Cubin Targets DOJ Over Gun Ban
U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin (R-WY) stood up for gun-owners across the Cowboy State last week, sending a letter to President Bush asking him to help uphold our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
In the letter, Cubin voiced her concern over a legal opinion recently filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) with the U.S. Supreme Court. This brief, filed by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, could set a dangerous precedent for law-abiding gun owners in Wyoming and across the nation by allowing the District of Columbia's firearm ban to be upheld.
"Every gun owner in Wyoming and the nation should be as wary of this brief as I am," Cubin said. "This is the first time the Supreme Court has even looked at the Second Amendment in 68 years. If the court heeds the advice of the Justice Department, a dangerous and misguided precedent would be set that could open the floodgates for more handgun bans and tighter, more restrictive gun laws."
Currently, the District of Columbia has the most strict firearm laws in the nation, including a ban on the possession of handguns. Cubin and other staunch supporters of Second Amendment rights believe that D.C.'s extreme gun laws violate the right to keep and bear arms. Despite having the most comprehensive gun ban in the nation, D.C. consistently has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation.
The Supreme Court is set to hear a case this spring, D.C. v Heller, which questions the constitutionality of banning guns in the District of Columbia. The DOJ filed a brief advising the Supreme Court to use the lowest standard of constitutional review possible, the "reasonability" standard, when considering D.C. v Heller. Under the "reasonability" standard, judges would have a great deal of flexibility in determining what constitutes a reasonable restriction on the right to bear arms. Should the court use this standard in D.C. v Heller, some Second Amendment defenders believe that D.C.'s gun ban would likely be upheld, as would any future gun bans enacted anywhere in the nation.
Instead of using the reasonability standard, the Supreme Court uses the much higher "strict scrutiny" standard of constitutional review in cases involving individual rights. These rights include the freedoms of speech and religion and protection from imprisonment without trial. Under this "strict scrutiny" standard, governmental restrictions on individual rights can only be upheld in limited circumstances that further a compelling government interest.
The "strict scrutiny" standard was used by the D.C. Court of Appeals to strike the D.C. gun ban as unconstitutional when the court heard the D.C. v. Heller case last year. The District of Columbia appealed that ruling, however, setting the stage for the Supreme Court's consideration of the case.
As a Member of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors, Cubin has always been a staunch supporter of the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. She is calling on the President to withdraw the dangerous brief filed by the DOJ and replace it with a brief urging the court to hold the D.C. gun ban to the highest standard of constitutional review.
Cubin currently plans on joining more than 300 of her colleagues in Congress in sending their own brief to the Supreme Court. The brief will reaffirm the Second Amendment right as a fundamental, individual right on par with freedom of speech and religion. A copy of the letter Cubin sent to the President is attached.