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The Right to Bear Arms

May 17, 2019
Column

In the Bill of Rights, our constitutional right to bear arms is listed second, after our First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly, and religion.  I like to think this ranking is intentional. Firearms are used for protection, self-defense, crime deterrence, hunting, and in many cases, are a way of life.

However, this does not stop those who are fundamentally opposed to the Second Amendment. Almost daily, certain states and municipalities are working to restrict the right to gun ownership. One such case is the highly restrictive ordinance in New York City, where transporting a handgun to a home or shooting range outside the city limits is prohibited. This effectively eliminates anyone from outside the city limits from carrying firearms, and greatly hinders residents from owning a gun. This ordinance is purposely strict to discourage people from possessing firearms.

A lawsuit challenging this particular law, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. This is the first major gun related case the Supreme Court will decide in a decade. The Supreme Court’s decision will have an impact on not only New York, but our nation as a whole.

Due to the importance of upholding our Second Amendment rights, I have signed an amicus (Friend of the Court) brief in support of the plaintiffs. This unconstitutional law does not take away guns from criminals, but instead punishes law-abiding gun owners. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the City of New York, we can be sure this type of law will further proliferate in cities across our country.

Landmark cases such as this one highlight the importance of the make-up of the Supreme Court. Thankfully, President Trump nominated and the Senate approved two conservative justices for the nation’s top bench. I will be watching this case very closely, and am hopeful it will be decided in favor of the Second Amendment.

Another aspect of clarifying our constitutional rights is to find and remove barriers to responsible gun ownership. For this reason, I recently cosponsored the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, H.R. 2443. This legislation would reduce the burden on law-abiding citizens, including active duty military and spouses, by allowing them to buy firearms across state lines, as long as the transaction is legal and permissible in both states. This is a common sense bill which does not hinder states from regulating gun sales.

We must not become complacent in defending our rights. There will always be attempts to undermine the Second Amendment. It is our duty to protect in law what our founders intended –  Americans having the right to bear arms.