Supreme Court overturns Washington gun ban
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Washington’s sweeping ban on handguns in the city is unconstitutional. In its decision, released Thursday, the Court held that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals, contrary to the District of Columbia’s argument that the amendment applied only to states and their militias.
Washington’s ordinance required a special permit to own a handgun, but, by making that permit generally inaccessible, residents of the nation’s capital have been unable to own guns. A group of residents sued the city to overturn the law in 2003, and, in March 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the residents. The city then appealed to the Supreme Court.
Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said in a statement that he was disappointed by the decision, which he said would lead to more guns in the district and, therefore, to more gun violence. “But I want to emphasize that, at this moment, our gun laws remain in effect,” Fenty said. “It may be several weeks before there are changes to announce.”
Meanwhile, the mayor said, the district’s Metropolitan Police Department would “implement an orderly process for allowing qualified citizens to register handguns for lawful possession in their homes.” Also, he said the city would continue to enforce other gun-control laws that were not affected by the ruling, including a requirement that residents register all handguns with the police department.
The Court, while saying that individuals have the right to possess a firearm “and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home,” also reiterated that the Second Amendment right has limits. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” the Court wrote in its ruling. That ruling, for the case “District of Columbia v. Heller,” is available at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/07slipopinion.html.