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Gun ban shot down

Posted by Richard on March 10, 2007

fireworks animationThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled 2-1 in favor of the plaintiffs in Parker v. D.C. The ruling overturns the District's ban on handgun ownership, as well as its requirement that rifles and shotguns be disassembled and locked up. This is a terrific win for the self-defense rights of D.C. residents and a stupendous Second Amendment victory that will have nationwide impact.

The District will ask for an en banc review by the entire court. If the court upholds the ruling (which is probable, IMO), expect the Supreme Court to take the appeal:

District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty told reporters Friday afternoon that the District will appeal the ruling.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued intermittent enrollment in the militia."

"This is a huge case," Alan Gura, the plaintiffs' lead lawyer, told Friday afternoon. "It's simply about whether law-abiding citizens can maintain a functioning firearm, including a handgun, inside their house."

Gura said his six clients, all Washington residents, challenged three separate District of Columbia laws: A 31-year-old law that prevents handgun registration; a law that requires rifles and shotguns to be either disassembled or disabled when being stored; and a law that requires a permit to carry a gun in your own home.

Senior Judge Laurence Silberman (a Reagan appointee) wrote the opinion, and Thomas Griffith (a Bush 43 appointee) concurred. As for the Bush 41 appointee on the panel (emphasis added):

Judge Karen Henderson dissented, writing that the Second Amendment does not apply to the district because it is not a state.

WTF??? I hereby nominate that as the Single Stupidest Argument Against the Second Amendment Ever. And there's no shortage of worthy competitors for that title.

I wonder if Judge Henderson is prepared to apply that argument to other rights of the people in the District. What a crummy President George Herbert Walker Bush was, and what awful judicial appointments he made! 

I haven't read the opinion (it's 75 pages; here's a link to the PDF), but Jed Baer has, and he's impressed. That's saying something —  Jed's a pretty tough critic of such things, and he's practically giddy:

I encourage you to download and read this decision, as it contains one of the best arguments and explanations of how the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right that I've read in a while. In a significant rebuke of the District of Columbia, the opinions uses words such as "risible" in dismissing the District's legal arguments. It also does a good job of explaining the issues in the oft misinterpreted Miller decision, and in explaining the composition of the militia, and how that relates to the 2nd Amendment.

The opinion starts off with a discussion of the issue of standing, which is interesting by itself. If you want to dive right into the meat of the 2A opinion, jump to the bottom of page 12. I'm not going to quote any of the opinion, because I think the entire thing, from p.12 onward, is worth reading in its entirety.

Jed also has more links to other commentary from the RKBA community than you can shake a cordless mouse at — it's your one-stop-shopping place for Parker v. D.C.

It's a great victory for self-defense-rights advocates, and it deserves to be celebrated. There's a gun show in Denver tomorrow —  I may just have to purchase a handgun or two in honor of Judge Silberman.

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5 Responses to “Gun ban shot down”

  1. jed said

    There are some passages in this opinion which will not be well-received by some 2A activists. For example, it states that an individual, militia-suitable “arms” interpretation still leaves room for some regulation, and even registration. It also holds up “cannon” (with, I think, an implication towards modern descendants) as not part of the equippage of a militia enrollee. But it does seem to say that arms which would be considered normal issue for the infantryman are covered. This is certainly interesting in re. NFA’34.

    The registration bit is controversial, to say the least. I raised this question once, a few years back, on one of the popular gun boards. What if registration were required solely for the purpose of ensuring the fieldability and knowing the status of the unorganized militia? In this scenario, I’m assuming the situation of a government which hews steadfastly to its Constitutional limits. We rail against registration because of the justified fear of future confiscations. If this threat is removed, does registration become a non-issue? Or even in our close-to-ideal scenario of a limited government, do we still fear that it can’t last?

  2. Libercontrarian said

    The concept that the RKBA becomes so entrenched that a population of citizens cheerfully registers its firearms so they can prove their suitability for militia duties is, in large part, an inconceiveable scenario.

    This, of course, does not mean that I don’t wish it to be true.

    Nevertheless, isn’t this the ultimate goal towards which we are working? I’d be happy to register my AR-15 so that the .gov inspector can make sure that the weapon is fully ready for militia duty! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On a more serious note, this ruling is… astounding? Astonishing? Amazing? Hell, I’m not even out of the A’s and I am nowhere close to describing my giddy joy at the potentiality of the topic even being brought up for debate – IN D.C., OF ALL PLACES!!!


  3. Dana said

    (I’d trackback, but Blogger won’t let me.)

    Interesting…My question is whether she would interpret the 14th amendment the same way? After all, it also mentions the States in the same manner as the 2nd.

  4. rgcombs said

    Dana, I fixed your link — the comment system here doesn’t accept HTML, but you can use some Wiki-style codes for links, bold, italic, etc. In the Comment popup window, click the Help tab. And if Blogger won’t send a trackback, you can use the Wizbang Standalone Trackback Pinger to send a trackback to any blog that accepts them.

    As for Henderson’s argument and the 14th, we talked about that very thing at breakfast Saturday. IIRC, it was Libercontrarian who pointed out that, since the 14th extends restrictions on the federal gov’t to the states, it’s irrelevant to D.C. — which is ”’federal”’ and thus ”already” subject to those restrictions.

    I’m familiar with Hamilton’s case against enumerated rights, and it’s a pretty good argument (probably more convincing from someone other than Hamilton). I guess I’ve concluded that either approach works as well or as poorly as the vigilance of the citizens permits. There aren’t any magic words or documents that will protect us from our own folly.

    That applies to Jed’s question about registration with a benign purpose. On the one hand, how can the threat of ”future” confiscation ever be removed? On the other hand, if things change drastically and the citizenry clamor for civilian disarmament, the lack of registration records will serve as only a minor impediment. If we lived in a Jeffersonian minimalist state, and I were asked to register to give the community an “inventory” of the available tools and skills, I’d probably cooperate. Or not, depending on my neighbors and my mood at the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like it or not, our liberties depend largely on a sizable portion of those we live among sharing our values. Once they no longer do, we can either move or start shooting.

  5. rgcombs said

    ”A reader offered the following tongue-in cheek (I ”’think”’ it’s tongue-in cheek) comment via email:”

    Iโ€™ve been thinking about the dissenting judge’s ruling that DC is not a state, therefore the Bill of Rights does not apply to residents. Would that mean we could start sending select DC people to GITMO?

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