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WASHINGTON ? The Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would decide the scope of the constitutional right "to keep and bear arms," accepting a momentous case that could change gun laws across the nation.
The dispute over a Washington, D.C., handgun ban, to be heard in the spring and likely decided by July, would mark the first time the court directly interprets the Second Amendment.

Tuesday's action immediately mobilized both sides of the debate over gun rights. The fractious question could become an issue in the 2008 presidential election.

"It's going to be the biggest case of the year," says Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett. "This will be one of the rare instances that the court tells us what the meaning of the Constitution is, not the meaning of its prior (cases). If the court holds that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, it would be significant."

For decades, judges generally have ruled that the Second Amendment covers a collective right of state militias, such as National Guard units, not the rights of individual gun owners. In the last Supreme Court case that involved the topic, in 1939, the justices emphasized the Second Amendment's protection for "a well-regulated militia" and upheld federal regulation of individuals' use of sawed-off shotguns. It did not directly confront the Second Amendment's scope.

The full text of the Second Amendment says: "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."

"This case is hopefully going to be a vindication for millions and millions of Americans who have always known this is an individual right," said Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said, "I think it's exciting that, hopefully, we're going to get a clear statement on the Second Amendment. There is a popular misconception that it is a barrier to common-sense restrictions."

Although the "presidential race won't turn on this," the ruling could energize both sides of the gun-rights debate as candidates vie for the Southern, rural vote, said Earl Black, a political scientist at Rice University in Texas and an expert on Southern politics.

The consequences for gun owners will depend on how broadly the court decides the case. The justices could keep it focused on the federal enclave of Washington, D.C., and rule in a way that does not involve any state laws. Even if the court strikes down the ban on handguns, it might not affect other, less restrictive laws across the country.

The court said it would decide whether the handgun ban violates "the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes."

In recent years, lower court judges have followed the premise of the 1939 United States v. Miller case and rejected arguments that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to firearms. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit broke that pattern in a March ruling against the handgun ban, which prohibits D.C. residents from keeping handguns for private use.

D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer said the appeals court wrongly interpreted the history of the Second Amendment. Mayor Adrian Fenty added Tuesday that the 31-year-old ban "has saved many lives since (1976) and will continue to do so if allowed to remain in force."

The current Supreme Court justices have said little about the Second Amendment over the years that signals how they will rule. Chief Justice John Roberts said during his Senate confirmation hearings in 2005 that he believed that the court "side-stepped" the Second Amendment issue in the Miller case. "People try to read the tea leaves about Miller and what would come out on this issue," he said, "But that's still very much an open issue."

The new case was begun by Dick Anthony Heller, a guard at a federal building who wanted to keep a handgun in his D.C. home for personal safety. Alan Gura, his lawyer, had urged the justices to take up the case to resolve confusion over the Second Amendment. Even if the court sides with Heller and finds an individual right to keep arms, the individual right to keep arms would not be absolute. As the D.C. Circuit observed in its ruling, a Second Amendment individual right does not prevent government from "reasonable regulations" of firearms.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-11-20-scotus-guns_N.htm?csp=34
 

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More Guns Equals Less Violent Crime

More Guns Equals Less Violent Crime

by Professor John R Lott, Jr
University of Chicago Law School

For the Democratic Party the solution to violent crime is clear - more regulation of guns. The convention speeches by James and Sarah Brady were filled with moving stories of their personal suffering.

While the impacts described on both sides of the issue do exist, the crucial question underlying all gun-control laws is: What is their net effect? Are more lives lost or saved? do they deter crime or encourage it? Anecdotal evidence obviously cannot resolve this debate. To provide a more systematic answer, I recently completed a study of one type of gun control law-laws on concealed handguns, also known as "shall-issue" laws. Thirty-one states give their citizens the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness. My study, with David Mustard, a graduate student in economics at the University of Chicago, analyzed the FBI's crime statistics for all 3,054 American counties from 1977 to 1992.

Our findings are dramatic. Our most conservative estimates show that by adopting shall-issue laws, states reduced murders by 8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%. If those states that did not permit concealed handgun in 1992 had permitted them back then, citizens might have been spared approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and 12,000 robberies. To put it even more simply: Criminals, we found, respond rationally to deterrence threats.

