Guns

Excuse Me While I Get My Gun

Washington, D.C., defies the Supreme Court's Second Amendment ruling.

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Last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia had violated the Second Amendment by making armed self-defense in the home impractical and banning the most popular weapons used for that purpose. Last week the D.C. Council responded by unanimously approving a law that makes armed self-defense in the home impractical and bans the most popular weapons used for that purpose.

D.C.'s political leaders know they are inviting another Second Amendment lawsuit, but they are determined to defy the Supreme Court and the Constitution for as long as possible.

The new law "clarifies that no carry license is required inside the home" to move a gun from one room to another. It also "clarifies" the District's firearm storage requirements, saying a gun may be unlocked and loaded "while it is being used to protect against a reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person" in the home.

Much hinges on what counts as a "reasonably perceived threat." If you're awakened in the middle of the night by a crash, may you carry a loaded gun with you as you investigate? Evidently not. The Washington Post reports that D.C.'s acting attorney general, Peter Nickles, "said residents could neither keep their guns loaded in anticipation of a problem nor search for an intruder on their property." According to Nickles, if you see an armed criminal charging your home, or in the event of "an actual threat by somebody you believe is out to hurt you," you're allowed to get your gun, unlock it, and load it.

How long will that take? The new law lets people use a gun safe instead of a trigger lock, which, depending on the type of safe, could allow faster retrieval. But even a gun in a safe has to be kept unloaded, which will tend to slow down the owner's response to a "reasonably perceived threat," assuming he can figure out what that means.

The delay will be even longer because of the District's ridiculously broad ban on "machine guns." The Metropolitan Police Department says the ban covers all handguns except revolvers, which are more cumbersome to load than semiautomatics with detachable magazines.

Under D.C. law, "machine guns" include not only guns that fire continuously but also guns that fire once per trigger pull if they can fire more than 12 rounds without reloading or "can be readily converted" to do so. According to the District's interpretation, even a pistol that fires 12 or fewer rounds counts as a "machine gun" if it could accept a bigger magazine.

That's why Dick Heller, the man who successfully challenged D.C.'s handgun ban, was not allowed to register his seven-shot .45-caliber pistol, which in the District's view might as well be an Uzi. Instead he applied to register a .22-caliber revolver.

Speaking of registration, the District has established a burdensome 12-step process that involves multiple trips to gun dealers and government offices, fingerprinting, a written exam, and ballistic testing. How long does all this take? "Up to 14 days," according to one police department publication. "Approximately eight weeks," according to another. "There are circumstances where it could take months," says Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

Registration easily could turn out to be so onerous or capricious that it effectively denies D.C. residents the right to keep and bear arms. The District's revised firearm storage requirements are even more clearly unconstitutional, since they unreasonably interfere with the very function, self-defense in the home, that the Supreme Court said is protected by the Second Amendment. Likewise the arbitrary ban on semiautomatic handguns, the most commonly used self-defense weapons.

"I am pretty confident that the people of the District of Columbia want me to err in the direction of trying to restrict guns," D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty told Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher. How about erring, just this once, in the direction of respecting civil liberties?

© Copyright 2008 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Somebody file the charges, already. “Conspiracy to deprive of a constitutional right under color of authority”. Every person in the DC government who’s participating in this farce is due for a ten-year stretch in Ft. Leavenworth.

    -jcr

  2. I suggest a federal program be created to solve this problem. Perhaps we can call it the Camp X-Ray full employment act.

  3. Sigh… this is a perfect demonstration of why I wish Thomas had written the opinion.

  4. Somebody file the charges, already. “Conspiracy to deprive of a constitutional right under color of authority”. Every person in the DC government who’s participating in this farce is due for a ten-year stretch in Ft. Leavenworth.

    I was going to suggest a revolution, but I think this would do.

  5. Perhaps the President can dust off the Honest Abe Book of dealing with rogue officials and give DC a taste of what the MD legeslature got during the great Civil Disturbance.

    For some reason, every mention of the Civil War brings Dr. Paul to mind and the plane he was in yesterday had an emergency (precautionary?) landing yesterday.

  6. The double yesterday was an accident.

    Preview is my friend.

    Preview is my friend.

  7. Here’s a shocker:

    People don’t like being told what to do.

    This is something that Libertarians in particular ought to understand, perhaps even *gasp* sympathize with.

    Sure they are public servants, blah blah blah, but Scalia’s hackneyed opinion have then so many loopholes to jump through, methinks you are placing the blame a little lopsidedly. They had a policy which the court kinda sorta maybe rebuked, and then left enough dangling to make them hope that their policy could be made constitutional and still prevent people from having guns.

