Court Ruling Is Popular With Local Gun Fanciers
Ed Nicely didn't need the news to tell him what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday on the Second Amendment.
His customers let him know.
Nicely owns Ed's Gun Shop on U.S. 1 in Skyline, north of Southern Pines. Gun fanciers were coming in all day Thursday talking about the court's decision to uphold the right of individuals to own firearms, including handguns.
"I was glad to see it," Nicely said. "I probably had 50 customers call me with high-fives."
The high court, in a 5-4 ruling split right down conservative/liberal lines, said that the right to "bear arms" belonged to all Americans, not just groups like militias.
The case was brought by a private security guard named Dick Heller, challenging a 30-year-old handgun ban in Washington, D.C.
It was the first time in 70 years that the high court had ruled on the tricky matter of how widely the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to apply.
David Prest, a Pinehurst resident who is on the board of directors of the N.C. Rifle and Pistol Association, said that the court decision upholds the entire Bill of Rights.
"I think it's a great decision," he said, "not just a win for gun owners, but a win for all Americans. ... The Bill of Rights provides protection for individuals by putting restrictions on government. This interpretation gave validity to the fact that the Bill of Rights is for the protection of the individual."
The ruling specifically repealed Washington's 1976 ban on handguns. After the decision, lawyers pledged to challenge similar bans in San Francisco and Chicago.
The court did say that government can put limits on the right to bear arms, such as the federal machine gun ban and prohibitions on possession of firearms by convicted felons.
"It's just like there are limits on free speech," Prest said. "You can't yell 'fire' in a theater. You can't libel someone."
More Decisions Expected
The decision doesn't immediately affect North Carolinians. But Prest said that no one knows what the future ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling will be. There are likely to be many more court cases stemming from this, he said.
"Nobody knows what the future will hold," Prest said. "There are going to be decisions falling like rain. This decision will be quoted for the next 200 years."
Nicely said that it makes gun advocates appreciative that the Supreme Court has the same view they have on the Second Amendment.
Repealing the anti-handgun legislation in places like Washington, Nicely said, makes sense because those laws don't work.
"The facts are, they've had that since, like, 1970," he said. "It did not stop crime. They still led the nation. ... If you take guns away from law-abiding citizens, the only ones that are going to have them are criminals."
Little Effect Locally
Local law-enforcement officers are also saying that the Supreme Court ruling has little effect on them.
"North Carolina has always been a state where people can own firearms," said Capt. Jim Foster of the Aberdeen Police Department.
Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey of the Moore County Sheriff's Office said that the ruling mostly affects municipalities that have banned handguns. There are no such municipalities in North Carolina. Besides, those bans are designed to curb violent crime, but he said they don't seem to work.
"People who commit crimes have got ways to get guns anyway," Godfrey said.
Foster is glad that the court upheld an individual's right to own guns and that it upheld limitations such as waiting periods for handguns and background checks. He's also glad that the court upheld the ban on machine guns.
"You have rifles to hunt game with," he said, "but machine guns are designed to hunt one thing and one thing only. You have to remember that when the Second Amendment was written they didn't have M-16s or AK-47s."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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