October 2007

Downrange: 10/07

Supreme Review For Gun Case?

In early September, the District of Columbia formally asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of Parker v. District of Columbia. The case is now officially called District of Columbia v. Heller.

History: On March 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in Parker v. District of Columbia that D.C.’s prohibition on the possession of a

Todd Woodard

Todd Woodard

handgun, and keeping any gun assembled and loaded in the home (the condition required for self-defense), are unconstitutional. The court agreed that the Second Amendment protects a pre-existing right of individuals to possess handguns.

The District of Columbia’s appeal sets the stage for a possible showdown over the meaning of the Second Amendment.

The courts have long held that the government has the right to regulate behavior, even that codified in the Bill of Rights. In this case, the District of Columbia said that banning handguns is a "reasonable regulation" to protect public safety. The problem for the city is that anyone who can look up the crime numbers will see that D.C.’s violent crime rate went up, not down, after the ban.

D.C. points to gun bans in other countries as evidence that others think that gun bans are desirable. D.C.’s brief specifically points to Great Britain’s handgun ban in January 1997. But the number of deaths and injuries from gun crime in England and Wales increased 340 percent in the seven years from 1998 to 2005. The rates of serious violent crime, armed robberies, rapes and homicide have also soared.

The case was renamed because Dick Anthony Heller was the only plaintiff-appellant held by the court of appeals to have standing.

United Nations Anti-Gun Measure Introduced. In September, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) pushed a pro-gun amendment through the U.S. Senate that stipulates that no U.S. funds can be used by the United Nations—or organizations affiliated with the UN—to restrict or tax U.S. gun rights. The amendment would give the administration the excuse to stop sending U.S. taxpayer funds to the United Nations as soon as the agency adopts any policy to restrict the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

Microstamping Bill Is Bad News. In California, Assembly Bill 1471 was headed for final approval in early September. And it’s very bad for gunowners. AB1471 would require that after a certain date, the make, model, and serial number of the firearm be microstamped onto the interior surface or internal working parts of all handguns in such a manner that those identifiers are imprinted onto the cartridge case upon firing. Under AB1471, the manufacture, sale, and transfer of handguns that do not include their identifying information would be a crime. With no grandfather clause, it could end the sale of handguns in the Golden State. GT