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Bolstering a basic right; Court clarifies that gun rights apply to states.


The Supreme Court ruling yesterday affirming Americans' Second Amendment rights to bear arms is a key victory for gun owners, but equally important for strengthening a proper understanding of American constitutional law.

The 5-4 ruling in McDonald v. Chicago is expected to overturn handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill. In that respect, it is a logical follow-up to an earlier ruling that overturned a handgun ban in the District of Columbia.

But it is the Court's reasoning that was most welcome.

The decision clarifies that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment incorporates gun ownership equally with other fundamental rights. As Justice Samuel Alito wrote, the "...relationship between the Bill of Rights' guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle."

Second, the Court rejected the insidious argument that if any civilized society bans individual gun ownership, that justifies banning guns in a U.S. jurisdiction.

American law is obviously derived from past legal traditions, but it is not European or international law, and our Constitution must never be subordinated to foreign precepts. The Court properly noted that "a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects a right that is fundamental from an American perspective applies equally to the Federal Government and the States."

Gun control advocates will lament this ruling, but the Court's ruling is a timely reminder that the Second Amendment is not the problem. Reducing gun violence must focus on deterrence and prosecution of criminals, not on abridging fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 29, 2010
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