Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Our Founding Fathers recognized that certain rights are inherent to all Americans, which is why they had the wisdom and foresight to draft the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When considering what should be included in these hallowed documents, men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison drew upon experiences fighting for their freedom from England to determine the most basic rights worthy of inclusion in a Bill of Rights.
Amendments guaranteeing freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to due process and a commitment to state rights were all original additions to the Constitution. The second addition was an amendment that guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. Over the last 218 years, our country has grown and the interpretation of these basic rights by the courts has changed, but the fundamentals behind the Bill of Rights have remained strong.
Over the past two years the highest court in this land, the United States Supreme Court, has twice upheld the Second Amendment, as protecting the individual right to keep and bear arms.
Last month, the Supreme Court made its most important decision in upholding an individual's right to bear arms to date. Many states and municipalities have claimed that the Second Amendment does not apply outside of federal jurisdictions like the District of Columbia, and that they therefore have the authority to place significant restrictions on gun ownership.
The Court made the correct decision, upholding that the Second Amendment ensures that Americans' individual right to keep and bear arms may not be restricted by either the federal government, or states and municipalities. Prior to this decision, communities like the city of Chicago had implemented extremely restrictive gun control measures that deprived law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights. While this case was focused on a city more than a thousand miles away from Central Washington, it has important implications for all Americans.
When any of our Constitutional rights are called into question, whether it is freedom of speech or gun rights, all Americans should be concerned. It will take all of us working together to protect our gun ownership rights and stop efforts to impose new gun control measures on law-abiding Americans.
As a nation, our focus should be on preventing criminals from obtaining firearms and prosecuting illegal gun violence, not imposing restrictions on law-abiding citizens, regardless of where they live.
- Congressman Doc Hastings
(R-Pasco) represents Central