Tuesday, July 7, 2009

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Texas Attorney General Abbott Files Brief with United States Supreme Court; Takes Action to Protect Texans' Second Amendment Rights

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court that defends Americans’ right to keep and bear arms. The amicus brief, which was filed on behalf of 33 state attorneys general, supports a legal challenge by Otis McDonald, a community activist who lives in a high-crime Chicago neighborhood. McDonald’s work to improve his neighborhood has subjected him to violent threats from drug dealers, but city ordinances prohibit him from obtaining a handgun to protect himself. The state attorneys general argue that cities cannot simply ignore the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and impose a blanket ban on handguns.

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Brief Filed with U.S. Supreme Court by Attorneys General

“Last year, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and held that the Second Amendment protects individual Americans’ right to keep and bear arms,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The brief filed today urges the nation’s highest court to hear community activist Otis McDonald’s challenge to an ordinance that prohibits him from possessing a handgun to protect himself from the criminals he has worked to eradicate from his high-crime neighborhood. Today’s amicus brief reflects an effort by more than thirty attorneys general to defend law-abiding Americans’ constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.”

The states’ amicus brief says: “The right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment is not just a ‘fundamental’ liberty interest. In the Anglo-American tradition, it is among the most fundamental of rights because it is essential to securing all our other liberties. The Founders well understood that, without the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, all of the other rights and privileges ordinarily enjoyed by Americans would be vulnerable to governmental acts of oppression.”

According to the states’ amicus brief, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution applies to states under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the right to keep and bear arms is a right that states have long recognized. In fact, 44 state constitutions protect their residents’ right to bear arms. The brief adds: “The submission of this amicus brief provides further evidence of the States’ understanding of the fundamental importance of the arms-bearing right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”

“Just as local governments cannot constitutionally act as ‘laboratories’ for initiatives to abrogate their citizens’ right to free speech or their freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, nor can they nullify the fundamental right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment,” the amicus brief states.

The states’ amicus brief acknowledges that some firearms regulations are permissible, including in circumstances where they are necessary to prevent violent felons from owning guns.

The states ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear both the McDonald case and National Rifle Association of America Inc., et al v. City of Chicago, Ill., et al.

The states that joined Texas in the amicus brief are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.