After carefully evaluating applications from students who represent the top of the student population, we at Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law are pleased to announce the winner of our 2018 Legal Scholarship. The $1000 award goes to Nicholas Balenger. Congratulations! The award is based on a number of criteria – short essay, current academic status, school related activities, community activities and other achievement standards.
Our 2018 Legal Scholarship Winner!
Nicholas Balenger | 1L @ William & Mary Law School
Nicholas will attend William & Mary Law School this fall. Prior to being admitted to law school, he attended George Mason University and graduated Magna Cum Laude.
When nick was 17 years old, he injured his spine while diving into the ocean leaving him completely paralyzed from the neck down. Ten months after his injury, he achieved his goal of walking across the stage with a walker to receive his high school diploma. Nick’s positive attitude and work ethic during this time would eventually earn him the 2014 MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Victory Award, an honor recognizing individuals who demonstrate courage, perseverance, and inspiration in the face of physical adversity. Past recipients of this award include Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Kirk Douglas, and Senators Ted Kennedy Jr. and Bob Dole.
Following Nick’s injury, he started giving motivational speeches at events at local elementary and high schools, and eventually was sought out to tell his story in front of thousands of people at gala events, national conferences, and universities. His goal has always been to help others face adversity with a positive attitude and sound work ethic – traits that proved invaluable to him. Nick’s experiences and the people he has met throughout his rehabilitation journey, college education, and work experiences have inspired him to become an attorney so that he could one day help those seeking justice and fairness in the field of disability rights.
Nicholas has agreed to share his scholarship essay on firearm restrictions and the second amendment. We encourage all to read it below:
Do you feel that all restrictions on firearms impact the second amendment?
I believe that not all restrictions on firearms impact the second amendment. The legal system of the United States is largely derived from the common law system of English law which is a legal system derived from a body of judicial decisions by courts. In this type of system, the law is heavily influenced by the current ethical and societal norms. The ethical and societal norms during the time in which the second amendment was written were such that a right to bear arms was necessary in order to ensure individual safety and deter oppression by state institutions. However, in today’s society many of the reasons behind the creation of the second amendment have become irrelevant and the societal norms surrounding the sale and use of firearms have become a threat to the safety of American citizens.
At the end of the day, the government’s most important responsibility is to protect its citizens. As threats to society evolve, so too should the law which governs that society. In the United States today, there are a number of societal issues such as mental health, political extremism, and individual’s criminal history that requires us to reevaluate our interpretation of the law surrounding the right to bear arms. Previous interpretations of the second amendment which limit our ability to address these issues and better protect our citizens should be abandoned. Instead, the United States should implement an interpretation of the second amendment which is relevant to todays societal and ethical norms and does the best job at ensuring the safety of the American people while also protecting individuals right to bear arms within reason.
Therefore, not all restrictions on firearms impact the second amendment because today’s society requires that restrictions be placed on firearms to ensure that the government is able to protect its citizens. Our founding fathers who established this law were unable to foresee the future societal issues that might arise from the universal right to bear arms. It is therefore our responsibility to use our current knowledge and information to implement laws that best protect our safety without completely taking away our rights.
– by Nicholas Balenger