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(Tbo.com)-WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a case that could shape firearms laws nationwide, attorneys for the District of Columbia argued Thursday that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.
The city defended as constitutional its long-standing ban on handguns, a law that some gun opponents have advocated elsewhere. Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.
At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" applies to all people or only to "a well regulated militia." The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.
If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment's scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California's ban on assault weapons.
In the Washington, D.C., case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.
"We interpret the Second Amendment in military terms," said Todd Kim, the District's solicitor general, who told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the city would also have had the authority to ban all weapons.
Silberman and Judge Thomas B. Griffith seemed to wrestle, however, with the meaning of the amendment's language about militias. If a well-regulated militia is no longer needed, they asked, is the right to bear arms still necessary?hosted.ap.org...
"That's quite a task for any court to decide that a right is no longer necessary," Alan Gura, an attorney for the plaintiffs, replied. "If we decide that it's no longer necessary, can we erase any part of the Constitution?"
The case is: Shelly Parker et al v. District of Columbia, case No. 04-7041.
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.
mi·li·tia /mɪˈlɪʃə/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[mi-lish-uh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.
2. a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.
3. all able-bodied males considered by law eligible for military service.
4. a body of citizens organized in a paramilitary group and typically regarding themselves as defenders of individual rights against the presumed interference of the federal government.
par·a·mil·i·tar·y (pār'ə-mĭl'ĭ-těr'ē) Pronunciation Key
adj. Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops.
Main article: militia (United States)
There is a long history of militias in the United States, starting before the country became a country, with the colonial militias normally consisting of all adult male citizens of a community, town, or local region. This practice was continued after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, and remained relatively unchanged until the late 1800s. After the Civil War, state guard units composed of select militia were created. After 1903, the militia was divided into two groups, unorganized and organized. Organized units were created from portions of the former state guards and became state National Guard units. Some states later created State Defense Forces for assistance in local emergencies. Privately organized militias, not affiliated with any government organization, and usually formed by citizens suspicious of the activities and politics of Federal and state governments, blossomed in the mid 1990s, then faded.
Unorganized, or Constitutional Militias, are citizen groups who espouse the intent of the Founding Fathers of the United States in regard to the right to keep and bear arms (see Second Amendment to the United States Constitution). Constitutional Militias train in the proper and safe use of firearms, that they may be effective if called upon to uphold liberty, protect the people in times of crisis (i.e. disasters such as Hurricane Katrina), or to defend against invasion and terrorism. 
According to Title 10, USC, Section 311, all able bodied males between the ages of 17 and 45 not serving in the armed forces or state national guard units are considered the unorganized militia, as well as all commissioned female officers of state national guard units.
"That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe Defence of a free state..." --George Mason, declaration of "the essential and unalienable Rights of the People," later adopted by the Virginia ratification convention, 1788.
Originally posted by Black_Fox
To start wanting to erase parts of our constitution is the beginning of the end of this country.Not that the Patriot Act,HR6166, havent begun that already.
A police State isnt that far off,IMO.
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Well ya know, if that's how it's going to be played then let's form militias.
I'm sick of them erasing the constitution. This needs to stop right now.
Originally posted by WyrdeOne
[The way I see it, that won't help. The language of the amendment allows them to qualify 'well regulated' and disband all those groups that won't play ball.
Originally spoken by George Washington:
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.
Originally written by Thomas Jefferson:
What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Originally written by Thomas Jefferson:
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
Originally spoken by Samuel Adams:
[T]he said Constitution [should] be never construed to authorize Congress [...] to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms...
Originally posted by southern_cross3
This is precisely the reason that Libertarians believe in completely unrestricted rights to own weapons. Including automatic weapons. You may think that's unnecessary, but take another look at the Constitution. It doesn't authorize the possessing of certain kinds of arms -- it says the right will not be infringed.
Hunting rifles and handguns aren't going to provide any kind of threat to the government. For there to be a true balance of power, citizens should be able to own any kind of weapon they please. And why not? Criminals can get weapons whether they're illegal or not. Law abiding citizens should be able to do the same.
Clearly the federal government has already exceeded Jefferson's fears. They do not obey the Constitution at all. The Constitution gives the federal government the responsibility of defending the nation, ratifying treaties, a couple other things. It does not authorize a federal police force. It does not authorize federal money for schools. In fact, it doesn't even authorize a federal income tax. It certainly doesn't authorize federal gun control.
If they come for my guns, I will give them the bullets first.
Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
southern cross, unrestricted right to bear arms?
so we all get our own tactical nuclear warheads?
i believe in the right to bear arms, within limits
honestly, i don't see creating a military within the country that is there just in case the government messes up will help
all it would do is create instability
we'd have our own version of hezbollah
WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court overturned the District of Columbia's long-standing handgun ban Friday, rejecting the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias.
In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent" on enrollment in a militia.
The ban on owning handguns went into effect in 1976.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also threw out the district's requirement that registered firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled and under trigger lock.
In 2004, a lower-court judge told six city residents that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who wanted the guns for protection.
"The district's definition of the militia is just too narrow," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority Friday. "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense."