Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on DC Handgun Law

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the case involving the DC handgun bill which should decide whether the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to bear arms.

The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to endorse the view that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own guns, but was less clear about whether to retain the District of Columbia's ban on handguns.

...Several justices were skeptical that the Constitution, if it gives individuals' gun rights, could allow a complete ban on handguns when, as Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out, those weapons are most suited for protection at home.

"What is reasonable about a ban on possession" of handguns?" Roberts asked at one point.

That's my problem with the D.C. bill and politicians who claim to support an individual rights' theory but then support every restrictive bill on gun rights. The "reasonableness" test is too vague and open to interpretation.

Where does reasonable regulation end and infringement on an individual's rights begin? [More...]

More news coverage and analysis on today's oral arguments can be found at:

I have previously presented this problem in the context of Barack Obama's stated positons on the Second Amendment and gun rights. I addressed Hillary's position here.

The problem with the "reasonableness view" is its subjectiveness. For example, every regulation seems to be reasonable in Obama's view and he can't articulate for us where the line is. We just have to trust that he'll make the right call -- that his "common sense" determination is the right one.

I think there should be a higher burden, and a better delineated one, in overcoming a constitutional right.

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    Did Chief Justice Roberts (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:44:02 PM EST
    mention other uses of handguns in the home, such as domestic violence, accidental shootings by children, etc.

    Read it for yourself. (none / 0) (#69)
    by Misanthrope2 on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 05:39:52 PM EST
    Actually the rational basis test (none / 0) (#2)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:48:51 PM EST
     is not vague. It is  very deferential to the legislation.

     The rational basis (or reasonableness) test is quite clear. If the state can articulate any rational basis for the regulation it passes the test. nothing vague about that. That's why the real fight is most often which level of scrutiny (rational basis, strict scrutiny or an intermediate level of scrutiny a court will apply).

    I just got off the phone with a colleague (none / 0) (#18)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:18:59 PM EST
    and the consensus is the court will come down:
        Individual right;
        Reviewed on a reasonable basis;
        Remand to the DC Cir for further proceedings not inconsistent with that opinion.

    In so many words:  no change.


    In terms of the continued (none / 0) (#23)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:26:25 PM EST
     viability of the vast majority of gun control legislation and and regulation, i think that is correct (assuming that is what the court does).

      I do think there is a possibility that the symbolic value of such a decision will have an impact-- though I'm not sure what it will be. will the "victory" embolden the gun lobby to seek legislative rollbacks? Will the "loss" bring new purpose to the gun control lobby in seeking the enactment of laws that in jurisdictions lacking them? Both?  


    The pro-gun-side attorney (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:51:22 PM EST
    is being an absolute debacle for his side in oral argument.

    He's saying there's a fundamental right and then agrees with just about assertedly "reasonable" restriction the justices hypothetically raise.

    He should have stepped back and let a Supreme Court pro argue the case, as much as it might have hurt his lawyerly ego.

    Is he just trying to sound (none / 0) (#14)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:12:14 PM EST

    A "conservative" court would be concerned about re-making society and tossing out all gun laws.....The lawyer sounds like he was saying going his way would be no big deal....Camels noses, tents.....


    They started pounding him with (none / 0) (#22)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:24:38 PM EST
    suppose a gov't entity decided "no guns on campus";
     Um, that would work.
    suppose a gov't entity decided "no guns for those convicted of child abuse"
     Um, that would work.
    suppose a gov't entity decided "no guns for anyone under 21"
     Um, that would be the maximum age.

    For all his assertions of a fundamental right, he surely didn't treat it as one.

    As I heard it said this morning - if it's a fundamental right, the government cannot restrict it.  You consider the first amendment a fundamental right - if I told you, you need a license to write (or have) that book, you'd look at me like I was from Mars.  Because first amendment rights are fundamental, and we brook no government interference with them.

    So, why would be brook government interference with a fundamental right to own and bear arms?  Or, if we do tolerate licensing, interference and all the rest, we must not believe it a fundamental right.


    The First Amendment analogy is a useful one (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:52:51 PM EST
    ... because it shows that Scribe is wrong here.  The fundamental right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment does not allow content-based interference, but according to Court decisions from the 1930s on to the present it does allow all sorts of "time, place and manner" restrictions and regulations.  The Supreme Court does not confuse "fundamental rights" with "absolute rights."  

    For that reason (none / 0) (#28)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:40:43 PM EST
    it seems like making it an individual right would bring chaos.....

    that's a philosophy" (none / 0) (#39)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:56:47 PM EST
    "As I heard it said this morning - if it's a fundamental right, the government cannot restrict it."

      But, you know that's NEVER been the law or a remotely close approximation of it. I'm sure you also know there are laws which do restrict freedom of speech, press, expression and assembly which have been deemed constitutional-- because no rights including fundamental ones have ever been deemed absolute.


    A reasonable position differs between people. (none / 0) (#4)
    by kindness on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:54:13 PM EST
    I think that the DC ban would lose even in a pre-Roberts court.

    I think that requiring trigger locks is reasonable.  I've spoken with some on other sites that think that any limitation is unreasonable.

    Gotta be careful about what kinds of things you want this current Court to be able to rule on.  They are distinctly not Progressive friendly.

    That's the truth. (none / 0) (#5)
    by sweetthings on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:59:08 PM EST
    And it's going to get a LOT worse if McCain wins. :(

    "Reasonableness" (none / 0) (#10)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:06:51 PM EST
     is a shorthand  term.

      I've explained what it means in my other post. It's really  less subjective than many other concepts  in constitutional law.

       The issues are is the regulation intended to address a problem and does it in some rational way address that problem. It's actually more subjective to decide whether a regulation addrersses a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to address the compelling interest without infringing the right beyond the compelling interest.


