Did the Supreme Court Approve the Order to Lock and Unload?

While researching my column about the District of Columbia's new gun law, I came across a tendentious assertion by Peter Nickles, D.C.'s acting attorney general, that I didn't have space to address. Defending the District's requirement that guns be kept both locked and unloaded until the very moment they're needed "to protect against a reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person," Nickles told Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher:

It's clear the Supreme Court didn't intend for you to have a loaded gun around the house. I don't think the court thought this was going to become a Wild West scene.

Leaving aside Nickles' assumption that keeping a loaded gun in the house inexorably leads to "a Wild West scene" (a scenario that has not materialized even in juridictions where people are permitted to walk around in public with loaded guns), where, exactly, did the Supreme Court make it clear that keeping a loaded gun is beyond the protection of the Second Amendment? The majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller acknowledges that some forms of gun control are consistent with the Second Amendment and implies that they include "laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents." But that does not mean any law with that ostensible aim is valid; in fact, the Court found that D.C.'s law "regulating the storage of firearms" was unconstitutional because it effectively prevented people from using guns for self-defense. It did not explicitly address the constitutionality of a "safe storage" rule like the one the District has now adopted, which impedes self-defense and is more restrictive than necessary to prevent accidents (a goal that could be served by requiring, for example, that loaded firearms be kept in gun safes with their safeties on). But it's hard to see how the new rule can pass muster, since it substantially impinges on a gun owner's ability to defend himself while doing nothing to advance a legitimate government interest that could not be accomplished through less restrictive means.

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  • ||

    It's clear the Supreme Court didn't intend for you to have a loaded gun around the house. I don't think the court thought this was going to become a Wild West scene.

    Oh fuck, not this nonsense again. Does "If we have shall issue CCW permit laws, people will be gunning each other down over parking spots. It'll be just like the Wild West" sound familiar?.

  • robc||

    loaded firearms be kept in gun safes with their safeties on

    Safety? What is a safety?

  • Dave B.||

    Is there even any evidence that people were being regularly gunned down for no reason in the Wild West? If so, I'd love to read all about it.

  • Elemenope||

    Safety? What is a safety?

    I'm pretty sure it's another name for "trigger". As in, if you keep your finger off it, the gun won't fire.

  • robc||

    lmnop,

    I'm pretty sure it's another name for "trigger". As in, if you keep your finger off it, the gun won't fire.

    Heh.

  • just an observation||

    Them gun-suppressor folk sure is aggressive.

  • Abdul||

    Is there even any evidence that people were being regularly gunned down for no reason in the Wild West?

    If the Time-Life series is to be believed, people in the Wild West were regularly shot just for snoring too loud.

    At least in DC, loud snorers are safe.

  • ||

    My SIG Sauer P250 doesn't even have a safety. It's a double-action-only firearm.

    Oh yeah, it holds 16 rounds, so in DC it's a Machine Gun. Har!

  • squarooticus||

    Eh, I like the M1911: three or four independent safeties (thumb, grip, trigger, and possibly firing pin block) keep me from getting the Glock willies while handling it, but it looks inordinately dangerous cocked-and-locked to people who don't know much about guns, which can be useful in and of itself.

  • ||

    If you don't keep your gun unloaded (and, preferably, disassembled) it will, with no provocation or warning, crawl out of its hiding place and kill somebody you love!!!

    That's what guns do.

    You people are so dense.

  • ||

    Even if we assume the stupid position that the law that requires guns to be locked up and unloaded is constitutional -- how does the state enforce this requirement? Do they do random spot checks? Do they ask the guy violating your home if the home-owner took time to load the gun after retrieving it?

    I mean really -- how enforceable is that restriction? How would any authority figure even know if your gun is A) in a safe and B) unloaded.

    The only way would be to assume you violated that restriction if someone accidentally gets shot?

  • ||

    I'm sure criminals in DC are just tripping over themselves trying to abide by DC's gun laws.

