Controversial Topic #1 (Guns)

This has been my first full week back at my law office.  Monday I was in trial and I have another trial upcoming next week.  And the NCAA tournament.  Therefore, politics and blogging have been reduced. 

Having said that, there are some very hot topics this week at the national level.  Religion, race, guns ….

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court formally took up the Second Amendment and whether it provides individual Americans with the right to “bear arms.”  And, if so, what does that mean.

The context of the argument was the “gun ban” of the District of Columbia which forbids private ownership of handguns and requires that rifles and shotguns be kept disassembed.  The obvious purpose of the law is to both limit gun ownership and prevent guns from being used for personal security.

Does that violate the Second Amendment?

Without answering the legal question, let me give you an outrageously old-fashioned personal observation:  a father’s foremost responsibility is to protect his family. 

When I was a boy, my family lived next door to the County jail.  On at least one celebrated occasion, an escaping suspect was captured in our front yard.

My father kept a handgun in the house for personal security.  When I was a teenager, he showed me how to use it.  As the man of the house, that was his decision. 

That may not make sense for other families.  Personally, I don’t own any handguns and I probably never will.  I do own a shotgun and long rifle for sporting purposes, which I keep racked and unloaded in a secure place. 

Regardless, I personally believe that the choice to own firearms is one that each law-abiding adult in this nation has the right to make.  As a State Delegate and Senator, I have made hundreds of votes regarding the regulation (or de-regulation) of this important right.  Some for regulation, some against. 

No reasonable person disputes that a constitutional right is always subject to some reasonable limits, much as the First Amendment is limited by the law of defamation. 

However, the limits must always acknowledge the underlying right.  The D.C. law fundamentally fails to do that.

Again, this is not a legal argument or a historical narrative of the Second Amendment.  I’ll leave that to the highly-paid experts.  However, it is significant to me that our Founding Fathers put this language in the Bill of Rights and in such a conspicuous place.  It is also significant that the right references “the rights of citizens,” even while it describes the context of the militia.  It must be a right that applied to individuals. 

But that’s only one man’s opinion.

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