Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear.”     Ayn Rand

May 9, 2007

D.C. Appeals Court Refuses To Rehear Gun Ban Case

by Doug Mataconis

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has refused to revisit the decision of a three-judge panel in Parker v. District of Columbia, the case that struck down the District of Columbia’s gun ban:

A federal appeals court in Washington yesterday let stand a ruling that struck down a restrictive D.C. ban on gun ownership, setting the stage for a potentially major constitutional battle over the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said at a news conference that he was “deeply disappointed” by the court’s decision not to reconsider the city’s arguments that the three-decades-old gun ban was constitutional. Fenty (D) said the city will now mull over whether to take the risk of pressing to defend the D.C. gun law before the Supreme Court or to rewrite gun regulations for keeping guns in private District homes.

(…)

Fenty and other officials had asked the full appeals court to review a ruling issued by a three-judge panel that struck down a part of the D.C. law that bars people from keeping handguns in homes. With its 6 to 4 vote to reject a hearing by the full court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sped up the timetable for a showdown. Experts said that timetable favors gun rights advocates and the D.C. residents who first challenged the law.

As I’ve said before, taking this to the Supreme Court does have risks for both sides, but the consequences of a victory for gun rights at that level would be felt around the nation.

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14 Comments

  1. “… the consequences of a victory for gun rights at that level would be felt around the nation.”

    The consequences of a defeat would also be felt around the nation, as the antis go on an orgy of gun prohibitions, and the non-activist 98% of gun owners suddenly wake up to the fact that, no, really, they *do* want your target pistol, deer rifle *and* your duck gun!

    Comment by Bruce W. Krafft — May 9, 2007 @ 8:30 am
  2. It is entirely possible that the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, missing an opportunity to offer a conclusive, definitive answer on how the second amendment should be interpreted.

    Comment by David T — May 9, 2007 @ 9:33 am
  3. “The consequences of a defeat would also be felt around the nation, as the antis go on an orgy of gun prohibitions” — and it’s nothing but our plain dumb luck that these Cato/Libertarian, as-if/would-be Athenian Philosophers *didn’t* bring this to fruition when the Supreme Court would have clearly dealt us a disaster (as they still may.) Gun rights – indeed, *any* piddling, merely-human concerns – have always run a veeery distant second place to the Cato/Libertarian’s fantasies of Utter Philosophical Purity. Even if their case would clearly have brought disaster to us in the Supreme Court, there would have been no way in which you could have successfully begged them to stop. They would have simply gazed calmly out to their Far Horizon Of Intellectual Perfection and said, “Well, guess you’ll have to get busy with political [etc. etc.]“

    Comment by Herman Mankiewicz — May 9, 2007 @ 10:04 am
  4. Herman, what a cowardly outlook you have. At least we would know where we stood, definitively. That is infinitely better than limbo.

    Comment by Mike B — May 9, 2007 @ 10:46 am
  5. Bruce & Herman must work for the NRA who have been trying to kill this case from the get-go. If this goes before SCOTUS, the NRA is out of business. Either ruling would eliminate the need for the NRA.

    Comment by Nick M. — May 9, 2007 @ 12:50 pm
  6. Nick M,

    That’s what I’ve never understood about the NRA. I don’t understand why the NRA hasn’t made itself useful above and beyond being political voice. It seems like they should be positioning themselves for victory even if such a victory never comes. Does the NRA offer gun safety classes? Does the NRA offer any certification for gun handling? These things would prove invaluable for local governments desperately seeking a way to respect the right to bear arms and not appear “soft” on crime to the gun-hater crowd at the same time.

    Comment by Bret — May 9, 2007 @ 1:19 pm
  7. Bret,

    Yes, the NRA does those things. They do them quite well in fact. There are other organizations (private/for profit) that do these as well. Most gun owners that have a problem with the NRA have problems with their 2A workings. Instead of fighting anti-gun laws, they negotiate to water down the anti-gun laws. I take back what I said abou them being out of business. They could still do all the training courses, and the other positve things that they do. But their main fundraising issue (2A) would be gone.

    Nick

    Comment by Nick M. — May 9, 2007 @ 1:34 pm
  8. “Herman, what a cowardly outlook you have. At least we would know where we stood, definitively. That is infinitely better than limbo.”

