Scalia's Death May Impact Gun Rights

Deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. photo from politico.com

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend has created the stereotypical political firestorm, with strong opinions about whether or not the Senate should approve a nominee from a president with less than a year on his term.

Regardless of who selects Scalia's replacement, gun rights advocates are worried about the implications of the appointment of a justice who is less in favor of Second Amendment rights, as pointed out in this story from nola.com.

"All the court has to do is apply a lower standard of judicial scrutiny when it reviews restrictive laws to effectively neuter the Second Amendment," said Dan Zalenka, president of the Louisiana Shooting Association, in the story. "Under low standards, most restrictions will be found to be constitutional."

The story points out that two significant Supreme Court rulings in the past decade went in favor of gun rights by a slim 5-4 majority, with Scalia writing the majority opinion for one of those.

The first ruling was District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court affirmed a lower-court ruling that the Second Amendment right to bear arms extended to citizens of federal enclaves such as Washington D.C., which struck down portions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975. The Act required citizens of the nation's capital to keep all guns in their homes "unloaded or disassembled or bound by a trigger lock."

The other case was McDonald v. Chicago in 2010. A 76-year-old woman, who had been the repeated victim of crime, wanted to purchase a handgun where she living in Chicago. But she couldn't because the city required all handguns to be registered, but hadn't approved any registrations since 1982. The entire process in Chicago has since been changed.

"With the death of Antonin Scalia, we lost one of the greatest and most powerful voices for the defense of Second Amendment rights we have ever seen in this country," said Gordon Hutchinson, Louisiana's senior concealed-carry permit instructor, in the story. "He was a proud gun owner and hunter, and believed the individual right of self-defense was a basic right of all men."

"A new court, even one tilted liberally, could refuse to hear any further cases that might undo Heller or McDonald, or a liberal majority might force the issue to rescind the two," he said. "I hate to think what might happen to our gun rights nationally if the latter occurred." For the full story from nola.com, go here.