Monday, January 4, 2010

The Second Amendment faces a deci- sive year in 2010. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has called for new semi-automatic gun bans - despite their decade-long record of fraud and failure, and despite his own Justice Department’s failure to fully or even half-heartedly prosecute federal firearm felonies.

Mr. Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have demonstrated their willingness to use cooked statistics to blame Mexico’s violent drug war on Americans and their Second Amendment rights.

Anti-gun leaders in Congress have introduced bills to ban guns, license gun owners, register guns, tax bullets, serialize ammunition, shut down gun shows and a hundred other schemes. They’re still there, proposing every nonsensical gun law they can imagine that only affect law-abiding citizens, while criminals go about their evil business unfettered.

Meanwhile at the United Nations, global citizen-disarmament nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and freedom-fearing dictatorships worldwide maneuver to impose their will on you through international treaties. But it is a new year.

And, in a very crucial way, 2010 may be a year unlike any other in American history - when the Second Amendment could, finally and truly, be recognized as a right for all Americans.

A year-and-a-half ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms for self-defense for every citizen. The ruling struck down Washington D.C.’s draconian gun ban and gave District residents the right to own a firearm in their homes for personal protection. But, this ruling only applied to federal enclaves.

On March 2, the court will hear arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the court should rule the Second Amendment is a fundamental right, incorporated under the 14th Amendment to apply to state and local governments. This landmark ruling would put the Second Amendment on par with most of the rest of the Bill of Rights.

That’s because most provisions of the Bill of Rights do apply against actions by state and local governments. So far, these include not just the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of religion, speech and assembly, but also the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful searches and seizures, the Fifth Amendment’s protections against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment and more.

As the court noted in the 2008 ruling that overturned the D.C. ban, “Nowhere else in the Constitution does a ‘right’ attributed to ‘the people’ refer to anything other than an individual right.”

And in that same decision, the court recognized, ” … the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment.”

Indeed, the right of self-defense is the single most basic human right of all. The ability to defend oneself is a guarantee of the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” held dear by Americans since the forging of our nation. It is why the Second Amendment, and the individual right of self-defense, was so important to our founding fathers.

The Supreme Court agreed and reaffirmed it.

This year, by incorporating that right to apply to the states, the court has an opportunity to ensure that all Americans can exercise their Second Amendment freedom. No matter where they live!

The need to incorporate the Second Amendment against state and local government caprice should be as self-evident today as it was for courts in the past to protect the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Bill of Rights.

In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has seen fit to incorporate nearly all of the Bill of Rights, and as the most fundamental, natural right of them all, the Second Amendment right to arms to protect your life deserves incorporation every bit as much.

Wayne LaPierre is the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association of America.

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