    ???!!??? Like, we already don’t know, from umpteen votes already, who the antis, are and are not?? Hello …!!?? And, no: disaster is _worse_ than “limbo”. If you don’t believe that the words mean different things, kindly consult the dictionary. And, sorry: characterizing my knowledgable statement (about the Cato/Libertarians) as “cowardly” does not refute my statement: the ocean _is_ wet, and the desert _is_ dry, even if Saddam Hussein’s lawyer says so.

    Comment by Herman Mankiewicz — May 9, 2007 @ 1:52 pm
  9. “Instead of fighting anti-gun laws, they [the NRA] negotiate to water down the anti-gun laws.”

    Yes … that explains why the NRA has 4 million members, and these other “real” 2A oganizations’ memberships are in the 5-digit range (mostly less even than the number of NRA members who physically attend one NRA Annual Meeting) …

    Comment by Herman Mankiewicz — May 9, 2007 @ 1:58 pm
  10. Yes … that explains why the NRA has 4 million members, and these other “real” 2A oganizations’ memberships are in the 5-digit range (mostly less even than the number of NRA members who physically attend one NRA Annual Meeting) …

    NO, what explains the NRA’s multi-million membership is the fact they are the oldest organization. They have name recognition. They rely on that to get new members. They are the 300lb gorilla. I won’t deny that. The fact is that the NRA has become complacent. They are more concerned with maintaining the status quo and their bureaucratic structure than actually fighting.

    Nick

    Comment by Nick M. — May 9, 2007 @ 3:03 pm
  11. I agree with those comments that have noted the risk that taking this case to the Supreme Court would entail but, in reality, it’s not in the hands of the Plaintiffs. If D.C. decides to appeal, and the Court takes the case, then that’s that.

    And I think the odds favor the Supreme Court taking this case if it’s offered to them. There is a split among the Circuit Court’s on this issue and that’s usually the biggest reason an appeal is granted.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — May 9, 2007 @ 3:09 pm
  12. Doug –

    good point about various circuit courts delivering differing opinions on the matter. After thinking about it, the Supreme Court will probably hear the case.

    However, I don’t believe that it will bode well for the plaintiffs; there are already cases that have been before the court that have implied that the states do have it in their purview to legislate or regulate firearms.

    Comment by David T — May 9, 2007 @ 3:57 pm
  13. “I agree with those comments that have noted the risk that taking this case to the Supreme Court would entail but, in reality, it’s not in the hands of the Plaintiffs.”

    Exactly what I’m saying is, the Plaintiffs *always *wanted** this case to go to the Supreme Court. The fact that it’s headed there now(1) (and, yes, I too think they would take it) is what they aimed for all along. And what I’m criticizing is their (the Plaintiffs) cavalier attitude to the property and situations of more people than they could apologize to in the entire rest of their lives.

    As I said, I think we may be lucky. But that’s like saying, “Aww, gee, what’s the fuss? That drunk driver didn’t hit the baby-carriage – he missed it by a whole three feet!” Even if it had been clearly headed for disaster, the C/Ls would have done it anyway. I live in the DC area, I’m in this issue, I know their attitudes (and it comes out plainly in the interviews with the man who bankrolled the suit, anyway. The concerns of the ruck are not on his Oyympian radar.)

    (1)(from above) — The only thing that will keep it out of the Supreme Court is if Mayor Fenty and his fellow Democrats yield to very strong, and very private pressure, from some very eminent Democrats at the national level, to not take what _they_ see as the risk. It would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high and if any of the principles gave a hoot about anything but their own egos.

    Comment by Herman Mankiewicz — May 9, 2007 @ 4:20 pm
  14. I fail to see how this case would put the NRA out of business.

    If the Supreme Court says the Second Amendment is an individual, rather than a collective right, the question of how much regulation is permitted will remain.

    If the Court overturns the decision, the amount of regulation will still be a legislative question.

    Either way, the NRA would still have work lobbying to limit regulation.

    By the way, my admittedly cursory reading of the case doesn’t show it to be all that earth shaking. I read it to say that the DC regs were/are excessive, but it doesn’t offer a good guide as to what is acceptable.

    Comment by Tom — May 10, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

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