The U. S. Supreme court opened the legal floodgates Thursday in a landmark ruling that upholds the right to bear arms for self-defense and hunting. That decision came in response to a thirty-two year old ban in Washington, D.C. of handgun ownership. But, now that the high court has declared that ban unconstitutional, the question is how will that decision affect Alabama?
The argument over a person's right to bear arms isn't new. It's been going on since this county began says Charles Campbell a Jones Law School professor. "Some of the critics of the constitution were afraid a powerful federal government would attempt first to disarm the citizenry and then you would have a military style of government or the government being the only one having guns."
And, the Supreme Court decision eliminates all doubt. The question the court answered is simple. Does the right to bear arms apply to the individual or to the group like the militia? Campbell explained how the court answered it. "What the court said was that the two other times that that the language 'Of the people' was used, the court has consistently interpreted that language to mean an individual right, and therefore since the same language is used in the second amendment the same kind of interpretation ought to apply."
And, the vote was close 5-to-4 with Justice Kennedy being that swing vote. "The next set of appointments will certainly be important as to whether the court continues on its current center conservative tact or whether it moves to the left," Campbell says.
Because Alabama does not have a law that bans the use of handguns, no court challenge is expected here. And, gun dealers like Hal Reinmiller are elated. "To me, it's common sense. You read the second amendment, it's a collective, not a collective excuse me, it's an individual right. To me that was as plain as it could possibly be and now they've asserted that. Yes, it is an individual right. So, that issue is gone."
The court did not make a decision on restrictions like with registrations or licensing or whether a felon can carry a handgun.