Ruth Hopkins: Gun rights, hunting and treaties in Indian Country
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
"The right to bear arms is a significant issue in Indian country. In the case of tribal member gun owners however, it has less to do with a liberal or conservative agenda, and more to do with treaty rights and tribal sovereignty.
The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution protects the right of its citizens to bear arms, but court cases contiguous to the issue of gun control called for the United States Supreme Court to further delineate its meaning in recent years. In Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court upheld the right of an individual to possess a firearm, for self-defense for example, even if such possession is independent from service in a militia. Then in McDonald v Chicago (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits local and state governments to the same degree that it limits the Federal government.
While the U.S. Constitution mentions Natives, we weren’t citizens of the United States until 1924 so the Bill of Rights didn’t pertain to us. The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 applied parts of the Bill of Rights to Natives but the right to bear arms is absent, as gun control laws were left up to tribal governments. Nonetheless, hunting rights were firmly established thanks to treaties between the gederal government and tribes."
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Indian Country and the Second Amendment
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