The 2nd Amendment

I grew up in Washington D.C. - no, not in Chevy Chase or Alexandria - but actually in the District. So when I heard last week that the Supreme Court struck down a District of Columbia ordinance that barred homeowners from keeping handguns, I immediately took notice. It was a 5-4 decision (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas were in the majority) which ruled that the 2nd Amendment explicitly protects Americans’ right to own guns for self-defense.

I'm not a constitutional law scholar, so I can't speak to whether or not I think the 2nd Amendment really does protect Americans' right to own guns (but to read Justice Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer's dissent and why they think it doesn't you can click here). What I do know is that every day in the United States more than 80 people die from guns and another 200 are wounded. And that due to something called the Gun Show Loophole which conditions that current federal law requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, two out of every five guns sold change hands without a background check. The problem is even worse in predominantly African-American communities where homicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15-24 and 90% of those were committed involved firearms.

I could go on and on about these kinds of statistics but the point is that something needs to be done to mitigate the effects of gun violence, and it needs to be done fast. What this country needs is a sensible policy that addresses the issues surrounding the cause and effect of guns.

As a Foundation that has funded in the field of gun violence prevention in the past, I'm curious to see how the Supreme Court's decision will play out. My guess is it will simply renew the ongoing contentious and highly politicized debate about gun rights, gun violence and crime in this country. The ruling has already brought court challenges in similar laws in Chicago and San Francisco.

I look forward to following several of Overbook grantees, both past and present, that focus on this issue, those from a constitutional perspective like the American Civil Liberties Union, The Constitution Project, and The American Constitution Society, and those that focus on gun violence prevention like PAX and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.