Ruling on guns has local support

June 28, 2008|By JOSH SHAW

TRI-STATE - Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment right for citizens to keep and bear arms has gotten a mixed reception nationwide, but most local government officials and residents asked Friday about the ruling said they agree with the court's decision.

The court ruled 5-4 that a District of Columbia ban on handguns was unconstitutional, the first time the court conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., applauded the ruling.

"The Supreme Court finally addressed the meaning of the Second Amendment and rightfully decided that the Second Amendment is written to protect the fundamental and individual right to keep and bear arms," he said in a prepared release.

"The Constitution clearly protects an individual's right to have a gun. If we are to honor and uphold our Constitution, this right cannot be infringed," Bartlett said.


Smithsburg Police Officer George Knight also agreed with the court's decision.

"It is a good ruling," he said. "It is an individual's right under the Second Amendment that people can own guns for personal protection."

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said he thought the ruling was a long time in coming.

"While the banning of handguns appears to be a crime deterrent, in reality it's really not," he said. "The real statistics show that."

Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong Jr. said he was pleased to see the court's decision but was unsure of what effect the decision will have in Maryland.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith echoed Strong's sentiment.

"I don't see any applicability in Maryland," he said. "D.C. had very specific regulations that the court ruled on, but Maryland's laws are very reasonable and people can own handguns under them."

Chambersburg (Pa.) Mayor Pete Lagiovane said he does not think the ruling will make a difference in his state because of how current laws are written.

"I don't think it affects us. It doesn't really change anything," he said.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Maryland has the fifth-strictest gun laws in the country. Pennsylvania ranks 10th and West Virginia ranks 37th.

Maryland and Pennsylvania are two of only five states that require universal background checks on people purchasing handguns.

Pennsylvania requires all handguns to be sold with an external lock; Maryland requires the sale of both an external lock and a built-in lock. West Virginia has no such limitations.

Rick Jewell, president of the Hagerstown Area Religious Council, said he is in favor of the Second Amendment but is aware of the ruling's consequences.

"I'm in favor of people who use and own guns responsibly, but a lot of folks, including some law officers, don't use them responsibly," he said. "You hear stories about people who get shot accidentally in their own home, and that concerns me. I support the right of hunters and people who are responsible, but it definitely alarms me."

Ashleigh Thompson, 21, has a 2-year-old son and said even though she agrees with the court's decision, she is in favor of laws that help keep guns from children.

"I don't think it is wrong that people have guns in their homes as long as they are out of a child's reach, especially the ammunition," she said.

Knight said current laws in Maryland keep weapons away from children. He said he is in favor of trigger locks and lock boxes.

"If a homeowner is cavalier enough to leave a gun in the open around a child, that adult should be punished according to the law," Knight said.


The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says Maryland has the fifth-strictest gun laws in the country. Pennsylvania ranks 10th and West Virginia 37th.

The Herald-Mail Articles