By Jason A. Smith
Several local voices have expressed support for a recent decision by the highest court in the land to uphold the rights of gun owners.
The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday issued a 5-4 ruling, affirming a person's right to keep a gun in the home for self-defense and hunting purposes, based on the Second Amendment.
The main issue decided by the High Court's nine justices was whether a person has an unconditional right to own a gun, or whether that right is tied to service in a state militia.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion for the Court. According to the Associated Press, Scalia said an "individual right to bear arms exists and is supported by 'the historical narrative,' both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted."
In addition, the AP noted Scalia's assertion that a handgun is "Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense." "It can be pointed at a burglar with one hand, while the other hand dials the police," the justice said.
Joining Scalia were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Dissenting votes were cast by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer.
In response to the Court's decision, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle set the wheels in motion for lawmakers to examine firearms laws in the state. The AP reported Friday that Cagle, who supports the National Rifle Association, named state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh to head up a study committee specializing in gun legislation.
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) applauded the Court's decision. In a press release issued Thursday, Chambliss said the court finally "got something right."
"I am pleased the Supreme Court recognized this fundamental individual right," he said. "The ability of decent, hard-working Americans to own a gun, whether for sport or protection, is clearly defined in the Constitution, and must not be compromised. Only a government that does not trust its citizens, would refuse them the right to bear arms."
Local business owners with an interest in the gun-control debate, have also exhibited support for the Court's decision.
Ed Turner, owner of Ed's Pawn Shop at 4431 N. Henry Blvd., in Stockbridge, said the ruling "clears up a lot of questions," some of which shouldn't have had to be asked at all.
"To me, it's just really a common-sense idea, that the Bill of Rights are individually granted - that [a person has] the right to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and ... the right to protect yourself," Turner said.
The gun-shop owner said the idea that the amendment only protects the collective rights of militias "makes no sense."
"I'd say three-fourths of the population already felt like it was an individual right."
Still, Turner said he is "concerned" by the narrow nature of the Court's decision, adding it is evidence of a misguided idea held by gun-control advocates.
"The Second Amendment was put [into the Bill of Rights] to give people the freedom to defend against an oppressive government, not just to kill a duck and eat it."
Randy Vaughn, owner of Firearms Sales and Service, at 10563 Tara Blvd., in Jonesboro, shared Turner's sentiments regarding the Supreme Court's ruling. Vaughn said although he is not in favor of "rampant gun ownership," he supports "lawful, orderly, responsible ownership of firearms."
In addition, Vaughn said some of blame for the ongoing gun-control debate, lies at the feet of overzealous lawmakers.
"I think anytime the government gets involved in wholesale restriction on firearm ownership, it's not good," he said. "History proves that anytime that happens in society, crime increases."