Thursday, June 26, 2008

WOOOO! More Guns!

The Supreme Court overrules DC's gun ban.
The Supreme Court, splitting along ideological lines, today declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own guns for self-defense, striking down the District of Columbia's ban on handgun ownership as unconstitutional.

The lawyers challenging the District's 32-year-old law were able to persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year to do what no other federal appeals court had ever done: strike down a local gun-control ordinance on Second Amendment grounds.

The amendment says that "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," and all but one of the circuits that had considered the issue previously had interpreted it as providing a gun-ownership right related only to military service.

Does anyone, and I mean anyone want to tell me that this will lead to less gun violence in the District of Columbia? If you do believe that, can you please inform the crazy people's bus, I know they've been working overtime rounding up the Clinton protesters at the DNC rules committee, but I'd personally feel a lot safer if you got the help you desperately need.

Second, this picture, with this caption, is directly from the washington post:

Caption: Gun rights activist Ariel Sarousi, left, and Steve Bierfeld, both of Arlington, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the decision was announced on the District of Columbia gun ban. (Mark Wilson - Getty Images)
I shit you not.

New rule: Anyone who wants more guns in DC is required to live in a DC public housing complex and use public transportation for 1 year. If they haven't changed their mind after that time has passed, they can have what ever guns they want. If they don't want to do that, THEY CAN SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GO THE FUCK BACK TO NORTHERN VIRGINIA. PERIOD.

The ruling itself is one thing, but the self righteous people who advocate this type of crap in places where they have absolutely no stake in the outcome just drive me completely insane. Maybe it's that whole growing up in and around a colonial dominion thing that puts me on edge about this stuff... but whatever it is it sets off a nerve that did not need setting off after the other crap that's happened this week.

Oh yeah, and be sure to check out the awesome amounts of new content below this post. We've had a lot more posts recently, so you don't want to miss anything!


  1. haha damnit, beaten to the punch again. youre fast JJ, damn fast. the pic you chose is way better than the one i was going to use, though.

    those arlingtoners are funny though, i hope they enjoy themselves in november when they get to watch their county and a handful of others try to flip virginia to blue. here's hoping that there will be a second day when we can look on our south-of-the-potomac brothers with something other than shame and mild revulsion.

  2. Anyone know what the gun laws in NOVA are?

  3. Good thing I'm moving to DC, I was beginning to worry I wouldn't be able to bring my handgun with me, you know, in case I want to go hunting or something. I haven't seen something this absurd and frustrating in a while.

  4. you said it best yourself, J. the image of two clods from northern Virginia, celebrating the overturning of a ban on handguns in one of the most violent cities in the nation and they don't even live there... it makes me want to punch a hole in a wall or something. the short-sightedness & smug, self-serving nature of it all. thoroughly disgusting.

    as for northern Va.'s gun laws, they just follow whatever the rest of the state's policy. here's what wikipedia says they are:

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. sorry the full web link is:

  7. While I have sympathy (but not empathy) for the D.C. people posting here who have to live in "one of the most violent cities in the nation", I think it's a little unfair to point at the Arlington protesters, call them out on being obnoxious, and claim that they have no right to celebrate the outcome of this Supreme Court case. After all, while they are obnoxious, it's the f-ing Supreme Court, guys. This decision sets a precedent that will have very real consequences for the rest of the country. That is, after all, why this is a topic worthy of discussion, yes? Anyway, the point is that I'd travel to DC to celebrate a Supreme Court decision allowing for gay marriage, or to celebrate the impeachment of Bush (too late, I know)... and that's a hell of a long drive for me. Please, attack their politics if you wish but don't try to tell them they don't deserve to be standing in your city.
    Now, what I would really like is a little less conservative-bashing and a little more talk on the decision itself. I'll admit it, I'm still undecided about which way the courts should have ruled on this issue. To me, the Second Amendment has to be saying more than "our military should have guns". If the Second Amendment needs changing, well then please make that argument. If the Supreme Court was wrong in its interpretation of the Second Amendment, then make your case. I eagerly await your arguments.

  8. @ Sam - You make some valid points on the issue, and you're right about the discourse being more conservative bashing than actual discussion of the law. Since you said something about not living in dc (awesome by the way, knowing that we've broken outside of the beltway with a commenter!), I figured I'd add some background that might explain peoples' emotions on the subject.

    Your point about this being the supreme court, and the rights of them to celebrate (or protest) decisions there is 100% true, and that totally is their right, whether they're from Virginia or whenever. Also, if you're a gun rights supporter, it seems like this is a landmark decision for your cause, and I understand why you'd want to celebrate. But to understand why this rubs me and some other people the wrong way, it has more to do with DC's history than anything else. DC has constantly been a guinea pig for what ever batshit crazy idea any congressman comes up with, simply because there is no home rule, and so congress can fuck around with us about as much as they wish. This has happened on a regular basis, whether it be proposals for charter schools, trying to rename 16th street Ronald Reagan blwd (throw up in mouth), or countless other times, this is a reality we have to deal with.

