Are We Headed Towards a Nation Unconstrained by Gun Laws?

September 30, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Could a pending Supreme Court case result in the wholesale prohibition of state gun laws? The Supreme Court Justices, with the newly sworn in Justice Sonia Sotomayor among them, delved through thousands of recent cases seeking review on Wednesday, choosing ten that warranted the high court’s scrutiny. And one of the most anticipated cases chosen is the gun rights case of, “McDonald v. Chicago,” which presents the court with the question, of whether Second Amendment protections apply to local gun ordinances.

Gun rights activists and the National Rifle Association believe the Second Amendment bestows the right to bear arms on the individual, which would preclude most state laws restricting handguns and other weapons.

The case of “McDonald v. Chicago,” could ban states from imposing restrictions on gun ownership that may unduly interfere with the Constitutional right to bear arms, like other Constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech.

For decades, the settled law has treated Second Amendment rights, as only applying to federal restrictions and not local gun control ordinances.

However, with the recent Supreme Court case throwing out a strict hand gun ordinance in the federal district of Washington DC, gun rights activists now are pushing for the expansion of the theory of individual rights used in the case to apply to all 50 states.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in the Washington, DC case said, “It is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” Although, he also wrote in his opinion that Second Amendment rights were not unlimited. “The right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” wrote Scalia.

The Chicago case accepted for review was filed by a gun rights activist seeking to overturn Chicago’s strict laws to ban handguns, as a test case to force the court to decide whether last year’s Washington, DC ruling applies as well, to local and state laws.

Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the Chicago ordinances, as in keeping with settled constitutional law and the tradition of Federalism.

“the Constitution establishes a federal republic where local differences are to be cherished as elements of liberty rather than extirpated in order to produce a single, nationally applicable rule.” “Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon,” wrote Easterbrook

Judge Easterbrook then left the expansion of the Second Amendment to the Supreme Court saying, that decision is “for the justices rather than a court of appeals.”

Ironically, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, as an appeals court judge, was part of a three-judge decision in New York that reached a similar conclusion just this year, in upholding New York’s strict gun law ordinance, but the appeal of that case was not chosen for Supreme Court review.

The majority of the Supreme Court is currently made up of conservative appointees. And the expansion of Justice Scalia’s reasoning in the Washington, DC case could very well change the very fabric of our social landscape, resulting in virtually no restrictions on gun ownership in this country.

It seems our nation is about to return to the days of the Wild West.


5 Responses to “Are We Headed Towards a Nation Unconstrained by Gun Laws?”

  1. Ty Right on September 30th, 2009 8:57 pm

    “Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon,” wrote Easterbrook

    This statement is on the face of it , completely ridiculous and seems to have emmananted from the stomach of judge Easterbrook. It is totally without merit, as a statement, and proof that judges should be replaced by computers.

  2. Old Man Dotes on September 30th, 2009 9:10 pm

    One thing you should remember about the Wild West (well, two things): Firstly, that it was extremely unusual for abusers of the right to bear arms to survive very long; Jesse James was the exception, not the rule; and secondly, that most of what modern Americans (and for that matter, foreigners) “know” about the Wild West is pure fiction.

  3. Carl in Chicago on September 30th, 2009 10:25 pm

    I wish it were so … a nation unconstrained by gun laws.

    But that is probably an over-reaching prediction. At any rate, it would be nice to see us concentrate on rule of law, justice for the innocent, and punishment for the guilty, instead of chasing off to try to control this object or that … in the false hope that doing so might change people’s behavior.

    In the end, it is bad people who behave unlawfully.

    Easterbrook is surely already regretting that “older and more deeply rooted tradition” quote. He must have losers for clerks. If he only had read the Heller opinion, there was great discussion on how the right to arms predates our American concept of Federalism.

    PS: As a matter of fact, gun owners don’t believe that the constitution bestows us the right to arms. We know that it predates the constitution and arises out of the natural law of self-preservation. The second amendment simply commands that the right shall not be infringed. If you learn only one thing today … let it be that.

  4. Larry on October 1st, 2009 2:22 am

    Methinks that you doth protest too much. Most of the United States already have very liberal (as in liberty, not statist Liberals) laws regarding gun ownership and carry. The number of states in which you (presuming that you are a law abiding person without a criminal record or mental issues) cannot get a permit to carry a concealed weapon can be counted on one hand. A ruling by the Supreme Court will likely only apply what is the norm in the majority of the nation to those aberrant locales such as Chicago (where I live).

    Chicago’s laws are abhorrent. When this city is prepared to assign each resident a personal police body guard for 24×7 protection, perhaps it can justify a total ban. When the city is willing to accept specific liability for protecting our safety and property — meaning we can sue and win damages when the city does not prevent a mugging, robbery, rape, battery, assault, murder, or other crime against an individual — then it can maybe justify prohibiting residents from possessing the means to self defense. Until the city and police are responsible and liable for preventing crime, not merely investigating, putting up tape and drawing chalk lines, there can be no justification for the ban.

  5. Norquist Nemesis on October 1st, 2009 4:43 am

    If SCOTUS guts the gun laws, Congress needs to tax the hell out of guns and bullets. Tax them and use the revenue to fund police, gun victim survivors and GSW emergency room visits. Use the same principle for weapons as they do for cigarettes.

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