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Thomas: Handgun ruling shows why Supreme Court appointees matter

POSTED: July 15, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Five-to-four. Amazing. By one vote our U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Second Amendment to our Constitution is still in effect. It should not have been this close.

What is most amazing is that four U.S. Supreme Court justices thought it within their power to rule the Second Amendment null and void. The minority opinion of Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter is a perfect illustration of just how far a majority liberal Supreme Court would take us. Given the opportunity, as they had in this case, they would, by themselves, amend the U.S. Constitution.

The wise framers of our great nation provided a means by which our Constitution is to be amended. But why bother with two-thirds of Congress, or a national convention, and then ratification of three-fourths of the states when all you need are five justices?

Amending our Constitution is a very serious matter. That is why in more than 200 years, since the original 10 Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791, and out of literally thousands of attempts there have been only 17 additional amendments. It is not an easy thing to do, and it is not supposed to be.

Washington Post columnist Colbert King trumpeted the classic liberal retort after the ruling. His response on the day the ruling came out began, "There’s one group of District residents absolutely unfazed by today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling shooting down the District’s strict handgun ban: the dudes who have been blowing away their fellow citizens with abandon since the law was put on the books 32 years ago."

As if the "dudes" blowing away folks were ever concerned with laws for or against their guns. Actually what the court did was come to the rescue of the D.C. citizens who are the victims of such lawlessness.

Continuing his rant, but actually helping to make the conservative case against gun control laws, King stated: "The record will show that our homegrown shooters have blown through the city’s so-called strict handgun ban like John Riggins going up the middle. Over the past 20 years, there have been more than 6,500 homicides in the nation’s capital, most committed with firearms, predominantly handguns. In 1976, the year the ban was put in place, the District had 135 gun-related murders. ... Last year, the number reached 143."

In other words, the D.C. gun ban did nothing to decrease violent handgun crimes. All it did was take guns out of the hands of its law-abiding citizens. The headline on King’s column read "The Thugs win the case." It turns out the "thugs" were winning all along.

John McCain came out strongly supporting the court’s decision. Barack Obama did his best to straddle the fence and dance around questions on whether he supported the ruling. However, last year his campaign stated that he supported the D.C. ban and thought it constitutional. Also, Obama refused to sign an amicus brief signed by a bipartisan group of 55 senators, including McCain, arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn the D.C. gun ban.

Obama has declared himself a "strong supporter of the Second Amendment." However when running for the Illinois state Senate, he signed a document stating that he supported state legislation that would ban "the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns." He has also said things like, "I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities," and he voted against letting people violate local weapons bans even in cases of self-defense.

Moments after the Supreme Court’s D.C. ruling, in Obama’s home state, the Illinois State Rifle Association sued to overturn the city of Chicago’s ban on handguns. Chicago’s Democrat Mayor Richard Daly was outraged by the D.C. ruling, saying, "It is frightening that America loves guns."

This sounds a lot like Obama’s lament on how "bitter" Americans "cling to guns or religion."

I’ve written at length this year about the importance of the judiciary when it comes to our upcoming elections. This goes not only for the presidential election, but for the Senate elections as well, as they must approve those appointed for the bench by the president.

There is a clear choice between the two parties when it comes to the view of the judiciary. When you vote, make sure you keep this in mind.

Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and frequent columnist. Visit his Web site, www.trevorgrantthomas.com.



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