Sunday, September 9, 2007

USSC Could Overturn D.C. Gun Ban

The U.S. Court of Appeals for DC recently ruled unconstitutional a D.C. law which banned the ownership of hand guns (with the exception of active and retired law enforcement officials). It joins only one other federal appeals court--one in New Orleans--to do so purely on the grounds that the law violates the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms.

The USSC has ruled only once on the Second Amendment in 1939 on the case of U.S. v. Miller. They upheld a gun control by a vote of 8-1. According to FindLaw, in that particular case, "Arkansas bootlegger Jack Miller was indicted for violating the National Firearms Act of 1934 by carrying a sawed-off shotgun across state lines. Miller argued that the case against him should be dismissed because the Second Amendment protected his right to own and carry the weapon."

The Court also seemed to affirm the collective right of the people--not persons--to bear arms. The Court wrote:

"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State of Tennessee, 2 Humph., Tenn., 154, 158."

The people pushing for the case to go to the USSC are fielding some criticism for appealing the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision. With a slightly more conservative court, owed most in part to the nominations of President Bush and a undeniable texualist sitting on the bench as well (Justice Scalia), the prospects for upholding D.C.'s gun ban do not look very promising.

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