Wednesday, July 16, 2008

DC: Still kicking, still screaming

In his Legal Commonplace Book, Thomas Jefferson saw fit to include a passage from On Crimes and Punishments by Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria. Translated from Cesare's original Italian, these words often are attributed to Jefferson:
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one."
So one of our nation's founding fathers subscribed to truths offered by the father of criminology. District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and his police chief, Cathy Lanier, however, have no use for such wisdom.

Last night, nearly three weeks after the Supreme Court affirmed an individual citizen's Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the Council of the District of Columbia passed emergency legislation to end DC's 32-year-old ban on handguns -- sort of.

In a
news release announcing the draft regulations, Mayor Fenty said this:
"We continue to take every step we can to minimize handgun violence in the District. We must prevent handguns from falling into the wrong hands or being misused, while allowing District residents to exercise their Second Amendment rights under the Heller ruling."
That might sound reassuring, but keep reading -- here's how DC explained its new regulations:
"The handgun ban remains in effect, except for use in self-defense within the home."

"The legislation modifies existing law to clarify that firearms in the home must be stored unloaded and either disassembled, secured with a trigger lock, gun safe, or similar device. An exception is made for a firearm
while it is being used against reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person within a registered gun owner’s home."
There's more, including an onerous registration procedure that requires ballistics testing, photos, fingerprints, proof of residency, proof of good vision and passing a written firearms test. And registration fees, of course.

This is how the District of Columbia, home to the seat of our nation's government, complies with a Supreme Court ruling and respects our Constitution.

It's clear that the District will have to be litigated into compliance with Heller, as will countless other municipalities across the country. The wrangling and resistance likely will go on for years. Law-abiding gun owners, no matter where we live, must resolve to keep the pressure on those who continue to deny us our Second Amendment rights.