Big Win for Gun Rights' Advocates With More Fights to Come

Gun rights' advocates scored a major victory this morning when a divided panel of federal judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the District of Columbia's gun control laws violate the individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

Here is how the Court's majority framed its conclusion: "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."

If you have any interest at all in this issue, and no matter which side of the gun debate you find yourself on, do yourself a favor and read the ruling in Parker v. District of Columbia. It is worthwhile just for the context and perspective it adds to the debate. The ruling almost certainly will be appealed, first to the entire D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and then perhaps to the United States Supreme Court. And it would not shock me if the Justices, underworked as they have been lately, decide finally to help offer some clarity in this controversial area. The Court's majority may or may not have gotten legal precedent right but they sure have placed this vital issue back on the nation's foreburners.

By Andrew Cohen |  March 9, 2007; 11:46 AM ET
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Hmmm, this could be the solution to closing our Texas horse slaughter houses.

They shoot horses don't they?

Posted by: Neigh | March 9, 2007 02:38 PM

DC's gun ban law effectively disarmed lawful citizens, but did NOT disarm criminals. Criminals don't follow laws, you see. It's kind of the definition of "CRIMINAL."

DC's per capita gun death rate is consistently at least double the national average (CDC figures) and has owned the title "America's Murder Capital" on more than one occasion. Obviously, the 25 year old gun ban has been highly effective.

This Supreme Court decision is a positive step forward. People should have the legal option of defending themselves and their families against violent crimes if they so choose.

Posted by: Shawn Carbonell, MD, PhD | March 9, 2007 06:42 PM

Oh, Shawn. At least use honest comparisons. Yes, DC's gun crimes are heinous. But so are Richmond's and New Orleans'. Both of those cities have no gun control. And at least be honest enough to admit that DC's gun ban is affected largely by the easy availability of guns in Virginia, literally minutes away.

DC, New Orleans, and Richmond are all similar in terms of socio-economic breakdown.

And they all have fairly similar crime rates.

I have mixed opinions about gun bans, as I like and am familiar with guns.

But what I am sick to death of is people using dishonest comparisons like the ones you used.

Posted by: Hillman | March 13, 2007 06:58 PM

I feel the descisionto overturn the ban as BAD new's for Washingtonians.At the Time the constitutuion was written it was an outstanding document. However times have changed God did not write the constitution Men did! Unfortunately people seem to Think that the constitution has NO faults but like anything done by man there are faults.If someone has a gun there is a chance someone could be shot. Remove the Gun ,then there is NO chance someone will be shot. I think it is time for Another Amendment to the constitution.

Posted by: John Thomas | March 13, 2007 11:11 PM

"Remove the gun, then there is NO chance someone will be shot"????? Just like an anti-gunner to have done little to no research. First of all, you can't get rid of all the is impossible...even in places where you can be put to death for being caught with a gun (like China) gun searches come up with tens of thousands of guns. Criminals aren't going to turn in their guns and besides they aren't suppose to have them anyways so you can see how ridiculous your idea is. Second, do you really think that the only use of guns is to shoot people? Guns are used much more often (even without firing a shot) to stop a crime than to perpitrate one. And they aren't used just to stop gun crimes; nobody gets shot during a rape but when the woman has a gun she doesn't get raped...get rid of all the guns and true, she doesn't get shot but she still gets raped. (and no, people who carry guns do not get them taken away and used against them...that is a myth. Sure it happens from time to time but it is actually the cops it happens to most often and even then the percentage is so low as to not even bother with considering it.) You need to stop thinking that guns are only used to shoot people because that is a very insignificant number of their uses. If cops didn't have guns would less people get shot? yes, but wouldn't there be much graver consiquences?

And third...didn't people get murdered and assaulted before guns were invented? Yes they did, so getting rid of guns won't solve that problem and in fact in place like the UK where guns are all but banned other then their murder rate (which actually isn't that much lower than ours) their violent crime rates have been sky rocketing. I don't carry a gun in order to just stop someone else from shooting me; I carry a gun to protect myself no matter what the attack is. I know people who are deadly with only their fists although a lead pipe, a knife, etc are pretty good tools that give someone an advantage over me. If someone is going to cause me or my family great bodily injury I should be legally allowed to protect myself. If you would rather not protect yourself that is your right too but don't try to take away my right for your own misguided political reasons.

Do some research; get informed. Although I know many who are not fond of guns I know none who have educated themselves on the topic who still believe that further gun control is the answer to anything.

Posted by: Houston | March 14, 2007 11:11 AM

Houston, you make some good points about guns, but in DC the overwhelming majority of the poeple want a gun ban. In DC, guns are used to shoot people, not hunt. Your statement that criminals shouldn't have guns anyway is silly, because until you use a gun illegally and are caught, you're not a criminal, but by the time you use it illegally, its usually too late for the victim. And your rape-protection argument is specious at best, most rapes do not occur in the home, which is the only place one can legally have a gun, but maybe you're one of those extremists who think it would be a good idea if every law abiding citizen carried a gun with them at all time. I love how the well regulated militia part always seems to be dropped from the Second Amendment. If all gun owners were part of a well regulated militia, I don't think we would have gun control debates. We should just let democracy run its course and if the people want gun control, they should have gun control!

Posted by: RCD | March 15, 2007 07:07 AM

RCD, our founders in their wisdom established a constitution that is designed to protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority, which they recognized as a threat equal to that of kings [even as they failed to see it in themselves!] Our Constitution has proved overtime remarkably adept at restoring rights and liberties kept from African Americans, women, gays, and gun owners who have been, as some still are, made minorities in the legal sense of their rights being restricted to fewer than those the majority enjoys. If majority rule were the sine qua non of democracy, Iraq,s current government would not rate an abysmal 6, on a scale of 1 to 6, with the U.S. by way of comparison, besting them with a one [Freedom House] To suggest D.C. disregard the court,s ruling is not as you so blithely phrase it ,to let democracy run its course,,, rather it,s to let mob rule trample the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: jhbyer | March 15, 2007 07:13 PM

Has WaPo restored our rights to use apostrophes, quotation marks, percentage signs...hmmmm...or is Mr. Cohen privileged???

Posted by: jhbyer | March 15, 2007 07:41 PM

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