Attorneys for the District of Columbia argued 2nd Am only applies to militias

Bringing this case was a real gamble. I wish that they had waited until there was at least one more change on the Supreme Court. We will now just have to wait to see what happens.

WASHINGTON — In a case that could shape firearms laws nationwide, attorneys for the District of Columbia argued Thursday that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

The city defended as constitutional its long-standing ban on handguns, a law that some gun opponents have advocated elsewhere. Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.

At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the 2nd Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" applies to all people or only to "a well regulated militia." The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment's scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California's ban on high-powered weapons.

In the Washington, D.C. case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.

. . .

Thanks to Robert Stevens for sending this link.


Blogger Dad29 said...

I thought that Volokh (inter alia) had assembled a very strong case, based on the history, that the "militia" interpretation was suspect, if not bogus...

12/08/2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Yes, they have. But that doesn't mean the courts won't make the "wrong" decision. My point is that there is a lot at stake, and that there is a lot of uncertainty about what the court will decide.

12/08/2006 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, now that the DC court has openly stated that RKBA is not an individual right (flying in the face of 200+ years of open acceptance of this inalienable individual right), I suspect that the DC Council will move to ban all firearms and seek to confiscate and destroy all properly registered long guns. I am making plans to relocate in that event. John, In the event that such a move is made before I can properly prepare, can you recommend a 2nd amendment friendly or otherwise appropriate criminal lawyer?

A very concerned DC resident [and owner of several properly registered long guns].

12/08/2006 2:35 PM  
Blogger saturdaynightspecial said...

The Bill of Rights is for individual rights, not groups or entities. The Framers established a constitution based, not on democracy or groups or majorities, but for individuals - that was how everyone would be protected from the government.

12/08/2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger saturdaynightspecial said...

I don't have a choice; I'm not leaving. I'm staying and I'm going to continue to describe the attack on liberty (for the addition of safety).

In Illinois there is now absolute elected dictatorship. From the inner city wards in Chicago all the way to the US Senate, Illinois is completely democrat (socialist.) The problem is not centralized sovereignty or de-centralized rule, it is mainstream contempt for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This problem is America's problem.

In states where the right to carry a gun is respected, it is only because of safety, not because the 2nd amendment says so. In states where citizens are not allowed to carry guns it is because of safety. Most believe the need for a militia no longer exists. Before anyone claims anything about the 2nd amendment they need to repeal it before they deny any rights specified in it.

Chicago has for a long time now, like nazis', denied and ignored the 2nd amendment - this must end if we are to remain free. America must force Chicago government to respect the Bill of Rights, or it must repeal them.

The argument that one must relocate to another state is absurd in a so-called free country. We have all lost our freedom, one way or another, and wherever we live.

12/11/2006 5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason I expect the appeals court to claim the 2nd Amendment only give the states gun rights. Then I expect the Supreme Court to simply refuse to hear further appeals not settling anything.

They're going to have a difficult time calling our National Guard the "Militia" since they are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't expect to see a more Conservative Supreme Court in our lifetimes.

Ours may be just another of a very long line of good governments gone bad. Blood will again run in American streets.

12/11/2006 10:55 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Crimefile:

Obviously, I hope that you are wrong about the court. It could still move somewhat to the right if a John Paul Stevens were replaced with even a moderate, though that is probably not enough on this issue.

12/12/2006 5:35 AM  
Blogger saturdaynightspecial said...

The Media has a strong influence on the Courts, including the US Supreme Court. This is the problem. It rules in favor "of providing for the safety of the public," rather than to stick to our Constitution. The Court should say to America, if it wants an unarmed populace, it needs to repeal the 2nd amendment.

Hitler created his own special court for protestors; he was able to execute his anti-government foes within three days of their arrest.

12/12/2006 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party here ;-)

Is it just me, or has everyone failed basic english comprehension?

The object of the 2nd amendment is "A well regulated militia"...the second amendment is explicitly *all about* the militia.

Following standard rules of english, the 2nd amendment, when fully collapsed, reads "A well regulated militia shall not be infringed".

The 2nd only *incidentally* mentions (and affirms the existence of) "the right of the people to keep and bear arms".

So you see, this whole "militia versus individual" argument is junk...both sides are kinda right, yet both sides overreach in their interpretation.

The Constitution & Bill of Rights is nothing more than a mass of *constraints* on the federal government...the 2nd amendment doesn't *give* us the right to keep and bear arms at all...it says that the government may not infringe upon a well-regulated militia, [parenthetically] within which our individual right to keep & bear arms is manifest.

Even if the 2nd amendment was repealed, we would *still* have the RKBA - courtesy of the 9th amendment...we would, however, find ourselves subject to the possibility of broader regulation (which would be horribly contradictory).

So, in a sense, the DC lawyers are right...the 2nd *does* apply to the militia...but they are also very wrong to infer that this refutes our individual RKBA.

The RKBA is an individual right ("the right of the people...") over which the government has no authority to legislate (courtesy of the 10th amendment), in addition to which the government is further constrained in its inability to infringe upon the militia.

To conclude - when it comes to matters of arms & militias, the government is (and should always be) utterly impotent.


1/16/2007 4:30 PM  

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