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Those who hold the sanctity of one's right to bear arms can breath a sigh of relief after last week's ruling by the United States Supreme Court affirming that right.
The 5-4 decision struck down a ban of handguns in the District of Columbia. If there was any troubling aspect to the ruling, it was that the vote was so close. One vote made all the difference. That shows how important those justice appointments by the President of the United States are.
It has been some 200 years since the Supreme Court weighed in on some of the major issues of gun control. Some have incorrectly tried to argue that the Second Amendment only referred to a state's right to arm a militia. But the court correctly ruled that the authors of the amendment were seeking to protect an individual's right to have weapons ? to defend themselves and to defend their communities.
Any politician in this area who hopes to be elected understands that distinction. That proved true as those hailing the decision included both Democrats and Republicans from the area.
One can understand those politicians in bigger cities who have differing views. Many times those cities struggle to curb the violence tied to guns carried in the hands of criminals. Trying to explain those issues away with a slogan such as "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" is not fair. Those problems are real and answers are needed.
That divide can be seen in the response of the two candidates running for president. John McCain hailed the decision as a "landmark victory" while Barack Obama, from Chicago, provided a less-enthusiastic response, reacting neither negatively or positively.
But taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens to bear arms isn't that answer to the problems in urban areas. Instead, there should be an increased effort to enforce and strengthen the laws that punish those who use guns in criminal pursuits. Criminals need to know that if they use a gun while breaking a law, they'll pay dearly. Mandatory penalties for gun crimes can serve as a major deterrent.
There are limitations in Virginia to stop guns from getting into the hands of felons or the mentally ill. Those are important and aren't affected by last week's ruling. And they shouldn't be.
But those who've desired to undermine the rights now upheld by the Supreme Court should turn their efforts to punishing criminals, not the law-abiding individuals who own a gun.