DC to Formally Appeal Gun Ruling to Supreme Court

Mayor Fenty this morning announced his intention for the city to appeal the recent loss to the Supreme Court, hoping to uphold the 30-year old ban on handguns in the city. The appeals court ruled in March that the ban was unconstitutional, and should be struck down. It wasn’t the final word, the Supreme Court remains in control of the fate of would-be handgun owners in DC.

DC’s ban on handguns is so strict, you cannot merely carry an assembled, unloaded firearm between rooms of your own home without being subject to the penalties put in place in the 1970s. Meanwhile, gun crimes in the District seem to range independent of the law, peaking back in the 1990s, with over 400 murders in a single year. The MPD doesn’t differentiate between murders with firearms versus murder by other means, and gun crime now is largely less than it was ten years ago, but since the law went into effect 30 years ago, other factors seem to be at play. Why continue to defend this unconstitutional law?

8 Comments so far

  1. Gary (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 12:31 pm

    Actually, this case is now about so much more than DC, as the Federal Circuit in its ruling determined that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, previous court holding has interpreted it as a collective right, vis a vis militia. How SCOTUS forms its opinion, if they use the circuit courts logic, would impact gun laws throughout the country, regardless of one’s own stance on the issue.


  2. Mike (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

    Why bring up constitutionality in a place where tax-paying citizens don’t have congressional representation?


  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

    Because, like it or not, the Constitution still applies in DC, Mike. Just because DC doesn’t have a formal vote doesn’t mean that things like Habeas Corpus or the protection from illegal search and seizure don’t apply. This includes the rights to handguns, despite what the ban has done for the last 30 years.


  4. Don (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 2:53 pm

    To be pedantic, the constitution means what the courts say it means and for thirty years they’ve said what it means isn’t in conflict with DC’s ban.

    Personally I think the gun ban is less a constitutional issue than a practicality issue. A number of other states allow the sale of guns and there’s about 5 million of them entering the US in one way or another every year. DC also borders a state without a gun ban and the border is porous.

    So the reality is, someone who wants a gun can get one. I’ve got a lot of ambivalence on the issue of guns in society but I’m inclined to think that trying to keep them out of DC is like sweeping back the tide.


  5. Mike (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

    Correct, the courts have never said that Constitution guarantees a right to handguns. It’s not comparable to habeas corpus (something that’s been removed anyway) or protection from warrantless searches (partially removed).

    And the Constitution is meant to apply to states only — right? Isn’t that the rationale used to deny DC congressional representation?


  6. borat (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

    be like me. buy verrrry strong bow-gun and have arrows in car for to chase away mean peoples.


  7. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

    Mike, that’s due to the wording of the section about representation, it doesn’t mean that those possessions of the United States don’t still have the rights enumerated by the Constitution…


  8. mark (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 9:10 am

    Yes, the border between Virginia and DC is porous, but the fact is that the murder rates in arlington and alexandria are 1/5 the rate of dc. Additionally and more importantly, I have heard that there are statistics showing that it is far MORE common that DC residents cross into Northern Virginia to commit crimes with handguns purchased illegally in DC.



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