WASHINGTON - West Virginia is one of a group states that has joined in a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Second Amendment rights of individuals who live in cities that have banned handguns at home.
Thirty-three state attorneys general have submitted the brief in a National Rifle Association and Otis McDonald case against the City of Chicago. McDonald is a community activist who lives in a high-crime Chicago neighborhood and can't protect himself from threats by drug dealers, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
"The right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment is not just a 'fundamental' liberty interest," the brief says. "In the Anglo-American tradition, it is among the most fundamental of rights because it is essential to securing all our other liberties.
"The Founders well understood that, without the protections afforded by the Second
Amendment, all of the other rights and privileges ordinarily enjoyed by Americans would be vulnerable to governmental acts of oppression."
The U.S. Supreme Court has not decided if it will hear McDonald's and the NRA's appeal.
"Just as local governments cannot constitutionally act as 'laboratories' for iniatives to abrogate their citizens' right to free speech or their freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, nor can they nullify the fundamental right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment," the brief says.
California submitted its own brief in the case. The states that joined Texas and West Virginia are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
The Supreme Court struck down a ban on handguns in the District of Columbia last year.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit wrote June 3 that the matter should go before the Supreme Court.
"Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon," the decision says.
"How arguments of this kind will affect proposals to 'incorporate' the Second Amendment are for the Justices rather than a court of appeals."