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Supreme Court to Hear Second Amendment Case Today.


gritzblitz56
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Shelly Parker wants to know why she cannot keep a handgun in her house. As a single woman she has been threatened by neighborhood drug dealers in a city where violent crime rates are on the rise.

"In the event that someone does get in my home, I would have no defense, except maybe throw my paper towels at them," she said. But Parker lives in the nation's capital, which does not allow its residents to possess handguns.

Elilta "Lily" Habtu thinks that is how it should be. She knows about gun violence firsthand, surviving bullets to the head and arm fired by the Virginia Tech University shooter nearly a year ago.

"There has to be tighter gun control; we can't let another Virginia Tech to happen," she said. "And we're just not doing it, we're sitting around, we're doing nothing. We let the opportunity arise for more massacres."

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether Washington's sweeping ban on handgun ownership violates an individual's constitutional right to "keep and bear arms," setting the stage for a potentially monumental legal and social battle, just in time for the 2008 elections.

The issue is one that has polarized judges and politicians for decades: Do the Second Amendment's 27 words bestow gun ownership as an individual right, or is it a collective one -- aimed at the civic responsibilities of state militias, and therefore subject, perhaps, to strict government regulation?

"What the Supreme Court says will really set the terms of the debate on gun control for years to come," said Orin Kerr, an expert on criminal procedure at George Washington Law School. "So everyone's waiting to find out what the justices will do."

The Supreme Court has generally steered clear of settling the individual-versus-collective argument. It last examined the issue in 1939 without fully delving into the broader constitutional questions.

Similar weapon-control laws could be in jeopardy, and jurisdictions such as the states of Maryland and Massachusetts and the cities of Chicago, Illinois, and San Francisco, California, filed briefs supporting the District of Columbia.

Thirty-one states along with groups like the National Rifle Association support the gun owners.

But both sides have privately expressed concern over how the justices will decide the issue, because the legal and political implications could be sweeping in scope.

After a federal appeals court in March ruled the handgun ban to be unconstitutional, city leaders urged the high court to intervene, saying refusal to do so could prove dire.

Several Washington citizens, including Parker, challenged the law, some saying they wanted to do something about being constant victims of crime. VideoWatch women debate gun control law »

She said her community activism earned her the anger of local drug dealers, who vandalized her property and made repeated verbal threats and taunts. After her car window was broken, she called police, who offered some friendly advice.

"I said to the police, 'I have an alarm, I have bars, I have a dog, what more am I supposed to do?" recalled Parker. "The police turned to me and said, 'Get a gun.' "

Habtu, a 23-year-old Eritrean-born woman, was in a Norris Hall classroom in April when fellow Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho burst in and began shooting. He eventually killed 32 people and wounded dozens more before taking his own life. It was the nation's deadliest school shooting.

"That was one of the worst days of my life. I was injured, I had one gunshot wound in my jaw, and the bullet is still lodged one millimeter away from my brain stem," she said.

Since graduating, Habtu has devoted her time to speaking in favor of gun control, including tightening laws on Internet gun sales, and preventing loopholes that allow mentally ill people like Cho to buy weapons.

"No one here is trying to fight against your right to have a gun," she said in a soft voice. "What we want is for dangerous people not to get access to one, and today it is just too easy. We cannot keep sacrificing innocent people because you have a fear that you're not going to have your right to own a gun."

A ruling is expected in late June.

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alfred e. neuman (3/18/2008)
Amendment 2 - Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

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.

How much clearer could this possibly be?

How much clearer could the First Amendment be? But the Supreme Court still saw fit to uphold a law designed to limit political speech in direct violation of the First Amendment.

It's that total disregard that has me concerned about this case.

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morphy (3/18/2008)
And even if the 2nd Amendment had never existed, permitting citizens to own firearms for protection and/or sport is simply the right thing to do. It benefits society, and it empowers the people.

Thats one problem. Another is many in Washington view the Constitution as a living document. I would not be at all surprised to learn that militia is defined as the DC police force.

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morphy (3/18/2008)
And even if the 2nd Amendment had never existed, permitting citizens to own firearms for protection and/or sport is simply the right thing to do. It benefits society, and it empowers the people.
I think it's sad and scary that the government has no fear of the people. 

It's scary that the government sees fit to chip away at our rights and liberties for any reason.  It's a never ending quest to make people defenseless and reliant on the federal government.  

I think it's sad that most people don't care. 