The benefit of concealed handguns are not limited to just those who carry them or use them in self-defense. The very fact that these weapons are concealed keeps criminals uncertain as to whether a potential victim will be able to defend himself with lethal force. The possibility that anyone might be carrying a gun makes attacking everyone less attractive; unarmed citizens in effect "free-ride" on their pistol packing fellows.

Our study further found that while some criminals avoid potentially violent crimes after concealed-handgun laws are passed, they do not necessarily give up the criminal life altogether. Some switch to crimes in which the risk of confronting an armed victim is much lower. Indeed, the downside of concealed-weapons laws is that while violent crime rates fall, property offenses like larceny (e.g. stealing from unattended automobiles or vending machines) and auto theft rise. This is certainly a substitution that the country can live with.

Our study also provided some surprising information. While support for strict gun-control laws usually has been strongest in large cities, where crime rates are highest, that's precisely where right-to-carry laws have produced the largest drops in violent crimes. For example, in counties with populations of more than 200,000 people, concealed handgun laws produced an average drop in murder rates of more than 13%. The half of the counties with the highest rape rates saw that crime drop by more than 7%.

Concealed handguns also appear to help women more than men. Murder rates decline when either sex carries more guns, but the effect is especially pronounced when women are considered separately. An additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about three to four times more than an additional armed man reduces the murder rate for men. Victims of violent crime are generally physically weaker than the criminals who prey on them. Allowing a woman to defend herself with a concealed handgun makes a larger difference in her ability to defend herself than the change created by providing a man with a handgun. Guns are the great equalizer between the weak and the vicious.

At the Democratic convention, President Clinton played up his proposed expansion of the 1994 Brady Law, which by making it harder for men convicted of domestic violence to obtain guns is designed to reduce crime against women. Our study is the first to provide direct empirical evidence of the Brady Law's effect on crime rates-and we found just the opposite result: The law's implementation is associated with MORE aggravated assaults and rapes. Mrs. Brady's exaggerated estimates of the number of felons denied access to guns are a poor measure of the law's impact on crime rates.

We also collected data on whether owners of concealed handguns are more likely to use them in committing violent crimes. The rarity of these incidents is reflected in Florida's statistics: More than 300,000 concealed-handgun licenses were issued between October 1, 1987 and December 31, 1995, but only five violent crimes involving permitted pistols were committed in this period, and none of these resulted in fatalities. That's 1/200 of 1% misuse rate for permitted pistols in an eight year period or LESS than 1/1000 of 1% misuse rate per year.

What about minor disputes such as traffic accidents? Are legal owners of concealed handguns more likely to use them in such situations? In 31 states, some of which have had concealed weapons laws for decades, there is only one recorded incident (earlier this year in Texas) in which a concealed handgun was used in a shooting following an accident. Even in that one case, a grand jury found that the shooting was in self-defense: The shooter was being beaten by the other driver.

And what about accidental deaths? The number of accidental handgun deaths each year is fewer than 200. Our estimates imply that if the states without "shall issue" laws were to adopt them, the increase in accidental handgun deaths would be at most nine more deaths per year. This is small indeed when compared to the at least 1,570 murders that would be avoided.

While no single study is likely to end the debate on concealed handguns, ours provides the first systematic national evidence. By contrast, the largest prior study examined only 170 cities within a single year. The nearly 50,000 observations in our data set allow us to control for a range of factors that have never been accounted for in any previous study of crime, let alone any previous gun-control study. Among other variables, our regressions control for arrest and conviction rates, prison sentences, changes in handgun laws such as waiting periods and the imposition of additional penalties for using a gun to commit a crime, income, poverty, unemployment, and demographic changes.

Preventing law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns does not end violence, but merely makes them more vulnerable to attack. The very size and strength of our results should at least give pause to those who oppose concealed handguns. The opportunity to reduce the murder rate by simply relaxing a regulation ought to be difficult to ignore.

(Mr. Lott is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. The results of his study will be published in the January 1997 issue of the University's Journal of Legal Studies.)