  • robc||

    ChicagoTom,

    While searching your Japanese Maple farm for drugs, they stumble across your loaded handgun. Guess what, that makes the no-knock warrant legit. You are going down for a long time.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I don't know about this. When I had a loaded gun in my house I had tumbleweeds blowing in every time I opened the door, coyotes shitting on my rugs, and cowboys spitting tobacco juice everywhere--pretty much a Wild West scene, in my opinion! Forewarned is, um, forearmed!

  • thoreau||

    ChicagoTom-

    The police say "So, how much time elapsed between when you heard the burglar and when you fired the trigger?" If your answer is any reasonable number, they conclude that it was impossible for you to open the lockbox, disable the trigger lock, and load the firearm.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Didn't you read the opinion of the court? It said right there that guns were fine to own as long as they are only knick-knacks.

  • ||

    Proposal: DC cops must keep their weapons unloaded in a lockbox in the trunks of their cruisers. They can take them out and use them when they are actually attacked.

    What Mayor Fenty? They wouldn't have time to get to them to actually use them? Well, it's for the children.

  • Other Matt||

    I'm sure criminals in DC are just tripping over themselves trying to abide by DC's gun laws.

    Just in case the bitch sets them up...again?

  • Dave T.||

    In what way is a "Wild West Scene" worse than some of the inner ghetto city scenes that already exhist in parts of DC?

    Instead of cowboys and bandits, we have thugs, drug dealers, and gang members. And they don't abide by gun laws.

  • ||

    The anti-gun crowd is absolutely crazy. The 27 word, single sentence Second Amendment is perfectly clear in asserting the constitutional right of "the people" to keep and bear arms. Now, with the DC v Heller decision, we have a Supreme Court decision which clearly states American have the constitutional right to protect themselves and thier families in their homes, and, if they choose to keep a loaded handgun to do it, that is a constitutionally protected right. Gun control isn't about guns; it's about control, and the boys and girls of the anti-gun crowd ought to grow up, take a deep breath and do something that's seemingly anathama to their existence: admit they've lost.

  • ||

    requiring, for example, that loaded firearms be kept in gun safes with their safeties on

    Also makes them perfectly useless for self-defense, so I don't this passes Constitutional muster either.

    Seriously, the delay in getting a gun that isn't the loading it, its the getting the damn safe open.

    And safes aren't free, either. How is requiring a gun owner to also own a gun safe not a burden on the right?

  • ||

    THIS JUST SHOWS HOW FUCKING STUPID THE MAYOR AND DISTRICT ATTORNEY ARE IN DC. THEY REALLY DON'T CARE ABOUT THE INNOCENT CIVILIANS BEING PRAYED UPON BY SCUM SUCKING CRIMINALS!! ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS TRYING TO SHOW ALL OF US STUPID GUN OWNERS HOW THEY ARE GOING TO DO EVERTHING IN THERE POWER TO STICK IT TO INNOCENT LAW-ABIDING CITIZENSOF WASHINGTON DC.
    IT JUST SEEMS NO MATTER HOW HARD GUN OWNERS TRY WE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE MIND'S OF LIBERAL ELITE POLITICIANS SO VOTE EM OUT OF OFFICE PEOPLE OF DC GET RID OF THE ELITE SCUM BAGS, CAUSE THEY JUST ASSUME LET YOU DIE AT THE HANDS OF CRIMINALS!!!!!!

  • JOHNBOY||

    IN RESPONSE TO DAVE T ABOVE , RIGHT ON WHAT IS WRONG SOME GOOD OLD WILD WEST SCENE IN DC. THE CRIMINALS NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL FOLLOW GUN LAWS. I SAY AND MY PERSONAL POLICY IS THIS TRY AND DO HARM TO ME OR MY FAMILY THEN FACE THE
    WRONG END OF MY GUN. ALWAYS REMEMBER FOLKS "GUN CONTROL IS BEING ABLE TO HIT THE TARGET "IE" THE CRIMINAL DECISIVLEY AND WITH DEADLY RESULTS". PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTISE.

  • Maynard||

    The best place for a handgun in the home, is to wear it, which falls under the category of "keep and bear". It is quick to retrieve when you need it, no matter where you are in the house, and no kids are going to mess with it. Now ole Dellinger swore in front of the Supreme Court that you could have it loaded if it had a trigger lock on it, so I'm guessing that the best thing would be a trigger lock with the key stuck in it, while you wear it, if you wanted to be silly and follow their unconstitutioal law.

