Friday, March 09, 2007

D.C. Is Free at Last (Maybe)

It’s already old news on these Internets, but the US Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. District struck down D.C.’s restrictive gun law. Of course, there’ll be numerous appeals, foot dragging, new laws, and everything else that will delay any celebrations. But, it’s a major victory for gun rights.

This is not to say that it restores an absolutist view of the Second Amendment to the District or the nation at large. The court notes that there may be exceptions to the practice of carrying concealed weapons or banning felons from owning guns.

According to the decision, “These regulations promote the government’s interest in public safety consistent with our common law tradition. Just as importantly, however, they do not impair the core conduct upon which the right was premised.” It also finds that registration could be reasonable as part of maintaining a well-regulated militia as well as proficiency tests, etc. (see p 54 pdf).

These are possible regulations that should be resisted, but I don’t find the mention of them surprising.

Even though the decision would allow some infringements, it provides so much more than what District citizens already have. It recognizes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right, it uses the Miller decision appropriately, and does indeed take the District to task for infringing on gun rights.

It is an important step in rolling back other state and city guns laws that are almost as onerous as those in the District. Let’s hope stare decisis work for us.

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