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Standing Guard: An Individual Right Affirmed

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to  all Americans.” 

--U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, June 26, 2008.

For all of us, as members of the National Rifle Association and for millions of other Americans, that pronouncement by the U.S. Supreme Court is perhaps the most important we will ever read or hear. It is a vindication of what we and a majority of Americans have always known.

The media would have gun owners believe that with this landmark decision, the fight is over. The truth is, it is just beginning. This is the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of bringing relief to people all over this country who have been deprived of access to Second Amendment freedom.

NRA is filing lawsuits in places like Chicago and its suburbs, and in San Francisco,where gun-ban statutes still block the doorway to freedom.

With this monumental decision, we will also be fighting to restore rights through the legislative process, in Congress and in state legislatures to bring statutes into line with this critical doctrine of constitutional law. The Second Amendment must never be walled off by the elite so that only the rich and famous or politically connected can access this freedom, while average citizens are told, “You’re flat out of luck.”

“ . . . the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon . . . and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid . . . .”

In reading this landmark decision striking down the District of Columbia’s three-decades-old gun-ban, it has come to me time and again that this victory for freedom is not just about the culmination of decades of deep legal and historical scholarship or about the brilliant legal work of many individuals …it’s also about raw electoral politics.

This Supreme Court victory is about you, your families and friends--your votes--especially in the last two presidential elections.

And this remarkable decision is about President George W. Bush keeping his faith with us that he would appoint justices--like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito--who interpret our constitutional rights as they were intended by our Founding Fathers.

Justice Scalia’s 64-page Second Amendment opinion was remarkably clear and answered key, fundamental questions.

Joined in the 5-4 majority by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy, the court concluded:  “… we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

On the utility of handguns, he wrote, “… the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon … and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid …”.

On future Second Amendment cases, Scalia was unequivocal, “… whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”

No matter what other issues might intervene, there is nothing more important than maintaining or increasing the pro-Second Amendment majority on the high court this November.

That bedrock belief was ridiculed by Justice John Paul Stevens as an “overwrought and novel description of the Second Amendment.”

Stevens, in his dissent, said the right was solely “to maintain a well-regulated militia.”And he said the framers of the Constitution “never evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms [as with D.C.’s ban]. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”

Stevens was joined in dissent by Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

For the majority, Scalia fired back, “… it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”

But consider this. Except for one vote, that is exactly what a Stevens majority would have done.

But for one vote, total bans on firearm ownership would have gotten the imprimatur of the high court, and such laws would have metastasized through the efforts of New York billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s cabal of big city mayors and his fellow globalist billionaire, George Soros.

And that brings me back to electoral politics. This November, with the sure bet that there will be two, perhaps three vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future, we face a clear choice.

If Barack Obama takes the White House, he will nominate enemies of

the Second Amendment. That is a sure thing.

John McCain--on the other hand--sees Justices Scalia, Alito, Roberts and Thomas as models for the kind of jurists he would appoint.

No matter what other issues might intervene, there is nothing more important than maintaining or increasing the pro-Second Amendment majority on the high court this November. The court’s decision was a great moment in American history, but it shows how fragile freedom is and how vigilant we must always be, each and every day, to protect it.

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NRA ILA

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.