June 26, 2008
Supremes Affirm Cyclists Right to Bear Arms
The meaning of the 2nd Amendment is finally settled after 217 years.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, 5 to 4, that American Cyclists have a right to own guns for self-defense while working on their bicycles in the garage, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.
The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment, in this, or any regard, since its ratification in 1791.
The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the right of a bicyclist to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted, and especially after the invention of the bicycle, and then the garage.
The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense, including while working on one's bicycle, in the home," Scalia said.
Scalia noted that the handgun is the preferred weapon of self-defense by many cyclists in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand holds onto the bicycle, and the cyclist yells at the top of his or her lungs for another resident of the house, or a neighbor, to call the cops."
In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate bicyclists uses of weapons."
He said such evidence "is nowhere to be found, hell, the bicycle hadn't even been invented then, for cryin' out loud!"
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house just because one is afraid of having a bicycle stolen."
Joining Scalia were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. The other dissenters were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.
Licensing is still required, and restrictions on criminals, and the mentally ill, as well as carrying weapons while riding a bicycle in sensitive places are not affected.
June 26, 2008 in Bicycling Humor, Life on the Street: Local, and state Laws, and other topics | Permalink
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