Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Court Rules DC Gun Ban Unconstitutional

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the DC ban on firearms in the home is unconstitutional. You can read the full text of the decision here:

http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200703/04-7041a.pdf

In my opinion, this is a very important ruling because it effectively goes back to a more historical interpretation of the 2nd Amendment underscoring that in this context the 2nd Amendment applies to the People just like the 1st Amendment. The ruling also pointed out that the Rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were not granted by the Constitution, but rather a recognition that these rights pre-dated the Constitution. The summary of the ruling is extremely well written and sums up the major points of their decision:

"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 Anti-federalist 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."

In short this ruling effectively shoots down the belief that the 2nd Amendment applies only to the "militia" or even the "National Guard", but rather is an individual right.

The decision was split 2-1 with Judge Karen Henderson dissenting. She argued that the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because it is not a state. Using that logic she also must believe that the people of the District of Columbia also do not have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, right to petition the government, etc. In my opinion, such judicial recklessness on the part of Judge Karen Henderson is quite disturbing.

The ruling will be appealed, so expect to hear more about this one in the future.

No comments: