What follows is my response to Kirby Delauter’s Frederick News-Post interview and his press release (both dated May 18); in which he wants to to make Frederick County a “sanctuary county.” The “sanctuary county” would be for gun owners in response to what he thinks are unconstitutional state laws. Mr. Delauter’s position is misleading because the recently passedstate laws on gun ownership in Maryland are not unconstitutional. He cites the second and the forth amendments as part of his case which is also misleading.
The constitutional standard for gun ownership under the second amendment was decided with the Heller case, by The Supreme Court in 2008. The court said that an individual has a constitutional right to have a hand gun in his home for the purpose of self-defense. The court also said that the entity (the governing body) has a right to enact regulations with regards to weapon ownership.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion for the court in the Heller decision and in his opinion he wrote; “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. and “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
“ We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”
The Heller case was from the District of Columbia. In another case, two years later, the court reaffirmed the decision and said that it was applicable to the federal government and the states. Since that case the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take other cases where states banned military-style assault weapons. By not taking the cases the court left the bans in place.
I am not a lawyer but it seems clear to me that there are limits to the second amendment. Each state has its own regulations and in many states there are some weapons you cannot purchase and there are restrictions for the purchaser. As to the fourth amendment, it does not prohibit searches; it only prohibits “unreasonable searches.”
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence” John Adams (1735-1826)
Respecting our laws and the constitution is important in that they are instrumental in our democracy. Frederick County cannot be a “sanctuary county” that rejects state laws – that are constitutional. In full disclosure I am an NRA member, a hunter and a responsible gun owner.