    As this lawsuit was brought by some (none / 0) (#31)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:42:27 PM EST
    guy who lives in Florida in a gated community, I am not sure we here in DC had any choice about the timing.  The issue that few talk about except those of us who are District residents is what rights do we have to self-determination and self-governance.  It is an ongoing question that has an effect on our everyday lives especially since we are not a state and only a territory and lack meaningful representation in the Congress.  Our gun ban has been around for a long, long time and basically most of us are fine with it.  It is the carpet-baggers - those people who come here for a few years to work in politics from other states with more liberal gun laws who tend to get upset - often because they think this "big city" is frought with danger and evils that they need to be prepared for.

    This city used to be so open and in many ways was the epitome of freedom.  Particularly since September 11th, more and more avenues of movement through this town have either been blocked off or littered with a police presence that is intimidating and saddening.  If our gun ban is repealed, I think it will result in more closed and/or restricted areas - I think the repeal will become yet another excuse to allow people to put this town into a permanent state of quasi-marshall law.

    Funny thing is that while we have a ban, we don't have any police going door to door to find people's weapons.  The people who get busted for gun possession in this city generally get caught doing some other crime; some kind of crime with that gun; or selling guns.  My father who was a criminal defense attorney here for many years thinks the law is draconian and would like to see it repealed.  I understand his point of view, but I don't have a problem with this law - then again as we move closer to the police state in this town, it might be nice to have one less law on the books for the government to use against citizens.

    But nevermind what DC residents have to say on the issue.  As usual we are caught in the crossfire of politicos and ideologues who don't really care what the effects of their personal vendettas are. I was born here - raised in some tough areas of the city when I was young - our St. Bernards were better deterrents to crime than any gun would have ever been.

    In any case, if the Supreme Court strikes down the ban, I hope people aren't going to be doing target practice in their back yards.  Most of them here are too small and someone is gonna get hurt.


    Well when the rational basis test applies (none / 0) (#6)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:59:15 PM EST
     just about any regulation does pass the test.

      The regulation need only address a problem that exists (and courts will defer to legislative findings declaring it exists except in very extreme cases of disiingenousness) and that the regulation might to some degree help ameliorate the problem. There is no need to demonstrate  how great the problem is in terms of frequency or severity or that the regulatory solution is narrowly tailored.

      An "as applied" overbreadth argument might still exist in some cases, but finding a rational basis level of scrutiny applies is usually tantamount to finding a regulation is constitutinal.

      There is a difference between agreeing a regulation would pass the rational basis test if it is the one applied and arguing that the court should not apply the rational basis test and instead apply strict scrutiny or an intermediate level of scritiny. Is he doing that?

    the saddest moment in the (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:00:27 PM EST
    dem debate with Hillary, Obama and Edwards was when they all took a pass on this issue.
    it was cowardly but not unexpected.

    The Second Amendment (none / 0) (#8)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:04:40 PM EST
    has always given me a headache, because I can't reconcile the text of the amendment with my personal view that gun access ought to be limited and controlled.  Every time I hear someone say, in the wake of some campus shooting, that the solution is to have ALL the students packing heat, my head explodes.  I hate guns. I have never wanted one in my house. I don't understand why most other people want them in their houses or on their persons. I think they make you less safe, not more safe.

    And yet, I have a hard time understanding how to regulate private gun ownership in a manner consistent with the 2d Amendment.  The reference in the first line of the 2d Amendment to "a well-regulated militia" doesn't mean to me that the 2d Amendment applies only to members of a state militia, or to a municipality or state rather than to its individual citizens.  When the Constitution was adopted, militias were not standalone units with formal memberships and centrally supplied guns; they comprised ordinary citizens who responded to calls armed with their own personal weapons. It is inconceivable to me that the Founders would have thought that the right to bear arms was not an individual right.

    How much should historical analysis matter, and how?  The Seventh Amendment right to a civil jury trial pertains to causes of action for which a right to jury trial existed at the time of the Constitution's adoption -- before the merger of law and equity.  Even though the old law/equity divide is beyond the understanding of most Americans, this is still the standard.  When the Founders thought of the right to bear arms, they were thinking of small pistols and muskets; they had no idea that automatic and semi-automatic weapons would be invented, and purchased at gun shows by minors. Does this mean that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to such weapons?  Perhaps it would, to an "originalist."  A proponent of "the living Constitution" might say that since automatic weapons were still "arms," the right to bear such weapons was also protected by the 2d Amendment.  

    Even where fundamental, individual rights are concerned, restrictions can be justified by compelling governmental interests.  What does that mean in a public safety context?  Is it really "abridging" the right to bear arms to require registration and waiting periods?  Does such restriction flunk the strict scrutiny test?

    I don't know.  I am not an expert in this area. If I were Queen I'd want very strict controls on gun ownership, but I don't know if there is any way to get there under the Constitution.

    litigatormom, it appears (none / 0) (#11)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:08:58 PM EST
    I have the mirror-image, opposite view of guns than you.....No individual right, but not a fan of gun laws.....

    The irony here of course is that poltically we have seemed to reach a consensus on gun laws:  no more of them.


    no more gun laws (none / 0) (#13)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:11:17 PM EST
    what about assault weapons and handgun?
    no law about them either.
    I guess that is surrender.  I dont agree.

    I am a fan of gun laws (none / 0) (#15)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:13:24 PM EST
    as a matter of policy.  I'm just not sure they are constitutional.  I would like for them to be. But I am no constitutional scholar.  

    you dont need hand guns and assault weapons (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:16:13 PM EST
    to hunt deer.
    I would like to see some courage on this issue.
    then again, I would like to win and I am no fool.

    Actually, you can need handguns to (none / 0) (#27)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:38:55 PM EST
    hunt.  An uncle of mine (now deceased) had suffered a detatched retina back in the days when the surgery to repair them was both highly risky and not often successful.  His was successful, but the doctors told him he could never shoot a long gun again because of the recoil.  He had been a national-level trapshooter before.  

