D.C. Handgun Ban Overturned by U.S. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court overturned the most stringent handgun ban in the country, towards the end of last month. In a 5-4 decision, the Court struck down the Washington D.C. statute banning the public possession of a firearm.
In a majority ruling written by conservative justice Antonin Scalia, the Court issued a direct rebuke to gun control advocates, who have long argued that the first clause of the Second Amendment rendered it applicable only to only state militias like the National Guard.
The amendment in its entirety reads: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
The Court ruled that the Second Amendment clearly gives individual citizens the right to own a firearm, when understood in a historical context and the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
Disappointed as a result of this ruling, police departments all over the country, especially D.C. law enforcement, which is charged with providing protection to the executive branch, 100 senators, 438 congressmen, and hundreds of diplomats in the in the nation's capital. The handgun ban greatly simplified the search for potential assassins: if you have a gun and weren't a police officer, you could go to jail.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have been disappointed with the Bush administration's support of gun rights, including back when the administration put more dangerous weapons back on the streets, by allowing the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004.
But other citizens claim the handgun ban put them at greater risk. Private security guards often complained that they were not allowed to protect themselves while on duty, especially considering that criminals could easily acquire guns in neighboring Virginia, which has relatively lax gun laws.
Regardless, the Supreme Court has been difficult to predict lately. It struck down the Bush administration's use of its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to hold terror suspects, allowing enemy combatants the use of civilian courts; a major blow to the Bush agenda.
The National Rifle Association is looking forward to using this ruling to challenge gun control laws elsewhere in the country. Many credit the NRA, at least in part, for the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, after President Clinton first signed the assault weapons ban back in 1993.
In this tight election year, the NRA lobby may even may able to tip election in blue-states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, with high rates of gun ownership.
Despite all the controversy about gun ownership, the case of District of Columbia v. Heller decided last week is only the fourth-ever 2nd Amendment case the Court has ever taken on, the most recent one being in 1939, United States v. Miller.
Tags: Gun Control Supreme Court
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