September 25th, 2007 by Clark Neily
The D.C. Circuit has denied our motion to lift the stay of its mandate. But in doing so, the court made some interesting observations about the self-defense exception that D.C. now claims exists in the spirit, though not the text, of D.C. Code § 7-2507.02, which requires even lawfully owned firearms to be unloaded and either disassembled or trigger-locked at all times. Of particular interest are the court’s observations about the dangers posed by a rifle’s range and the pellet spread of a shotgun, as well as the difficulty of “handling such long weapons in enclosed spaces — particularly by smaller individuals.” Those points obviously go to the reasonableness of allowing people to defend themselves with, say, a high-velocity hunting rifle that can put a round through an entire apartment building, but forbidding them from using a pistol that is actually designed for use in close quarters and presents much less risk to innocent bystanders.
The order is here: D.C. Circuit’s Order Denying Motion to Lift Stay of Mandate.
September 24th, 2007 by Clark Neily
D.C. has filed this Opposition to Motion to Lift Stay of Mandate. We expect to file our reply early next week.
September 24th, 2007 by Clark Neily
This week’s edition of Legal Times features a piece by Bob Levy called Loaded for the High Court in which he responds to D.C.’s assertion that its gun ban is constitutional because (1) it only applies to handguns; (2) the Second Amendment only restrains the federal government, not states or local government entities like D.C.; and (3) D.C.’s gun ban is reasonable because it has saved “thousands of lives.” As Bob explains, none of those claims stands up to scrutiny.
September 12th, 2007 by Clark Neily
The cert petition filed by the District on September 4 was odd in a number of respects, including the extent to which it focused more on the supposed merits of maintaining D.C.’s gun ban than explaining why, from a broader jurisprudential standpoint, the Supreme Court should accept this particular case. Equally remarkable was D.C.’s attempt to reinvent the case as merely involving a handgun ban, rather than a ban on all functional firearms, which is the actual law. Thus, D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 specifically provides that all lawfully owned firearms in the home must be kept unloaded at all times and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. That’s a gun ban, every bit as much as it would be a book ban if the law said you can have a book in your home, but you have to keep it closed at all times.
Despite the fact that the text of the statute contains no exception for self-defense — and despite the fact that D.C. has a track record of prosecuting people who use unregistered pistols for self-defense — the District represented to the Supreme Court that it ”does not . . . construe this provision to prevent the use of a lawful firearm in self-defense.” Let’s say we take that statement at face value, as well as the one where D.C. told the Supreme Court that D.C. law ”authoriz[es] private possession of shotguns and rifles.” Surely that means functional shotguns and rifles, right? Because otherwise, how are citizens supposeed to use their shotgun or rifle in self-defense, as D.C. now claims § 7-2507.02 permits? Swing their unloaded shotgun or rifle like a baseball bat or throw it at their assailant? Or maybe victims are supposed to ask their would-be robber/rapist/murderer for a “time out” while they painstakingly reassemble and then load their shotgun or rifle in order to render it an actual, functional firearm.
Assuming D.C. really means what it said to the Supreme Court — namely, that D.C. only limits the ownership of handguns, not shotguns or rifles — and assuming further that D.C. recognizes that only functional firearms can be used for for self-defense, then it stands to reason that D.C. has no further intention of trying to defend D.C. Code § 7-2507.02. Accordingly, we filed this motion today asking the D.C. Circuit to lift the stay of its mandate and formally enjoin D.C. from enforcing the provisions of § 7-2507.02 requiring lawfully owned firearms in the home to be unloaded and either disassembled or trigger-locked at all times. We will post D.C.’s response when it arrives.