Clarifying the Individual’s Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Earlier this year I was extremely pleased to co-sponsor a concurrent resolution (SCR 1611) that would affirm an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the state of Kansas. The proposed resolution’s language is simple and direct – “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.” The resolution resoundingly passed in both legislative chambers (39-1 in the Kansas Senate, 116 – 9 in the Kansas House) and will appear before Kansas voters on the November 2010 General Election ballot.
The resolution is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2008 regarding the Second Amendment. In their landmark decision, the Court struck down the District of Columbia’s 32 year old gun law that banned handgun possession and also required that shotguns and rifles be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. The court’s ruling, in a 5 to 4 split decision, did away with years of lower court decisions that had held that the intent of the amendment was simply to allow state militias the right of gun possession. In writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “We hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.” Scalia further added that the Second Amendment “surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”
If approved by Kansas voters, SCR 1611 would unambiguously trump the Kansas Supreme Court’s most recent ruling (City of Junction City v. Lee – 1975) affirming that gun ownership is a collective versus an individual right. However, it is also interesting to note that the Court subsequently appeared to contradict itself when it overturned a city gun control ordinance on the basis that it was “unconstitutionally overbroad”, thereby implying that the right to bear arms was in fact an individual right (City of Junction City v. Mevis – 1979).
I have always believed that an individual should have the right to keep and bear firearms for lawful purposes, and I believe that SCR 1611 clarifies that right once and for all. Come the November 2010 General Election, we will finally hear the decisive voice of the Kansas voters and see if they agree.
Thank you for letting me serve as your State Senator. I always appreciate knowing where you stand on the issues our state is currently facing. I can be reached at (785) 296-7372 (daytime) or (785) 865-2786 (evenings). My e-mail address is Tom.Holland@senate.ks.gov. Also, if you would like to be added to the mailing list of my e-mail newsletter which is published every two weeks during the session, please send me your e-mail address.