own guns as individuals. It just doesn't seem like something a civilized society would require. I could see a case where hunting specific rifles were allowed but that's about it.

 

I dont know if I agree with you on this, but I have said that if I could, I would go back in tome and de-invent the gun. They scare the $h!t out of me. I hate them and never want to see one. I am all for fighting wars with bows and arrows, sticks, stones, and baseball bats. I'd love to see someone break into my apartment with a bow and arrow. BRING IT! LOL

 

Edit: Paintball guns are ok, i love paintball. lol

Edited by Athomeboy_2000

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QUOTE (lostfan @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:11 PM)
In a perfect world we could wave a magic wand and take everybody's guns away, so everyone is on equal footing. The problem IMO is that you can easily take guns away from people who obey the law, but by definition you can't take them away from criminals. So by taking away guns from law-abiding citizens all you do is leave them vulnerable to criminals.

Just look at other Western countries that outlaw guns and their crime rates and compare them to ours.

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QUOTE (Athomeboy_2000 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:11 PM)
I dont know if I agree with you on this, but I have said that if I could, I would go back in tome and de-invent the gun. They scare the $h!t out of me. I hate them and never want to see one. I am all for fighting wars with bows and arrows, sticks, stones, and baseball bats. I'd love to see someone break into my apartment with a bow and arrow. BRING IT! LOL

I realize most Americans won't.

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 01:12 PM)
Just look at other Western countries that outlaw guns and their crime rates and compare them to ours.

They've never had guns, either. Here in America guns are everywhere and always have been. That's just reality. It's like trying to turn an aircraft carrier around with 10 feet to maneuver.

Edited by lostfan

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:11 PM)
Right. I'm saying I see no reason that a civilized society should have a need to bear arms.

You think the only purpose of having guns is to hunt?

 

We don't live in Eden, as noted above. And our government sure as heck isn't worthy of our complete trust. That's why we vote, and recycle politicians, and have a Constitution enumerating individual rights... but MOST importantly, the Constitution is an AFFIRMATIVE document of the powers of government. Not the other way around. It lines out what the government can and should do, and leaves ALL ELSE to states and the people.

 

And in the case of guns, they felt so strongly about making sure that right was protected, they made sure to add that right immediately behind the freedom of speech.

 

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QUOTE (lostfan @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:15 PM)
They've never had guns, either. Here in America guns are everywhere and always have been. That's just reality. It's like trying to turn an aircraft carrier around with 10 feet to maneuver.

I'm not a big fan of the "we've always did it this way" excuse and that applies to many situations in life.

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QUOTE (NorthSideSox72 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:15 PM)
You think the only purpose of having guns is to hunt?

 

Well they can be used for murder as well.

 

QUOTE (NorthSideSox72 @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:15 PM)
And in the case of guns, they felt so strongly about making sure that right was protected, they made sure to add that right immediately behind the freedom of speech.

 

And IMO that's a very outdated line of thinking.

 

I'll end it at that. I realize I'm severely outnumbered in this forum.

 

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:07 PM)
I know I'm in the minority but I feel that the 2nd amendment is completely outdated. I don't see why we need to own guns as individuals. It just doesn't seem like something a civilized society would require. I could see a case where hunting specific rifles were allowed but that's about it.

 

Why shouldn't law-abiding citizens be allowed to own guns?

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:12 PM)
Just look at other Western countries that outlaw guns and their crime rates and compare them to ours.

I have. I wrote a 2nd amendment law review, and also a position paper, on 2A, in college. And actually, the numbers on gun violence make a strong case for having 2nd amendment protections for individuals.

 

Gun crime in places where gun bans or restrictions are enacted do not typically go down - they usually stay the same or go up. Communities with high rates of legal gun ownership are nearly always lower crime areas.

 

And as for comparing countries, you have to have some time perspective. The UK banned guns a long time ago (for the most part), but their violent crime rates were already very very low. Gun crime in London is still low, but has gone up steadily.

 

For every example like the UK, there is an example like Switzerland, where every household is armed, and violent crime is virtually non-existent.

 

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 01:16 PM)
I'm not a big fan of the "we've always did it this way" excuse and that applies to many situations in life.

That's not what I said.

 

What is wanted and ideal is completely different from what's practical, or even possible.

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QUOTE (StrangeSox @ Jun 26, 2008 -> 12:19 PM)
Why shouldn't law-abiding citizens be allowed to own guns?

Because murderers were always at one point law-abiding citizens.

Edited by BigSqwert

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