Debate not in plans

This letter is in response to the letter of David Brickner criticizing the recent Fostoria community forum organized by the Coalition for Sensible Regulation of Guns. Mr. Brickner must have expected a debate. That was never our intention.

Our pre-event publicity clearly stated, “The reason for having this Community Forum is to begin building an effective grass roots coalition for sensible regulation of guns in America.” Citizens were invited to express their opinions. That happened. We set aside 40 minutes for public comments and questions.

Mr. Brickner charged that the event was a “thinly disguised anti-Second Amendment crusade” and that I did not understand the concept of “unorganized militia.”

The latter charge is true because as the forum speaker on “the Meaning of the Second Amendment” I feel obligated to quote the words of the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” There is no mention of “unorganized militia.”

As to the first charge, I did not argue against the Second Amendment. I simply explained its meaning by quoting from the two Supreme Court decisions that deal directly with its meaning: District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago in 2010.

In Heller, the court held, for the first time, that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm for such purposes as self defense and hunting. It was a federal case. The McDonald case extended the individual right to the states.

The majority opinions by two very conservative judges, Justice Scalia in the Heller case and Justice Alito in the McDonald case, emphasized that there can be regulation of firearms.

Scalia wrote “The Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose.” He specifically mentioned the prohibition of concealed weapons, prohibiting possession by felons and the mentally ill, prohibiting firearms in schools and government buildings and regulating conditions of sales and requiring safe storage as limits permitted by the Second Amendment.

In summary, The Supreme Court has clearly ruled that the Second Amendment means we have a right to possess firearms and that this right may be regulated to protect public safety.

James E. Bailey,