3.13.2007

Constitutional Gloating

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.

29 comments:

  1. Well, I ain't no law-talkin' guy, but I think the argument is different than what you're saying. I think the argument is that the collective right to bear arms (through a state militia) only applies to states, and since DC isn't a state, we have an individual right to bear arms. I don't think they were saying we have no protection under the Bill of Rights at all. 'Cause boy, would that be a Pyrrhic victory.

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  2. Sorry, I misunderstood what you were getting at earlier. Holy fuck indeed.

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  3. Wait, no link to the Washtimes editorial?

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  4. It must be cold down there in hell... I agree with Rusty! I think this makes twice, but I can't remember the other time. I'm sure I'd agree with you more, however, if my commute involved the Metro in any shape or form.

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  5. lincolnparkerMarch 13, 2007

    This is just the sort of thing that makes DC look so fucking ridiculous to everyone else.

    The lawyer who officially represents the city essentially says:

    We're second class citizens. Your precious "rights" don't apply to us because we're a miserable federal enclave as opposed to a state of free men and women. And our pathetic excuse for a local "government" can enslave people if we want to. I rest my case your honor.

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  6. You apologize for making the unfunny joke, and yet can't resist it, which is why, I think, I love you.

    -Jaime (who lives in a real state, and so only quarters soldiers when she wants to)

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  7. quartering soldiers in my apartment could be kinda hot

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  8. quartering soldiers in my apartment could be kinda hot

    Like, Fleet Week hot, or Medieval torture hot?

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. Does this mean that the ladies will FINALLY start buying tickets to my gun show?

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  11. the constitutional rights of the free men of the States *and commonwealths* is to dc citizens as marriage is to homosexuals. if we start giving You equal rights then Everyone's gonna want em. gosh! how about we write you your Own constitution with a different name and pretend its the same as ours to shut you up? (sorry for the pro-MA propaganda. not really)

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  12. oh you little eagle scout you.

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  13. props to the fellow eagle scout.

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  14. Is this why Marion Barry suggested a limited grace period for registering guns in DC? He's been picking up tips down at the courthouse?

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  15. Sorry, I'm not an Eagle. I only made it to Life Scout before abandoning the BSA for awesome stuff like Student Congress and theatre.

    ~Rusty

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  16. Rupert GroesensteinMarch 14, 2007

    I think they should take away the rest of DC residents' "rights". I'm tired of listening to you people prattle on about your dumb city. Maybe if we sent in the Marines to establish some law and order in that cesspool it would be safe enough for my kids' middle school bus trip from Peoria.

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  17. I just like how I can't smoke in a bar but I can drink and carry a gun, possibly at the same time.

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  18. i'm a liberal, but this is one issue on which i always disagree with my fellow bed-wetters. the gun ban was ridiculous. it was nothing more than pandering to our instincts to feel "safe." i'm sure the type of folks who would commit a crime with a gun would DEFINITELY NOT commit the crime if the gun ban were in effect. right.

    carrie, smoking is far more dangerous than being armed. think about it.

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  19. Carrie, there is a huge difference between owning a handgun and doling out concealed weapons permits. There's no way DC will allow people to pack in public.

    ~Rusty

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  20. Oh PLEASE SEND IN THE MARINES. PLEASE. OOOOOOOOOH YES!

    I can fit at least 3-5 of them in my quarters!

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  21. Wow. Now I can return to DC from northern Virginia, where I've been hiding out.

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  22. One of the reasons Kennasaw GA has virtually no crime is that every law abiding citizen packs.

    Proper gun control=being able to hit your target.

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  23. Bullshit, the reason there is "no crime" in Kennesaw, GA is because no one lives there (30K people).

    0 murders (0.0 per 100,000)
    2 rapes (8.8 per 100,000)
    4 robberies (17.6 per 100,000)
    19 assaults (83.8 per 100,000)
    60 burglaries (264.7 per 100,000)
    426 thefts (1879.6 per 100,000)
    24 auto thefts (105.9 per 100,000)

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  24. same argument:

    http://anacostiadiaries.blogspot.com

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  25. From GeorgiaMarch 14, 2007

    Yeah, um, can't see how anyone would want to compare Kennesaw, GA (or 90% of GA) to DC. Not even CLOSE!

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  26. I'm a Virginia resident. I can shoot whoever the hell I want, but I can't own a RADAR detector.

    I guess that's reasonable. It's no fun shooting people out the car window if you aren't speeding...

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  27. Any comment on today's abortion of a Red Line delay?

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  28. DC residents should be more protected by the bill of rights than residents of states. The Bill of Rights applies directly only to the Federal government ("Congress shall make no law . . .") and applies to the states only through Substantive Due Process via the Incorporation Doctrine of the 14th Amendment. All of which is law-talkin' guy for "The Supreme Court waves its magic gavel and makes it so." The relevant part is that Substantive Due Process doesn't apply to the every right in the Bill of Rights, so states technically aren't barred by the federal Bill of Rights from (for instance) quartering soldiers in private homes.

    However as we lucky serfs in DC are under the direct control of the federal gov., our homes remain happily soldier free.

    (Until of course G-Dub and Al Gonzales decide to violate that portion of the Constitution as well.)

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