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Indiana has voice in Second Amendment case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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For the first time in 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court is testing the scope of the Second Amendment and could decide what "the right to keep and bear arms" means for the 21st century.

Justices will consider the question Tuesday morning in District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290, which involves a citizen's challenge to a Washington, D.C., law banning him from keeping a handgun in his home.

At issue is to what extent the gun rights amendment to the Constitution applies to private gun possession in a modern American city. The last time the court directly tested the Second Amendment's scope was almost seven decades ago in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), but courts and legal scholars debate whether it actually decided anything in that earlier ruling.

In this case, the respondent Heller is a security guard who challenged the law after police refused to issue a license allowing him to keep a handgun in his home for protection. The city's 1976 law only allows disassembled or locked rifles and shotguns, and all handguns are illegal; Heller says that violates the Second Amendment.

Last year, a federal District Court struck down the local ban after finding 2-1 that it violated what the court said was an individual right to firearms.

"Once it is determined that handguns are 'Arms' referred to in the Second Amendment, it is not open to the District to ban them," the D.C. Circuit ruled, becoming the first time any federal appeals court has relied upon the "individual right" theory to strike down a gun control law. "We conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms."

Now, the city wants the nation's highest court to overturn that ruling.

In agreeing to take the Heller case, justices in November rejected questions from both sides and wrote its own question: "Whether the following provisions (of the three Washington, D.C., gun law sections) violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes."

Sixty-seven amici briefs have been filed in the case, with 47 in support of Heller's Second Amendment right and 20 wanting a reversal to scale back the scope. Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter is one of 31 state attorneys general signing on to an amicus brief in support of the individual right, arguing that the Second Amendment applies to the rights of individuals, not states. The case doesn't present facts that would warrant deciding which government regulations are permissible, the states contend.

Another brief from Congress recognizes 250 House of Representative members and 55 Senators who support Heller, including five of nine Indiana representatives but no Hoosier senators. Those included are: Representatives Dan Burton, Steve Buyer, Joe Donnelly, Michael Pence, and Mark Souder.

All merit briefs can be viewed online here.

Arguments on Tuesday are scheduled to last 75 minutes, and will be rebroadcast on C-SPAN shortly after the conclusion.
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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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