2nd Amendment in the Spotlight
Teddy Davis of ABC tells us that gun control advocates are preparing themsleves to lose the current round of Second Amendment arguments in front of the Supreme Court.
The nation’s leading gun control group filed a “friend of the court” brief back in January defending the gun ban in Washington, D.C. But with the Supreme Court poised to hand down a potentially landmark decision in the case, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence fully expects to lose.
“We’ve lost the battle on what the Second Amendment means,” campaign president Paul Helmke told ABC News. “Seventy-five percent of the public thinks it’s an individual right. Why are we arguing a theory anymore? We are concerned about what we can do practically.”
Far from thinking it’s over, however, Brady Campaign advocates are still hoping to lose the battle but win the longer war.
While the Brady Campaign is waving the white flag in the long-running debate on whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms or merely a state’s right to assemble a militia, it is hoping that losing the “legal battle” will eventually lead to gun control advocates winning the “political war.”
At the heart of this issue are two key questions for our country to decide. The first deals with the language of the Second Amendment and will likely always elicit debate. Did the founders mean that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right for all Americans? Or were they only referring to the fact that nearly all adult men at the time were subject to be called to service in the state militia at any given moment and, as such, should always be able to arm themselves for battle? Compared to the rest of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself, there is relatively little writing by the founders explaining their reasoning. It seems as if they felt the statement was clear and self-explanatory. Had they not included the phrase, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” it would likely not be an issue at all.
The second question is more complex than the first. Even if we assume (as, for the record, I do) that the Second Amendment refers to an individual right, we are left with questions as to if, where, and when the government can place limitations on that right. None of our constitutionally assured rights are completely free of limitations, but the government is typically very cautious about imposing such limits. Can states or even individual towns and cities revoke those rights for all citizens within their borders? They can not shut down a newspaper, but they can provide for the prosecution of people who publish libelous material.
Can the District of Columbia legally enforce a sweeping ban regarding gun owership for every citizen within its borders, even if they have never been accused of any crime? And if they can not, what limits can they place on gun owners? We may find out the answers to some of these questions as early as today.