NRA Endangering D.C. Gun Ban Repeal Case?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 03, 2007 8:54 AM

We all cheered when a federal appeals court declared the Second Amendment and assurance of an "individual right" to arms and struck down the D.C. gun ban-- one of the strictest in the union.

But one of the attorneys in the D.C. gun ban repeal case-- likely headed to the Supreme Court-- says the NRA's Congressional maneuvering may endanger the best pro-gun case likely to come before the Court:

In the unlikely event that five current justices decide to read theSecond Amendment out of the Constitution by upholding a total ban onhandguns, that would be the time for Congress to act. Until then, theD.C. Personal Protection Act is premature and counter-productive.

Meanwhile,if Congress wants to help, there are positive things it can do. D.C.has no federal firearms licensees. And handguns, unlike rifles andshotguns, can’t be purchased out of state. So even if Parker wins, D.C.residents could not buy a handgun.

Congress should allowinterstate handgun sales as long as they comply with the law in bothstates. And Congress should change how D.C. processes gunregistrations. The city requires multiple pictures, fingerprints, andon and on. The process can take months. Congress can mandate that D.C.officials accept the National Instant Check System used everywhereelse.

My colleagues and I have drafted alternative legislation— now in the hands of selected senators —that accomplishes thoseobjectives and more, without extinguishing the Parker suit.

I understand the concern, and am a little perplexed at the lack of communication among gun-rights advocates, here. Aren't we supposed to be a vast conspiracy? Get it together, people!

First, Reps. Mike Ross, D-Ark., and Mark Souder, R-Ind., introducedthe D.C. Personal Protection Act. Then, on March 28, Sen. Kay BaileyHutchison, R-Texas, followed suit in the Senate. Both bills, pushedhard by the NRA, would repeal the D.C. gun ban.Ordinarily, thatmight be a good thing. But passage of the bills would kill the Parkerlitigation. It isn’t possible to challenge a law that has beenrepealed.
Repealing the law legislatively would take care of D.C. but would miss the chance to affirm the individual right to gun ownership at the Supreme Court level. On the other hand, what are the chances legislation like this can pass a Democratic Congress? They're not smart enough to do something that sensible, are they?

Update: I'm no lawyer, but the whole rest of the blogosphere is, so we'll look for them to chime in.