Mar 31 2008 -
On March 18, for the first time since 1939, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments on a case relating to individuals’ right to own firearms. In hearing District of Columbia v. Heller, the court will rule on the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.’s gun ban, which makes it illegal for law-abiding citizens to possess an operable firearm in their homes.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on this case – expected to be announced in the coming weeks – will have major implications for all Americans, not just those living in our nation’s capital. The court will decide far more than just the constitutionality of the D.C. gun ban. It will also provide the clearest guidance yet on whether the Second Amendment protects individuals’ right to own and keep guns in their homes or whether the amendment was intended to protect the right to arm government-organized militias, as anti-gun advocates have argued.
GUN OWNERSHIP A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT
I have always believed it is clear that the Second Amendment provides citizens with a constitutional right to own firearms. The 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.” I believe the intent of our founding fathers to allow citizens to own firearms is very clear.
Unfortunately, liberal activists and anti-gun groups argue that the Second Amendment doesn’t provide rights to individuals, rather to organized “militias.” In response to this ill-conceived argument, Robert Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, recently wrote in the Boston Globe: “It is inconceivable that the framers – seeking to provide Americans with a means to resist tyrannical government – would fashion a right that can be exercised only in the context of a militia that is under government rule.”
HISTORY OF CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT
There is a long history of Congressional support for protecting individuals’ Second Amendment rights. As elected officials, I believe we have the duty to protect the constitutional rights of our constituents, and the right to own firearms should take a back seat to no other right guaranteed by our Founding Fathers in that remarkable document.
I am proud to be one of those in Congress who has stood up for the Second Amendment. As a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I have been active in looking out for gun owners and other sportsmen to ensure their Second Amendment rights are not jeopardized. Most recently, I joined 53 other senators, as well as Vice President Dick Cheney and 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, in signing an amicus brief that has been filed with the Supreme Court urging a decision that restores Second Amendment rights for the citizens of D.C. This bipartisan effort shows the overwhelming support in Congress to protect our constituents’ right to keep and bear arms.
COURT SHOULD AFFIRM GUN RIGHTS
The right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for recreational use and to protect their families and property has been under attack for years. In agreeing to hear the D.C. gun ban case, the U.S. Supreme Court has a prime opportunity to rule on behalf of individual liberty and the rights of gun owners in Mississippi and across the country. I hope the opportunity to do so is not lost.