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Thu May 26, 2022, 05:00 PM

After 40 years in law enforcement, this is my message to the GOP about gun rights

By Cedric Alexander, MSNBC law enforcement analyst

The first time I chose to swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution was in 1977, when I became a deputy sheriff in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida. Each time I assumed a new responsibility in my 40-year career in law enforcement, I chose to swear that same oath.

I consider the Constitution and my allegiance to it sacred. But I will not use that great document as an altar on which to sacrifice innocent people, like grandparents shopping for food at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, people gathered in a church in Laguna Woods, California, or second, third and fourth graders attending a public elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Such sacrifices have seemingly become a uniquely American blood ritual. And in the lockstep of that ritual, many Republican lawmakers anoint themselves in the Second Amendment and invariably choose to block even the most modest of commonsense gun safety legislation.

It is past time for the GOP to stop acting as though the Second Amendment does not allow for limits on guns. Amid serial mass killings in America, the enactment of gun laws fails year after year. In law enforcement, I have seen the importance of balancing the rights of people with the law. The same is true when it comes to the Constitution.

Like virtually every right and prohibition in the Constitution, the Second Amendment is subject to legislation that defines and regulates its application.

In 1939’s U.S. v. Miller, the Supreme Court decided that the “obvious purpose” of the Second Amendment was to “assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of” state militias and “must be interpreted and applied” narrowly in that context. This was effectively nullified by a 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held that the Second Amendment confers on an individual the right to possess firearms unrelated to service in a state militia. Even so, a subsequent ruling in 2010, McDonald v. Chicago, kept the door open to commonsense gun laws, including state and federal laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from possessing firearms and regulations prohibiting firearms inside public schools.


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