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As Long as We Remember...

August 25, 2011

Defending The Second Amendment

Blaine R. Young

Liberals love to talk about the Bill of Rights. In fact, they have created an entire national organization, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is devoted to defending the Bill of Rights.


While I don’t always agree with the positions of the ACLU, being very respectful of the Bill of Rights myself, I can appreciate their mission even though I do not agree with them most of the time.


As a brief reminder, the Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which were enacted a few short years after the Constitution was ratified. The 10 amendments, for the most part, set forth various restrictions on the power of government over individuals. Most of us are quite familiar with the First Amendment protection from government interference with free speech, the Fourth Amendment ban on warrantless searches, and the Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”


However, for some reason the liberals want us to ignore one amendment, which apparently does not suit their purposes. That would be the Second Amendment.


The Second Amendment deals with the right of a citizen to own and bear arms. For many years courts and legal scholars have debated just what this amendment means. Does it give an individual the right to own a rifle? A handgun? An automatic weapon?


These questions were largely in a state of flux until very recently, when the Supreme Court of the United States decided two cases dealing directly with the question of whether the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual the right to possess a firearm.


In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that in areas under federal jurisdiction (such as Washington, D.C.) the federal government could not enact and enforce an outright ban against the possession of handguns. In 2010 in the McDonald v. Chicago case, that protection was extended to residents of the 50 states. We now have a very clear indication that you and I, as law abiding citizens, have the right to own and keep a handgun for our personal protection.


However, in many situations that does not go far enough. We sometimes find ourselves in a situation where responsible carrying of a weapon outside of the home would make us feel a whole lot safer.


Now, I know that’s not for everyone. Many people are rightfully wary and to frightened to carry a firearm because of the unintended injuries it may cause. I’m not sure I would want to carry one.


But in the hands of a fully trained, responsible owner, a handgun can be an important means for self preservation and protection of one’s family in these increasingly violent times that we have seen due to the downturn in the economy.


Many states now allow a person to carry a handgun provided a license is obtained. An individual must establish that he or she meets the criteria to get a carry permit, and I am all for strict scrutiny of applications for a carry permit. However, I do not think the criteria should be anywhere near as strict as what we have in the State of Maryland.


National debate has sprung up over whether it is appropriate for states to enact what are called “shall issue” laws to replace “may issue” laws. Maryland is an extreme example of a “may issue” state. You have the right to apply for a carry permit, but the state has no obligation to issue it even if you are a law abiding citizen, proficient with a weapon, and have no history of mental illness or criminal convictions.


It is my firm belief that – if you meet those criteria – you should have the right to obtain a permit to safely and responsibly carry a firearm. I am a proud member of a number of organizations that support the right of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms, such as the National Rifle Association, the Izaak Walton League, and the Monocacy Pistol Club. I believe wholeheartedly, as do all these organizations, in responsible gun ownership and use. Once we establish that we fit the bill, our right to carry a firearm should not be denied.


Obviously, I am not optimistic that our one-party monopoly Democrat state government will enact such statewide legislation. So, during the last session of the state legislature the Board of County Commissioners proposed something a little bit different.


We sent a bill to Annapolis to make what we consider a minor but important change to the procedures for review of carry permit applications in Frederick County. We proposed that rather than have the Maryland State Police (a statewide agency) be responsible for reviewing and deciding these applications for carry permits that such responsibility be shifted to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department. In our view, a locally run sheriff’s department, overseen by a publicly elected county sheriff, would make decisions more in tune with the needs of Frederick County residents than would a statewide agency such as the state police.


Unfortunately, our bill got nowhere. But if I have anything to say about it, we will try again, and I will continue to do everything I can to promote the individual freedoms of the citizens of Frederick County, which include the right to protect ourselves.



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