Supreme Court affirmed an important right

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

The Supreme Court of the United States has issued a landmark decision, ruling for the first time that individual American citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. The ruling came when the Supreme Court struck down the ban on personal ownership of firearms in Washington, D. C. The ban had been in place since it was adopted by the City Council 32 years ago.

For years, I have argued that Washington, D. C.’s ban on personal use of firearms was unconstitutional, violating the Second amendment to the Constitution, which states, in part, that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment was adopted out of concern in colonial days that the newly formed federal government would disarm American citizens in order to impose military rule. Early in my Congressional service, I offered an amendment on the floor of the House to overturn the Washington, D. C. firearms ban. That amendment almost passed. I am glad that the Supreme Court saw fit to affirm this important right as guaranteed in our Constitution.

Because the Supreme Court’s ruling applies nationwide, it is likely that challenges will be made to firearms bans that are in place in such cities as San Francisco and Chicago. While I was pleased that the Supreme Court recognized the right of the individual to keep and bear arms, I am concerned that some other language in the decision (dicta) could be used to argue for unwise restrictions on gun ownership.

On another matter, a bill addressing price gouging in the sale of gasoline and other petroleum-based products received a positive vote of 276-to-146; I voted for the bill. However, it failed to pass, because it had been brought up under what is known as the suspension calendar, and a two-thirds majority was required. I hope the leadership will bring the bill up again for a straight up or down vote.

The bill would have made it unlawful, during a period proclaimed by the President as an energy emergency, to sell gasoline or any other petroleum distillate at a price that: (1) is unconscionably excessive; or (2) indicates that the seller is taking unfair advantage of the circumstances of an emergency to increase prices unreasonably.

Further, the legislation authorizes the President to issue an energy emergency proclamation of up to 30 days, with renewals allowed, and to cite the geographic area, gasoline or other petroleum distillate, and time period covered. And, it authorizes a proclamation to include a period of up to one week preceding a reasonably foreseeable emergency.

The bill has certain other stipulations, such as empowering the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to enforce this Act and providing for civil and criminal penalties, limiting the criminal penalty to criminal actions brought by the Department of Justice, and allowing a state to bring a civil action to enforce this Act or to impose civil penalties.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.