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alfred e. neuman (3/18/2008)
morphy (3/18/2008)
And even if the 2nd Amendment had never existed, permitting citizens to own firearms for protection and/or sport is simply the right thing to do. It benefits society, and it empowers the people.
I think it's sad and scary that the government has no fear of the people.

It's scary that the government sees fit to chip away at our rights and liberties for any reason. It's a never ending quest to make people defenseless andreliant on the federal government.

I think it's sad that most people don't care.

Just look at public education and you cannot come to any conclusion other than government want to keep us weak and ignorant.

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gritzblitz56 (3/18/2008)
It was not made the Second Amendment by random accident. The Founders established our right to free speech and religion with the First Amendment and then gave the people the ability to maintain it with the Second Amendment.

In truth, the Second Amendmen has been destroyed already by precedent set in New Orleans after Katrina.  People were not allowed to protect their own property, and their right to bear arms was taken away from them by state power.  And nothing has ever come of this.

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alfred e. neuman (3/18/2008)
gritzblitz56 (3/18/2008)
It was not made the Second Amendment by random accident. The Founders established our right to free speech and religion with the First Amendment and then gave the people the ability to maintain it with the Second Amendment.

In truth, the Second Amendmen has been destroyed already by precedent set in New Orleans after Katrina.  People were not allowed to protect their own property, and their right to bear arms was taken away from them by state power.  And nothing has ever come of this.

that disgusts me. it's a shame the media didn't make a huge deal out of it. Anyone responsible for confiscating those legal weapons, all the way down to the Natl Guard grunts carrying it out, should be fired and prosecuted, and barred from working in the military or the gov't ever again.

i'm not being an internet tough guy, but if you come to take my guns you really are going to have to shoot me.

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XLDenaliReturns (3/18/2008)

that disgusts me. it's a shame the media didn't make a huge deal out of it. Anyone responsible for confiscating those legal weapons, all the way down to the Natl Guard grunts carrying it out, should be fired and prosecuted, and barred from working in the military or the gov't ever again.

i'm not being an internet tough guy, but if you come to take my guns you really are going to have to shoot me.

I with you. If you're coming into my home to take my property which is protected under the supreme law of the land, I'm going out guns a blazing!

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lax32 (3/18/2008)
What a joke. There isn't any room for interpretation. A comma clearly separates the portion guarding the state militia and the individuals right to bear arms. Did they just mess up the wording or something?

Back then a militia was just a collection of citizens who provided their own weapons and supplies. Anyone who supports the argument that the right to arms is a right of the militia and not the individual citizen knows nothing of this nation's history.

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eatcorn (3/18/2008)
Guys...loook at the makeup of theCourt. How do you think this vote is going to go?

They'll probably deliberate for five minutes, if that.

I was about to post that exact point.

At least one good thing will come out of the Roberts/Alito nominations. We might actually get the 2nd Amendment incorporated through the 14th Amendment and recognized as an individual right.

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Ramen (3/18/2008)
eatcorn (3/18/2008)
Guys...loook at the makeup of theCourt. How do you think this vote is going to go?

They'll probably deliberate for five minutes, if that.

I was about to post that exact point.

At least one good thing will come out of the Roberts/Alito nominations. We might actually get the 2nd Amendment incorporated through the 14th Amendment and recognized as an individual right.

In a world where the very plain language of the First Amendment can be twisted, lawyered, and explained away for the sake of "campaign finance reform", I just don't have your faith the the court will do the proper thing.

The fact that there is even debate over such plain and direct language really concerns me.

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gritzblitz56 (3/18/2008)
Ramen (3/18/2008)
eatcorn (3/18/2008)
Guys...loook at the makeup of theCourt. How do you think this vote is going to go?

They'll probably deliberate for five minutes, if that.

I was about to post that exact point.

At least one good thing will come out of the Roberts/Alito nominations. We might actually get the 2nd Amendment incorporated through the 14th Amendment and recognized as an individual right.

In a world where the very plain language of the First Amendment can be twisted, lawyered, and explained away for the sake of "campaign finance reform", I just don't have your faith the the court will do the proper thing.

The fact that there is even debate over such plain and direct language really concerns me.

Why was the "militia" clause added to the Second Amendment? What relationship does the "militia" clause in the 2nd Amendment have with the discussion of regulation of the militia in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution?

I agree with your basic view of the Amendment, but it's not at all straightforward to interpret the original intent of the Framers.

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