As October is upon us, the start of the gun-hunting season is as well. Hunting has a rich history throughout our nation and state. Hunting is not only a recreational activity enjoyed by millions of Americans, but it is also an example of our guaranteed right to bear arms. ""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"" is clearly etched into the Constitution, guaranteeing gun rights for every American.
Recently, however, several lawmakers and government officials began a new attack on these seemingly established rights, hoping to diminish and restrict their purpose. Chicago has on the books overly broad and strict gun laws prohibiting citizens from owning handguns in most areas of the city and in the suburban community of Oak Park. This conflicts with a ruling by the Supreme Court last year in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which a restriction of handgun rights in D.C. violated the Second Amendment. Because Washington, D.C., is not a state, however, the ruling did not apply for the rest of the nation. The court will now have to decide whether the decision applies to the states and if citizens will be allowed to exercise his or her guaranteed constitutional right to bear arms. Clearly, this is a huge case that will impact the entire nation.
The UW-Madison College Republicans and the Republican Party are certainly in favor of states' rights—more local control allows for effective and efficient decisions to be made without big government bureaucracy making poor, overarching ones. But cases that deal with topics such as free speech, religion or the ability to own a firearm are core, fundamental rights that should be protected by the federal government for Americans, no matter if you live in Wisconsin, Illinois or the District of Columbia.
This is not to say that we, or the Republican Party, are irrational or take the use of firearms lightly. Like free speech or the right to assemble, gun rights should and do have restrictions. In the city of Chicago, where gun violence is obviously a huge concern, the government should have some control over firearm laws, but not to go as far as banning the sale of handguns completely. Established gun laws need to be enforced to solve the problem; simply taking away our rights is a cop-out by government officials.
Yet the Democratic Party and the left continue to advocate for diminished gun rights. Records show President Obama endorsed the Illinois handgun ban when he was running for the state Senate, effectively denying guaranteed rights to some, but not to others. A more recent signal of Obama's stance on firearm control is the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor has ruled against the Second Amendment in the past, joining in a 2004 opinion that cited as precedent that ""the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right."" She also ruled that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states in the 2009 Maloney v. Cuomo case, in which the court examined a claim by a New York attorney stating that a state law there prohibited his possession of nunchucks and thus violated his Second Amendment rights.
Even scarier than Obama or Sotomayor's views on gun rights is that of the president's gun czar Cass Sunstein, a legal scholar and professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Sunstein is quoted as saying our right to bear arms ""reflects the success of an extremely aggressive and resourceful social movement and has much less to do with good, standard legal arguments than appears,"" essentially undermining the very text of the Constitution. An additional statement that shows how wrong it should be to trust this man with regulating our gun-rights is his demand to ""ban hunting... if there isn't a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law."" To fellow hunters, gun rights advocates and defenders of the American Constitution, this man is not who you want telling you what to do with your guns.
Many on the left often point to Mexico as a reason our gun rights should be restricted. They point out that 90 percent of the assault weapons in Mexico are supplied from the U.S. This is a blatant lie—those firearms are coming from places like Guatemala and other nations in Central America, corrupted units and officials in the Mexican army and from the international black market. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has continually said it cannot confirm the 90 percent claim and that Mexican officials will not give them the serial numbers off the weapons they confiscate so that officials can track whether the weapons were manufactured in the U.S. Mexico's problems do not stem from the U.S. Even if they did, we would hope that better enforcement of the boarders and current gun laws would be used to solve the problem, not a compromize of our guaranteed rights.
Some Democrats are beginning to see their party's stance on Second Amendment restrictions going too far. Representative Mike Ross, D-Ark., and 65 others on the left wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in March specifically asking the administration to ease their restrictive stance on gun rights. Again, for those of you who hunt this fall or enjoy owning firearms, watch the Second Amendment issue and the court's subsequent rulings on it; it will no doubt affect you in the future, specifically whether you are entitled to own a firearm irregardless of where you live. And for those of you who don't own a gun, this case is also important for you, as it establishes a precedent in cases dealing with all intrinsic rights (speech, religion, etc.) guaranteed to us in the Constitution.
Stephen Duerst is the public relations chair for the College Republicans. Please send responses to email@example.com.