A decision made Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirms Americans’ constitutional rights to have firearms, and gun advocates around Shawnee are voicing approval of the 5-4 ruling.

A decision made Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirms Americans’ constitutional rights to have firearms, and gun advocates around Shawnee are voicing approval of the 5-4 ruling.
“You just don’t mess with Second Amendment rights,” said Bill Santos, co-owner of Shawnee’s B&M Firearms.
The court’s ruling, according to an Associated Press article, struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns. Also struck down was the district’s requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled.
The key issue addressed by justices was self-defense in the home.
According to the AP, the Supreme Court had not “conclusively interpreted” the Second Amendment since it was ratified in 1791. The issue: Does the amendment protect one’s right to own guns regardless of being connected with service in a militia?
Many people are familiar with how the Second Amendment reads: “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.”
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, on behalf of the majority, that someone’s right to bear arms is supported by “the historical narrative” before and after the adoption of the amendment. The Constitution does not allow for the “absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,” Scalia said.
Speaking about the District of Columbia specifically, Santos said: “Why is it the second-highest crime rate in the nation? Because they can’t defend themselves.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said in a statement: “While Congress has failed to act, I am grateful that the Supreme Court has belatedly weighed in on this matter and ruled that the D.C. handgun ban is unconstitutional. This is a historic decision and Congress must ensure that the Second Amendment rights of Americans remain protected.”
Coburn said that for more than three decades, Washington, D.C., has “prohibited law-abiding residents from owning a handgun, rifle or shotgun, even in their home, to defend themselves and their families from intruders.”
Coburn calls this a blatant disregard of a constitutional right “in the name of protecting D.C. residents.”
Coburn provided statistics that indicate more than 150 gun-related deaths ­— 2.7 deaths for every 10,000 residents — occurred in Washington, D.C., in 2005. During the same year, 23 gun-related deaths — 0.5 deaths for every 10,000 residents — occurred in Virginia’s two most urban counties combined. Coburn said law-abiding residents of Virginia may protect themselves from violence in their homes and may also carry concealed firearms in most places if they receive the proper permit.
Phil Taber, an avid outdoorsman and owner of Tabe’s Archery in Shawnee, said any decision made in favor of protecting one’s rights to keep firearms is excellent.
Gene Wilcox, past president of the Tecumseh Gun Club, said the Supreme Court’s decision “just reinforces what we already thought; what we already believe. It supports the law-abiding citizens.”
A person being able to keep a firearm in his or her home for protection is “fantastic,” said Wilcox, who served as president of the gun club for 14 years.
“I think it’s about time we had a proper ruling,” said Dale Schuster, vice president of the Oklahoma Rifle Association (ORA). “I am pleased with the ruling, as I’m sure are many.”
The ORA is the state chapter of the National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president is Wayne LaPierre. In an AP article, LaPierre said of the Supreme Court ruling, “I consider this the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of providing relief for law-abiding Americans everywhere that have been deprived of this freedom.”
“Americans understand that the Second Amendment, like the First Amendment, recognizes an individual right,” Coburn said. “Our founders emphasized the importance of this right to protect ourselves.”
Jason Smith may be reached at 214-3932 or william.j.smith@news-star.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.