Loyal readers know that I have been calling attention to a range of Second Amendment issues in the past week. In last week's column here, I wrote about the scandals and illegitimate regulations emanating from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In another outlet, I documented the threat to our rights that is posed by the United Nations' proposed arms trade treaty.
In response, I have heard from many readers who are understandably outraged. They want our federal law enforcement agencies to respect the law, not break it. They want our negotiators at the U.N. to protect our unique constitutional rights, not surrender them to some Utopian vision of global harmony. With apologies to the late Bill Buckley, my readers feel powerless to climb athwart the federal leviathan and yell "stop."
Those two issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Two landmark Second Amendment cases recently were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The first established that the Second Amendment indeed does provide an individual right to keep and bear arms and a restraint against the federal government. The second case applied that finding to state and local governments, as well. Both cases invalidated Draconian handgun bans. Both were decided by the razor-thin majority of 5-4. But neither case established a precise boundary of regulation that the court might find acceptable.
Now lawsuits have been filed across the country seeking to invalidate long-standing state and local restrictions. The National Rifle Association is coordinating a nationwide legal strategy to fulfill the promise of the recent Supreme Court decisions. These cases are bubbling up in different federal circuits, testing different limitations. Some of the cases are filed by choice; some are by necessity. They are all expensive, and they are all important. The court inevitably will accept one or more of these cases once a split between circuits becomes established. That much is virtually certain.
But it's unknown what that court will look like. Will it be the same 5-4 majority that finally has recognized our fundamental Second Amendment rights, or will it be a new majority, perhaps 5-4 the other way, seeking to not only uphold state and local gun restrictions but also effectively reverse the two recent decisions with death by a thousand cuts?
That question will be answered by President Barack Obama, with the advice and consent of the Senate. We are one heartbeat away from giving that decision to this president. We are one election away from virtually guaranteeing that the next president will answer that question, whoever that may be. And we are one election away from making sure that there are enough pro-gun senators to give him the right advice, if not consent.
So, what do we do? As I tell my readers, we all have the power to remedy these issues and more through a singular action. But we do not hold it as individuals; it only will work if we use it collectively. That simple action is to register to vote and then cast an informed ballot.
Too many gun owners and hunters aren't registered to vote. I know you're out there, and I've heard all the excuses. That's all they are, and they're not worth the paper to print them. We stand one short year away from the high campaign season in which voters will select our next president, 33 senators and all 435 members of the House. The Senate could change leadership with a swing of just four seats. And this could be another presidential election decided by a scant few hundred votes in a single key state. I've identified nine key states that will be important in both the presidential and senatorial elections. As honorary chairman of the NRA's "Trigger The Vote" voter registration campaign, I will be doing everything in my power to identify, locate and register gun owners and hunters in these states. No, I won't tell you which states they are, because I don't want you to think your state isn't important. It is; they all are. And every election matters, for all the reasons laid out above.
If you're not registered to vote, then just do it. Visit our website, at http://www.TriggerTheVote.org, for all the information you need to fill out the form, print it and put it in the mail. It's just that simple. And if you are registered to vote already, then find someone who isn't. Show him this article. Tell him that I know he's not registered to vote -- and I'm not happy about it.
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