    I find it odd for a group that champions independence and self-actualization to be shocked, *shocked*, to find out that elected officials are people too, with the same proclivities for disruption and disrespect towards authority.

    This will end up back in court (again), and we may win or lose (again), and maybe the problems that Heller didn’t solve will be solved.

    I’m not holding my breath.

    But I just think it’s downright silly to be bent all out of shape that people who had a policy in mind didn’t graciously and immediately come around to our line of thinking and want to live in a heavily-armed utopia.

  8. And squarooticus, I absolutely, 100%, couldn’t agree more.

  9. The DC mayor is a damn fool, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    I would like to invite him to Georgia so we can cure him of his stupidity!

  10. Who cares, Everyone should pack regardless of what some stupid law says. Everyone should be armed at ALL times.

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  11. Elemenope, the difference is, libertarian citizens aren’t legislators. When we disobey the laws we disagree with, we get arrested. When they do, we get our freedoms restricted. Everyone on these boards and blogs have assumed since Heller that something like this would happen, so it’s not really surprise. It is merely reporting that yes, the fears which were discussed have in fact come about. I should hardly think that the “human nature” of disregarding the law when you don’t like it is an excuse for an elected official to basically ignore a supreme court ruling when making laws.

  12. Doesn’t the Chief Justice make the opinion writing assignments? If so, ….

  13. This will end up back in court (again), and we may win or lose (again), and maybe the problems that Heller didn’t solve will be solved.

    Exactly, and this is why this is a good thing. Scalia was not the guy to be writing the opinion. Fenty and crew are setting up a suit that can go right back to the Court and get clarified.

    Honestly, Fenty is a fucking moron, because he’s going to get bitch-slapped eventually. One of the most relieving things about power-hungry scumbag politicians is that they are generally stupid fucks as well.

  14. Honestly, Fenty is a fucking moron, because he’s going to get bitch-slapped eventually.

    DC is populated by an overabundance of them. And yes, they will, but they view it as some bizarre kind of red badge of courage.

  15. Was there really a way to avoid this without either:

    A) An absolutist interpretation of the 2nd.

    or

    B) A detailed rewrite of the DC statute, within the SCOTUS decision, in order to better define the acceptable parameters?

    Neither A) or B) was likely, and B) is way outside of reasonable jurisprudence. So I don’t understand why anyone is surprised by what DC is doing now.

  16. The strategy is very simple; ignore the ruling and pass rediculous regulations that effectively prevent people from owning guns and wait to get sued. Once they are sued, they figure they can get a sypathetic DC District judge, of which there are many, and get him to ignore the ruling. The appeals process will take years and mean years more of guns being banned in DC. By the time it gets to the Supreme Court, there is no gaurentee that a President Obama hasn’t flipped the balance of the Court and Heller gets overturned. Even if that does happen, all they risk is getting overturned and spending a few million in tax money on legal fees and they get several more years of gun ban in the bargain.

    Did Brown end segregation? No. People like Mayro Fenty on this issue are no different than the segregationists in the South. They are going to fight this at every turn and it will take years to make it stick.

  17. Neither A) or B) was likely, and B) is way outside of reasonable jurisprudence. So I don’t understand why anyone is surprised by what DC is doing now.

    Exactly my point.

    Exactly, and this is why this is a good thing. Scalia was not the guy to be writing the opinion. Fenty and crew are setting up a suit that can go right back to the Court and get clarified.

    I agree it’s a good thing. I just get a little annoyed when people drag out the long knives because a passel of bureaucrats somewhere are creatively reinterpreting a decision in a way that they don’t like. The “Throw ’em all in prison for seventy-bajillion years” crap makes us all look stupid, intemperate, maladjusted, and juvenile.

    And I don’t want the cause (which is just) to look stupid on account of that.

  18. “clarifies that no carry license is required inside the home”

    Read it closely: only the person who registered that firearm is allowed to carry it inside the home.

    There are a LOT more gotchas in the law. The one that most concerns me for the long term is the ballistics “matching”, I expect that one day D.C. will make an example of an innocent with a bogus match to a murder to discourage others from trying.

  19. There are a LOT more gotchas in the law. The one that most concerns me for the long term is the ballistics “matching”, I expect that one day D.C. will make an example of an innocent with a bogus match to a murder to discourage others from trying.

