LITTLE ROCK (AP) Arkansas' attorney general said Tuesday he will join a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court saying the constitutional right to bear arms extends to individuals, not just members of a state militia.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging gun laws enacted by the District of Columbia. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he would join a Texas brief declaring support for an individual's gun rights.
At issue in the District of Columbia case is to whom gun rights were extended by the Constitution. D.C. officials say their ban on handguns helps reduce gun violence.
"I believe the Second Amendment confers a Constitutional right to bear arms on individuals, not just on militia members," McDaniel said.
The brief is McDaniel's first high-profile entry into the debate over gun control since he was elected attorney general last year. In his race for the state's top law enforcement office, McDaniel sparred with opponents over gun rights, hunting and the purpose of the Second Amendment.
McDaniel faced criticism from Republican nominee Gunner DeLay over his role in a lawsuit following the 1998 Jonesboro school shooting in which four middle-school students and a teacher were killed. McDaniel's father, attorney Bobby McDaniel, sued gun manufacturer Remington Arms. Dustin McDaniel was in law school at the time but said he did some work on the case, which was dismissed in May 2000. McDaniel responded by inviting DeLay to join him for the first day of dove hunting season. DeLay declined, later releasing a radio ad featuring hunters referring to him as "the only candidate who hasn't sued Remington Arms."
Despite the crossfire, the National Rifle Association did not issue an endorsement in the race.
McDaniel has said he supported legislation signed into law by President Bush in 2005 that protected gun manufacturers from liability for the misuse of a legal product.
McDaniel, a former police officer, says he owns a safe full of shotguns and rifles and at least a dozen handguns. He said his experience as a Jonesboro police officer gives him a unique insight on the gun issue.
"I have pointed my weapon at another human being to defend my life or to defend someone else's life," McDaniel said last year. "It is a solemn thing to have to do that. Soldiers and police officers understand. That was a part of my duty. Using a firearm to defend yourself is not just empty political rhetoric with me."