MCDANIEL DEFENDS ARKANSANS SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS

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December 01, 2009

Coalition of 38 State Attorneys General to Defend the Second Amendment In Brief Filed With U.S. Supreme Court

LITTLE ROCK - Last week, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel took legal action to protect Arkansans' Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. In a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, authored by Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas and co-sponsored by McDaniel, 38 state attorneys general explain that law-abiding Americans have a fundamental right to bear arms - and that local governments cannot simply disregard that right and impose an outright ban on handgun possession.

"In 2008, General Abbott and I led a group of state attorneys general to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Americans' constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and we prevailed," McDaniel said. "A year later and the city of Chicago is claiming the Supreme Court decision does not apply to them. General Abbott and I are proud to again work together in bipartisan defense of the Second Amendment. Thirty eight state attorneys general have now joined our brief to the Supreme Court asking the Court to declare once and for all that the Second Amendment applies to states just as much as the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments."

The attorneys' general brief in McDonald v. Chicago supports a legal challenge by Otis McDonald, a community activist who lives in a high-crime Chicago neighborhood. McDonald's work to improve his neighborhood subjected him to violent threats from drug dealers, but Chicago city ordinances prohibit him from obtaining a handgun to protect himself.

Last year, General Abbott and General McDaniel led an effort that resulted in 32 state attorneys general filing an amicus brief in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which they urged the Supreme Court to overturn a Washington, D.C. gun control law and to declare that the 2nd Amendment creates a fundamental individual right.

In both the Heller case and the McDonald case, Texas took the role of lead author of the brief and Arkansas took the role of co-sponsoring the brief in order to gather support from additional states. "We are extremely pleased to have so many states respond and agree to sign on to our brief," McDaniel said.

The brief says: "The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is a critical liberty interest, essential to preserving individual security and the right to self-defense." Nonetheless, the city of Chicago contends that the Second Amendment does not protect citizens from municipal action that abrogates the constitution because it claims the Supreme Court's decision in the Heller case does not apply to state and local governments.

The states' brief refutes that argument, stating that the Constitutional protections apply to - and therefore limit - cities, counties, and other local governmental entities throughout the U.S. under the Fourteenth Amendment.

If Chicago's unconstitutional gun ban were allowed to stand, the attorneys general explain, "millions of Americans will be deprived of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as a result of actions by local governments, such as the ordinances challenged in this case."

The states' amicus brief acknowledges that some firearms regulations are permissible, including in circumstances where they are necessary to prevent violent felons from owning guns.

"Arkansans should note that our state constitution provides for a right to keep and bear arms," McDaniel said. "Nevertheless, I believe the Bill of Rights contained in United States Constitution applies to the states…all of those rights."

McDaniel co-sponsored the brief with Ohio, Texas and Georgia. Other states that joined the brief are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.