The Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday that a ban on handguns in the District of Columbia was unconstitutional sent immediate ripples throughout the presidential campaign.
The Obama campaign came out with a statement in support, saying that the Court's ruling "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."
Prior to the decision, Sen. Barack Obama sought to clarify a past statement in which he directly implied that he thought the D.C. handgun law to be constitutional. That remark, spokesman Bill Burton said, was inartful: the Senator had yet to develop a position on whether the law violated the Second Amendment.
Sen. John McCain, meanwhile, was quick out of the box in taking advantage of the Supreme Court's ruling, declaring it "a landmark victory" and blasting Obama for refusing "to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief" on the case. His campaign, in addition, hosted a conference call with reporters blasting Obama for being against Second Amendment rights and lacking a record of bipartisanship in tackling gun policy issues.
How much traction McCain will get out of the Supreme Court's ruling is an open-ended question. But it's important to note that Michael Bloomberg, one of the country's most prominent and sought-after Independents is leading a movement to crack down on hand-gun violence in cities. During a press conference today, the New York City mayor laid out talking points in support of the ruling that could provide a template for Obama.
"I haven't read the decision yet," said the mayor, who heads the coalition Mayors Against Gun Violence. "The court ruled something that we, our 225 mayors, believe is one of our tenets. You have a right under the Second Amendment to hold a pistol or a rifle. What you don't have the right to do is to hold one if you are a criminal. And the courts clearly ruled that reasonable regulation, which we believe would include all of the laws on the books in New York State and City... they ruled that reasonable regulations are permitted under the decision."
As for whether the decision would help persuade the mayor - out of concern for the future of the Supreme Court - to make an endorsement, Bloomberg demurred.
"I think the public has the two candidates," he said. "I want to hear what they have to say, I think people who vote based on who they think the president will appoint to the Supreme Court tend to be not pleased. Supreme Court justices are notorious for eventually doing things that the appointer didn't expect. It is difficult to determine how they will rule down the road."
Perhaps the most telling aspect of the early reaction to the Supreme Court decision is that it illustrates how non-partisan gun control debates have become. Sen. Russ Feingold, one of Congress' leading progressives, sent out this statement on the ruling:
I am very pleased the Supreme Court finally recognized that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. This is an important decision for millions of law-abiding gun owners. Public safety must be ensured without depriving our citizens of their constitutional rights.
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