    And for many years thereafter, he hunted deer (successfully) with a .41 revolver.


    I dont think that is even legal (none / 0) (#37)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:54:14 PM EST
    in most states.
    but I am not a hunter and dont play one on tv.
    I like gun control laws.
    I think there is a reason we have more gun related deaths (by about a factor of 10) than any other country.

    It is quite legal to hunt with a (none / 0) (#43)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:05:08 PM EST
    handgun in most, if not all, states.

    The type of handgun which may be used is often limited to exclude semi-automatics (ironically, the most useful for military purposes) and using .22 rimfire revolvers for big game, but single-shot pistols and centerfire revolvers are legal for hunting almost everywhere.


    yes there is.... (none / 0) (#53)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:24:30 PM EST
    we are more free than our European friends...and freedom isn't free, it often has high costs, but I think it's worth it.

    I don't like guns, never even held one, but I know that dictators love unarmed peasants.  So I fully support the right of my fellow Americans to arm themselves.

    As for me, I'll stick to my Louisville Slugger Home Defense System for the time being.  


    Assualt (none / 0) (#41)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:03:41 PM EST
    guns have been illegal to own since the 20's.  You need to read up on the laws.

    You are confusing (none / 0) (#44)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:12:08 PM EST
    fully automatic weapons (which are not banned but require a federal license which is not easy to obtain) With "assault" weapons which is a  term of art and includes semi-automatic guns with certain characteristics and features.

      Oe thing I find intersting is that I read magazines such as Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield (I fish but don't hunt) and in between the pages of ads touting AK-47s etc. as hunting rifles, there are actually frequent articles and commentaries on the 2nd amendment which often do a pretty good job of presenting the issues.



    well, the outdoors/shooting magazines (none / 0) (#48)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:21:38 PM EST
    are writing for a very interested audience and one which will, b/c of their interest, be quick to call bullsh*t on inaccuracies.  Kinda like this blog, actually.

    I commend them for doing a good job of reporting.


    Um, not exactly, coyote. (none / 0) (#46)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:19:38 PM EST
    It is not illegal to own a machinegun or sawed-off shotgun provided each is properly licensed under a federal license for such types of weapons.  That is the gist of the 1934 Act which was at the heart of US v. Miller, the 1939 2d amemdment case.  

    If you'd watched Olbermann's Oddball of the Year, you'd have seen the extended clip of the "Full Auto Shoot" video here (Five minutes of video, watch for the car blowing up about 25 seconds in), also a news item here, and their website, here.

    Some "Assault weapons" - defined in statutes - were outlawed in the 80s and 90s.  But, as to some of them, and in some states, those prohibitions lapsed.

    It's a real tangle of laws, but it both oversimplifies and misstates them to say simply that "machineguns are illegal".


    The problem is (none / 0) (#76)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 06:26:15 AM EST
    different jurisdictions have different definitions of assault weapons, as an owner of 2 SKSs, I do not consider them assault weapons because they cannot go full auto.

    Many (none / 0) (#77)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 06:48:13 AM EST
     people disagree about what "assault" weapon should mean and argue against definitions used in the law which have relied on the existence of certain features such as clip capacity, flash suppressors, stocks, grips, and things like that. The criticism that the legal standards have more to do with how a weapon looks than anything else is  a fair one. Not all SKSs or AKs are considered "assault" weapons. As i said in a different post, you can open any outdoor sporting magazines and see them offered for sale in hunting configurations.

      I'm no gun expert by any means, but I also know it is a fairly simple operation to convert a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic one, and I imagine you could google and find instructions on how to do it in minutes.

      Also, the military has moved away from full auto rifles for most troops finding they accomplished wasting ammo more than anything else and the guns commonly issued fire bursts (of 3, I think) with each trigger pull. I'm not sure but i believ that set-up is illegal without a license for civilian guns.


    It just seems (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:19:50 PM EST
    hard to tell someone that they cannot protect themselves....and some believe a handgun or other protection is the way to go....Not my choice but can't say it is a patently unreasonable one, either.

    I really can't ignore what appears in the text to be a limitation on the right to "well regulated" militias.....Well regulated means heirarchy, units, rules, officers....I just can't read it any other way.....


    I think the only (none / 0) (#16)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:15:33 PM EST
     principled way to reconcile your conflict (one I share to some extent although i am probably somewhat more "gun-tolerant") is to advocate repeal of the 2nd Amendment and ratification of a new amendement more clearly bestowing power upon the government.

      On the other hand, as alluded to throughout this thread, the court can hols that the 2nd establishes an individual right to which the rational basis level of scrutiny applies and a huge number of existing and possible future more restrictive regulations might still be found constitutional.



    Rational basis scrutiny (none / 0) (#20)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:23:09 PM EST
    What an interesting result.....That would actually mean nothing much changes....The really over-the-top regulations, such as perhaps D.C.'s outright ban, might be gone but not much else...Banning handguns would be impossible but there is no real current effort to do so....

    Rational basis scrutiny (none / 0) (#38)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:55:21 PM EST
    is generally not applied to a right that is considered to be both individual and fundamental.  Rational scrutiny does not apply to violations of the 1st Amendment, for example, or to legislation that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.  You have to have more than a "reasonable" government interest that is served by the legislation. The government interest has to be "compelling."  Now, some forms of gun regulation may meet the strict scrutiny/compelling standard.  But some won't.  

    Legislation that discriminates on the basis of gender, on the other hand, is generally subject to an "intermediate" level of scrutiny. This is because there is disagreement as to whether equal protection on the basis of gender is a "fundamental" right. (If there were agreement on this, we wouldn't have needed the ERA!)  Not sure that the intermediate scrutiny construct works in the case of the 2d Amendment, though.


    That is all true, (none / 0) (#42)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:03:56 PM EST
     but the truism is that constitutional law becomes whatever 5 of the Justices decide it should be.



