The Man Who Defeated the D.C. Gun Ban


Yesterday The Washington Post ran a surprisingly positive profile of Cato Institute legal scholar Robert Levy, who organized and bankrolled the lawsuit that resulted in this month's federal appeals court decision overturning key provisions of D.C.'s gun ban. Levy, who deliberately steered clear of the pro-gun lobby, says he does not own any firearms and probably never will, but he believed the right to armed self-defense was worth vindicating:

Like other critics of the law, Levy cites the District's annual triple-digit homicide totals and its "ridiculously high rate of crime" in the past 30 years as evidence that the statute has not made Washington safer. Its only impact, he said, has been to disarm honest residents in their homes, leaving them vulnerable in a violent city.

To Levy the libertarian, though, the effectiveness of the law—its success or failure in curbing crime—isn't the core issue. What matters most to him is whether the statute unjustly infringes on personal liberties. He doesn't dispute that "reasonable" gun controls are permissible under the Second Amendment. But the District's law amounts to "an outright prohibition," Levy said, and "that offends my constitutional sensibilities."