Upholding amendment is right call

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It may not have an immediate or practical application, but the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision this week upholding the Second Amendment was a good sign the court recognizes that the right to bear arms is a basic part of the American way.

We don’t think it’s wise or necessary for people to go about armed as a matter of course, and we don’t subscribe to some lobbyists’ opinions that the government is out to take away all guns, but we do believe that the ability to defend one’s home and one’s person is fundamental. The framers of our Constitution knew what they were doing, and while it might be trendy to argue that the world has changed since the 18th Century, the reality is that neither the world or people in general have changed all that much at a fundamental level.

In the case before the court this year, the justices were asked, in essence, to affirm that the Constitution could not be superceded by Illinois state law, where some cities had banned handguns. The spirit of those bans, designed to reduce crime, is commendable. The infringement on basic rights is not.

And, indeed, that’s the trouble with rights: People will use them, and not always for the best of purposes. But eliminating a right from everyone because of the actions of a few is simply not good government or good policy.

The court upheld the Constitution’s primacy by the thinnest of margins in this week’s ruling, but even a thin margin represents the correct course in this case.