From Newtown, CT., the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms industry, is pleased to announce that it has chosen the winners of its 2017 Voting Member Scholarship Essay Contest. Open to the employees and qualifying family members of NSSF’s Voting Member companies, the annual contest awards $60,000 divided between 25 winners, including one grand prize winner who receives $8,000 to apply toward their college costs. NSSF received a total of 66 qualified entries this year.
In refreshing this annual contest, NSSF offered two submission options for the scholarship program. The first option required a written essay, with specific formatting guidelines, on one of the following two topics:
· How important is the U.S. Supreme Court to protecting the rights of American citizens to keep and bear arms?
· Passing the Torch: A personal story of an experienced shooter or hunter passing traditions on to family and friends.
The second submission option required a written script designed to provide voiceover narration for a video (though no actual video submission was required). The three script topic choices were:
· What hunting means to me and to wildlife conservation.
· How learning to target shoot has benefitted me as a person.
· What non-hunters would be surprised to learn about hunting.
Matthew Willey, whose mother is employed by Olin Corp., was chosen as the grand prize winner. Matthew will be a senior at St. Louis University this fall, was selected as the grand prize winner. For his scholarship submission, he chose to tackle the Supreme Court topic in traditional essay format. His essay in part read:
For the majority of the last 70 or so years, the most important Supreme Court ruling pertaining to the right to gun ownership was 1939’s United States v. Miller. In that case, an Arizona district court ruled that two men who had been indicted for transporting a sawed-off shotgun across state lines, should not have been indicted, as the regulations preventing them from legally transporting that firearm were unconstitutional. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, which chose to interpret the 2nd amendment as pertaining only to the regulation of a militia … . This ruling was the preeminent ruling concerning the 2nd amendment for the rest of the 20th century, and it set a damaging precedent to gun rights in this country.
Fortunately, things changed relatively recently. In 2008’s landmark case, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court once again addressed the interpretation of the 2nd amendment. … In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court interpreted the second amendment as providing a right to self-protection. It is important to remember here that in a common law system, a law must be enforced as it is interpreted by the courts. Therefore, whatever questions existed about the legal meaning of the 2nd amendment prior to District of Columbia v. Heller, the meaning is now clear and binding.
This is not to say that the battle for gun rights has emphatically been won. It is perfectly conceivable that in some future case the Supreme Court may revisit the 2nd amendment, and thus open the door to a new interpretation. Moreover, the ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller was not without its ambiguity, meaning that more challenges to gun rights may loom in the future. The one thing that is for certain is that if these challenges reach the Supreme Court, the decisions made by those nine justices will shape the law for the entire nation. Therefore, despite recent victories, it is vital that the Supreme Court be populated by men and women who respect the rights of gun owners. When it comes to the law, a strong Supreme Court is more powerful than any legislator, or any president.
Other winners included the $5,000 first place entrant, Nathan Huelsmann, who will be a senior at Missouri University of Science and Technology in the Fall and whose father also works for Olin, and the $3,000 second place winner Ian Murphy, will be a Junior at the Oregon Institute of Technology in the fall and whose father is employed by Sturm, Ruger & Co. Twenty-two other winners received $2,000 each for their successful entries. See the full list of scholarship recipients and the entire winning essay.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.