Paul  Weyrich

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia's highly restrictive ban on guns is unconstitutional. The ruling was anticipated across the nation. It was the first time the Court made a direct judgment about the right of individuals to keep and bear arms since the adoption of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. One would think that under these circumstances the D.C. government would get the message. Not a chance. The Washington D.C. City Council lives in its own world.

In a unanimous vote, the Council refused to repeal the handgun ban. Instead, it created a new exception under which the handgun ban does not apply to a person who seeks to register a pistol for use in self-defense in the home. According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), D.C. still forbids its residents to own a handgun for protection of a business, for sport shooting, and for other lawful purposes for which citizens own guns everywhere else in the country.

One of the items the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional was the requirement that guns have a trigger lock because such locks bar the use of a firearm for self-defense in the home. So what does the post-Heller D.C. Council do? It permits the gun to be assembled, loaded, and unlocked only "while it is being used." I guess the only lawful way to put the gun together, load it, and unlock the trigger is if someone breaks in and points a gun at the victim. But what if the intruder shoots first? What if the victim does not have time to put the gun together for use? This is utter nonsense.

The Attorney General for the District anticipates lawsuits about this new ordinance. I certainly hope so. The Supreme Court said it is unconstitutional to ban a whole class of weapons which overwhelmingly is chosen by Americans for lawful self-defense. But the Council has outlawed, through its new definition, virtually all semi-automatic handguns, which comprise about 75% of all handguns sold in the United States in the past twenty years.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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