To The Editor:

Gun control has become one of the pre-eminent battles of 2013.

Across the country, Americans are debating the effectiveness of President Obama’s gun-control proposals. Commentators on the left argue that semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines aren’t necessary for home defense or hunting.

On the right, the president’s critics say limiting guns won’t end violence and point out that no matter what law Congress passes, criminals will still find ways to be well armed. The proposed legislation in Congress and in several states, they contend, simply would put law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage.

Both sides are missing the larger question in this debate: Where does Congress or the states derive the power to prohibit ownership or manufacture of certain weapons or magazines?

It seems many gun-right advocates and opponents have forgotten their basic civics in assuming that Congress or a state can act as long as 51 percent of the members agree.

They forget there is the Second Amendment to the Constitution which must be adhered to regardless of what the majority decrees.

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently upheld the individual’s right to bear arms over several decades and court cases.

Unfortunately, many lawmakers are now bent on enacting state and national gun-control laws, and too many of their opponents are debating the merits of these laws when they should be questioning the constitutionality of such proposed laws.

These lawmakers will continue to do so unless the American public asks them the fundamental questions about the source of their authority and demand a reasoned response.

Otherwise, the final result of such gun control lawmaking will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.