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Statement of the National Rifle Association By Wayne LaPierre And Chris Cox On The Pending U.S. Supreme Court Case

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In the coming months, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership and self-defense in law-abiding residents’ homes. The Court will first address the question of whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, protects the rights of individuals or a right of the government. If the Court agrees that this is an individual right, they will then determine if D.C.’s self-defense and handgun bans are constitutional.

The position of the National Rifle Association is clear. The Second Amendment protects the fundamental, individual right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for any lawful purpose. Further, any law infringing this freedom, including a ban on self-defense and handgun ownership, is unconstitutional and provides no benefit to curbing crime. Rather, these types of restrictions only leave the law-abiding more susceptible to criminal attack.

The U.S. Government, through its Solicitor General, has filed an amicus brief in this case. We applaud the government’s recognition that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right that is “central to the preservation of liberty.” The brief also correctly recognizes that the D.C. statutes ban “a commonly-used and commonly-possessed firearm in a way that has no grounding in Framing-era practice,” the Second Amendment applies to the District of Columbia, is not restricted to service in a militia and secures the natural right of self-defense.

However, the government’s position is also that a “heightened” level of judicial scrutiny should be applied to these questions. The National Rifle Association believes that the Court should use the highest level of scrutiny in reviewing the D.C. gun ban. We further believe a complete ban on handgun ownership and self-defense in one’s own home does not pass ANY level of judicial scrutiny. Even the government agrees that “the greater the scope of the prohibition and its impact on private firearm possession, the more difficult it will be to defend under the Second Amendment.” A complete ban is the kind of infringement that is the greatest in scope. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit correctly ruled that D.C.’s statutes are unconstitutional. We strongly believe the ruling should be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The National Rifle Association will be filing an amicus brief in this case and will provide additional information to our members as this case moves through the legal process.

Please refer questions to NRA Grassroots at 1-800-392-8683.
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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.