D.C. court reinterprets Constitution in handgun case

The D.C. Circuit federal appeals court recently announced a very troubling decision. The all-Republican-appointed, three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to repeal a D.C. ban on handguns in homes, according to The Washington Post.

The decision also removes the city’s requirement that gun owners store rifles and shotguns either disassembled or with trigger locks.

“The only people who have anything to fear from a decision like this are the people who intend to break into someone’s home in the middle of the night,” said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

Nice try, NRA, but not true.

How about city officials who find that this sort of decision raises overall gun ownership, increasing violence on the streets and making crime harder to quell?

And how about parents across the country who fear letting their children visit friends’ homes because other parents might leave loaded weapons just lying around?

What’s most troubling here, though, is not the direct result of this particular case, but instead the dangerous precedent it sets by reinterpreting the Second Amendment.

The court found the ban unconstitutional by reasoning that the Second Amendment applies to individuals, not to militias.

While, yes, individual civil liberties are important, that’s not to say that anything goes, especially when it comes to deadly weapons.

Let’s look at what the Second Amendment says:

“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.”

It’s pretty clear, then, that our founding fathers intended this amendment to apply to states’ rights to maintain regulated militias. So, it should also be clear that states may limit the types of weapons citizens may keep. The emphasis was never on individuals.

The last time this issue came up, in the 1939 United States v. Miller case, the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment exists “to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of (state militias) the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.”

By refusing to hear cases on the subject since that decision, later courts have upheld that decision.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty says that the city will probably appeal to the Supreme Court — a sound decision on his part, despite its risks — and the Post reported that the ban will stay in effect through the appeals process.

However, taking the case to the Supreme Court presents an opportunity for this conservative court to uphold such a dreadful ruling, essentially killing gun control.

The city is right to appeal the decision, but it falls on the Supreme Court to do the reasonable thing and overturn it, restoring the law to the United States v. Miller sensible interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The above is the consensus opinion of The Pitt News editorial board from the University of Pittsburgh. This column was made available through U-Wire.