The Washington Post, Washington Times, and DCist have all taken the time to address the U.S. Court of Appeals decision overturning the District's ban on handguns and assembled shotguns and rifles. I thought I'd take a shot at the issue, so to speak.* I mean, who better to discuss weaponry than the proud of owner of both the Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting merit badges?
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I am on the side of the Washington Times. Naturally, their editorial board was super-psyched that they can start packing heat again. The Washington Post was predictably incensed by the decision. Their editorial board should be ashamed of itself. The Post has always taken pride in being an advocate for equal rights for District residents. However, it appears that the Post is only interested in equality if it meets their agenda.
The District's Constitutional argument to maintain the handgun ban was that the District wasn't a state therefore the Second Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, doesn't apply to its citizens. Holy Fuck. Whether or not that's Constitutionally accurate (which is, unfortunately, debatable), that is the very last thing that the District's attorney general should be arguing. Regardless of your feelings on handguns, winning this case would have set a horrifying precedent for District residents. I don't know about you, but I'd be pissed if Congress started quartering soldiers in my group house. So, the Post, in supporting the legal arguments for the handgun band, are endorsing extreme inequality for the District's citizens. Unacceptable.
Personally, I'm against the handgun ban. It would be one thing if it actually prevented crime. Protecting innocent citizens is a legitimate citywide interest. But there really isn't any proof that the ban works. Crime spiked dramatically after the ban was instituted and has since dropped off considerably. The ban probably had little to no effect. Trampling a Constitutional right for a law that doesn't advance the government's reasonable objective is unacceptable to me.
Of course, my readers (including myself) skew liberal so I expect quite a few people to disagree with me. That's fine. Reasonable minds can differ. The Second Amendment is certainly vague enough to allow different interpretations and the Supreme Court hasn't touched the issue since 1939. Agree to disagree, right?
Surely, however, we can all agree that the District's legal reasoning for continuing the ban is a slap in the face to the District's 580,000+ residents. No matter how much you hate guns (and, despite my merit badges, I despise them), putting the Bill of Rights in jeopardy to maintain a ban that may or may not work is disgusting.
*I apologize for the unfunny joke.