  • JB||

    Yup, we have those Wild West shoot-outs in Arlington everyday.

    What a moron. People this stupid shouldn't be allowed to exist, no less hold positions of power.

  • Paul||

    acknowledges that some forms of gun control are consistent with the Second Amendment and implies that they include "laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents." But that does not mean any law with that ostensible aim is valid;



    Potentially, yes. Thanks to the majority ruling, there's enough wiggle room in 'an individual right' for that individual right to be bypassed altogether.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    .. heck, I live in what used to be the "Wild West" and I haven't seen a single shootout in the 54 years that I've been around and this is an open-carry state!! . .

    .. though I'd say that our "Wild West" reputation took a gigantic hit when Gov. "Mr. President to you" Richardson passed the smoking ban .. nannies are taking over ..

    .. Cigar-smokin' Hobbit

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    .. forgot to mention the main thing that I wanted to say. .

    RE: DC gun ban

    .. I've noticed that governments in general (and the Feds in particular) have thumbed their collective noses at laws and Constitutions for quite a few years, now .. DC can ignore the law as long as they want .. what's anyone going to do??

    .. Gun-totin' Hobbit

  • SIV||

    Hobbit,

    Don't forget Richardson's cockfighting ban.LA followed (a few more days left), all we have left of legal game fowl sport in these United States is the territories .

  • Warsong||

    Hmmmm? Wild West, is it...strange, I read the Time/Life Book, "The Gunslingers," and, almost to a man they were Lawmen. In the famous "Gunfight at the OK Corral," Wyatt Earp, his Brothers, and, Doc Holliday were either US Marshals, or, deputized, and, the Clancey's and friends were all Deputy Sheriffs. Two groups of Lawmen in a Turf War.

    Clay Allison, 'said' to be the most prolific "Wild West" killer of all, with 57 notches on his gun, was a Lawman most of his life. William Bonney (aka, "Billie the Kid") was simply a Psychopath credited with a bunch of things he didn't do (some he did), until he got into a fight with the Law, in the form of Pat Garrett and the local Sheriffs Deputies.

    But, there was one "Killer" that few people know about, "Spiffy," the FBI's "Hostage Negotiator" for more than 30 years, beginning in the reign of Elliot Ness and the Untouchables. I can never remember his real name, but, his Nickname came from the Lips of a dieing Oklahoma Thug, "I can't believe I let a 'Spiffy' dude like you kill me."

    More than likely, Spiffy killed more men than any Lawman in American History, and, he demonstrated his speed from the Holster on an early television show in the middle 1950's, "You Asked For It."

  • ||

    We've seen a crack-smoking, hooker-chasing mayor caught on video tape. We've read the articles about a police department so underfunded that the officers had to use their own money to buy tires for their patrol cars. Some of the non-tourist areas of the city are some of the worst slums left in the country. And now the city government is flirting with the best way to ignore a ruling by the Supreme Court.

    It's time for congress to admit what should be obvious to any rational person. The experiment with home rule in The District of Columbia has, for whatever reason(s), been an abject failure, and should be repealed.

  • LarryA||

    Is there even any evidence that people were being regularly gunned down for no reason in the Wild West? If so, I'd love to read all about it.

    Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier by Roger McGrath. Violent crime in two of the wildest Wild West 1949 gold towns turned out to be about a third of what was then (1989) the U.S. national average, and less than a tenth of the 1989 NYC or D.C. crime rate.

  • ||

    I live in a "shall issue" states, one of about 40 in this country. That means if you aren't a felon, domestic abuser, psychopath, or drug addict, you SHALL be issued a license to carry firearms concealed.

    In every single instance where concealed carry has been allowed, gun crime has decreased significantly, and firearms accidents have not increased. (FBI uniform crime report data).

    The anti-gun crowd's hysterical warnings of old-West shootouts are as predictable as they are unfounded by the facts. We don't even have to guess about this, Concealed, shall-issue is working fabulously in 40 States already.

    Wake up Mayor Fenty, Mayor Daley. Wake UP!

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