ADL Urges Supreme Court to Ensure States' Right to Keep Firearms Out of Hands of Extremists

New York, NY, January 6, 2010 … In a brief detailing the "serious threat" of armed violence by extremists and extremist groups, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that states retain the right to reasonably regulate the possession of firearms by those who practice and preach racial and ethnic violence.

"We have placed the problem of armed extremism squarely before the high court," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Racist and anti-government extremists often have an obsessive fascination with firearms and have shown a willingness to engage in acts of shocking and often deadly violence. We urge the Supreme Court to ensure that cities and states retain the latitude they need to keep guns out of the hands of extremists, terrorists, and violent bigots."

ADL's "friend of the court" brief in McDonald v. City of Chicago points to the long history of gun violence by anti-government and racist extremists. The brief describes three such examples in detail: the June 2009 shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, by avowed anti-Semite and white supremacist James Von Brunn (an incident which left a security guard dead); the April 2000 shooting spree in Pittsburgh by white supremacist Richard Baumhammers (which left five dead); and the deadly standoffs in Waco, Texas in 1993 and Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992.

McDonald v. City of Chicago focuses on whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits most regulation of firearms by cities and states.

ADL has long supported the reasonable regulation of firearms, particularly when it comes to the possession of weapons by extremists.

"Extremists and those who commit hate crimes pose a serious threat to the safety of the general public and, more specifically, to the members of the discrete racial, ethnic and religious groups who often become their targets," reads the ADL brief. "Armed extremism leads to violent extremism with profoundly unsettling frequency and profoundly tragic results."

The League's brief was prepared by Leonard M. Niehoff and Martin E. Karlinsky of the law firm Butzel Long.

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