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Con: Gun controls allow criminals to run roughshod

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Bradford Wiles
December 17, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, “Should the Supreme Court uphold the District of Columbia’s gun-control law?”

The Supreme Court recently agreed to rule on the specific meaning of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, “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.”


Many gun-control advocates claim that this grants a “collective” right, giving the government the authority to regulate the militia, such as the National Guard, and does not grant an “individual” right to gun ownership. The position that the Second Amendment only guarantees a collective right is wholly incorrect, especially when one examines the rest of the Bill of Rights.


The Founders chose the words “the people”; the same as in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth amendments. Constitutional scholars agree that there is absolutely no doubt these restrictions on government were designed to protect individuals.


Justice Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Court of Appeals, regarding the case under appeal to the Supreme Court, noted in his majority opinion that the Founders were perfectly capable of distinguishing “the people” from “the states” and did so in the Tenth Amendment.


Had the drafters wanted to acknowledge the right to keep and bear arms for anyone other than individuals, they would have undoubtedly written that it is the right of “the militia” to keep and bear arms. With wisdom and conviction, they did not. It is also important to note the mindset of the framers when they were drafting the Constitution. They wanted to ensure that the people would have the means to protect themselves against an oppressive and tyrannical government and also against criminals.


The Founders would never have given the right to keep and bear arms to the very government, i.e., the National Guard, from whom they were protecting “the people” throughout the entire Bill of Rights.


Their mindset was clear, rights exist without government interference, and the Constitution protects individuals from the government. What greater protection against the government can there possibly be than the right of the individual to keep and bear arms? Opponents have argued that the Founders could never have envisioned modern weapons, and thus the Second Amendment is outdated.


Applying that logic, the government should then be free to read all of your e-mail, listen to your phone conversations, and bug your home using electronic equipment, as the Fourth Amendment was also drafted more than 200 years ago and thus must be outdated because the Founders could never have envisioned modern communication. In support of Washington’s 1976 ban on handguns, the argument was presented that the ban is necessary for public safety. However, in D.C. the crime rate is such that people are not safe.


By virtue of the ban, only criminals have guns. Law-abiding citizens, the ones who brought this case against the District, are left defenseless against criminals. The police do everything they can, but they cannot be everywhere at once. Unfortunately, when split seconds count, the police are long minutes away.


Law-abiding citizens deserve the Supreme Court’s recognition of their inherent right to self-defense with a gun, without infringement. Without the ability to protect my life, my other rights to peaceably assemble, be secure in my person, house, papers and effects, and any other rights enumerated in the Constitution are in jeopardy.


The Second Amendment protects all of these.


It is essential that the Supreme Court recognize the fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Private individuals, the court should declare, have an inherent right to carry a gun in defense of themselves, their families and their country. The Supreme Court should come to the reasonable conclusion that the intent, spirit and language of the Founders convey an individual right, and thus strike down D.C.’s strict gun ban.


Bradford Wiles is a graduate student at Virginia Tech. Readers can write to him at 103A Wallace Hall (0416), Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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