Court Agrees to Consider D.C. Gun Ban; Ruling on City's Appeal Will Be Its First since '39

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 21, 2007 | Go to article overview

Court Agrees to Consider D.C. Gun Ban; Ruling on City's Appeal Will Be Its First since '39


Byline: Jim McElhatton, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Supreme Court will rule on the scope of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms for the first time in nearly 70 years after deciding yesterday to hear arguments on whether D.C. residents can keep handguns in their homes.

The court's decision marks the first time it has weighed in on the Second Amendment since 1939. The decision is expected to change how localities and states across the nation approach gun regulations.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, yesterday called the court's decision to hear the case good news for city residents.

"We welcome the opportunity to take our arguments to the Supreme Court," he said at an afternoon press conference.

Alan Gura, who represents the six D.C. residents who filed suit in 2003 to lift the ban, said he and his clients were "very pleased."

"This is a historic decision that is going to come out," he said.

Mr. Gura said laws keeping guns out of the hands of felons and "crazy people" won't be affected by the ruling. However, he added, "The many laws that have no useful purpose other than to deprive people of their rights are going to be examined more."

Legal briefs in the case are due by January. Arguments are scheduled for March. A decision is likely by June, according to D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer.

D.C. officials said they plan to argue that the right to bear arms in the Constitution applies to militias, not city residents. Proponents of lifting the ban say the Constitution gives individuals the right to keep guns for their protection.

The court said yesterday it will limit its ruling to one question: whether D.C. laws "violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes."

The Second Amendment states: "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."

The potentially landmark development came in response to a March ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which said the city's gun ban "amounts to a complete prohibition on the lawful use of handguns for self-defense. …

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