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Circuit Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban

This one is bound to cause some excitment.

A U.S. appeals court struck down a three-decade-old District of Columbia law that bans residents from keeping a handgun in their homes, saying the Constitution's Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington also threw out a district law requiring registered firearms to be kept disassembled or under trigger lock.

It's the first time a federal appeals court has struck down a gun-control measure on Second Amendment grounds. Nelson Lund, a constitutional law professor at George Mason University in neighboring Virginia, said an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is ``very likely.''

``This is clearly an extremely significant ruling,'' Lund said. ``The District of Columbia had some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country.'' The appeals court said it didn't consider whether the district can bar people from carrying handguns in public or in cars.

The Second Amendment says, ``A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.''

I don't know enough about Second Amendment law to have an opinion about how I think the Supreme Court will rule on this. It will be interesting to see.

Politically, I just have a few observations. Democrats used to campaign pretty vigorously against the evil NRA. At some point, though, public opinion shifted and we started hearing Democrats more often play defense. Where before Dems were on offense talking about the danger of guns getting into the hands of kids, school shootings, and Republicans being in the pocket of the NRA, that talk is now ancient history for most politicians. Instead Democrats were put on the defensive trying to convince voters they did not want to take their guns away from them. Instead of hearing Democrats demonize Wayne LaPierre, we had to endure pictures of John Kerry emerging from the woods in camouflage.

It will be interesting to see how much this decision energizes gun control advocates and how that will play into the 2008 congressional and presidential elections. Specifically it will bring an issue that Rudy Giuliani gets a lot of criticism from conservatives for, gun control, to the forefront.

Update: A PDF version of the decision can be found here. (Link via La Shawn Barber)

Update II: While I noted above that this ruling brings more attention to an issue that will give Giuliani trouble with conservative voters, Ace wonders if this might make his stance on the issue moot. What this decision will definitely do is reinforce in voters' minds how important judiciary appointments are. The key to Giuliani neutralizing issues like gun control and abortion is in convincing primary voters that he will appoint conservative judges. That was pretty much always the case though.

Others blogging:
La Shawn Barber
Blinkered Thinker
Michelle Malkin
Glenn Reynolds
Eugene Volokh
The Political Pit Bull
How Appealing
The Gun Toting Liberal


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Comments (19)

'bout time.... (Below threshold)
Skul:

'bout time.

lock and load... (Below threshold)
yo:

lock and load

It is about time that horri... (Below threshold)
Matt:

It is about time that horrible law was over turned. I'd wager the odds are about even that if/when the decision is appealed to the Supreme Court they will decline to hear it. It is easy for them to let the decision stand and avoid a controversial case and decision. In light of some of the lousy civil rights decisions they've made recently (Kelo anyone?), it might be just as well if they didn't decide on it.

no-brainer.We get ... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

no-brainer.

We get this type of lawsuit when no one is taught what's in the Constitution anymore and few care.

It's more important we get to Heather Has Two Mommies reading.

Certainly this D.C. law was... (Below threshold)

Certainly this D.C. law was overreaching Second Amendment Constitutional limits with it's blanket ban. But whether more guns on D.C. streets correlates into more crime in the future or further security threats for public figures needs consideration though.

Bullet damage in the building where the mentally ill John Hinckley made a serious attempt on President Reagan is still visible. Decent security attempts to protect public figures from terrorists or the mentally ill will have to adjust to any increased number of weapons on D.C. streets.

I doubt there will be a sig... (Below threshold)
Listkeeper:

I doubt there will be a significant increase in the number of guns on the streets in DC, unless they suddenly come up with a Must Issue CCW law... See, the law abiding will continue to obey the law...and the criminals already had em out on the street.

Looks like the criminals in... (Below threshold)
stan25:

Looks like the criminals in D C will have to move back to New York City, San Francisco and Boston, where there still are total bans on guns, to be safe. Now that the citizens of D C can own a handgun, the criminals will be fair game for the homeowner now.

Wait for the reaction from ... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Wait for the reaction from the chicken little press.RIVERS OF BLOOD DOWN PENNSYLVANIA AVE,PILES OF BODIES EVERYWHERE,OLD WEST SHOOT OUTS IN NATIONS CAPITAL,NATIONAL CAPITAL TO LOOK LIKE BAGHDAD, and the usial from the liberals who scibble the usial liberal crap cartoons in the major birdcage linners and more from ARRON MCGRUDER who gives us this BOONDOCKS crap. I would like to see the vultures from the NYTs fly to WASHINGTON D.C. looking for a feast and starve to death instead

"Decent security attempts t... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

"Decent security attempts to protect public figures from terrorists or the mentally ill will have to adjust to any increased number of weapons on D.C. streets" - Hoolson

Paul, the people that were unable to buy guns in DC and didn't break the law, aren't the ones that you generally need to worry about.
It was never hard in DC to get a gun, so long as you were willing to violate the law. The homocide rate in DC shows that.
Besides, anyone can enter DC from gun friendly (compared to DC) VA or from MD, and they can bring guns with them. I don't think the public figures in DC were ever protected from gun violence by the DC ban.