You can write Professor Lott directly at:

The Law School
Professor John R Lott, Jr
The University of Chicago
1111 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
 

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At some point in time I hate to say it , but with all the crazy people killing and wounding people there will be strict limitations on gun ownership in America. Its coming as sure as the sun comes up.I cringe everytime I hear of a wacko shooting groups of innocent bystanders knowing my grand-kids won't be able to grow up enjoying what I did as a young boy. In the 60's as a 12-13 yr. old ,it was common for me and my friends to walk down dirt and paved roads carrying our guns.Sometime we would shoot targets floating down the creek , set up targets in open fields,hunt,just alround fun shooting and we grew up shooting as early as 5/6 yrs. We saw what damage bullets could do and we were taught safety and respect. Sometimes the local sherriff or deputies would stop and join in. Those time are gone and they'll never return. The constituion says nothing about the right to own ammo,and thats where they will hit us first.Stock up now!!
 

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Broncoman that is excatly what they are doing look at the cost of even reloading this year from last year. They can't take our guns so they are hitting us hard on our ammo and because we are put in the same class as the nuts that go on killinspree's , just not right I feel the same way as you on this matter.
 

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Its ashame but I really don't know who to vote for any more. They seem to talk good sense while campaining but its like once they ( any politican ) on fed or local level gets in office they all go to a glue sniffing party and start acting crazy and doing as they please. They really are not worried about getting re-elected because its a known fact its just hard as hell to get them out once they are "crowned". Had a proffessor once say to never vote for a incumbent unless they really,really did something great. Dont let them get to comfortable with the perks and benifits,if they dont perform kick their asses ouy and let someone else try. Just my *******,grunt opinion who speaks no spainish.
 

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Well put BroncoMan. They all talk the game when running but the must all go to that glue-sniffing party as you said because they never follow thru!!
 

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Fred's The Guy, fellas!
He's a gun owner and he won't stand for this sissy stuff!

Recently I read that my home state of Kalifornia has passed the law that will require the micro-stamping of ammunition and several gun mfg's have ceased to ship weapons to the state.
Fantastic!
It's not over yet guys. We need to keep fighting the good fight. We can't let them repeal the 2nd!
 

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

United States Declaration of Independence.


The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Thomas Jefferson.


So basicly, if they keep screwing around with our freedoms, fire them.

I am in no way advocating revolution, just saying pay attention to who you vote for.

Well maybe a little revolution, just for fun.
 

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

United States Declaration of Independence.


The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Thomas Jefferson.


So basicly, if they keep screwing around with our freedoms, fire them.

I am in no way advocating revolution, just saying pay attention to who you vote for.

Well maybe a little revolution, just for fun.
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it..................."

Linclon 1st Inaugural Address March 4, 1861
 

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Its great that you printed part of the constitution. If people dont think it means SH**,they should take a slow walk around any of the many veteran cemetarys scattered around the country and see if they dont leave with a different feeling . Its a free trip and everyone should anytime not just funerals and veterans day. Honor our HERO"S
 

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Not only do I fervently believe that our country has departed from the intent of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution but I also believe that the powers reserved for the individual states has been denied them by the federal government. I wont get going on this subject to much because I get upset but suffice it to say, We are not the country our forefathers envisioned.
 

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At this point my vote is for Fred Thompson. He will not be anti-guns for sure plus I like the way he thinks. He can talk the talk I just hope he can walk the walk.
 

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Not only do I fervently believe that our country has departed from the intent of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution but I also believe that the powers reserved for the individual states has been denied them by the federal government. I wont get going on this subject to much because I get upset but suffice it to say, We are not the country our forefathers envisioned.
I am on the same page as you are in our Constitution. I vote, I work for conservative candidates even, but I honestly do not see our corrupt anti personal freedom system fixing it's self.

Seems to me it is not on a slippery slope, it has fallen off the cliff, but has not landed in a heap yet. IF there will be a restoration of personal freedoms and rights, it will be because of outside (or inside) catastrophic pressures being applied. I fear for my grandkids...:thinking:
 

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Well, I don`t know what you all might be thinking after hearing and reading about the oral arguments presented in our High Court today, but I`m cautiously optimistic that the 2nd will be reaffirmed as an individual right. It just seemed to me as though the majority of the members questions supported an individualistic point of view. It also seemed that we might expect an allowance for regulation in their decision....but I`ve always felt that this possibility was to be expected. As the saying goes....time will tell.
 
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