Posted by Curt on 10 March, 2007 at 10:31 am. Be the first to comment!


So yesterday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down one of the most idiotic and insane pieces of law in this country, the right of the Government to take away a person’s gun from his/her own home. 

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the District’s longtime ban on keeping handguns in homes is unconstitutional.

The 2 to 1 decision by an appellate panel outraged D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and other city leaders, who said that they will appeal and that gun-related crimes could rise if the ruling takes effect. The outcome elated opponents of strict gun controls because it knocked down one of the toughest laws in the country and vindicated their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s language on the right to bear arms.
The panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit became the nation’s first federal appeals court to overturn a gun-control law by declaring that the Second Amendment grants a person the right to possess firearms. One other circuit shares that viewpoint on individual rights, but others across the country say the protection that the Second Amendment offers relates to states being able to maintain a militia. Legal experts said the conflict could lead to the first Supreme Court review of the issue in nearly 70 years.

The ruling was 2-1 with the majority opinion being written by Judge Silberman, a Reagan appointee.  The other judge in the majority was Judge Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee.  The dissenting vote was by Judge Henderson, a George Bush Sr. appointee.

That last paragraph in the news article cited above states that many other circuits believe that the right to bear arms is only for militia’s.  While other circuits may believe this, most of it has to do with their reading of the Miller case in 1934, or their misreading I should say.  Dafydd does a good job of detailing the misreading:

In Miller, the Court held that the Second Amendment’s purpose was to ensure that we would always have a ready supply of trained and armed citizens to be called up as the militia. They ruled, therefore, that the amendment only applied to the kind of weapons ordinarily in use by individual soldiers in armies and militias.

Jack Miller, suspected of robbing banks, was arrested under the National Firearms Act of 1934 for transporting a short-barrelled (or sawed-off) shotgun across state lines without having purchased a special stamp from the government. He defended himself on Second Amendment grounds and usurpation of state police powers, claiming the NFA was unconstitutional; the judge agreed and struck down the law.

The United States attorney appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings (which never took place). The Court issued three substantive holdings:

  • That the Act was a federal revenue act, therefore within the jurisdiction of Congress;
  • That the Second Amendment only protected the keeping and bearing of military-style weapons;
  • And that short-barrelled shotguns did not qualify.

(The prosecution actually argued that Miller did not qualify for Second Amendment protection because he was not a member of any organized militia, but the Court considered and rejected this argument. Instead, they wrote a lengthy analysis showing that "the militia" consisted of all military-aged men — which refutes the misunderstanding that Miller restricted gun rights to members of the National Guard.)

The finding about short-barrelled shotguns was simply wrong; such guns are widely in use in military units today (including ours) and have been since long before Miller. Alas, Miller failed to show up at his Supreme Court hearing, having inconviently been murdered in prison; his attorneys also failed to show up, their case being moot. (The co-defendant, Frank Layton, also didn’t show up; but I’m not sure why.)

Thus, no defense argument was made. Had there been one, they could easily have demonstrated that both machine guns and short-barrelled shotguns were in widespread military use, and (one presumes) the district-court decision would have been upheld.

Since then, appellate court after appellate court has wrongly — and I believe deliberately and with malice aforethought — misinterpreted Miller as having claimed that only the gun rights of members of the militia were protected… and also that "the militia" consists of the National Guard.

Be that it may, the fact that the Mayor of DC, the NYT’s and the WaPo, are all stating that after this ruling the streets will be covered in blood is simply ignorant.  The crime rate in DC has been the worst in the country for many, many years.  And that’s since their idiotic law went on the books in 1976:

1976 10,399
1977 9,843
1978 9,515
1979 10,553
1980 12,772
1981 14,468
1982 13,397
1983 11,933
1984 10,725
1985 10,171
1986 9,423
1987 10,016
1988 11,914
1989 12,937
1990 14,919
1991 14,671
1992 16,685
1993 16,888
1994 15,177
1995 14,744
1996 13,411
1997 10,708
1998 8,988
1999 8,448
2000 8,626
2001 9,195
2002 9,322
2003 9,061
2004 7,590

The really violent years, namely the early 90’s, DC had about about 20,000 more people living in the city then they do now but still less then they had living there in the 80’s.

So how did this law effect the rate of violent crime in the city?  It didn’t.  Violent crime went up, murders went up, and the citizens of DC couldn’t defend their homes legally.

This case has the potential of once again giving the people of this country the right to defend themselves against criminals who will get a firearm one way or another.  And they can defend themselves legally.

Thankfully the DC court finally righted a wrong from 1976.  Now it will go before the Supreme Court in 2008 with a ruling by the summer of 2008.  Think this will have an effect on the election? 

But overall this is a perfect case to go before the Supreme Court and a great court to decide on it.

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