Sunday, January 20, 2008

National firearms ban 'reasonable'?

Gun owners warn arguments endanger Second Amendment

A Second Amendment advocacy organization is asking the Bush administration to withdraw a legal brief that leaders fear could be used to support "any gun ban - no matter how sweeping," as long as some court somewhere determines it is "reasonable." The concern comes from Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, whose group is pleading with the Bush administration to withdraw an anti-gun brief filed by the U.S. Solicitor General in a Supreme Court case regarding a District of Columbia ban on handguns.

The document from U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement noted since "unrestricted" private ownership of guns clearly threatens the public safety, the Second Amendment can be interpreted to allow a variety of gun restrictions. His brief suggests gun rights are limited and since they are subject to "reasonable regulation," all gun limits imposed by the federal government should be affirmed as constitutional. "Given the unquestionable threat to public safety that unrestricted private firearm possession would entail, various categories of firearm-related regulation are permitted by the Second Amendment," he wrote in the brief.

But Gun Owners of America, a grass-roots lobby representing more than 300,000 Americans, said the opinion creates a huge threat to the constitutional provision banning the "infringement" of the right to bear arms. "If the Supreme Court were to accept the Solicitor General's line of argument, D.C.'s categorical gun ban of virtually all self-defense firearms could well be found to be constitutional." Pratt said.

Worse, when the standard for evaluating gun bans becomes "reasonable," there is nothing else needed in order for a court somewhere to decide that all guns should be forbidden. "In contrast to other provisions in the Bill of Rights, which can only be trumped by 'compelling state interests,' the Second Amendment would be relegated to an inferior position at the lowest rung of the constitutional ladder, should the Justice Department prevail," said Pratt.

He said the legal opinion could have been written by a gun limit lobby and it could be used in support of a ban on all guns by a government proclaiming "this is a reasonable regulation" even while affirming the "right" to bear arms. Paul Helmke, of the pro-gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, in fact earlier said he saluted the position paper.

But Pratt said it would be analogous to the situation in the state of Illinois, where the state constitution provides a right to keep and bear arms, "subject to the police power," he said. Not surprisingly, Illinois has one of the most restrictive atmospheres in the nation regarding guns, he told WND.

"Under the administration's amicus brief, a national ban on all firearms - including hunting rifles - could be 'constitutional,' even if the Supreme Court decides - on ample historical evidence - that the Founders intended the Second Amendment as an individual right," he continued. "Rather than argue that 'shall not be infringed' is a categorical prohibition on government gun-banning, the administration has chosen to align itself with those who do not believe in self defense or civilian gun ownership," Pratt said. He said his organization is issuing a public call for the Justice Department to withdraw the anti-gun statements, and is inviting other organizations to join in its battle against such a precedent.


Florida victim turns gun on 4 robbers: "An armed citizen surprised four men who robbed him at gunpoint last week. After being ordered to his knees, Russel Olofson warned the men that "they should think about it," according to an Orlando police report released this week. A private investigator with military training, Olofson, 24, told police the robbers snatched his cell phone and a wallet containing his concealed-weapon permit shortly before 10 p.m. Friday outside Ridge Club Apartments. After the robbers took his items, Olofson stood up, drew his Springfield XD sub-compact 9 mm handgun "and fired two rounds toward male #1 with the silver handgun, possibly striking him," the report states. "Males #2, #3, and #4 then ran southeast . . . and male #1 ran northeast . . ." A search by police quickly turned up a pistol likely used in the holdup, the report said. The .45-caliber Ruger pistol and clothing believed to have been worn by male 1 were found in the backyard of a home on Alrix Drive, reports state. The serial numbers on the pistol had been scratched off, a common sign the weapon may have been stolen. Olofson, who had been conducting an investigation for Briggs Corp. Solutions, was not injured. A check by police of area hospitals did not find any reports of patients treated for gunshot wounds."

Alabama: Murder charge dropped in case of self defense: "Prosecutors have dropped a murder charge against Frederick Espy II because of a lack of evidence. Espy, 25, has claimed he was defending himself when he shot Joseph Thomas Burton on April 3, 2005, at the Club Oasis on Plummer Road. The shooting occurred about 3:30 a.m. at the nightclub. Witnesses told deputies Burton was near the door of the club where Espy, then an engineering student at UAH, was handing out fraternity flyers. Espy and Burton began to argue after Espy made a lewd remark about Burton's girlfriend, a witness told the officers. The two men got into Espy's car where they argued and Burton assaulted Espy, according to Robert Tuten, Espy's lawyer. Espy reached behind the seat, pulled out a .40-caliber pistol and shot Burton, he said. A grand jury indicted Espy on the charge of murder in May 2006. "This is one of the best examples of self defense, I've ever seen," Tuten said. A person has a right to defend himself against an assailant who attacks him in the front seat of his car, he said."


Leif Rakur said...

With respect to the Heller case, it should never have been considered a Second Amendment issue in the first place. That case has nothing at all to do with the continuation and effectiveness of a well regulated militia, which is a body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.

The Second Amendment was written to guarantee the continued right of the people to keep and bear arms under state laws that provided for well regulated militias. Most men were obliged under such laws –- called by Washington “well regulated Militia Laws” -- to arm themselves for militia service. They were required to be enrolled in a specific militia company and to muster for periodic training.

It would have been odd indeed for Madison to have framed the Second Amendment to protect the “right” of the people as individuals to obey their own state militia laws.

The amendment was an instruction to the federal government not to use the Constitution to replace the state militia system with a peacetime standing army – a prospect that had been vigorously opposed by such anti-federalists as Patrick Henry.

Thomas Jefferson, the most prominent of the active proponents of a Bill of Rights, recognized the militia purpose of the Second Amendment. He referred to the amendment as “the substitution of militia for a standing army.” (Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Joseph Priestley, June 19, 1802)

The Second Amendment is silent upon the right of individuals to arms for personal purposes, a subject left to state constitutions and state laws except to the extent that other provisions of the federal Constitution apply.

Anonymous said...

I am Thomas Joseph Burton's mother. His name is Thomas Joseph, NOT Joseph Thomas. My son did not have a weapon. My son is dead and Espy said he meant to do it, BEFORE his Mirand Rights were read to him, so the judge would not allow that admission to be heard in court. What kind of self defense, is that? The whole story should be heard, not just bits and pieces. It was 4 1/2 years ago and my son, his plans to graduate from college, to marriage his fiance, to have a family, his future was taken away by a stranger who was drinking that night. My son had no history of violence ever and this article has named my son an "assailant". It was Espy that owned, carried and shot my son to death. I will never get over this; Espy will never realize the negative impact this killing has had on so many family members and friends. A good man was shot and killed, and the one who killed him graduated from college and is free to live. I miss my son and face a deep void inside every day without him. I hope and pray that whoever reads this comment realize its one thing to protect yourself; its quite another to shoot someone and say, "I did it and I meant to do it", but because rights weren't read,an admission to murder can be thrown out; just like that. I will never get over this. My son is dead.

Anonymous said...

I lost a very good friend to this non-sense. It still hurts to know that I cant call him or see him anymore, and it hurts even more that such an evil person still is able to roam the streets. It takes alot to pull a trigger and kill someone and be able to live with that knowing that you were wrong. Taking someone's life is devestating to others.