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December 3, 2007

Side-Arms Showdown in DC

Steven R. Berryman

By upholding a lower court ruling, the District of Columbia gun ban could well be overturned with finality by the U.S. Supreme Court next spring. You might ask why this bothers both the NRA and The Brady Campaign.

In the land of “taxation without representation,” Washington, DC, you may not purchase a handgun even for the self-defense of your home and family by virtue of a law that includes mandatory jail time for possession, let alone any use of a gun. You may keep a shotgun, though, provided it is disassembled and unloaded. Ha!

Some small comfort that is!

What is the response time for police calls east of the Anacostia River? Why do the cops themselves resist foot patrolling in those Wards? Because it’s a no-go zone.

Is there something inherently untrustworthy about the citizens that make up the city of former Mayor Marion Barry and current Mayor Adrian Fenty? Perhaps there is a racial component to the issue? Or perhaps the politics of the polarizing issue of gun control has been kept in play here as a focal point for both sides, to the distinct disadvantage of the law abiding residents therein.

Could a final appeal to a higher court on this case affect you in Frederick, MD, or El Paso, TX? Yep!

With the case of DC v. Heller decided in favor of the plaintiffs in question by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia the “Individual Rights” of citizens were affirmed as opposed to the “Collective Rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment. This concerns the part about just what a “well regulated militia” is.

This language was added at the top of the list in amendments to our Bill of Rights by James Madison (just behind your freedom of speech, another individual right!) as an attempt to satisfy the misgivings of two states, thus allowing them to join in our newly forming federal union.

At the time, they trusted The People to uphold the law and defend the country as its basis.

These Founding Fathers were concerned with “resistance to private lawlessness” which directly relates to this case; but also they were worried about the “depredations of a tyrannical government” from recent experience with King George III, and also any “threat from abroad.” Heard about any threats from abroad recently? Our government won’t let you get away from it.

Are side-arms only for a “well regulated militia” and are “we the citizens” the well-regulated militia? Clearly at the time of these writing the citizens were the militia and they brought their own guns to places like Lexington and Concord. They also supplemented the authority where the lawlessness was prevailing. No, they were not speaking of some National Guard in the discussion of the definition of militia in the Second Amendment!

Okay, back to the present.

Jim Brady’s gun control group is concerned over a precedent setting rollback in existing anti-gun laws; and the NRA, arguably our most successful lobbying group, has just as much to lose if the scope of the case is opened too widely. States opposed to liberal gun laws could potentially undercut your constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms depending on how this turns out!

The decision of DC v. Heller has been appealed all the way up the line to the Supreme Court now; and the court has just agreed to hear the case which essentially interprets the nature of the intent of the language of our Constitution. A positive outcome to this appeal to the highest authority of the land will be the outcome, with a reaffirmation based on the above.

Let us not forget that the homicide rate in Washington did not decrease after the gun ban, except for one single year. Let us not forget that the criminals already have guns, and it is the citizens who do not at this point. This comforts and enables the crooks.

It has been positively shown that the mere legal possibility of a ready-and-available gun in a home (still properly secured against theft and children by a safety device) is a highly successful deterrent to crime. Criminals fear armed citizens more than they do the police by far!

With the final ruling of the Supreme Court, we shall see whether the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people shall trump the politics of the opportunity for reinterpretation of our fundamental gun law.

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