    Now, is the Supreme court's ruling about dc? Yes and no. It's about dc in the sense it was our law that got overturned, but for these people, this means that every gun law in the country is up for grabs, so are probably happy about the greater victory, and I concede that. However, understanding the history of DC, this sure feels a lot like those other instances of people who don't live here imposing their beliefs on us without the ability to enjoy the effects (increased bloodshed in this case) because of their experiment. Now is this court decision another one of those cases? Not really. This was a supreme court decision, and it was imposed by a federal government that taxes us without allowing us representation, so it's slightly more legitimate (I guess also making this a dominion's rights issue)... but I understand that this case was not about DC, and will have massive consequences elsewhere. Hopefully that at least explains why emotions run so high on an issue like this, and tend to create an us vs. them mentality. (I should also mention that dc natives have a hatred of northern Virginia embedded into their DNA - something that's been happening since those fuckers took their piece of the diamond back in the 1800s to avoid DC's anti-slavery laws... so it didn't exactly calm me down when I saw where they were from)

    Anyway... as to the decision itself. As far as the interpretations of the 2nd amendment go, it's worded so weirdly that I feel like common sense should be able to prevail. If people want to go hunting in rural areas, not my idea of fun but go right ahead. But if people think that those same loose gun laws should be allowed in metropolitan areas, I think they should get their heads examined. It's not an either or predicament, and there is a very happy medium that doesn't ban firearms, but just makes sure that guns in rural areas are registered, and dealt with safely. Hopefully we can reach that at some point, but with the power of the NRA I'm not exactly hopeful.

    So that's probably not the intelligent analysis on the case that you were looking for, I'd probably defer to Nick or Rb for law perspective, this type of stuff is definitely a blind spot for me. Rb cause he just got into law school (congrats!) and Nick because based on what he wrote earlier it seems like he is just crazy enough to have read the entire decision of the Boumediene case for fun. And I hope it at least puts our rage into perspective, seeing two people celebrating something that will have dire effects on my community which they have no stake in kind of sends me over the edge. Between this, fisa, and Obama's economic team in one week... I should probably get my blood pressure checked.

    I'm looking forward to the rest of the discussion,

    ....Thank you....

    I don't really see this decision as being too surprising. Granted, I am basing this on the little I have learned about the build-up to the case from friends and various editorials.
    The 2nd amendment issue, although twisted by many to secure outrageous gun laws, is not as vague as the case for the gun ban made it out to be.

    The key part to the decision was the all-encompassing ban on the handgun within the District. Although created with the best of intentions and special circumstances in mind, the trend of SCOTUS has been to eliminate such laws and instead put the impetus on the local governments to come up with their own set of regulations in regard to gun laws/other cases of individual rights.

    One key thing in the decision, is that jurisdictions will still have the right to limit the nature of gun laws, i.e. limits to in house only, bans on commercial property, or even a prolonged waiting list/background check/ other deterrent checks.

    There is more I'd like to get into with the decision, but I just got off work and it happens to be 3:05 in the goddamn I guess I'll recreate the discussion in my next post...

  10. Well... yeah. Legally, I'm not sure where I fall on gun control either. It seems wrong to just ignore the first half of the amendment (and really odd that Scalia did so), but it isn't phrased to make militias sound truly necessary either.

    Before really starting in, I second Rb's disclaimer: this is just me talking, and I'm no lawyer, and you shouldn't trust me even if I was. I should also probably come clean: I didn't read either of the two majority opinions in Boumediene, just the dissents, because they looked more interesting.

    DC v. Heller, is posted here, though, if anyone wants to take a look. I don't have time to read it now, but scanning it and listening to people talk about it leaves me with the following:

    1. As Rb points out, the court doesn't unequivocally curtail even federal restrictions on gun ownership – in fact, they lay out a number of examples where it's certainly legal for the feds to restrict gun use. They didn't even lift the DC assault weapon ban, which I thought was part of the issue since handguns and assault weapons were banned under the same law. Guess not, though. Anyway, point being, this is just about the federal government ever being able to ban (not restrict) handguns.

    2. Since DC is the only place where handguns are banned by the federal government, DC is technically the only place affected by this ruling in any way. (As JJ notes, DC's status as a federal district largely without rights or jurisdiction causes it to be a fierce battleground for federal laws, which has a long history of being damn annoying for residents. Given this, and given that several hundred more people from my hometown will be die as a result of this ruling, I'm also a little pissed at the smugness of the NoVa protesters. It's one thing to be excited about the possibility of a law you oppose being changed; it's another to show up with those sorts of posters at a ruling that only tangentially affects you but directly impacts the very lives of people who live in place where you're standing).

    3. I'm pretty sure that the court didn't explicitly restrict states' abilities to pass any gun laws they want, though the ruling will probably get interpreted that way sometimes.

    4. On that note, for all of Roberts's complaining about the "vagueness" of Boumediene v. Bush, DC v. Heller is ungodly vague. I had to say "I'm pretty sure" about #3 because they don't even mention states in the abstract (the "Held" section at the beginning). Ideally, they would have specified precisely where this ruling is to be applied, and whether, how and why an "individual's" right trumps cities' and states' ability to protect their citizens. So we're left knowing that a precedent has been set, but not precisely what it is. And since gun control is such a hot and widely contested issue, this case will undoubtedly be cited far beyond the supposed intended scope. There's going to have to be a ton of work in every level of lower court to straighten it all out, which worries me. I hadn't heard of that downcourt pass being a trend, but it makes a lot of sense – judges/justices are usually pretty big pussies, and vagueness of this level would be pretty brazen except as part of an accepted trend.

    5. (To preface: I have a pretty decent sense of direction, and don't typically have trouble understanding road signs.) The last time I was in Northern Virginia, I spent more than ten minutes driving in each of the three out of four cardinal directions. Everything but north. Ended up in a closed parking lot of the Pentagon. Fuck that place.

    But, no, seriously, we shouldn't stereotype either NoVa or gun control advocates. Plenty of good people are about both of those things.

    Anyway, it's a historic case. I just wish I knew how, you know?