DC takes handgun ban case to Supremes

The city of Washington is asking the US Supreme Court to uphold a three-decade ban on handguns in the nation’s capital in a case that could have ramifications on gun control laws in other states.

The US high court has not ruled since 1939 on any cases involving the right to bear arms, a hot-button issue which is protected by the second amendment to the constitution.

The capital bans all handguns unless they were registered before 1976.

But an appeals court ruled in March that the District of Columbia’s ban on keeping handguns inside private homes was unconstitutional, following a case brought by six Washington residents who said they wanted handguns in their homes for self-defense.

Although that ruling did not apply to carrying handguns in the street, which is also banned in Washington, Mayor Adrian Fenty vowed to take the case to the nation’s highest court in the name of safeguarding the public.

“We are willing to take our case to the highest court in the land to protect the city’s residents,” Fenty said in a statement received by AFP on Tuesday.

“Our handgun law has saved countless lives — keeping guns out of the hands of those who would hurt others or themselves.”

If the Supreme Court reverses the ban, observers warn the impact could be felt in other major cities with strict gun laws, such as Chicago, New York and Detroit.

The powerful National Rifle Association opposes most gun restrictions as violation of the second amendment, which states: “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.”

Critics of the Washington ban say it is ineffective, noting the crime rate in the nation’s capital is much higher than the national average, with 169 murders in 2006, 137 of which were committed with handguns.

The case is to be brought before the Supreme Court on September 5.


  1. kanawah

    It is the practice of the handgun proponents to ignore the first phrase of the second amendment. “To insure a well regulated militia”…..

    My interpretation of this equals “national guard”, and outside of that, all guns are fair game for regulation. If the court can be convinced to read it the same way, there is no question of how it should be decided.

  2. Wayne K Dolik

    The word “People” in the Second Amendment has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court to refer to the private citizen. This is true in all instances where the word “People” is used in the Bill of Rights.

    I have seen this tried before by our Constitution’s non-believers.

  3. Paolo

    Kanawah said: “It is the practice of the handgun proponents to ignore the first phrase of the second amendment.”

    Not true. The verbiage is straightforward and clear. Here is the Second Amendment, quoted accurately:

    “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.”

    “Well regulated,” as explained by the Founders in The Federalist Papers and elsewhere, does NOT mean, “subject to government regulations.” It DOES mean, “well-practiced,” or “well-prepared.” This was the meaning of the phrase “well-regulated” in the days of the Founders. (This is pretty much beyond dispute for those willing to do a bit of research.)

    The context of the phrase, in the whole of the Second Amendment, also makes this abundantly clear. To say that “the People” have the RIGHT to keep and bear arms, because a militia “subject to myriad government rules” is necessary for a “free state,” is to descend into gibberish. Clearly, the phrase “well-regulated” means, “well-practiced,” “well-outfitted,” or “ready to roll.”

    Observe that the FIRST CLAUSE is the DEPENDENT CLAUSE. In other words, “[Because] a well-practiced militia [is] necessary for the security of a free state, [THEREFORE] the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    The PEOPLE (that is, you, me, and every free citizen) have the right to keep and bear arms. Period. That’s it.

    Here’s a word to look up: “INFRINGED”. Meaning: “limited in any way.” Not only shall the people’s right to keep and bear arms not be FORBIDDEN, it cannot even be INFRINGED upon.

    “Militia,” as explained by Founders Henry Lee and many others, means the whole people. It does NOT mean a special government force like the National Guard (which only came into being, after all, in the twentieth century). In fact, Lee and others argued specifically that the “irregular militia” must be well-armed to PROTECT the people against government-backed or “special” militias.

    Washington, DC, more than any other city, needs a civil rights revolution. The civil right in question is the right to bear arms. Eliminate all laws that INFRINGE on Washingtonians’ right to bear arms, and the crime rate will plummet. Honest citizens will once again have the means to defend themselves.

    For anyone willing to read the Second Amendment, there can be no other conclusion but that it guarantees the right of all citizens to keep and bear arms. You can try to parse the meaning and twist the words into something opposite to their clear meaning, but you are only fooling yourself (and, unfortunately, others who don’t take the time to read and study this most crucial of all amendments).

  4. bryan mcclellan

    Excellent commentary PAOLO. I for one am ready whenever called to uphold my oath to protect my country from all enemies foreign and domestic, Because I am an armed citizen,not a sheep. I took this oath very seriously the day I was sworn into the military and will stand by it to the death.Duty,Honor,Country. Infringe on that assholes !!!!!!