Court could set foundation for gun laws
The U.S. Supreme Court did nothing short of shirking its responsibility this week when it refused – without comment – to consider whether the Constitution guarantees an individual right to own a gun.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the last time the high court actually ruled on a major gun case was in 1939, when it upheld a federal law prohibiting the interstate transport of sawed-off shotguns.
In turning down an appeal from California concerning its ban on high-powered weapons, the court left in place the status quo: confusion.
The liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has said there is no individual right to bear arms. The Second Amendment is intended to guarantee such rights only to a “well-regulated militia,” that court decided. But the more conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has said exactly the opposite. The right to a gun extends to individuals.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said nothing. Ever.
So the American public is left with a wholly different standard depending on which part of the country they live in. Perhaps that’s what the Supreme Court intends. If so, it should have said as much.
In reality, though, the country needs a standard by which its state laws on gun control can conform. And while there is much controversy surrounding the issue, the fundamental law of the land is not so complicated.
Start with this: The constitution does indeed guarantee an individual right to bear arms. Then proceed with the logic that such a right does not guarantee every individual the right to bear any kind of gun.
Each state then has the responsibility of determining to what extent sale and ownership of firearms is to be regulated. If California wants to be far more restrictive than Louisiana, then such decisions are properly the domain of the state legislatures.
Federal law can set minimum standards for registration and interstate transactions.
Such a ruling from the Supreme Court wouldn’t end the controversy, but it would provide a foundation for sensible gun legislation across the country.