Gun control and the ConstitutionKnowing how your...

the Forum

October 24, 1991

Gun control and the Constitution

Knowing how your editorials have been consistent on the issue of gun-control laws, solidly on the side of gun-control promoters, and how you have received letters from the pro-firearms side of the issue, it is important for your readers to know about the meaning of the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 1876 ruling, stated that the Second Amendment was intended to preserve the organized militias in this country. The Supreme Court reaffirmed this viewpoint in its 1939 decision in the case of U.S. vs. Miller. It stated that the obvious purpose of the amendment was the continuation and maintenance of the states' militias, and further ruled that the Second Amendment must be interpreted and applied with the view that it was intended for the states' militias. In Lewis vs. U.S. in 1980, the same high court ruled that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms applies only to well-regulated militias.

Nevertheless, the pro-gun elements in America still maintain that the Second Amendment applies to the right of individuals to private ownership and use of firearms. People should keep in mind, however, that the meaning of constitutional law is more relative than absolute; the Constitution depends very largely on personal interpretation and Supreme Court rulings when functioning as the law of the land. People should pay closer attention to how the Supreme Court has ruled on the Second Amendment as well.

James Vernon Jennings


Criminal injustice

One cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on a radio or television without hearing of some drug-related horror, be it a shooting, hold-up or murder. There has been much discussion by the mayor and various law enforcement agencies of ways to combat the problem and make our streets safer. However, nothing will be accomplished without a revamping of our judicial system.

Conscientious police officers are risking their lives to make society better for us, while district court judges are returning gun-toting drug dealers to the streets.

I refer to a case heard recently in which police officers, after responding to a call for a drug transaction, arrested two suspects found sitting in a car (one holding a fully loaded automatic weapon - additional ammunition and a large sum of stacked money were on the floor of the vehicle), and the judge openly chastised the officers regarding their method of conducting "random" interviews to the cheers of spectators, stating she "has a problem with field interviews." The defendant was found not guilty, and the case was dismissed.

When I am unsafe walking 10 yards to my home, can anyone tell me that justice was served here?

Until someone, somewhere, somehow does something to correct wrongs such as this which are taking place in our courts every day and judges are held accountable for such rulings, the PTC horrendous problems Baltimore city is presently experiencing will escalate to unimaginable proportions, making our present crime situation seem like Utopia.

Anne T. Freeman



Why are we surprised that our elected representatives abuse their powers, taking advantage of a system they created?

Problems with bounced checks and unpaid food bills are problems of the peons - not elected officials. Our "representatives" are more interested in protecting their own interests and supplying loans and grants to foreign nations than in taking care of problems in this country. Worse, members of this same club are deciding who will sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and head the CIA.

This, remember, is the very same body that voted itself a substantial pay raise last year so that we could have highly qualified representation. What would we have if members of Congress hadn't gotten the raise?

Charles D. Connelly


Shameful sacrifice

Recently, I took time off work to travel to Annapolis with some of the staff and clients of publicly funded drug treatment programs, over one-quarter of which will completely close by Nov. 30 if there is no change in the recent budget cuts outlined by the governor.

Upon our arrival in Annapolis, I noticed that a sudden quiet came over the people on our bus. Faces that were full of smiles, laughter and happiness appeared now to have rid themselves of their travel masks. These faces now showed sadness, fear and anticipation. The last time I saw faces like these was in Vietnam just before combat.

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