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February 8, 2008

53 Senators, 250 Representatives sign amicus brief in D.C. v. Heller

Tester: Gun rights belong to all law-abiding Americans

Senator defends constitutional rights in speech to Heritage Foundation

Thursday, February 07, 2008

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – During a speech today to a conservative think-tank in Washington, Senator Jon Tester said Washington, D.C.’s ban on firearms is an affront to all Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Tester, along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Tex., spoke to the Heritage Foundation after the two penned a Friend of the Court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the gun ban. The law, which went into effect in 1976, prohibits District of Columbia residents from possessing handguns and rifles. The ban was overturned by a federal appeals court last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now decide whether the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Washington, D.C. from outlawing firearm possession by law-abiding residents. Tester’s and Hutchinson’s brief has been signed onto by 53 of their Senate colleagues and 250 members of the House of Representatives.

This will be the first time the high court has considered a Second Amendment case since before World War II.

“Unwavering protection of the Second Amendment isn’t just about having more guns than we need and not nearly as many as we want,” said Tester, a longtime supporter of gun rights. “And it’s not just about our heritage, our traditions and our families. It’s about the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”

Tester, who made a living with a gun for decades as a farmer and custom butcher, said Washington’s gun ban “isn’t just a bad idea, it’s unconstitutional.”

“We’re talking about law-abiding folks—like you and me—who cannot exercise their rights simply because of the city they live in,” Tester said. “Our Founders didn’t intend for the laws to be applied to some folks and not to others. They didn’t mean for the laws to apply at some times and not others.”

Tester told the Heritage Foundation that the right to bear arms goes hand-in-hand with another Montana value—the right to privacy. That’s why he and many other Montanans are also opposed to the Patriot Act and the REAL ID program.

“I believe that when one person’s rights are taken away, all of our rights are taken away,” Tester said. “And I believe that when any law-abiding American’s right to bear arms is compromised, my right to bear arms is compromised. If we value the Constitution, we must protect it. Every part of it.”

Sen. Hutchison Defends 2nd Amendment Rights in Heritage Foundation Speech

Highlights Majority Opinion of Congress to Uphold “Fundamental Individual Right”

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Texas’ senior senator, today defended the right of all Americans to bear firearms and protect themselves and their families in their homes. At a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Hutchison discussed the issue in light of the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the case, District of Columbia v. Heller, which presents an important opportunity to affirm this right.

“Next month, for the first time since 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the issue of Second Amendment rights. Their decision will have major implications for all Americans,” said Sen. Hutchison.
“Tomorrow I will file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court with my colleague Sen. Jon Tester. We’ve gathered the greatest number of signers on a brief to the Supreme Court in recent history. A majority of both houses of Congress have signed our brief in support of the respondent, who simply wishes to exercise his constitutional right to protect himself. In a situation like this, we feel it is important for members of the legislative branch to give our opinion on the legislative history and its relevance,” Sen. Hutchison said.
Sen. Hutchison emphasized the need to restore this constitutional right to residents of Washington D.C., who are currently living under the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, which are prohibiting individuals from protecting themselves in their own homes.
In 1976, the D.C. City Council banned handguns and required rifles and shotguns to be registered, stored unloaded, and either locked or disassembled. Six D.C. residents sued the city over its firearms prohibition and the constitutional right to protect themselves. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last March that the city’s gun control laws violate individuals’ Second Amendment rights. The majority opinion wrote, "Section 7-2507.02, like the bar on carrying a pistol within the home, amounts to a complete prohibition on the lawful use of handguns for self-defense. As such, we hold it unconstitutional."
Next month, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the District of Columbia’s appeal in the case District of Columbia v. Heller. The Supreme Court’s consideration of the case this term marks the first time since 1939 that the Court will rule on a Second Amendment challenge to a firearm law.
“The Supreme Court has the perfect case to affirm that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to self-defense,” said Sen. Hutchison.
Sen. Hutchison introduced the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act of 2007, S.1001, a bill to restore Second Amendment Rights to the residents of Washington, DC. She also authored an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Court affirming the decision and upholding the Second Amendment as a fundamental individual right. The amicus brief has been signed by 55 Senators, and 250 members of the House

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