Below is the Attorney General of Texas, and other states, support of the Second Amendment.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 11, 2008
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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Files Friend of the Court Brief in Washington, D C Gun Ban case
Texas, 30 states urge high court to uphold individual gun ownership rights
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday defending Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Writing on behalf of 31 states, Attorney General Abbott urged the Supreme Court to uphold a federal appeals court decision striking down Washington D.C.’s handgun ban. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the District’s handgun ban as unconstitutional.
“The United States Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms,” Attorney General Abbott said. “By banning all handguns while rendering rifles and shotguns inoperable, the District of Columbia unconstitutionally prohibits citizens in the District from owning operational firearms. We respectfully urge the Supreme Court to uphold the appeals court decision striking down Washington D.C.’s firearms ban.”
Second Amendment Friend of the Court Brief: http://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2008/021108heller_amicus.pdf
In 1976, the Washington, D.C. City Council passed an ordinance banning all handguns and requiring that rifles and shotguns be disassembled or encumbered by trigger locks at all times. Washington D.C. Special Police Officer Dick Heller, who carries a handgun while working at the Federal Justice Center, sued the city after it denied his application to keep a handgun at his private residence.
A federal district court disagreed with Heller, who appealed his case to the federal court of appeals with jurisdiction over the District of Columbia. At that stage of the litigation, Attorney General Abbott defended individuals’ right to bear arms in a ‘friend of the court’ brief submitted on behalf of Texas and 12 other states. In an opinion by Judge Lawrence Silberman, the federal appeals court held that the District’s gun ban violated the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear District of Columbia v. Heller in March, has not considered a Second Amendment case since 1939.
Texas and a bipartisan group of 30 state attorneys general argue that the District of Columbia violates the Second Amendment by banning all handguns in D.C. residents’ private homes. According to the state attorneys general, the Second Amendment protects individuals’ right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment’s text explicitly protects “the right of the people,” a phrase that also appears in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments describing personal, individual rights.
Attorney General Abbott and the other state attorneys general argue that “because the Second Amendment’s text recognizes a ‘right,’ not a ‘power,’ and guarantees that right to ‘the people’ and not ‘the States,’ it necessarily secures an individual right to keep and bear arms.” Thus, Texas argues that the “collective rights” theory is unfaithful to the Constitution and undermines Americans’ individual rights.
Texas’ brief also notes that, under the Second Amendment, gun ownership is not limited to citizens who participate in military exercises. The state argues that citizens have the right to “… ‘wear, bear, or carry’ arms, regardless of whether they are engaged in military activity connected with a state militia.” By requiring that rifles and shotguns in residents’ private residences be either disassembled or encumbered by a trigger lock, the District’s ordinance rendered the firearms inoperable. Thus, Attorney General Abbott argues the city violated its residents’ constitutionally protected right to bear arms.
Notably, every state that signed the brief, including Texas, argues that some firearms regulations are both permissible. For example, the vast majority of states support prohibiting violent felons from owning guns. All of the joining states, however, are likewise united in the belief that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms.
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