Thursday, June 26, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Second Amendment, County Attorney

Court Endorses Analysis in Legal Brief Filed by Thomas

County Attorney Andrew Thomas applauded today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a sweeping Washington, D.C. gun ban and uphold the Second Amendment’s individual right to keep and bear arms.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms that no level of government can improperly abridge. For more than 30 years, Washington, D.C. had an almost blanket ban on handguns, which a federal appeals court had ruled violated the Second Amendment. The plaintiff is Dick Anthony Heller, a D.C. security guard who was denied permission to keep a handgun at home for his own protection.

On February 11, 2008, County Attorney Thomas filed an amicus curiae, or friend-of-the-court, brief with the Supreme Court in support of Heller. While there are no such gun bans in Arizona, Thomas filed the brief in the hopes of ensuring such a gun ban will not find its way to this state, and to protect the right of citizens and prosecutors in his office to defend themselves from violent criminals.

The brief states in part, “Over the last few years the number of threats to prosecutors and prosecutor staff [in Maricopa County] has increased. Prosecutors in the Homicide and Gang/Repeat Offender bureaus have been targeted. ”

Threats against prosecutors and staff in the County Attorney’s Office are common. In 1995, a paralegal was shot and killed by gang members while she was on her way home from work. After taking office in 2005, Thomas set up a training program that provides classes for prosecutors and staff seeking concealed weapons permits.

Among large prosecution offices nationwide, 84 percent reported violent threats. The Thomas amicus curiae brief was also signed by the Yavapai County Attorney and 11 other chief prosecutors from Maryland, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, and Wyoming. Recently, other district attorneys have inquired about the office’s concealed carry training program, and one prosecutor’s office in Washington state already has replicated it.

Thomas stated, “Law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to defend themselves from violent criminals. This right extends to the prosecutors and staff in my office, public servants who prosecute some of the worst gangsters and violent offenders in America.”

For more information contact:
Mike Anthony Scerbo, Public Information Officer
(602) 506-3170 (office) or (602) 489-6913 (cell)

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