    Yeah, well in that case (none / 0) (#50)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:23:34 PM EST
    we are all going to be REQUIRED to bear arms.

    One point (none / 0) (#55)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:43:49 PM EST
     is that not all constitutional rights have to be fundamental rights, either by legal doctrine or logic.

      Going by logic, the concept of fundamental rights was greatly shaped by the writings of Locke and Rosseau and (simplification alert) the premise that man had certain fundamental rights in the state of nature and that he only agreed to relinquish, as part of the social compact,  those expressly set forth in the organic positive law.

      As the right to bear arms, presupposes the existence of arms, it could be argued that as arms did not exist in the state of nature (admittedly a nebulous concept) and only exist through discovery and application of technology (i.e. the work of man as opposed to divine grant from the Creator) the right to bear them while a constitutional right is not a fundamental right in the sense that term is used to inform the development of constitutional legal theory.

      Therefore, arguably, it would not be inconsistent to apply a rational basis level of scrutiny to the 2nd Amendment even if it does establish an individual right.


    My hunch, intermediate scrutiny (none / 0) (#57)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:52:37 PM EST
    as a plurality opinion. Not out of some inherent logic, but as a politics.

    There is always politics (none / 0) (#59)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:09:01 PM EST
      so people understand these terms, intermediate level scruting can be described as meaning the government must show that the regulation  serves an important governmental interest and is substantially related to furthering  that interest.

      As you can see the rational basis test is the least subjective  (and most deferential) of the standards.

      Generally speaking the more adjectives involved the more sunjective a standard is..

      The use of adjectivves such as "compelling" and "narrowly tailored" in strict scrutiny and  "important" and "substantially" provide more room for subjectivity than does the rational basis test.

      Of course, some might suggest the greatest and most important subjectivity (political?) is involved in deciding whicch if any level of scrutiny should apply.


    There was a fine story about the case (none / 0) (#26)
    by liminal on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:38:24 PM EST
    on NPR this morning, which included a slightly extended interview with advocates on both sides.  The atty representing the district - Walter Dellinger argues that the 2nd amendment was a specific response to Article 1 of the Constitution, which gave the federal government broad powers to regulate state militias.  I don't know if that historical perspective helps with your dilemma, but thought it might.  More from Dellinger:

    At the time, the dictionary defined "arms" as military equipment, and Congressional regulation of guns simply wasn't an issue.

    What had people worried, Dellinger says, was Article I of the Constitution, which, as he observes, "gave the new distant national government" the authority to provide for the arming, maintaining and disarming of state militias.

    "That's what was shocking and caused the movement for the Second Amendment," he says, adding, "The discussion by the Founding Fathers about the Second Amendment, all of those discussions are about the militia."

    Of course, the gun rights advocate had an entirely different perspective, but that's not unexpected.


    Did he offer any basis (none / 0) (#49)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:22:02 PM EST
     for that assertion beyond saying it?

      I assume he was refeering to these clauses in Article 1, § 8, which enumerates the poer of Congress:.

    To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
    To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
    To provide and maintain a navy;
    To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
    To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

       Just what is the theory for the argument that language motivated insistence upon the 2nd amendment? Where is the historical documentation to support that assertion?

      In what conceivable way, even if we accept for argument's sake that the assertion is true, does the assertion support the view the 2nd confers a collective rather than individual right?


    I'm not offering an opinion. (none / 0) (#56)
    by liminal on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:50:42 PM EST
    I don't have one; I'm not familiar enough with specific history to comment any more than passingly on the matter.  But I do think that your argument (Article 1 is so clear! Colonial Americans could not have misread it!) is pretty off-base.  

    So, no.  Dellinger did not offer support for his argument; neither did the other atty.  Both asserted history without providing footnotes in the 6 minute NPR story.  Some other guy in the story also claimed that guns decrease crime and that the UK and France have higher rates of gun crime than the USA, which strikes me as pretty wrong.

    That said, I spent some time with The Google before responding to you, and come across some more background that might support Dellinger's argument.

    Here is a lengthy article on the specific issue of Article 1, and Madison's intention w/r/t to the Bill of Rights and specifically the second amendment, with a really interesting background on the various pro-military and pro-weapon amendments anti-Federalists proposed in the wake of the convention. While Article 1 preserves state control of the militias, it also allows the Federal government to regulate and call them up in a time of crisis, without any sort of veto power by the state:

    Taken together, these provisions contemplated two levels of military protection for the new nation: (1) a national army created and governed solely by Congress and ultimately under the authority of the president in his capacity as commander in chief, and (2) a system of state militias, essentially organized and under control of the states, but subject to regulation by Congress and to "federalization" at the command of the president. Part of that regulation included the idea that the national government had the power--and the obligation--to provide arms for the local militias.

    According to Finkleman, the anti-Federalists demanded full state control of the state militias at the time (i.e. no Federal oversight, as provided in Article 1).  In addition to the amendments that found their way almost whole-cloth from anti-Federalist proposals into the Bill of Rights, the anti-Federalists proposed six separate amendments dealing with military issues:

    The Pennsylvania Antifederalists also proposed amendments concerning the army, the militia, the right to bear arms, and the right to hunt. These amendments addressed at least six separate issues: (1) the right of self-protection through the ownership of weapons, (2) the right to serve in the militia, (3) the right to hunt and fish, (4) the prevention of a standing army, (5) the power of Congress over the states, and (6) the power of the states to control their own armies or militias

    Among the amendments proposed by the anti-Federalists, Finkleman writes that Number 7 preserved the rights of people "to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the poeple or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals," then went on to bar idea of a standing Federal army in peacetime.

    Number 8 granted everyone the right to hunt and fish.

    Number 11 had two paragraphs.  The first preserved the right of keeping and arming the militia entirely for the states, and granted Congress absolutely no authority to "call or march any of the militia out of their own state, without the consent of such state."  The second paragraph preserved the "sovereignty, freedom, and independecy of the several states..." much like the 10th amendment to the Constitution.

