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Federal Court Ruling: Gun Control in D.C.

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

OK, first I'm very much opposed to gun control, i.e. not allowing law-abiding citizens access to handguns, rifles for their own private, law-abiding use.

BUT, the thing that bothers me about this ruling were these statements as reported in the article:

"The Second Amendment does not confer an individual a right to possess firearms. Rather, the Amendment's objective is to ensure the vitality of state militias," Walton wrote.

He went on to say that the amendment was designed to protect the citizens against a potentially oppressive federal government.

He also ruled that the Second Amendment does not apply to the district because it was intended to protect state citizens, and the district is not a state.
From the Bill of Rights: "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." (my emphasis added)

Isn't a militia made up of individuals? As we don't see "militias" as were defined when the Constitution was written, are we going to have to form them to keep our right to bear arms? And isn't the possibility of a potentially oppressive federal government just as much of a threat to the citizens today as it was then? Perhaps even more so now, based on the amount of civil liberties that are being eroded with each passing year (Yes, I know Bush is to blame for that...)

The thing that bothers me more than that, even, is the last statement. So, basically, this ruling means that none of the Consitution is valid in Washington D.C. because it isn't a state. So, there is no freedom of the press (boy, the newspapers and reporters are gonna LOVE reporting on politics now!), there is no illegal search and seizure so the cops can bust anyone for anything at any time, there is no freedom of religion or speech, or assembly. Wow, Washington D.C. just got a whole lot less attractive as a place to live.

Now, I know it sounds ridiculous, and of course that's not what the court meant (no, they just meant to take away one part of the Bill of Rights, not all of them). But every court ruling sets a precident which can be used later to defend a similar action in the future. Like I said before, haven't we had enough of our civil liberties eroded?
post #2 of 5

What part of "shall not be infringed" do they not understand?

To my understanding (I may be wrong here) the American militia consisted of ordinary people fighting for the freedom of the U.S., initially using such weapons as they already had.

To erode the freedoms of the Constitution in any way sets a dangerous precedent. And to say (essentially) that the Consititution doesn't apply in D.C.? :

I believe that I have the right to use any means necessary to defend myself and my loved ones. My brother (an ex-policeman) is the one who most encouraged me to learn about firearms. He's explained that although many people think that the police are there to protect you, if someone really wants to harm you there's almost no way that the police can get to you in time - you need to be able to protect yourself.

Plus, of course, does this judge really believe that making guns illegal will keep them out of the hands of criminals? Criminals don't care if owning or carrying a gun is illegal - they're criminals!
post #3 of 5
I'd rather not get into the constitutionality of gun ownership, which people will be arguing about 100 years from now, but I'd like to comment on my emotional reaction to gun control. I grew up in a family where we had handguns in the house, and all of us were taught how to use them, and I was a member of my school's rifle team, as was my brother. I lived with a cop for 5 years, and he carried a weapon when he was off-duty, too. A couple of weeks ago we had a prowler while I was home alone, and I almost bought a weapon (illegally). Quote from a novel I read recently:"The problem with outlawing guns is that then only the outlaws have guns." How true. Britain has had more cases of violent crime involving firearms since banning handguns (Dunblane) than before the prohibition. On the other hand, I can relate a few stories from my childhood and adolescence in the US: a 7-year-old neighbor who shot his friend to death while showing off his dad's automatic, a schoolmate, 17 years old, killed in a hunting accident by another schoolmate who was not competent with a rifle, a former babysitter who shot his foot off while cleaning his illegal 45, a friend who was shot to death following a minor altercation at a New Year's Eve party, and a senile great-aunt who answered her door with a 38 in her hand, safety off. Obviously, I'm not fundamentally against gun ownership, but I feel that there has to be some kind of control. Look at all the reports of U.S. military personnel thinking they were under attack in Afghanistan or Iraq and shooting back - and later it turned out that wedding guests or Saddam opponents were firing into the air to celebrate. If there's no gun control, that type of situation will be commonplace. I decided not to buy a gun for a couple of reasons: 1)We often have children in the house, who are curious, 2) our cat considers everything a toy, and is adept at opening drawers and doors, and 3) I'm quite capable of violence, and wouldn't want the temptation.
post #4 of 5
There are a variety of issues that arise from time to time regarding the District of Columbia, not just issues of gun control, because it is in fact, not a state. I don't believe it can tax its residents as an example. It is government funded.

I happen to be very pro-gun control, although I recognize that the genie is probably too far out of the bottle for things to change much now. Personally, I think the constitution is a living document that has had to change over the years to reflect the changing views of society. Women do get to vote now.

I know for certain that I am not a constitutional scholar, and I imagine that no one else here is either. When I read the second amendment, I personally think of the founding fathers contemplating what got them to the US in the first place (often some form of prejudice or mistreatment), the Boston Tea Party and the revolt against being ruled by King George the Third. In order for the people to revolt against England, and maintain their hard won independence, they certainly needed to be armed. A large part of the US was not even settled at the time of the American Revolution; risk existed that another part of the continent could be settled by enemies, and the same need to rise to the defense of America by its own people could occur.

I do not believe that state militias or the 'people' (not the armed forces) will ever be needed again to defend America, except in the minds of a few lunatic fringe groups like the Aryan Nation, who have a different definition of America than I do. If it ever actually came to that point, America and everything it stands for would already be lost. As a result, I think the 2nd Amendment has become an anachronism and no longer applies to the US today. Thomas Jefferson was not contemplating a world where nuclear arms and stealth bombers and C-4 explosives existed. If he did, I doubt he would have wanted every person in the US to have access to those things.

I'm not criticizing you on a personal level, but I have to say that having grown up in a relatively rough area in NYC, which I would imagine had a higher crime rate for many of the years that I've lived here than where you live (until it became Disneyland North over the last ten years), a need to own a gun never crossed my mind. I cannot understand why a private individual would even want a handgun (let's leave out the hunting debate)in their home. (And I've even been held up at gun-point on the street, although that was back in the 1980's.)

I do have to ask a question though. Which of our civil liberties have been taken away from us? I don't think that I've lost any of my rights. (I don't consider ID checking to be a civil rights violation. Although, given that our Attorney General decided to put curtains around the classical greek statues in the lobby of (I think) the Justice Building because he felt they were obscene, who knows what the future might bring.
post #5 of 5
The District of Columbia is in an anomalous position. Until the 1960s, it did not elect its own mayor and City Council - it was governed by a Congressional committee and for most of its existence, its residents did not have the right to vote.

I believe that a law-abiding, mentally competent citizen has the right to self-defense. As a middle-aged woman, with arthritis, I am no physical match for your average criminal (young male). Therefore, my .38 evens up the odds, considerably.

It is unreasonable to expect that there can be a cop stationed, on every block, to protect citizens. Therefor,it is reasonable to allow citizens to protect themselves.
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