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October 1st, 2009
07:41 AM ET

Justices to rule on Chicago's handgun ban

By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Setting the stage for a dramatic battle over gun rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted an appeal challenging the ability of state and local governments to enforce strict limits on handguns and other weapons.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The question before the courts will be whether Second Amendment protections apply to local gun ordinances."]

The high court returned from its summer recess, meeting in private to consider thousands of pending appeals that have piled up the past three months.

The Second Amendment case from Chicago was the most anticipated of the petitions, and oral arguments will be held sometime early next year. Nine other cases were also accepted for review.

At issue is whether the constitutional "right of the people to keep and bear arms" applies to local gun control ordinances, or only to federal restrictions. The basic question has remained unanswered for decades, and gives the conservative majority on the high court another chance to allow individuals expanded weapon ownership rights.

The appeal was filed by a community activist in Chicago who sought a handgun for protection from gangs.

The justices last year affirmed an individual right to possess handguns, tossing out restrictive laws in Washington.

Read the full story »

Sound off: Should states and cities be allowed to pass gun control laws or is that stepping on a constitutional right?

Filed under: Gun rights
August 19th, 2009
11:22 AM ET
July 22nd, 2009
10:08 AM ET

Barrasso, Bloomberg debate concealed weapons

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. John Barrasso (L) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R)."]

It's one of those issues considered a third rail in American politics – gun control – and it's taking center stage on Capitol Hill. After some really heated debate, senators are scheduled to vote today on a measure that would let people carry concealed weapons across state lines.

It's known as the Thune Amendment and was introduced by Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. A co-sponsor of the amendment, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY), who opposes the measure, spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Wednesday.

John Roberts: We know this is a popular measure in Wyoming. You are a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. But as a practical matter, can you tell us why it's good public policy to allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines?

John Barrasso: Right now people in 48 different states can have a license to carry a concealed weapon, but people travel. We have truck drivers on our roads, people traveling for vacation in their vehicles. And if you have a license, you've gone through the process, you should be able to use that license in other states. It should apply just like a driver's license. The people that are getting concealed weapon permits – those are basically the law-abiding citizens. The criminals are not in any way going down to the courthouse, getting fingerprinted for the purpose of getting a license to carry a concealed weapon. These are the best citizens, not the worst and I think this is in keeping with our Second Amendment rights – our rights to own and bear arms.

Roberts: Here's one of the issues. The requirements for a concealed carry permit vary from state to state. There are 19 states that require a gun safety program, but under this measure you could, say, get a concealed carry permit in the state of Mississippi, which requires no training at all and then travel to Dallas where permit applicants must go to at least ten hours of training. You're taking different requirements and kind of leveling the playing field at the federal level. Isn't this a matter of states' rights here?

Barrasso: Well you have different requirements for driver’s licenses as well in terms of at what age they get them and if they need driver’s education and all those sorts of things. Certainly we want to make sure that there is safety involved with people who are carrying concealed weapons. I think training is a very important part of that. But the law of the state where that person happens to be at the time are the laws that apply in terms of if you're allowed to carry a gun into a bar or into a restaurant. It's the home state law that applies. State rights continues to apply.


Filed under: Controversy • Gun rights
July 22nd, 2009
06:23 AM ET

Allow concealed weapons across state lines?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. John Thune (R-SD) listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill February 26, 2009 in Washington, DC."]

From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

The Senate is poised to vote Wednesday on its third piece of gun rights legislation this year – and gun control advocates are racing to shore up any wavering Democrats who might join Republicans in supporting the measure.

The Republican-sponsored Thune Amendment, attached to the Defense Authorization Bill, would allow individuals to carry concealed firearms anywhere in the United States that permits carrying concealed weapons, provided they are legally registered.

Colin Goddard is lobbying against the amendment, sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), that would allow people to carry concealed firearms into other states, so long as they "...have concealed carry permits from the state in which they reside."

Goddard is not a typical lobbyist; he is a survivor – a student at Virginia Tech the day Seung-Hui Cho burst into his classroom and opened fire. Goddard was shot four times. Thirty-two other students died before Cho killed himself.

Now, Goddard is in Washington to tell lawmakers that even if he'd had a gun he could not have stopped Seung-Hui Cho.

