Standing the Constitution on its Head

I had thought that our system of government was broad and stable enough to stand up to the pressures of any one wing of political factions. Now I must admit that I am amazed at the damage that has been done to the American political system by a small group of dedicated Neo-Cons over the past seven years. Any positive image of the U.S. throughout most of the rest of the world has been thoroughly trashed. The ability of the government to react effectively to crises has been called into question. Our military has been over-burdened and stretched too thin by an expensive and unnecessary foreign military occupation. The executive power has been enhanced to the detriment of our other branches of government.

And now the Supreme Court has overturned over 100 years of judicial precedent and stood the Second Amendment to the Constitution on its head. The 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, written by Reagan appointee Justice Antonin Scalia, holds that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms for self-defense purposes unconnected with service in a well regulated militia.

As Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, recently wrote: €œBy deliberately omitting what test the Court is using to decide that [the District €™s handgun ban and trigger lock requirement] unreasonably burden this newly proclaimed individual right to possess firearms, the Court leaves legislators and lower courts adrift at a time when public health data clearly shows the harm associated with handguns far outweighs any benefit from their use for lawful self defense. €

The decision is a terrible one and complete misreads the Framer €™s intent in drafting in the Second Amendment. It is relatively narrow in scope, however, and leaves many critical questions unanswered. More importantly, it does not prevent gun violence prevention organizations from actively pursuing a wide range of legislative initiatives to reduce gun violence. Here at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, we will still be able to pursue all of our goals: pushing to close the Gun Show Loophole, passing microstamping laws to assist law enforcement with crime-solving, and holding gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for their distribution practices.

We will see if the Heller decision ultimately stands the test of time. But it certainly will not stop the work of millions of Americans across our country who are deeply concerned about the 30,000+ lives lost annually to gun violence. We are resolved to fight for sensible controls on the design, manufacture, sale, and distribution of firearms in America and will not stop until the senseless bloodshed in our country ceases.

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