Va. gun rights group cheers high court ruling
A Virginia gun rights group cheered Monday's Supreme Court decision that the Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to own firearms, potentially opening the door to legal challenges of some state and local laws and regulations.
But at least one gun control proponent also hailed the court's decision for making it clear for a second time in a landmark ruling that reasonable regulations and laws restricting guns do not conflict with the Second Amendment.
"I think the most interesting part of the Supreme Court decision is that it rejected an absolutist view of the Second Amendment for the second time," said Abigail Spangler, founder of Protest Easy Guns. She was referring to the 2008 Heller ruling that also recognized a Second Amendment right to firearms ownership and struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban. Monday's decision, in McDonald v. Chicago, basically held that the Heller ruling, involving regulations in a federal enclave, also applies to state and local governments.
"It was sort of what I was expecting, quite frankly," Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave said in a telephone interview Monday.
Van Cleave said that after the Heller case recognized a Second Amendment right to own and keep firearms in the home for self-defense, it seemed likely that the court would build on previous cases holding that protections in the Bill of Rights apply to state and local governments also, and would strike down Chicago's law.
But Van Cleave also doubted that it would have any immediate impact on Virginia's firearms laws, including the state's gun-a-month law. That measure, enacted by former governor Douglas Wilder, prohibits Virginians from buying more than one handgun every 30 days. Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) led a high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful effort during this year's annual legislative session to overturn the law.
The Supreme Court decision comes as Van Cleave's group is planning a statewide celebration of another gun rights victory. On July 1, new laws become effective, including a measure signed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell that allows people to carry concealed weapons into restaurants that sell alcohol, a measure dubbed by opponents as the guns-in-bars bill.
Van Cleave said the passage of the law in Virginia, a host of similar gun-rights measures across the country and two major gun rights decisions by the Supreme Court have given gun owners momentum in the debate over guns.
"When was the last big victory gun controllers had?" Van Cleave said.
But Spangler said gun control groups will continue to push for reasonable restrictions on access to weapons for people who should not have them or carry them into certain venues. Her priority remains trying to close the so-called gun show loophole, including a bill now before Congress.
June 29, 2010; 9:07 AM ET
Categories: Fredrick Kunkle
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