    “Reasonable regulation”…gotta love it. But, Obama is so much better on civil liberties, so he’ll be bitch slappin Fenty on this in the media very shortly.

    Right.

  20. The one that most concerns me for the long term is the ballistics “matching”, I expect that one day D.C. will make an example of an innocent with a bogus match to a murder to discourage others from trying.

    Are you paranoid naturally, or are there pharmaceuticals involved?

  21. lmnop

    makes us all look stupid, intemperate, maladjusted, and juvenile.

    You write that like its a bad thing.

  22. Out of curiosity, why does anyone voluntarily live in DC, anyway?

  23. robc —

    I’m gonna go with stupid and intemperate being unvarnished bad things, and with maladjustment and juvenility being things that while not necessarily bad, are not conducive to discussion on policy or ideology.

  24. What sort of deluded, paranoid sicko would think he needs to own a gun in Our Nation’s Capital? They should just institutionalize anybody who applies for a permit.

  25. http://www.nypost.com/seven/07212008/news/regionalnews/gun_seizure_lawsuit_120836.htm

    Anyone who thinks anything short of outright revolution is going to get these assholes to respect people’s rights, ought to read the above article.

  26. Out of curiosity, why does anyone voluntarily live in DC, anyway?

    Observations from a dozen years next door in Virginia:

    A lot of people choose not to leave, especially if they’re in one of the safer parts of it (e.g. NW west of Rock Creek Park).

    The only type I’ve observed who choose to move to and stay in for at least for a while are 20 somethings who want the “sophisticated” urban lifestyle. There’s not too much of that to be found outside of D.C. in the metro area.

    But when they start to raise a family they tend to move out.

  27. I’ve always believed a right was not something you needed permission to exercise.of course are the same people who blocked off streets for random checks and arrested people for driving with a BAC of .01.How many rights are left?

  28. “Out of curiosity, why does anyone voluntarily live in DC, anyway?”

    In spite of its awful government and crime rate, Washington is a beautiful city with a lot of nice areas. Also, the commutes from Virginia and Maryland are awful. Washington DC is actually very expensive and on top of that you have to send your kids to private school. But for those who can afford to live in Georgetown or Tenleytown or the Palisades or Clevland Park or any of the other good neighborhoods, it is really beautiful and nice and close to work. Also, if you are young and don’t mind living in an appartment, it is a really exciting and fun place to live. Also, unless you have two and half kids and your sole goal in life is to have a big dog and a yard, most of the outer burbs suck rocks.

  29. The Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to child rape.

    Maybe the state of Louisiana should proceed with the execution anyway.

  30. The Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to child rape.

    Maybe the state of Louisiana should proceed with the execution anyway.

    Absent legal authorization, anyone who tried to go through with that would be tried for murder.

    Bureaucrats may generally be stupid, but they aren’t *that* stupid.

  31. Not to speak ill of the destitute and criminal, but aren’t most of the employed, “non-criminal” element in DC Lawyers? A series of cascading and repeating lawsuits is just a job-mill for them – this is just a public works program by the DC gubb’mint to guarantee full and long-term employment. I lived in Arlington when I worked in DC, it’s no more expensive than Palo Alto, or very much different.

  32. Um, Scalia’s opinion was actually quite well thought out. He certainly had to have known that if he attempted any sort of direct reading of the 2nd amendment that the majority opinion WOULD have been written by Stevens or Breyer. So instead he does an end run around the issue by limiting the effects of the decision to the exact complaint made by Heller, but inserting as much material supporting a broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment as possible for future decisions. Why people continue to find it a bad decision amazes me. The only thing about the decision that really could have been better was the whole MG issue, but again, that was almost certainly done to keep it from becoming the minority opinion.

  33. An Open Letter to Those Who Wonder Why Citizens Would Want to Carry Guns in Public

    http://hubpages.com/hub/An-Open-Letter-to-Those-Who-Wonder-Why-Citizens-Would-Want-to-Carry-Gun-in-Public

  34. “Registration easily could turn out to be so onerous or capricious that it effectively denies D.C. residents the right to keep and bear arms. . . .”

    Oooh. Just like the plethora of laws that many states keep passing to “protect” women’s health, if they are seeking an abortion.

  35. First this idiocy is a reminder why Washington should have its home rule status removed. Split the population between VA and MD for Federal election purposes.

    As for the mayor and his clown posse, Heller ought to bring another suit against them personally in addition to the City. Furthermore in the suit he ought to seek an injunction to prevent the City from paying for the clown posse’s defense costs. I rather doubt they got the City Attorney to actually write a detailed memo stated the City was within its authority to pull this stunt (thereby justifying paying for the officials defense costs).

