Ken Connor

Notwithstanding the adverse ruling the District of Columbia received from the U. S. Supreme Court for its unconstitutional ordinance restricting the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, bureaucrats in the Federal City continue their efforts to gnaw away at the Second Amendment.

That amendment is elegant in its simplicity: "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." Nevertheless, it took over 150 pages for the Court to expound upon its meaning. (Surely the justices have too much time on their hands!) Bottom line: "...the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense." The Court also directed the District to allow the complainant, Mr. Heller, to register his firearm and to issue him a permit to carry it in his home.

The Court ruled that the right to bear arms is an individual one and that it includes the right to use handguns—the weapon of choice for most people—for self-defense. The Court recognized that the right to self-defense is inherent, and it is in the home where the "need for defense of self, family, and property is the most acute."

While D.C. is no longer the "murder capital" of the country, it is still seventh on the 2006 list of major cities with the highest murder rates in the United States. Nightly newscasts catalog the long list of violent acts that occur in the city—home invasions, carjackings, gang-related violence, drug deals gone bad, muggings of the elderly, the shooting of children—the list goes on and on. At the time of this writing, one metropolitan neighborhood has been cordoned off, with limited access in and out, because of the murder of a 13 year old boy who was in the city visiting his ailing grandmother.

Washington, D.C. is Exhibit A to the proposition that "where guns are outlawed, only the outlaws have guns."

You would think that Mayor Adrian Fenty would want to ensure that the District's residents would have the means to protect themselves. After all, as professor Gary Kleck explains in his book Targeting Guns, 25 to 75 lives are saved by guns for every life lost to a gun. But, think again!

Within a month after the ruling came down, the District passed a new set of draconian regulations restricting the rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms in the nation's capital. According to USA Today, the new laws require residents of the District to jump through multiple hoops to own a handgun. They must get a permit from the city, keep the gun in their homes only for self-defense purposes, pass vision and written exams, provide the weapon for ballistic testing, and prove they are a resident of the District. Securing the permits could take weeks to months. Most astounding in light of the Court's decision is the new requirement that guns be kept "unloaded, disassembled or secured with trigger locks" unless there is a "threat of immediate harm." The Supreme Court has recognized that the primary purpose of the Second Amendment is to establish the individual's right to keep a weapon for self-defense, yet the new D.C. law practically destroys the ability to exercise that right by forcing an individual to load, unlock, or assemble their weapon only after a threat is already present. Advantage, criminal!

America's Founders were willing to pay the ultimate price to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity. They well knew the danger of being defenseless against forces intent on harming them. Thus, in the Second Amendment, they secured the right of every citizen to have the means by which to protect themselves. The D.C. Council continues to trample upon this right leaving the District's law-abiding citizens defenseless in their own homes. And, because these bureaucrats fail to respect the Constitution, it is the citizens who pay the ultimate price.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.