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Crime & Courts

Politics prevents common-sense gun laws

GUNS Jim Leach.jpg
Jim Leach

The U.S. Supreme Court found in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects individual gun possession for traditional uses, such as self-protection in the home. A 2010 opinion expanded those protections to the states.

Jim Leach said he does not disagree with legalizing guns for hunting and protection in the home, but the Supreme Court opinions laid a foundation for opposition to any restrictions on guns.

“We’re talking about semiautomatic weapons, automatic weapons, bump stocks, guns that, you know, you can shoot dozens of bullets then reload in a second and kill the kinds of people we see killed on almost a weekly basis recently,” he said.

The Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller opinion was written by Antonin Scalia, who noted that lawmakers could still impose regulations such as restricting sales and types of weapons and denying gun possession to felons and the mentally ill.

But Leach said legislators in Congress and certain states won’t do that for fear of retribution. South Dakota’s legislature considered a proposal in 2013 to deny gun rights to people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. The bill didn’t make it past the first committee hearing.

“Our legislatures seem to be united in being terrified of the gun lobby, and it’s a sad state of affairs when even the most common-sense restrictions are not even on the table, cannot even be reasonably discussed,” he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in November on a century-old gun law in New York. That opinion has not yet been released. And several challenges to other state laws are waiting to be heard.