Tester: Gun rights belong to all law-abiding Americans

Senator defends constitutional rights in speech to Heritage Foundation

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – During a speech today to a conservative think-tank in Washington, Senator Jon Tester said Washington, D.C.'s ban on firearms is an affront to all American's Second Amendment rights.

Tester, along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Tex., spoke to the Heritage Foundation after the two penned a Friend of the Court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the gun ban.  The law, which went into effect in 1976, prohibits District of Columbia residents from possessing handguns and rifles.  The ban was overturned by a federal appeals court last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now decide whether the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Washington, D.C. from outlawing firearm possession by law-abiding residents.  Tester and Hutchinson's brief has been signed onto by 53 of their Senate colleagues and 250 members of the House of Representatives.

This will be the first time the high court has considered a Second Amendment case since before World War II.

"Unwavering protection of the Second Amendment isn't just about having more guns than we need and not nearly as many as we want," said Tester, a longtime supporter of gun rights.  "And it's not just about our heritage, our traditions and our families.  It's about the rights guaranteed by our Constitution."

Tester, who made a living with a gun for decades as a farmer and custom butcher, said Washington’s gun ban "isn’t just a bad idea, it's unconstitutional."

"We're talking about law-abiding folks — like you and me — who cannot exercise their rights simply because of the city they live in," Tester said.  "Our Founders didn't intend for the laws to be applied to some folks and not to others.  They didn't mean for the laws to apply at some times and not others."

Tester told the Heritage Foundation that the right to bear arms goes hand-in-hand with another Montana value — the right to privacy.  That's why he and many other Montanans are also opposed to the Patriot Act and the REAL ID program.

"I believe that when one person's rights are taken away, all of our rights are taken away," Tester said.  "And I believe that when any law-abiding American's right to bear arms is compromised, my right to bear arms is compromised.  If we value the Constitution, we must protect it.  Every part of it."