Thursday, June 26, 2008

SCOTUS Strikes Down DC Handgun Ban

Pretty much as suspected.

From SCOTUSblog:

Answering a 127-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun, at least in one’s home. The Court, splitting 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.

In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place. The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed. It said that issuing a license to a handgun owner, so the weapon can be used at home, would be a sufficient remedy for the Second Amendment violatrion of denying any access to a handgun.

Well that settles that. DC will have to change it laws to allow licensed handgun ownership for most of its citizens. I'm glad that SCOTUS went on to get rid of the clause requiring that all handguns in the home must either be disassembled or have trigger locks. Ready access is needed for home defense and that clause would have applied even if the gun was stored in a fingerprint accessible gun safe which makes it overly prohibitive. This ruling goes a long way towards settling the militia argument against personal handgun ownership however and in that regard its a landmark decision.

Odds are in addition to strict liscencing requirements on handguns we'll see DC pass a law on the types of handguns one can own effectively making smaller and cheaper hanguns (anything under .38 caliber) illegal to own. And I for one have no problem with that.