The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

D.C. Court Upholds "Individual Right" in Second Amendment

In what appears to be a complete oversight in their assertion of control over us, a higher court in Washington, D.C. accidentally affirms the "individual right" to keep and bear arms. Woops! I'm sure someone will quickly fix this and reaffirm the government's right to keep us from bearing arms...

The following is from N.W. Clayton, a well-known gun rights activist, regarding the decision.

I just finished a cursory reading the text of the court's decision. Very interesting, but don't break out the champagne just yet.

Thanks to Dr. John Lott for providing the above link and for being, as far as I can tell, the first blogger to report this decision.

A more careful reading of key portions of the document leads me to believe that today's decision actually does overturn the following aspects of the Washington, D.C. gun ban:

1 - D.C.'s refusal to register handguns since 1976. The city will still be able to require that all handguns in be registered, but the D.C. Police Department must now accept new registrations.

2 - D.C.'s ban on keeping a fully-assembled firearm in one's home. They'll no longer be able to require that you keep your guns disassembled. However, D.C. will still have authority to require trigger locks on guns kept in the home.

3 - D.C.'s ban on moving a legally-possessed handgun from one room in your house to another room in your house without first getting a carry permit from the Chief of Police. D.C. will still be able to require a carry permit for carrying outside your home, however.

Other aspects of D.C.'s gun laws appear to be outside the scope of this court case, so they will still stand.

Also, contrary to what I said before, D.C. apparently has consistently been granting registration of handguns to retired policemen, even in recent years. One of the plaintiffs, Dick Heller (whom I mistakenly said was retired), is actually an active-duty D.C. cop who applied to register a handgun to keep in his home while off-
duty, and was turned down. The appeals court has ordered the lower court to grant summary judgement in favor of Heller, but not the other five plaintiffs. This is because the other plaintiffs had not actually tried to register a handgun yet, but Heller had (back in 1983). This is apparently a technical distinction, and the summary judgement should have the effect of enabling everyone in D.C. who is
legally eligible to own a handgun to register one, including the other plaintiffs.

The case has been handed back to the lower court, but with the order that the lower court grant summary judgement to Heller. In other words, there will be no trial. There will merely be the formality of the lower court granting summary judgement in favor of Heller, which should have the effect of forcing D.C. to make the three changes to its gun laws listed above.

However, the anti-gun people can (and almost certainly will) request to have the case heard by the entire D.C. Court of Appeals. Today's opinion was merely the ruling of a three-judge panel of that court. Whichever way the full appeals court decides, the loser in that decision could (and probably will) appeal it to the Supreme Court.

Got comments? Email me, dammit!
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