    When it hits them personally that will be a sobering moment for all of these clowns nationally.

  36. Time for the good citizens of DC to remove from office all of the current city council, and elect a new council that will respect their constitutional rights.

  37. Elemenope,

    Stop saying “we” and “us”. You’re speaking for yourself.

  38. Out of curiosity, why does anyone voluntarily live in DC, anyway?

    I believe that oddity is somehow related to people wanting big income tax refunds. Makes no sense except to those who make the choice.

    cubanbob,

    VA already took its part of DC back. Not sure why you want any part that came from MD to become part of VA.

  39. Registration easily could turn out to be so onerous or capricious

    That and D.C.’s acting attorney general Peter Nickles’ statement is proof there are NO reasonable restrictions, licensing or registration of firearms. They are all meant to limit our rights one way or the other. No honest man needs to know another honest man’s business. The only reasons these thugs pass these laws are to make it cumbersome and build a data base for future confiscation as thugs in the UK and France did.

    Attorney General Peter Nickles, Mayor Fenty and the council most likely think they are good people. They are not; they are liars, thugs and hypocrites. They wish to pass laws other must obey but endeavor to disobey laws they don’t like. They are surrounded by armed policemen but expect we mere riff raft to live in constant fear and dangerous situations.They need to go away.

  40. Elemenope,

    Stop saying “we” and “us”. You’re speaking for yourself.

    Actually, jackass, I’m speaking as to my perceptions as to how “string ’em up” comments reflect upon the wider movement (libertarianism in general, and “Gun Rights” in particular).

    My nick did appear at the beginning of my post, didn’t it? I would have thought it therefore unbelievably obvious that it represented my opinion.

    Literalists. Can’t live with ’em, and currently can’t shoot ’em.

  41. P Brooks | July 23, 2008, 10:44am

    What sort of deluded, paranoid sicko would think he needs to own a gun in Our Nation’s Capital? They should just institutionalize anybody who applies for a permit.

    And exactly the thought process our Founders feard and caused them to put the NATURAL RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE AND THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS in the Bill of Rights.

    I do hope you are being sarcastic, but I do hear that sentiment from an awful lot of nasty people. My pistols (plural) are like Mastercard; I do not leave home without them.
    (o:

  42. JohnD, I would suggest a Grizzly hunt with the Mayors weapon of choice locked and unloaded in his backpack. No fair unlocking the pack until the grizzly charges.

    I’m sure PETA would love a video of the action.

  43. VA already took its part of DC back. Not sure why you want any part that came from MD to become part of VA.

    Minor clarification (ok, nitpick), but that sort of makes it sound like Virginia acted to assert control over its former territory when of course it had no power to do so. The DC residents west of the Potomac (the portion of DC which had come from Virginia) voted to ask Congress to allow them to re-join VA in the 1840’s. Congress agreed and ceded that portion back to Virginia. This was done, at least in part, because Alexandria was a slave trading center and they were concerned that the slave trade might be outlawed in DC.

  44. silly to be bent all out of shape that people who had a policy in mind didn’t graciously and immediately come around to our line of thinking and want to live in a heavily-armed utopia.

    lmnop,

    I have it on good authority that DC is a heavily armed dystopia.

  45. FAR | July 23, 2008, 3:18pm | #

    JohnD, I would suggest a Grizzly hunt with the Mayors weapon of choice locked and unloaded in his backpack. No fair unlocking the pack until the grizzly charges.

    I’m sure PETA would love a video of the action.

    Me too!
    You could fill every theatre in America and Dark Knight would slip to a distant second (o:
    Attorney General Peter Nickles would be there too I hope(o:

  46. The US Marshall’s office should march right down to City Council Chambers and arrest the entire city council, charging them with conspiracy to deny the citizens of Washington DC their just recently affirmed 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms. Or could we expect the voters in DC to throw the bums out?

  47. Elemenope
    . . . how “string ’em up” comments reflect upon the wider movement (libertarianism in general, and “Gun Rights” in particular).

    Except that they don’t, outside of your own preconceived and flawed notions of libertarian thinking.

    God, I miss Joe. At least he has a brain.

