Washington, D.C. – This spring the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the right to bear arms, as written in the Second Amendment, applies to every resident of the United States or just residents of the District of Columbia.
U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, John Barrasso and Representative Cynthia Lummis, all R-Wyo., aren’t taking any chances. They signed their names to an amicus curiae brief related to a case involving Chicago’s gun ban. The delegation sided with Second Amendment rights.
“The Supreme Court has already ruled that the right to bear arms is a constitutional and individual right. Residents of Chicago should be able to defend themselves just like our founding fathers intended of all our law-abiding citizens,” Enzi said. “It is absurd to think the Bill of Rights was only written with District of Columbia residents in mind. Second Amendment rights apply to Americans in every part of the country.”
“The second amendment is a way life in Wyoming. It is a value we hold dear. The Supreme Court already confirmed what the people of Wyoming have known all along – the Constitution guarantees our fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” said Barrasso, a life member of the National Rifle Association.
“For those of us in Wyoming, the right to keep and bear arms is a way of life,” Lummis said. “Our founding fathers guaranteed that right by incorporating it into our Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court has an historic opportunity to say once and for all that the right to keep and bear arms is for every American, no matter where they live -- whether they are in Chicago or Cheyenne.”
McDonald v. City of Chicago will determine if the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which protects a person’s civil and political rights from being denied by any state. Despite clear congressional support for the individual’s right to keep and bear arms and a Supreme Court decision affirming this position, some jurisdictions, like the City of Chicago, have attempted to circumvent Second Amendment rights by passing outright hand gun bans and excessively strict gun laws that make it nearly impossible to own or carry a firearm.
The amicus curiae brief was a bipartisan effort signed by 58 senators and 251 representatives, which is more members of Congress than any amicus brief in U.S. history. The brief expresses support for Second Amendment rights and urges the court to rule against the City of Chicago.
The current case before the Supreme Court involves Otis McDonald, a community activist in Chicago, and whether or not the City of Chicago has the right to enact gun laws that restrict him from owning a gun and contradicting his constitutional rights.
In 2008, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to keep and bear arms and that the District of Columbia could not enforce an outright ban on hand guns. In the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to clarify if the ruling in the Heller case applied only to federal enclaves, like the District of Columbia, or if it applies to all state and local governments. Historically, the Court has recognized that the Bill of Rights does apply to state and local governments according to the Fourteenth Amendment.
An amicus curiae brief allows members of Congress to inform the Court of their views. Amicus curiae briefs can be filed by individuals or groups who are not directly involved with a specific court case but have a position that they hope will influence its outcome.
The brief will be considered by the Supreme Court when it hears the McDonald v. City of Chicago case in spring 2010.