Wading into the gun-law debate is a bit like wading into a gator-filled swamp. It remains one of the top hot-button issues argued about for as long as I have been alive, right up there with abortion and the death penalty.
But now that I have digested a range of information post-Sandy Hook Elementary School, I thought I would offer some observations.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., continues to improve following a Jan. 8 attempted assassination in Tucson, but a background-check system created to help prevent shootings such as hers remains on life support.
The Associated Press reported that the deadline passed last month for states to comply with a background-check law enacted three years ago.
In the words of New York Times reporter Adam Liptak, “So far, Heller is shooting blanks.”
Liptak was writing nine months after the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller, a gun-control decision that discovered in the Second Amendment an individual right to firearms that the country’s highest tribunal had not noticed before.
The job description for U.S. Supreme Court justice does not include the ability to predict the future. Federal appeals court judges must rule on constitutionality, not probability.
But through the years, the “likelihood” of something occurring based on a law or an action under review by the court seems to have crept its way into rulings.
That may have merit, and it may not.
Before the court are twenty-nine words and three commas: “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 you diagram the sentence determines the amendment’s meaning.
The shoot-out between gun-control forces and gun-rights defenders moves into the Supreme Court when its justices hear oral arguments March 18, 2008, in District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller . They’ll consider whether the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to keep and bear arms or whether it merely protects a collective militia right.