By Todd D. Wolfrum

By Todd D. Wolfrum Attorney-at-law
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." - Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment stands odd among the other more abstract guarantees in the Bill of Rights. Where the First Amendment protects the right to speak and the Eighth protects against cruel and unusual punishment, the Second assures a right to possess a bored-out piece of metal. (There's also the matter of that superfluous first comma.)

A non-abstract right is rigid in nature, and therefore applies less well over changes wrought by time. Two hundred and twenty odd years after the founding, there is a threat of terrorism to our nation but no longer a threat of invasion (Mexican immigrants notwithstanding). The average citizen is more leery of groups who call themselves militias than of foreign armies - today's militias usually tend and intend to not be well-regulated.

Last year, the Supreme Court found in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, that the Second Amendment indeed guarantees the right of an individual to own a gun. This marked the first time ever that the Court had recognized that right. This finding was a triumph for conservatives, a failure for liberals, and troubling for the future, as discussed later.

The Heller decision doesn't necessarily apply to you as an Ohio citizen. The ruling only applies to the Federal government's ability to restrict handguns. It is as yet undetermined whether the right to own a firearm extends to the citizens of states. The Supreme Court recently decided to hear an Illinois case with purpose to settle that issue.

The Fourteenth Amendment assures that the individual states cannot preempt rights guaranteed by the federal government. Illinois, for example, cannot restrict speech in a way that violates the federal right to speak freely. As of now, Illinois can, and does, ban handguns.

It is not certain that a right discovered by the Supreme Court will be incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment and applied to the states. It is also not certain that the Cubs will fail to win the World Series next year, but history tends to teach us things.

Ohio has allowed its citizens to carry concealed weapons since 2004. To become licensed, you have to be over twenty-one years of age and complete twelve hours of handgun training: ten in the classroom, two on the range. You also have to pass a background check and cannot have a felony or drug conviction. A domestic violence conviction may also disable you.

Ohio has reciprocity with twenty-one other states with similar laws. Of our border states, an Ohio concealed carry license should be respected in Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky, but not Pennsylvania or West Virginia. Call ahead.

Ohio allows its licensees three ways to carry a concealed handgun in a motor vehicle: In a closed case in plain sight, concealed in a locked glove box or case, or in a holster secured on the person.

How did Ohio and other states become so wise as to allow all this? Mainly because the Tenth Amendment, ensuring states their individuality, allowed different laws to be tested in different jurisdictions. Now, every state outside Illinois and Wisconsin is aware, through statistics, that private gun ownership prevents crime.

Back to constitutionality: There are people that think firstly, private citizens should be allowed to own a gun for protection and secondly, the Constitution does not guarantee that right. By its plain language, the Second Amendment was intended to maintain a militia.

Remember conservatives, you are an Antonin Scalia heart attack away from a liberal appointee and what could be some serious judicial activism. Beware discovered "rights": You win a gun you already had today, you lose what's left of a Constitution tomorrow.