Sunday, March 11, 2007

DC Circuit Strikes Down Gun Ban

The beer is flowing like wine at NRA HQ. From the AP:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the city cannot prevent people from keeping handguns in their homes. The ruling also struck down a requirement that owners of registered firearms must keep them unloaded and disassembled. The court did not address provisions that prohibit people from carrying unregistered guns outside the home.
The court correctly declared that the Second Amendment's use of the words "the people" conferred an individual right to bear arms, and that the - an enormous triumph for freedom, and for the safety of the beleaguered citizens of our crime-ridden capital.

From the 2-1 opinion in Parker v. District of Columbia:
To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.
More reaction from Volokh and the Cato Institute. (Cato assisted the plaintiffs in the case.)

My favorite, though, is the D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's take:
"I am personally, deeply disappointed and quite frankly outraged... [This decision] flies in the face of laws that have helped decrease gun violence [in Washington, D.C.]"
Ah, yes. I can see why he might be outraged. That city has been sooooo safe since the ban went into effect in 1976. I mean, it's just a coincidence that the city with the strictest gun laws was also crowned the "Murder Capital" of the nation in the 1990s, right? Maybe we just should have just given the mayor a little more time to declare a few more "crime emergencies" - yeah, those seem to be doing the trick.

Not only is this a profound victory for individual liberty and the Constitution, but it's about time the criminals plaguing our nations capital no longer can safely assume their victims can't fight back. Good law and good policy - God bless conservative Constitutional law.


PubliusRex said...

This is a huge win for civil liberties. Unfortunately, the fraudulently named American Civil Liberties Union will not be celebrating.

Cato said...

I haven't been this pleased by a court decision in a long, long time.

That is strong, strong language.

PubliusRex said...

I am afraid at the prospects of this case sitting in the lap of Justice Kennedy. I don't think we've hit rock bottom with him yet. He'd probably reverse, citing the French constitution, extolling the virtues of stare decisis and favoring and "undue burden" test.