"When I smelled that gunpowder, that's when I knew what was happening," Goddard recounted. "I knew there were other students in my class who were sitting in their chairs to be able to effectively respond to someone coming in a door like that guns blazing you need millisecond response time. Even trained police officers can't do that," he says.

He argues the proposed law would make it easier for unbalanced people to carry guns anywhere they choose, including states with more stringent concealed gun laws. And he isn't the only critic. Mayors from 450 cities took out an ad in USA Today urging the Senate to vote down the amendment.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent, is fiercely opposed to the measure. "What it would do is put an enormous number of guns on the streets and it takes away states' rights," he says.

But The National Rifle Association says carrying a gun is a constitutional right, as well as a matter of personal safety.

"At the scene of the crime, there are only two people there, the criminal and the victim," says NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. "The victim always ought to have a right to own a firearm and have a firearm to protect themselves if they choose."

Case in point: last year, a bank customer, legally carrying a concealed weapon near Detroit, thwarted a bank robber who claimed to have a bomb. But gun control proponents say for every hero, there are many villains. Like Richard Poplawski – who legally owned guns and used them to kill three Pittsburgh police officers. And Seung Hui Cho – who bought guns legally and killed 32 others at Virginia Tech.

What do you think? Should concealed weapons be allowed across state lines?

Filed under: Gun rights
July 17th, 2009
09:34 AM ET

Buy a truck, get an AK-47

The rough economy has been particularly tough on car dealers, so many of them have come up with innovative promotions to get vehicles off the lot.

And then there's this: starting in August, Mark Muller, president of Max Motors in Butler, Missouri will be giving away a free AK-47 assault rifle with the purchase of any truck. Muller spoke to Carol Costello on CNN’s “American Morning” Friday.

Carol Costello: Tell me about this promotion and why you decided to do this.

Mark Muller: Well, last year we gave away a free handgun with the purchase of any vehicle and it went over very well. It spiked our Web traffic. We sold, we estimate, 35 extra cars during the promotion than we normally would have and this year we're trying to sell an extra 100 cars more than we would. We're just trying to generate some traffic, generate some interest and enthusiasm and it seems to work real well. We're not just going to give people an AK-47 gun. Felons buy cars, too. What we are going to do is we’re going to give them a voucher where they can go to their local gun dealer or we have local gun dealers we would strongly recommend where they can go buy a gun and go through the proper background checks so the guns end up in the right hands.

Costello: How much does an AK-47 cost, I'm just curious?

Muller: It depends. You can get a good AK-47 for $450, maybe $500.

Costello: Some people watching this might think owning a handgun is one thing, but owning an AK-47 is something else and maybe this is just a tad irresponsible?

Muller: It's a little grandstanding. But how about that guy that just had him and his wife killed that had the twelve children with the seven guys coming through the door. I guarantee you he wishes he had an AK-47 as those maggots busted through his door and slaughtered him and his wife in front of his children. The purpose for guns like AK-47s is home defense.


Filed under: Gun rights
July 1st, 2009
10:21 AM ET

Pro-gun pastor says come armed to church

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Pagano is pastor of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky. On Saturday, he sponsored an “open carry celebration” at his church and encourages his congregation to embrace their Second Amendment rights by coming to church armed.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Pastor Kenneth Pagano is a gun rights advocate who encourages his parishioners to bring their firearms to church."]

By Kenneth Pagano
Special to CNN

One year ago I began thinking of creative ways that we as a church could host events that would give us opportunities to meet some new people and create venues with which we could share our faith in Christ. All things would be considered but everything would be implemented.

However, since I have been a sport shooting enthusiasts for as long as I can remember and a certified pistol instructor I came up with the idea of an open carry celebration.

As one who has been in public ministry for almost 30 years and having obtained my doctorate, I am not unfamiliar with theology or church history. Since I know that not all Christians are pacifists and that Christian pacifism in an option not a requirement, I knew this event was not unbiblical.

Being raised in New Jersey and familiar with the American Revolution, I knew that this event was not unhistorical. Pre-Colonial America had laws that required people attending worship to bring their firearms and ammunition or face a fine.

Being a certified concealed carry deadly weapons instructor with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Justice, I knew this event was not illegal.

And being a former Marine who considers himself a patriot, I knew this event was not unconstitutional. I thought everyone knew these things. Boy was I wrong.


Filed under: Commentary • Gun rights • Religion
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