Posted: 6/11/2002 5:21:24 AM EDT
[URL=http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=578&e=2&cid=578&u=/nm/20020610/ts_nm/court_guns_dc_1]Supreme Court Declines Review on Right to Own Guns [/URL]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court ( news - web sites) on Monday stayed out of the politically charged debate on whether the Constitution protects an individual's right to possess guns, a position advocated by the Bush administration in reversing the government's long-held policy.
Without comment, the justices declined to hear two cases in which the Justice Department ( news - web sites) last month said the right to bear arms does not apply just to state militias, a change in policy denounced by gun control advocates and praised by the National Rifle Association.
The Justice Department argued there was no need for the Supreme Court to get involved in the two cases, leaving intact federal appeals court rulings that upheld the constitutionality of provisions of federal gun control laws.
The Supreme Court last ruled on the scope of the Second Amendment in 1939 when it said the amendment protects only those rights that have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well regulated militia."
The Second Amendment states: "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."
In a footnote in the two cases, Solicitor General Theodore Olson said the government now takes the position the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals, including persons who are not members of the militia, to bear firearms.
Olson said the right was "subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse."
The Justice Department has said it plans to defend vigorously the constitutionality under the Second Amendment of all existing federal firearms laws.
The administration's shift in position first surfaced in May last year in a letter by Attorney General John Ashcroft ( news - web sites) to the National Rifle Association. It was repeated in a memo sent in November to all federal prosecutors.
In one of the cases, the justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to carry guns, but that exceptions do exist.
The appeals court rejected the arguments by a Texas physician, Timothy Emerson, that a 1994 federal gun law, designed to deny guns to people under restraining orders, was unconstitutional.
The other case involved an Oklahoma man, John Lee Haney, who was convicted of owning two machine guns. He claimed the federal law that bans the possession of a machine gun violated his constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
The Justice Department said the constitutional challenges and claims in both cases lacked merit and did not warrant Supreme Court review.
Me thinks SCOTUS is a scared to truly uphold the 2nd amendment as an individual right and change that tripe the Bush admin. issued a few weeks ago.
"...2nd amend. does allow restrictions on weapons commonly misused by criminals."
Give me a break.
They may also be waiting to hear something else first.