Gun rights to return to Supreme Court's agenda
WASHINGTON — The push and pull over the Second Amendment right to bear arms is heating up again, thanks in part to a former Supreme Court justice's new book.
On Friday, the high court will consider whether to hear a challenge to a New Jersey law restricting the right to carry guns in public. If the court grants the petition, it would be the most important gun control case since the justices upheld the right to keep handguns at home for self-defense in 2008.
While the justices ponder what the Constitution's framers meant with the words “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,” former Justice John Paul Stevens suggests it be rewritten.
In his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” Stevens, 93, advocates adding the words “when serving in the militia” to reduce the number of firearms-related deaths — about 88 per day — that occur in the nation.
Stevens was on the losing side of the court's 5-4 ruling in 2008 that established the right to keep handguns at home for self-defense. Two years later, he was again in the minority when the court ruled that Chicago could not prohibit private citizens from owning handguns.
“Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands,” Stevens writes. “Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument.”
The “gun lobby” seeks to move in the opposite direction. Despite losses at federal district and appeals courts, groups including the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners Foundation back the effort by New Jersey gun owners to legalize gun possession outside the home.
“The Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry weapons for the purpose of self-defense — not just for self-defense within the home, but for self-defense, period,” the NRA argues in its brief to the high court.
New Jersey law enforcement groups defend the state's requirement that citizens prove a “justifiable need” to carry handguns outside the home, whether openly or concealed from view. In their brief, they claim the law “qualifies as a presumptively lawful, longstanding regulation that does not burden conduct within the scope of the Second Amendment's guarantee.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCarthy withdraws candidacy for speaker
- Guantanamo detainee Kamin to be freed after 11 years
- Broadening police collection of license plate photos spurs privacy discussion
- Speaker’s job contest may be start of battles
- DNA repair research earns 3 Nobel Prize
- Flooding remains dangerous S.C. threat
- Ohio’s interpretation of Common Core test results threatens national comparison goals
- About 6,000 drug inmates await early release from prison
- Obama apologizes for hospital attack
- Defense bill heads to Obama under threat
- Volkswagen exec ready to testify in D.C.