Ruling Galvanizes Pro-Gun Groups, Opposition; NRA to Target Other City Laws; Foes Vow to Boost Resistance

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim McElhatton, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Within minutes of the Supreme Court ruling overturning the District's gun ban, leaders of the National Rifle Association began work on legal challenges against gun restrictions in Chicago and San Francisco, while gun-control groups said the decision would only strengthen their efforts.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which fought in support of the city's handgun ban, predicted that the decision would "embolden criminal defendants, and ideological extremists, to file new legal attacks on existing gun laws."

"With the help of the Brady Center's legal team, those attacks can, and must, be successfully resisted in the interest of public safety," he said.

The NRA and Gun Owners of America both say they're planning to use the ruling as a springboard to challenge state and local laws across the country.

"Certainly things like the Chicago handgun ban, which is very similar to what Washington, D.C., had, those are the kind of things we would want to look at," said Erich Pratt, a spokesman for Gun Owners of America. "We're definitely going to be in the middle of all of that."

Mr. Pratt also noted comments by Justice Stephen G. Breyer that the decision "threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States."

"When Justice Breyer is sad, we're happy," Mr. Pratt said.

Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said the ruling makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms "a permanent part of American constitutional law." NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox said the group will file legal challenges anywhere that gun restrictions result in an undue burden for law-abiding citizens, including in Chicago and San Francisco's housing authority. …