    So, clearly, both the idea of individual rights and the states' authority over its own militia were alive at the time, and the anti-Federalists were concerned with both. If the 2nd amendment were meant to be a purely individual right, why mention the militia at all? So goes the argument we're all familiar with.

    So, Finkleman goes to Madison's personal correspondence, where he discusses his intention in drafting the Bill of Rights to create a document that essentially reinforced the status quo as set forth in the Constitution.  In other words, the Bill of Rights was a sop to anti-Federalist concerns (a "tub to the whale") that would preserve the strong Federal government with a direct nod toward the rights and freedoms Madison believed were already set forth in the Constitution or at least not at odds with his plan for a strong Federal government.  The argument:

    In the same way, Madison did not think that the purpose of the Constitution was to allow the national government to dismantle or disarm the state militias. Since some people feared the Federalists might do this, Madison was willing to put a provision in the Bill of Rights explicitly stating that Congress would not disarm the state militias. At the same time, he had no interest in preventing Congress from regulating weapons in the places where Congress had clear legislative power. Thus, Madison did not accept the sweeping proposed amendments of the Pennsylvania Antifederalists on this issue. Madison had worked for a strong government, with a national army and the power to federalize state militias, at the Philadelphia Convention. He had no interest in undermining this strength in the Bill of Rights either by prohibiting a standing army, removing the power of the national government to control the state militias, or by permitting individual citizens or groups of them to have unfettered access to weapons.

    So, well - there's the support for Dellinger's position, anyway.  


    No it's not. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:59:02 PM EST
      In a nutshell, the argument that the 2nd amendment was not intended only  to address an individual right to bear arms does not support the argument that  it was not still intended to address an individual right. In fact reading what you have set forth actually undercuts the commonplace arguments for the collective rights theory because it provides an alternative explanation to refute  the argument the first clause was intended to limit the second clause because it suggests its real purpose was to address issues of federalism and the federal power vis a vid the states.

    I think you've misread. (none / 0) (#61)
    by liminal on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:22:03 PM EST
    The argument is not that the Bill of Rights was meant to limit Federal power vis-a-vis the states, but was rather meant to preserve Federal power with a "Bill of Rights" that did not substantially alter or undermine the content of the original constitution.  

    I also find the text of the original pro-gun-rights amendment proposed by the anti-Federalists, as it preserved gun rights except for criminals or as necessary for public safety.  Finkleman also cites another historian who details the existing state restrictions on gun ownership at the time the Bill of Rights was ratified.  


    You are still missing the point (none / 0) (#66)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 05:05:55 PM EST
    First, none of that undermines in any way the argument that part of the purpose of the 2nd amendment was to expressly protect the right of the people to bear arms.

      Second even if we accept that the first clause was clever  window dressing to appease anti-federalists, the purpose of the window dressing would still be to address federalism issues  and the powers of the states vis a vis the central government, and that still would undermine the collective rights argument by providing an explanation for the clause different than the argument it was intended to make the second clause read so the right to bear arms only applied to those acting through state sanctioned bodies.


    BTW (none / 0) (#65)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:43:54 PM EST
     how in the wide world do you contrue anything I have said to mean:

    But I do think that your argument (Article 1 is so clear! Colonial Americans could not have misread it!) is pretty off-base.  

     There are good counter-arguments to the arguments I make so there is no need to falsely attribute arguments i have not made.


    Regulations against concealed weapons (none / 0) (#29)
    by Manuel on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:40:53 PM EST
    have been found to not violate the 2nd ammendment.  Maybe that's the way to go.  You can have your gun but it must be in plain view at all times even inside the home.  Wouldn't that make for some interesting dinner conversations?

    My uncle-in-law (none / 0) (#40)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:58:21 PM EST
    wore a gun in a shoulder holster at all times.  (He had a license.)  I mean, all the time. Family dinners, backyard barbecues, going to temple -- Uncle Henry was packing heat. Expressions of discomfort were laughed off.

    When his grandchildren became toddlers, however, his daughters said, "You want us to visit with the kids? Put the guns in a safe."  

    That worked.


    Ha. Did he ever get in any arguments? (none / 0) (#70)
    by Manuel on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 06:06:06 PM EST
    Another way of looking at this (none / 0) (#54)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:28:32 PM EST

    When the Founders thought of the right to bear arms, they were thinking of small pistols and muskets;

    Another way of looking at this is they were thinking of the standard military weapons of the time.  This BTW included privately owned cannons.


    Actually, I think, (none / 0) (#60)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:15:16 PM EST
    since, for example, the arms the citizenry owned and brought to battle included such things as bayonets, the Founders wanted the citizenry to own and bring to battle weapons of war.

    That was one of the considerations (none / 0) (#63)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:25:33 PM EST
     among others was an armed populace to serve as a check on tyranny by OUR government[s]; the right of self-defense in a time police forces were all but non-existent; the right to hunt (remember the corown owned all fauna in Britain and people could only hunt with permission of the Crown).

      We know this because the founders wrote about it. the test of the amendment was a committee compromise and politics was an issue then too and that language was decided by the convention as going far enough to satisfy those who felt the right to bear arms needed express protection without losing the votes of those who wanted to allw for some level of governmental restriction..

      My basic position is that the the 2nd Amendment  made good sense at the time but that the arguments against it we use now are based on conditions that did not exist then.

      The solution is not to pretend it means something other than it what it says but to change it. That's why the constitution also includes provision for amending itself.


    I do understand your position. (none / 0) (#64)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:40:34 PM EST
    For me, very broadly speaking, the more I think about it, the less I'm convinced that the fundamentals of the "conditions that existed then but don't now" really don't exist now, or if they truly don't exist now that they are so far out of existence that they couldn't return quickly in the future, and therefor I'm not convinced that amending the constitution would not be short-sighted.

    that's why (none / 0) (#67)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 05:10:02 PM EST
     it is very difficult to amend the Constitution. I'm not in never never land and think it will happen. I'm just stating my opinion as to what the proper constitutional recourse is for people who do think greater regulation of guns is needed than is possible with the 2nd Amendment.

