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article imageOp-Ed: Obama, McCain, and the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

By Mr Garibaldi     Jun 26, 2008 in Politics
For at least the past 60 years, there has been a war being waged in the United States. Not with guns, but about them, and the citizen's rights to bear them. Today, the Supreme Court ruled on the side of the Constitution, and the candidates responded.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution:
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.
Those are the words, in their exact form, that have been in such hot debate for the past several decades. Those are the words that have been so divisive to some, and have created such anger and hatred between the pro-gun and anti-gun camps, and yet so many people do not know the words OF the Second Amendment which they stand either for or against.
"Shall not be infringed." To quote Barack Obama, "just words?"
Our founding fathers seemed not to think so, hence the inclusion of the Second Amendment, including the wording "shall not be infringed."
Historically, the Supreme Court has stayed pretty much away from Second Amendment cases, allowing lower court rulings to take precedence and establish or abolish laws in the regions which they represent. Today, however, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the Washington, DC, ban on handguns was unconstitutional.
1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.
There has been, of course, the expected amount of jubilation from gun advocates and the anticipated weeping and gnashing of teeth of the anti-gun left. The National Rifle Association has wasted no time in gearing up to challenge, next, a similar gun ban in the city of Chicago. Other pro-Second Amendment sponsors have responded as well, including one entrepeneuring venture that offers a free handgun with the completion of a training course.
But what of the candidates, in this Presidential election year? What are the responses to this landmark decision that the banning of handguns is a violation of the Constitutional rights of the individual? The answer, of course, will depend upon which candidate you ask.
Senator John McCain of Arizona, an open-carry state, has called the decision a "landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom," and has accused opponent Senator Barack Obama of reversing himself, once again, on the issue of Second Amendment rights.
All I can say it’s one in a long, in a long series in reversals of positions,” McCain said. “In a few days he has gone from opposing nuclear power, to not a proponent, to willing to explore. I fully anticipate -- whether it be on his pledge on public financing or his position on the Second Amendment, or any other issues -- he is changing his positions. So it's not surprising.”
McCain's remarks were made at a local town-hall meeting at Xavier University. Noticeably absent was Barack Obama, whom McCain had invited to attend for debate. McCain also made another jab at Obama in a writen statement, in which he said, "Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly." Former Presidential candidate cum McCain supporter Senator Sam Brownback, in a conference call with reporters, put forward his thoughts, as well, stating, "This is either an incredible flip flop or incredible inexperience on this issue. Anybody whose been around politics in Washington D.C. knows the center of this gun ban debate is whether this is an individual right.”
So why are the Republicans accusing Obama of flip-flopping again? First, an examination of his response to today's ruling is in order.
I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.
As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.
On the surface, it sounds great, and looks as if the Senator and Presidential hopeful has given his full support all along to the Second Amendment and the rights of gun owners. But the Republican's are quick to point out, on their website, Obama's previous statements regarding gun ownership, statements which clearly show that Obama, in his own words, is opposed to the private ownership of firearms. There is even a spot for a video from YouTube that is, mysteriously, no longer available for viewing, labeled as "mistatement" on the YouTube site. However, one doesn't have to go back very far to recall Obama's gaffe in Pennsylvania in which he called small town Americans "bitter," stating that they "cling" to religion and guns.
Obama's record is indicative of the inverse of the opinion of the American people, according to a Gallup poll released today showing that of those polled, 73% of the American people believe that it is their Constitutionally guaranteed right to own firearms.
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.
Just words?
Perhaps it would behoove Senator Obama, who feels that the gun control laws of his home city of Chicago are so effective, to examine more closely a town hailed by gun ownership advocates as a true success story of the Second Amendment; Kennesaw, Georgia, a town in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this past April celebrated their 25th year without a single murder. What makes Kennesaw the pride of the Second Amendment supporters? Their city ordinance requiring that every home own at least one gun:
The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.
Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.
By comparison, the population of Morton Grove, the first city in Illinois to adopt a gun ban for anyone other than police officers, has actually dropped slightly and stands at 22,202, according to 2005 statistics. More significantly, perhaps, the city's crime rate increased by 15.7 percent immediately after the gun ban, even though the overall crime rate in Cook County rose only 3 percent. Today, by comparison, the township's crime rate stands at 2,268 per 100,000.
This was not what some predicted.
Not what was predicted, but the results speak volumes. A lesson Senator Obama should examine closely in contrast with his own past stand on the issue of gun control.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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