I've maintained for years t... (Below threshold)
kim:

I've maintained for years that putting 'shall not be infringed' and 'well-regulated' in the same sentence ensured that we would argue about it rather than shoot each other over it.

Now, y'all do know why 'regulating' or drill was so important? It decreased the incidence of casualty by friendly fire.
======================================

Those who contributed to DC... (Below threshold)
Hermie:

Those who contributed to DC's horrific murder rate, certainly weren't too scared about the law banning guns.

"Certainly this D.C. law... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

"Certainly this D.C. law was overreaching Second Amendment Constitutional limits with it's blanket ban. But whether more guns on D.C. streets correlates into more crime in the future or further security threats for public figures needs consideration though. "

This won't increase guns on the streets; it will allow people to simply have them in one piece, let alone move them from room to room, in their own home. There are already "guns on the streets", and they are already illegal for a number of reasons. Yet, they are still there, and disarming law abiding residents simply encourages home invasion, burglary, and robbery.

Damn, just when I thought t... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Damn, just when I thought there wasn't a judge in the United States that could read on the third grade level they up and do this. At least they learned to read or someone read the constitution to a few of them.
You don't have to be a genius to read and understand most of the constitution but you have to be an idiot not to be able to do so.

Matt: I think it unlikely t... (Below threshold)

Matt: I think it unlikely that the USCS will pass on this. This ruling, along with saying more or less the same thing from the 5th Circuit, creates a major split in the appellate courts. That means the Supremes will have to get involved. Odds are it will be heard this year and decided next summer, just in time for the elections. (That's if it doesn't get held up in a full-banc rehearing of the case. If that happens, then it'll be pushed farther down the road.)

The ruling only pertains to handguns in the home or place of business. It doesn't address carrying, concealed or otherwise.

It basically said that the District, through its hyper-restrictive laws, essentially bans the possession of handguns and that is unconstitutional.

John, I think you are mista... (Below threshold)

John, I think you are mistaken. I read the entire opinion (75 pages worth!). This court rejected the academic legal theory known as "collectivist right" (and the closely related "sophisticated collectivist right") and accepted the opposing "individualist right" theory. This decision is huge, because the court stated, directly, in it's opinion

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.
That is huge. Absolutely huge. It rejects the idea that government can restrict gun ownership in any way and instead restricts government to controlling guns in public only.

I wrote an analysis of the case on my blog. I am not a lawyer, but I can read. :-)

http://www.antimedia.us/posts/1173483041.shtml

I just finished the hand-gu... (Below threshold)
T.G. Scott:

I just finished the hand-gun training course and I am in the process of obtaining my "legal" permit to carry. I am a process server in my spare time and have needed to get this for a number of years. Most of the process serving is a benign way to earn quick, extra money, but last year I nearly got myself shot. I didn't carry without the permit because I'm the law-abiding type. The only reason I didn't get my permit earlier was because I had some misgivings about the government having knowledge about my ability to legally possess one. I'm afraid that they will come knocking at my door someday and take the privilege from me. That wouldn't make me one iota safer from thugs who are carrying illegally. That's exactly what might happen someday if we allow nut jobs to diddle with the Second Amendment or any other part of the Constitution. If you change one amendment, it just opens the door for you to change others.

Fall in. Ten Hut!==... (Below threshold)
kim:

Fall in. Ten Hut!
===========

So, it took an adverse cour... (Below threshold)
Ascetes:

So, it took an adverse court decision (Court strikes down D.C. ban on guns, WT, 3/10/07) to smoke out the left-wing, anti-bill of rights claque into finally admitting the courts are joined hip-to-hip with the political establishment. They're frothing at the mouth that a decision went against their cherished but twisted second amendment interpretation. Now, the courts are ideological! How charming! And, when the court rulings sided with their demented democrat/Marxist interpretation of the constitution, the courts were noble and above reproach. The depth of malice, hypocrisy, and dishonesty of this Democrat bunch knows no limit. As The Bard astutely observed: "There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure, but security enough to make fellowships accurse'd." (Measure for Measure, III i)

Its about time. Its about c... (Below threshold)
Rodney Wayne melton:

Its about time. Its about class. A higher class of people who refuse to have thugs and assasins heist them for their money or property.And about time everybody got on the goodfoot, and start smoking somebody's boots, if caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. And most definetely with the wrong attitude. Or maybe that friendly fire will scare him like Spooky on Casper, and chase him out of the yard, before he gets in the house.
I bet he'll run then. Like a woman did a man in Maryland. She heard him clacking at the window, she went and got her gun and shot him right in the buttocks. He flipped over the fence and hall tailed. Thats the kind of thinking twice we want them to think in DC. You know what I mean?




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