      Again as I and others have said, holding  an individual right is established will not necessarily make that big a difference as to what level of regulation is contitutionally permissible. it will alter the analyticial methodology epmployrd by courts but the resuls can be the same under different methodologies.


    Agreed. (none / 0) (#68)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 05:21:39 PM EST
    Gun control (none / 0) (#9)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:05:47 PM EST
    is generally a bad idea.....

    But I still can't get passed the preamble about a "well-regulated militia."  That sounds like a collective right, or an individual right that helps arm state militias, i.e., the Minutemen....In short, this sounds like an anachronism similar the phrase in the constitution about quartering troops.....

    It sounds as if the Court will say there is a reasonable right to bear arms....and there will be a lot more litigation....Some type of intermediate scrutiny will be used....

    I have always wanted to read the (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:31:01 PM EST
    "well-regulated milita" language that way.  The 10th Amendments arguably preserves "collective" rights:

    Amendment X

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    But the 1st Amendment, and the 3rd through 9th, enumerate and protect individual rights. In the middle of that, I read this:

    Amendment II

    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.

    I would read that as saying you can't prohibit individuals from bearing arms, because to do so would prevent the states from organizing militias when necessary.  During the Revolution, much of the "Continental Army" was actually made up of militias organized by the respective colonies, with the militia men supplying their own arms. It reflects a completely different social and political structure than the one we have now.

    But does it follow that, because the states now choose to arm militias with state-financed weaponry, that individuals no longer have the right to bear arms?  That individuals now longer have that right because they no longer need that right, because militias are organized and financed differently?  

    And are there choices the government could make that would make other, indisputably individual rights obsolete?  For example, some people now urge a narrower reading of the Fourth Amendment because the "best" or "most effective" way to protect us from terrorists is to take advantage of technology that didn't exist when the Bill of Rights was adopted.  In the context of the Fourth Amendment, reading a right narrowly because of changes in technology is a bad thing.  Is it inconsistent to say that you should read the 2d Amendment narrowly due to changes in technology?

    Thank you for reading my rambling, inchoate thoughts.


    The only reason (none / 0) (#34)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:51:38 PM EST
     you might find the 3rd Amendment an anachronism is because the practice it proscribes is proscribed by it. It's hard to understand the logic behind,  the government does not quarter troops on my property without my consent because that is not allowed by the 3rd Amendment so we don't need the 3rd Amendment.

      As for the 2nd, it is not only possible but grammatically and textually more "reasonable" to view the first clause ans merely explanatory and not as limiting or modifying.

    I've used this example before here:

    "Well stocked libraries being necessary to a literate state, the right of the people to keep and read  books shall not be infringed." Would  that mean that states can ban the individual possession of books?



    Mere surplusage? (none / 0) (#47)
    by MKS on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:20:56 PM EST
    That's what you end up with....

    It would seem clear they were talking about the Minutemen, that people need to own firearms in order to be part of militias to defend their country....That is just not relevent today.

    As to your books example, the First Amendment had no such qualification.....and if it did, the right might be a lot different today....and limited to educational purposes.....

    The takings clause makes the quartering clause unnecessary.....Eminent domain works just fine to get places for troops...  


    Yes, it would (none / 0) (#72)
    by leonid on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 06:23:50 PM EST
    It would also mean that states were obligated to provide well stocked libraries and allow unrestricted access to the libraries. Apply this to the second amendment and you have a right to serve in the National Guard, not a right to own guns.

    Given the history of kings purging members of undesirable groups from their militias in order to consolidate power and even persecute those groups, not entirely unlike the modern pressure on people at the USAF academy to become evangelical Christians, that might be the more important right.


    Wow! (none / 0) (#78)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 06:53:33 AM EST
      You can reaaly get all of that out of that language? I feel like alice listening to Humpty Dumpty.

    the irrelevancy of the third amendment (none / 0) (#74)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 06:46:50 PM EST
    is why I fequently say, the 2nd Amendment is one away from the 4th, in talking about the need to protect the individual rights it conveys.

    How can you possibly (none / 0) (#79)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 07:08:33 AM EST
     think the 3rd amendment "irrelevant?"

      It sets forth an explict limitation on the power of government that was and is an important one. The argument seems to be: The 3rd amendment is "irrelevant" because historically the government has not attempted to violate it.

      In 2000, were you arguing that the 6th Amendment requirement of trial by jury was "irrelevant" because historically the government did grant jury trials to those accused of crimes? Did you alter that view after Bush took office and the war on terror commenced?


    Gun Control (none / 0) (#12)
    by HeadScratcher on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:10:55 PM EST
    While I understand the 2nd amendment, I was always against the idea of people owning guns in their homes and businesses because I didn't think it was necessary and would only end in a shooting accident.

    But then the L.A. riots happened and the city was out of control. LAPD had lost control on the city and anarchy was reigning. The last line of my personal defense was me. At that point I became pro-gun.

    Having said that, I don't have a problem with safety training and testing, registration rules, etc...

    Did Clement announce (none / 0) (#21)
    by JJE on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:23:33 PM EST
    that the Gov't had changed its position (in deference to Cheney)?  I was watching a panel on this over the weekend where that possibility was suggested.

    No, he did not. (none / 0) (#30)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:41:09 PM EST
    It is quite hard to reconcile (none / 0) (#24)
    by Manuel on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:30:20 PM EST
    the individual rights view with gun control laws.  The collective view which, until quite recently, I had held without question is compatible with the kind of gun control I personally prefer.  If, at it seems likely, the Court will find an individual right, we are likely to spend the next few years searching for "bright lines" on regulation.

