Editorial: Court ruling affirms gun rights, ensures legal battles

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Anyone who thinks the Supreme Court’s decision on gun rights this week was an exercise for constitutional scholars — and nothing more — didn’t catch what happened with the stock of gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger. Like a trigger had been squeezed, their stock went up on a day other stocks went down.

The justices’ 5-4 decision was a landmark one, establishing clearly that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is not a lesser right among others in the Bill of Rights, such as freedom of speech. But gun control is not a dead issue.

While the city of Chicago’s ban on handguns was struck down, justices did not strike down all reasonable limits on gun use and ownership. Like in a 2008 decision overturning a Washington, D.C., handgun ban, the court allowed that governments have a right to protect public safety, especially when guns are used outside the home.

In fact, Chicago is rewriting its law right now, and could establish a database for all guns sold in the city or limit the number of handguns an individual can possess. State prohibitions on concealed weapons are not a slam-dunk for overturning either. And no one is challenging the role of the ATF in cracking down on the illegal sale and trade of firearms.

Sorting out how much state and federal regulation is too much — and what constitutes an unreasonable limit on a federal protection — will be messy and protracted. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, “Today’s decision invites an avalanche of litigation that could mire the federal courts in fine-grained determinations about which state and local regulations survive.”

We urge people who would defend or enact sensible gun laws not to give up the fight. This Editorial Board continues to support reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and use, such as requiring training and registration. As we said in 2008 in opposing concealed carry, we hate the notion of creating a Wild West on our streets, which are already mean enough.

We don’t buy into the idea that, as some proponents of concealed carry say, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The justices more or less acknowledged the fact that with more guns comes more violence. Chicago has seen 1,000 fewer homicides since its law was enacted in 1983. Many of the fatalities avoided were in the home among family members.

The allure of using a weapon for self-defense in the sanctity of one’s home often morphs into the ugly reality of a weapon being used in a split second for suicide or violence against a spouse.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says that, in one year, more than 100,000 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents or police intervention. Most Americans are in the middle in this debate. They don’t see everyone who owns a firearm as a gun nut. They don’t see every restriction on gun ownership as the end of the republic.

That reasonableness and common sense will arm us well for the court fights that lie ahead.

Rockford Register Star