  48. I’ll start by saying that I agree with (most of) what is being said, here.

    That being said …

    The registration process is the only truly onerous thing, here. There are plenty of trigger locks which can be released in under 3 seconds, which is longer than it takes to open a safe, typically, and speed loaders make short work of getting the bullets into a revolver’s chambers. My wife has been practicing and can unlock and load her .38 in under 8 seconds. Add about 20 seconds more for high adrenalin levels in an actual encounter, and it’s still not too bad.

    Just wanted to inject some hope for D.C. residents who will want to register their revolvers … it’s the paperwork that’ll slow you down, not the securing technology.

  49. Once the gun laws get straighted out in DC again, maybe the same advocates could fix the gun laws in NYC. It’s been bureaucratically impossible to own a gun in NYC for years. Unless you are rich, famous or work for the government, they get fast tracked.

  50. My wife has been practicing and can unlock and load her .38 in under 8 seconds.

    And any healthy home invader could shoot her in the .03 seconds it takes to fire an already loaded, drawn weapon, which kind of leaves her short by 7.97 seconds.

    That’s the problem with all these armchair theories; you don’t actually understand what you’re facing.

    If you face a home invader, you need to be locked, loaded, aimed and ready at the moment the invader comes into your sights. Anything less and you’re at a disadvantage that will serve you and those you are protecting very poorly.

    Any law that says your weapon cannot be kept as ready as possible is a law made by someone who does not have the best interests of your family at heart. Period.

  51. And to emphasize Ben1’s point, the acting Attorney General of D.C. has explicitly said that the mere presence of an intruder in your house is not enough justification for you to unlock and load your revolver.

    Remember the wording of the new law: “to protect against a reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person within the registrant’s home”.

    No threat of “immediate harm” (a very high threshold, something that usually has a lot of case law), no can load.

  52. Has Landmark of some other conservative legal group looked into suing DC on a class action suit for violation of constitutional rights? Come right down to it why not make it a suit against all of the cities and states that have restrictive gun laws. Use the liberals tactics against them, make them pay for their actions.

  53. It pain me to say it, but Adrian Fenty is one person in D.C. much dumber than George W. Bush.

  54. It seems obvious to me that the blood of every murder victim in DC who could argueably have been saved by armed self defense is on the hands of Fenty, Nicholes, and the city council. Just how much of a body count to they intend to rack up with these stalling tactics?
    As for renaming any gun that can hold 12 or more rounds a machine gun, guess we can start callin cocain “sugar” and get rid of all sorts of legal hassles. Hey, worked for Marion Barry after all.

  55. Regarding the D.C. definition of a machine gun, I recall the old riddle:
    If you call a tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?
    Answer: FOUR!
    Just because you call a tail a leg, that doesn’t make it one.

  56. Or you could just buy a gun somewhere else, and keep it loaded and ready to go, and forget about registering it for the local totalitarians.

  57. The “Throw ’em all in prison for seventy-bajillion years” crap makes us all look stupid, intemperate, maladjusted, and juvenile.

    We do we look stupid, intemperate, maladjusted, and juvenile for expecting them to follow the existing laws, but they don’t?

    Ever heard of Title 18, US Code, Section 242?

    This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.

  58. Let me see. DC has the most regressive gun laws in the nation. DC also has the highest murder rate in the nation. Yup it’s related. Switzerland has the strictest gun law on the planet. Everyone must own one. Murder rate zilch.

    The purpose of the fourth amendment, if you check your history, was not to defend yourself against criminals, it was not to defend yourself against a foreign invasion, and it was not so you could go out hunting. Our forefathers created the fourth amendment to defend ourselves against a totalitarian government, our own, knowing it would eventually turn in to one, and it has. Every single reason the Declaration of Independence was written for against England, the Bush administration has committed and then sum. We should make it mandatory for every citizen in America to own a firearm.

  59. This was done, at least in part, because Alexandria was a slave trading center and they were concerned that the slave trade might be outlawed in DC.

    Slave trading in DC was outlawed around 1862, near the same time the slaves of DC were freed, and reperations paid by the Congress of the US, as administered by the Executive.

  60. Um, Bruce, that’s the 2nd amendment. The fourth is the one that should have keep FISA off the books — it’s about your right to be secure in your “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”, requiring a warrant PRIOR to any such thing, etc.

    But other than that, yeah, that’s a correct summary of the 2nd’s genesis. Not that anyone in power cares about either the 2nd or the 4th.

  61. Our forefathers created the second amendment to defend ourselves against a totalitarian government

    Right. But other rights, such as the right to use a gun for self-defense or for hunting, were generally assumed rights. Which is why I personally think that Heller should have been decided based on the 9th Amendment.

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