    As an example, it appears that safety and proficiency training requirements are reasonable regulations.  However, blind people could legitimately object that proficiency requirements are an infringement on their right.  Can the "well regulated militia" phrase be used to inform what kind of regulations are OK?

    Needed to (none / 0) (#32)
    by waldenpond on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:49:13 PM EST
    I always thought a rational argument for guns was the necessity of the citizens to be able to protect itself from government oppression.

    you are approaching it backward (none / 0) (#36)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:53:39 PM EST
      The government has to show there is a rational basis exists FOR A regulation,. it does not have to show there is no rational basis for the right which the regulation restricts.

    Gun Ownership (none / 0) (#33)
    by veloer on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:51:17 PM EST
    In the time of the Constitution Militias were made up of men who BROUGHT their OWN weapons. They did not report to an armory where they were issued guns.

    there is no inherent right of an (none / 0) (#45)
    by cpinva on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:19:13 PM EST
    individual to keep and bear arms, except for the purpose of a "well regulated militia". that's pretty straightforward, what is it you don't understand? to argue otherwise is to assert that the author's were stupid, and couldn't figure out what they meant. i suspect george mason might take issue with that.

    were there to be no limitations whatever on an individual's right to own weapons, why put the qualifier in to begin with? there is no good reason.

    you'll note there are no qualifying restrictions to the first amendement, none are needed. most of the others have no qualifying statements either. again, none are needed. might that not be a clue that the second amendment isn't quite as simplistic as many of you seem to be arguing that it is?

    as well, since the ownership of handguns isn't necessary for a "well regulated militia", the bar to an absolute right of individual ownership is raised even further; the SCt. made it so in 1939.

    one final note. historically, "arms" referred solely to the weapons themselves, not the ammunition. an argument could well be made that, assuming a second amendment unfettered right to individual weapon ownership, there is no parallel unfettered right to individual purchase/possession of ammunition, they are not the same thing.

    gee thnks for clearing that up (none / 0) (#51)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 02:51:16 PM EST
    it"s hard to understand how so many people very well educated in constitutional law could find controverssy when someone like you knew the only ciorrect answer all along

    care to settle the questions about the origin of lifre for us while you"re at it?


    you're welcome, anytime. (none / 0) (#52)
    by cpinva on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 03:00:14 PM EST
    oddly enough, occam's razor comes plainly into view. it takes a lot of very well educated people to take something simple and turn it into something unnecessarily complex. you're to be congratulated for doing your part.

    as to the origins of life: the flying spaghetti monster is responsible for life on this planet.

    any other questions?


    Origins of life (none / 0) (#80)
    by sapienthetero on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:00:42 AM EST
    Better than many answers, but the winner seems to be that it just happened.  As disturbing as this may be to religious types who appear to have no issue with their implicit concept that their 'god' just happened or has always existed, it seems to be the answer that requires the fewest assumptions.

    What is it you don't understand? (none / 0) (#83)
    by sapienthetero on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 08:11:04 AM EST
    Unbelievable.  The amendment says, "the right of the PEOPLE", not "the right of the state" or the "right of the federal government".  I agree with you that the authors weren't stupid; they said exactly what they meant, though changes in writing and speaking styles sometime hides that meaning from modern eyes.  In these cases it is instructive to review other writings by the framers.  FOr example,

    We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed;
            ---Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824

    No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
             ---Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776.

    [The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
             ---James Madison,The Federalist Papers, No. 46.

    [C]onceived it to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made. The particular states, like private citizens, have a right to be armed, and to defend, by force of arms, their rights, when invaded.
             ---Roger Sherman,14 Debates in the House of Representatives, ed. Linda Grand De Pauw. (Balt., Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972), 92-3.

      Your argument regarding ammunition is even weaker; of what use would be a right to bear arms absent the right to purchase and possess ammunition?


    Even Professor Tribe had to abandon... (none / 0) (#62)
    by fiver5 on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:22:13 PM EST
    the collective rights theory in the face of the language "... the right of people to bear arms..."[emphasis added]  To take that language and try to turn the right to bear arms into a collective right is incredulous.

    If we don't like something in the Constitution, the better response is to change it - not rationalize it away.  That's how the Fourth Amendment has all but disappeared.

    Also, I'm hardly a "gun nut," but the concept of George Bush and Blackwater having all the guns scares me. A lot.

    Like "well regulated militia"? (none / 0) (#71)
    by leonid on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 06:10:03 PM EST
    If we don't like something in the Constitution, the better response is to change it - not rationalize it away.

    It may be an individual right but it's not unrelated to military service, unless you rationalize away the first half of the 2nd Amendment.

    Prior to the time of the Constitution there was a history of kings purging their militias of members of groups they wanted to persecute, to make the persecution easier. The notion of a citizen soldier wasn't that people should own guns but that all people should be allowed to serve, that the military should not be made up of any specific group or that any group should be excluded. The right to "keep and bear arms" has more to do with the right to serve in the military than the right to own a gun. Unless, of course, the first half of the 2nd Amendment can be rationalized away.

    The solution to scary problems like Blackwater is to outlaw mercenary organizations. Passing out guns to homeowners isn't going to do anything to solve problems like that.


    Clarity is where you find it... (none / 0) (#84)
    by sapienthetero on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 08:54:21 AM EST
    It's difficult to understand how some peeople can read so much into a short clause ("well regulated militia") while finding so little meaning in "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

    Also note that the amendment does not say that this right shall not be infringed "by the federal government".  It just says that it "shall not be infringed", which sounds to me like it applies to all governments.  The constitution clearly states that all rights not explicitly granted to the United States or to the states are reserved to the people.  Can someone explain to me where they find that the constitution grants any government the right to disarm the people?


