Gun rights ruling no cause for elation

By V. Paul Reynolds, Special to the BDN
Posted Aug. 17, 2010, at 6:10 p.m.

Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the Second Amendment provides all Americans a fundamental right to bear arms. In the decision, the high court clearly said that a person in Chicago has the same firearm rights as a citizen in Arizona, or in any of the other states where firearm rights have been protected rather than restricted.

This ruling by the high court was a significant, if not landmark, legal decision in the annals of gun rights in America. Gun rights advocates, who have fought long-standing gun bans such as the ones in the District of Columbia and Chicago, were elated.

In fact, Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb calls the decision “a call to action for gun rights advocates to move against other restrictive local firearms regulations.” “This morning’s high court ruling clearly shows that the right of the individual citizen to have a gun is constitutionally protected in every corner of the United States,” Gottlieb said. “We are already preparing to challenge other highly restrictive anti-gun laws across the country. Our objective is to win back our firearms freedoms one lawsuit at a time.”

For sportsmen, whose hunting heritage hinges inextricably on our constitutional right to bear arms, the court decision is a breath of fresh air. But a cause for elation? Not really, not if you examine the ruling in the larger context.

Remember, this was a hair-splitting 5-4 decision. This means that there are four justices on the high court who really don’t give a hoot about an individual’s right to bear arms, nor do they believe that there exists a constitutional protection.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissenting opinion wrote, “that the local value-laden nature of the questions that lie at the heart of the issue, why, in a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?”

Now if you can interpret this, you might consider enrolling in law school. Boiled down, he seems to be saying that banning handgun ownership in Chicago is not unconstitutional.

What is not rocket science is the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. Do the math. If the court is only one vote shy of being anti-gun rights, which appears to be the case, then watch out. A couple more appointments of liberal judges by President Barack Obama and you can kiss goodbye your traditional right to bear arms.

Far-fetched? Can’t happen in a country with a strong grass-roots belief in traditional values and the NRA? Don’t be so sure.

Right before your eyes the “perfect storm” is building for the eventual high court landmark ruling that will one day degrade or decimate our individual right to bear arms. Congress has confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Harvard liberal Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kagan, who has taken positions that oppose gun rights, replaces retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Not a problem, we are just swapping one liberal judge for another, right?

This is only step one in “the perfect storm” as the Obama administration orchestrates the “packing of the high court” with same-thinking progressive-liberal judges who believe that the U.S. Constitution is a “living document” that must be subject to revisionist interpretation to fit the times. Lest we forget, it was presidential can-didate Obama who made that snide, derisive reference to those of us “who cling to our Bibles and our guns.”

With Kagan seated on the court, the loss of our American gun rights could be as close as Obama’s third court nominee. When that dark day dawns, Mainers who value their constitutional right to bear arms should hold accountable their own U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Breaking with their party for the umpteenth time, Collins and Snowe both voted to confirm Kagan to the high court. In a statement that was breathtakingly contradictory, Collins said, “Ms. Kagan has taken positions that I oppose, including on gun rights.” She then said that she believes Kagan deserves to be confirmed based on her record.

Sen. Collins, and Olympia Snowe as well, have always asserted, especially during campaigns, that they are stalwart supporters of Mainers’ gun rights. In light of their actions in Washington, these words spoken so often in Maine now have a hollow ring.

V. Paul Reynolds of Hampden is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal and has written his first book, “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook.” He is also a Maine Guide and co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7).

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/08/17/opinion/gun-rights-ruling-no-cause-for-elation/ printed on September 18, 2014