US top court upholds right to carry arms - GulfToday

US top court upholds right to carry arms

Gun control

The verdict is seen as disturbing because of the mass shootings that have been occurring in the United States over the years.

The United Supreme Court has on Thursday delivered a controversial 6-3 verdict overturning a 1913 New York law restricting the carrying of handguns in public, saying that it is part of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, forming the basis of fundamental rights.

The Second Amendment ratified in 1791 says: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Six of the conservative judges of the Supreme Court have cited this to overthrow a lower court ruling, which threw out a challenge by the gun lobby to the New York law.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote for the majority, said that the Constitution protects “and individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defence outside the home.”

In 2008 the Supreme Court held the right to keep arms at home in a case from the District of Columbia, and in 2010 extended the right to the other states.

The verdict is seen as disturbing because of the mass shootings that have been occurring in the United States over the years, and it was believed that this was due to the easy access to firearms by people with criminal tendencies.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), the hugely influential gun lobby, had always argued that law-abiding citizens do not misuse the right to bear arms.

It is a true proposition, but it overlooks the social context. With violence ever on the rise in America, the rational argument that good people do not misuse guns is not of much use. Of course, the question from the other side is also true: Do restrictions on purchase of guns in any way lessen mass shootings? It is debatable and it will be difficult to provide hard evidence for either side.

But restrictions on possessing guns could make it more difficult for psychopaths and sociopaths to acquire guns and kill people at random.

But it seems that the judges are misinterpreting the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment refers to the need for a Militia to protect the security of State. It does not imply the fundamental right of citizens to possess guns for protecting themselves.

The Second Amendment might have been relevant in 1791 when there is a standing army to defend the security of the state and there is a police force to protect the citizens in the country.

Justice Thomas and others are treating the Second Amendment as the right of the individual to bear arms to defend herself or himself.

Once it is conceded that bearing arms is a fundamental right of the citizen, then Justice Thomas’ argument holds good: “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”

The expansive reading of the Second Amendment is unjustified, and there is need for a stricter and literal interpretation of the words of the amendment.

While those who want to keep guns can feel justifiably victorious by the Supreme Court verdict, the fears and worries of ordinary people could only increase.

And the criminal elements must be rejoicing in the fact that they have escaped the scrutiny of the law enforcement authorities. The mild restrictions that the lawmakers want to bring is only to carry out greater background check of those buying guns.

The law-abiding citizens buying guns should have no fears because they have nothing to hide, while the people with the intention of creating mayhem will have a difficult time.

The criminals may succeed in hoodwinking the officers despite the check system, but there would at least be some kind of a firewall. The verdict has only made it easier for the killers to get guns.

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