WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and the entire Oklahoma congressional delegation have joined arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the biggest gun ownership case in nearly 70 years. All of the Oklahomans are urging the high court to overturn a ban on handgun ownership in the District of Columbia. The case, which will be argued before Supreme Court justices next month, is the first since 1939 that the court has accepted primarily to decide a Second Amendment question. Edmondson joined a brief filed on Monday by 31 states, and the seven Oklahoma lawmakers joined a brief filed last week by Vice President Dick Cheney and 55 members of the Senate and 250 members of the House. The brief by the states says, "Every state in the union permits private citizens to own handguns. Forty-five states go further, allowing private citizens to carry concealed handguns for self-defense. "Thus, the District's sweeping firearm prohibitions are not only contrary to the Constitution, but also contrary to the reasoned judgment of every state legislature in the nation.” The District of Columbia asked the high court to take the case after the federal appeals court here ruled that the handgun ban in place for 30 years violated individuals' Second Amendment rights.Comments
‘The right of the people'Besides an outright ban on handguns, the district also requires that any other firearms in a person's possession be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. The district argued to the court recently that, "The text and history of the Second Amendment conclusively refute the notion that it entitles individuals to have guns for their own private purposes. "Instead, it protects the possession and use of guns only in service of an organized militia.” Representing the Bush administration, the U.S. Justice Department recently told the court that it should send the case back to the lower court. The Justice Department agreed with the appellate court's decision to strike down the handgun ban but said the ruling was so broad it would allow private ownership of all types of weapons, including machine guns. In an unusual move, Cheney broke with the administration's position and signed on to the brief filed by senators and House members; under the U.S. Constitution, Cheney is president of the U.S. Senate, and he was listed on the brief as such. The brief filed by the lawmakers says Congress has repeatedly passed laws to protect private gun ownership, and it says the framers of the Constitution clearly did not intend to restrict gun ownership to militia members. "In sum, the Second Amendment guarantees ‘the right of the people,' which includes residents of the seat of government, to keep and bear arms,” the brief states. "This in turn promotes a well-regulated militia, seen as necessary for a free state's security.” Numerous "friend-of-the-court” briefs, such as the ones by the states and the federal lawmakers, have been filed on both sides in the case.
What's next?•The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 18. •A decision is expected sometime before the court's session ends this summer.
Second AmendmentThe Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "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.”
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