Following the Supreme Court's ruling fortifying 2nd Amendment gun rights, reactions are pouring in from politicians, pundits and bloggers.
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.
Today's decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.
Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. 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.
This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.
White House Spokesman Tony Fratto:
We're pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment protects the right of Americans to keep and bear arms.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
I think it still allows the District of Columbia to come forward with a law that's less pervasive. I think the court left a lot of room to run in terms of concealed weapons and guns near schools.
House Minority Leader John Boehner:
In the most significant victory for the Second Amendment in recent memory, the Supreme Court today reaffirmed our citizens' constitutional right to keep and bear arms. ... This decision should send a clear message to opponents of the Second Amendment. The Constitution plainly guarantees the solemn right to keep and bear arms, and the whims of politically correct bureaucrats cannot take it away.
Senator Russell Feingold:
I think this is a long overdue decision; I don't think the precedent has been seriously reaffirmed in decades.
Senator Frank Lautenberg:
Today, President Bush's radical Supreme Court justices put rigid ideology ahead of the safety of communities in New Jersey and across the country. This decision illustrates why I have strongly opposed extremist judicial nominees and will continue to do so in the future.
Senator Dianne Feinstein:
I am profoundly disappointed in Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both of whom assured us of their respect for precedent. With this decision, 70 years of precedent has gone out the window. And I believe the people of this great country will be less safe because of it.
Senator Patrick Leahy:
In its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court has recognized the personal right to bear arms, guaranteed in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and expressly held for the first time that our Bill of Rights includes this right among its guarantees of individual liberty and freedom. That is a good thing. This opinion should usher in a new era in which the constitutionality of government regulations of firearms are reviewed against the backdrop of this important right.
In its review of the law in the District of Columbia, the Supreme Court did not say that all government efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals are unconstitutional, but that gun regulations must be sensible, reasonable and defensible.
Since before the nation's founding, Americans have used firearms for protection and sporting purposes. I have enjoyed target shooting since my days at St. Michael's. I know Vermonters will be relieved and encouraged to see their rights recognized, just as they were when the Supreme Court preserved the Great Writ of habeas corpus in its decision earlier this month.
The Republican Study Committee (delivered by Rep. Jeb Hensarling):
For over 30 years, the D.C. handgun ban has prevented law abiding citizens from purchasing legal guns to be used for legitimate reasons - such as self-defense, hunting, and sport shooting - while doing little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. D.C. residents will finally have the same rights as their countrymen to bear arms and defend themselves from violent crime.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (via The Chicago Tribune)
An angry Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday called the Supreme Court's overturning of the Washington D.C. gun ban "a very frightening decision" and vowed to fight vigorously any challenges to Chicago's ban.
The mayor, speaking at a Navy Pier event, said he was sure mayors nationwide, who carry the burden of keeping cities safe, will be outraged by the decision.
From around the blogosphere:
This split should be useful to either of the Presidential candidates who wants to make either gun control or gun rights into an election issue -- my guess is that this is more likely to be McCain. Expect McCain ads in states where there are likely many pro-gun swing voters stressing, "your constitutional right to keep and bear arms hangs by one vote." Also expect fundraising letters to likely pro-gun contributors stressing this at length.
If Second Amendment fanatics have constitutional orgasms, they just did.
I also doubt that conservatives will be too upset by the "judicial activism" involved in the Supreme Court overturning the DC handgun ban. I don't really understand the details of the ruling at this point, but I'm not complaining about it either. From a policy perspective, what DC is trying to accomplish is just futile -- as long as the District is a very small patch of land adjacent to Virginia, there's no way gun regulations of this sort will prevent criminals from acquiring weapons.
Individuals have a constitutional right to possess a basic firearm (the line drawn is unclear, but does not extend to automatic weapons) and to use it in self-defense. The government can prohibit possession of firearms by, for example, felons and the mentally ill. And it can also regulate the sale of firearms, presumably through background checks.
The opinion leaves open the question whether the Second Amendment is incorporated against the States, but strongly suggests it is. So today's ruling likely applies equally to State regulation.