D.C.’s GUN BAN STRUCK DOWN
By James P. Tucker Jr.
A federal appeals court has struck down Washington’s 30-year-old gun ban, which could ultimately result in Second Amendment rights being protected throughout the nation because the Supreme Court is likely to be the final arbiter.
“The Second Amendment would be an inexplicable aberration if it were not read to protect individual rights as well,” the 58-page ruling said, referring to claims that the reference to “militia” means only police and the military are protected.
The 2-1 decision by a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned a 2004 lowercourt decision against six residents who sued to keep guns for their protection.
“The District insists that the phrase ‘keep and bear arms’ should be read as purely military language, and thus indicative of a civic, rather than private, guarantee,” ruled the judges. “The term ‘bear arms’ is obviously susceptible
to a military construction. But it is not accurate to construe it exclusively so.”
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said he is “outraged” at the decision. It “marks the first time in the history of the United States that a federal appeals court has struck down a gun law on Second Amendment grounds,” Fenty said.
“We’re happy to see there’s a crack in the door for [Washington] to join the rest of the country in full constitutional freedom,” said Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. The NRA will be “watching the appeals process,” he said.
The ruling is a “tremendous victory for the civil rights of all Americans,’ said Alan Gura, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
“The case has implications far beyond the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms,” Gura said. “Had the city prevailed, no individual right would be secure from governmental claims that it is no longer practical or beneficial, or from arguments that ‘the people’ protected in the Bill of Rights are merely a euphemism for government.”
(Issue #13, March 26, 2007)