    You can't change the second amendment (none / 0) (#73)
    by katmandu on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 06:42:17 PM EST
    It is a part of the bill of rights, the
    part that cannot be removed or amended.
    As for the intent behind the amendment,
    the gun was a necessity when the constitution
    was written.  It supplied food and security
    to the citizens of the new nation.  Our founders
    were familiar with parts of Europe where the
    peasants would be allowed to starve rather than
    allow them to hunt for food with guns or traps.
    Poaching was an executable offence.
    Personally, I think it is like the right to
    vote, it takes an action on the part of the
    voter to loose the right, not an act of
    society.  Just moving to DC should not require
    you to loose the ability to protect yourself,
    or loose a sporting outlet.

    You can amend the "Bill of Rights" (none / 0) (#75)
    by leonid on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 10:43:38 PM EST
    There's nothing in the Constitution that prohibits amending amendments, including the first ten. In fact, the original proposal that became the Bill of Rights included 12 amendments. One of them was never ratified and the other became the 27th amendment. The reasons you give for the 2nd amendment have nothing to do with a well regulated militia, so they clearly aren't the reasons for the 2nd amendment.

    The 'right' to vote... (none / 0) (#82)
    by sapienthetero on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 01:04:02 AM EST
    is an interesting topic.  It's worth noting that only men (as in, not women) owning property could vote in the early days of the US, and that literacy laws were required for much of our history.  While literacy laws were overturned because they were often designed to deny blacks the right to vote (at least some southern states had laws forbidding blacks to learn to read or write during pre-emancipation times), perhaps it's time to reconsider their usefulness in these times of universal access to public education.

    Our politics has degenerated into contests in which issues take a back seat to lies, distortions and promises that cannot be delivered upon.  How many presidential candidates in 2007/2008 have made promises to take action far beyond the power of the office of President to enact?  While more discerning listeners realize that the candidate is making a promise to pursue particular policies, I'm afraid that many Americans today don't realize that Congress makes laws and the President can't unilaterally do many of the things the candidates promise.

    Although it would be problematic to find a fair way to administer it (just look at the discussion here regarding what 'reasonable' means, or Bill Clinton's solipsistic journey into the meaning of "is"), perhaps it's time to consider not a literacy test but a test of understanding of the issues and mechanisms of our government.  This could not be a partisan 'political correctness' survey, nor could it delve into arcane details; it would be based on awareness of facts that we can all agree on (e.g., the US is spending more money every year than it receives in taxes,  Social programs account for more than 50% of annual federal government spending, the Supreme Court has ruled that it's none of the people's business if the Executive branch violates the Constitution). [sorry about that last one - it just slipped out even though it doesn't belong here :-)]

    Such a test could be administered at the polling place.  Every registered voter would take a test and cast their vote.  If you don't bother to invest the time to understand how the government works and some facts regarding the issues, your vote doesn't count.


    Effect of DC handgun ban on crime (none / 0) (#81)
    by sapienthetero on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:45:37 AM EST
    I found DC crime statistics in a handy tabular form for the years since 1960 at http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm and pasted it into a spreadsheet for analysis.  I found that:

    1. Per-capita violent crime in the period 1960-1974 averaged 1.2%.  In other words, there was one violent crime for 1.2 of every 100 DC residents.
    2. Per-capita violent crime in the post-ban years (1975-present) increased to 1.9%.
    3. Per-capita murder rate went from 0.02% pre-ban to 0.05% post-ban.
    4. Forcible rape increased slightly after the ban from 0.045% to 0.050%.
    5. Robbery increased from 0.75% to 0.98% after the ban.
    6. Aggravated Assault increased from 0.42% to 0.83%
    7. Burglary, a crime that I would have expected to increase significantly after law-abiding citizens were disarmed, only increased from 1.60% to 1.62% after the ban.  This puzzled me greatly until I noticed that there was a sharp decline in burglaries in the mid-1990s.  It would seem that this had little to do with the ban implemented 20 years earlier.  During the period from 1975 to 1996, the burglary rate was a whopping 1.9%.

    It seems that if the DC handgun ban had any effect whatsoever on crime, it was to exacerbate it. DC crime stats increased after the ban in every violent crime category reported.

    Since I'm sure this will confuse and perhaps even trouble the leftist denizens of this website, allow me to drop a breadcrumb or two for you to follow...

    1. Criminals can be distinguished from the rest of us by their tendency to break the law.
    2. When criminals know that their victims are unarmed, it enboldens them and leads to more crime.  Think of the way gun-control advocates respond to a favorable court ruling.  It's the same effect - a feeding frenzy.

    I won't argue that every citizen has a right to carry a gun, but I do argue that the lack of certain knowledge that some particular mark IS NOT carrying a gun acts as a deterrent to many criminals.  Since our society is based on the presumption that people are reasonble until they prove otherwise, it is consistent with that principle to allow people with no history of stupidity, mental illness or criminal behavior to own guns and have them ready to use when needed.

    I don't know who it was who first observed that "insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result", but it certainly applies here.

    Reasons we need private gun ownership today (none / 0) (#85)
    by sapienthetero on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 09:20:27 AM EST
    1. To protect against tyranny (contemporaneous discussion makes it clear this was a concern of the authors)

    2. For self defense.  The D.C. Superior Court ruled "...a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen" in response to a case in which the failure of DC police to respond to a 1975 911 call resulted in 3 women being gang raped for 14 hours.  I appreciate that we can't have every citizen against whom a crime is committed filing suit against some government because they weren't protected.  But I find it difficult to understand why the same D.C. government that so egregiously failed its citizens in this particular instance feels it is necessary to ensure that its citizens are also unable to protect themselves.

    One of my sons once dialed 911 and hung up when he was 8 years old.  When nobody answered the resulting callback, Sheriff's deputies were sent to check it out... 45 minutes later.  Anyone who thinks the government can protect them from violent criminals just isn't paying attention.

    3. For hunting and recreation.  The fact that these pursuits are not universal doesn't make they're unacceptable for all.