Contact Felicity Bower, 602-996-4020
Nov. 24, 2009
Should individual states be required to honor your guarantees under the Bill of Rights? Phoenix-based Bloomfield Press has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to say yes, in an amicus ("friend of the court") brief just filed.
The goal is to require states to be bound by the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They are not currently obligated to do so. This principle is up for review in McDonald v. Chicago, expected to be argued at the High Court in February, 2010, and decided by June. See the filing here -- http://www.gunlaws.com/supreme.htm
The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791 only to control Congress (e.g., "Congress shall make no law..."), and the High Court has only applied the Bill to the states in bits and pieces. Studies have shown most people are unaware of this.
The 14th Amendment in 1868 said states cannot abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens, or deprive or deny the rights of the people, but it provided few details -- and the High Court has been evaluating that since then.
Working piecemeal, the Court has declared states cannot deny free speech, protection against unreasonable searches, the right to counsel in a criminal trial and more. This principle is now on trial in what may be the highest-profile case of its kind -- the right to arms in the Second Amendment.
Chicago has flatly banned this right, leaving its citizens defenseless, and insists it has the power to do so. The city's ban does little to disarm hardened criminals who simply roam free, carrying guns illegally at will.
"The core issue is whether a state has legitimate power to deny any fundamental right to its people," says Alan Korwin, author of eight books on gun law and the publisher at Bloomfield Press, the nation's largest producer and distributor of gun-law books. "This issue is so broad and crucial to America that pro-rights and even anti-rights people on the gun issue are aligned to overturn Chicago's blanket denial of a fundamental right," he says.
The avowedly anti-gun-rights Washington Post observed that, "Lawyers from both the left and right of the political spectrum will present strong arguments that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments."
That sentiment was echoed in the similarly anti-rights LA Times, which stated editorially, "It's tempting to hope that the court will rule that states aren't bound by the Second Amendment," but continued, "Allowing the states and cities to ignore this part of the Bill of Rights could undermine the requirement that they abide by others... this is no time for the Court to start picking and choosing when it comes to the Bill of Rights."
Bloomfield Press joins 34 California DAs, eight Nevada DAs, former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack (the hero of the successful Brady-bill case that set 10th Amendment limits on federal invasion of states' rights), several law-enforcement associations, and citizens' rights groups in Arizona, California, Texas and Virginia in the amicus filing. Mr. Korwin's extensive research and material appears throughout the brief, drafted by California attorney Chuck Michel of Michel and Associates.
The main points argued
1) The right of the people to keep and bear arms is a deeply rooted "fundamental right" and thus properly applied to the states;
2) The Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment necessarily incorporates the Second Amendment to apply against the states;
3) The right to armed self defense is a fundamental right recognized repeatedly by the Supreme Court dating back to the 19th century;
4) The right to self defense, in addition to the right to arms, has been well established as fundamental for centuries in state constitutions, and in federal law and state law;
5) Firearms are and have always been recognized as essential to exercise the right to self defense, with each one reliant upon the other; and
6) Federalism (states rights) presents no obstacle to incorporating a fundamental right of the people.
The entire brief may be downloaded here
(it will be on the Supreme Court website shortly).
The 14th Amendment, Section 1: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The amici include the Arizona Citizens Defense League (AzCDL), The Texas Concealed Handgun Association (TCHA), and The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), all easily googled. The complete list of amici with descriptions of their interests are in the brief. http://www.gunlaws.com/supreme.htm