By Tim Inwood
In a very foolish move, the City of Washington D.C. has put itself back in the position of being sued by the same man for the same reasons, in just over a month. Dick Heller was victorious on June 26th, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the historic judgment striking down the city’s thirty-two year old handgun ban, but in a rather stupid move, the city of Washington D.C. decided to only barely modify their handgun law to squeak by. Some of the provisions kept are clearly at odds with the Supreme Court ruling.
The city said they would allow registration of revolvers but kept their ban on semiautomatic firearms capable of accepting a 12 shot magazine, which they define as a machine gun. As any magazine manufacturer can fabricate such an item, this rule effectively outlaws all semiautomatic firearms in the city. The District of Columbia recognizes this fact and has told the citizens if they bring in a semiautomatic pistol it will be confiscated and they will eventually be prosecuted for possessing a 'machine gun.'
The Court said “The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute. Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, 27 banning from the home “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” would fail constitutional muster.“
So, according to the court, if a firearm is in common use by the American people, it is protected. Since 73% of all handgun sales last year was of semiautomatic pistols, it would be hard to argue they are not in common use in the United States.
The city also kept their ridiculous provision that the firearm must be locked, disassembled or in some way rendered inoperable, until the owner felt “impending danger.” Again this in defiance of the very comments made by the Supreme Court concerning this issue, saying “We must also address the District’s requirement (as applied to respondent’s handgun) that firearms in the home be rendered and kept inoperable at all times. This makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”
When Dick Heller tried to register his Colt 1911 semiautomatic pistol, in mid-July, he was told no. This despite the fact the very wording of the Supreme Court was that the city must allow Mr. Heller to “register his handgun”:
“In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home. “
Mayor Adrian Fenty, was questioned about what happened to Mr. Heller, and he told the Washington Post that if the people did not like the new law, they could sue him. For his arrogance and stupidity he has gotten himself, what he asked for, another lawsuit. Really, this comes as no surprise, as he has left Dick Heller no other recourse, and since the Supreme Court ruling, the city government of DC has practically begged to be sued again. Mr. Heller has been joined by Absalom F. Jordan, Jr. , and Amy McVey, as plaintiffs in the case.
As many of the points of contention were really addressed by the Supreme Court in June, I expect the plaintiffs to prevail. In fact, I suspect the District Court will take a dim view of the contemptuous behavior of Fenty and his minions since the June 26th ruling.
Mayor Adrian Fenty has reduced himself to something comic on the pathetic scale. He has in my eyes become something akin to the Knight who blocks Arthur’s passage, in the Monty Python film “The Holy Grail.” The knight, having been struck down and lost both legs and arms to Arthur’s sword, does not see the futility of his position as a limbless stump, and declares, “Tis only a flesh wound”.
Looking quite ridiculous when clearly beat. Mayor Fenty, though he does not see it, clearly is in the same position. I think he will come to regret his intransigence, as it is very clear to me, the courts will slap him down hard this time for his defiance. It was in my view, based on my experience from having lived in the D.C. metro area, difficult for anyone to have been a worse Mayor for Washington D.C. than Marion Barry. But I do think Adrian Fenty has crossed that low threshold with his incompetence.
Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA and Life Member of the OGCA, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.