Robin Smith / Jun. 1, 2015

Breaking the Tyranny of DC Gun Laws

Another judicial win for the Second Amendment.

The left-wing ruling class in the District of Columbia continues its relentless fight against the God-given freedom recognized by the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms, the palladium of liberties. Of course, to the Left, the thought of a constitutional right that doesn’t involve the redefinition of marriage or legalizing the dismemberment of a baby in the womb seems ludicrous.

This chapter in the ongoing saga revolves around a federal judge’s ruling last July that overturned the city’s 40-year ban on carrying firearms for self-defense. In response to the ruling, the leftist DC government designed a very restrictive right-to-carry permit process — one that approved as few applications as possible.

That, too, has been struck down in a federal decision joining the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller ruling that overturned the District of Columbia’s complete ban on handgun ownership. Since that restoration of rights, over 3,000 handguns have been registered in DC, but only for use in protecting one’s home.

The impact of crime upon citizens has made clear that law enforcement is only minutes away when seconds count. The necessity of armed self-defense is becoming more and more a reality in a world where able-bodied thieves, emboldened by the Left, are confident that only criminals and those riding in squad cars have access to firearms.

In late October 2014, DC politicos crafted a very narrow “may-issue” policy awarding carry permits on the basis that at least one of three conditions can be met: A) there’s a clear and immediate threat to personal safety, B) the applicant works with enough physical currency or items of high value to create a substantiated risk of theft or harm, or C) the applicant cites responsibility for protecting a disabled family member. Further, the applicant must prove they’ve not suffered from mental illness within the last five years. And finally, they have to undergo 18 hours of certified training.

Once the applicant squeezes through the eye of that needle, further restrictions await: No personal weapon can be carried on public transportation, at schools, in any government buildings, bars, hospitals, stadiums, at any protests, or around the White House. An approved permit holder would also have to remain 1,000 feet from any U.S. or foreign dignitary.

By the way, 1,000 feet is more than the length of three football fields. Is anyone in DC that far from a “dignitary”?

As a result of this blatant attack on the constitutional rights of DC citizens, three applicants filed a lawsuit in federal court to combat the ruling. And they succeeded. In his 23-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. wrote, “For all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

Though the restrictions remain regarding places and proximities that permit holders may carry their weapons for self-defense, this new judgment provides some remedy for a city where almost the entire government, from the mayor to the city council to the attorney general, is vehemently anti-gun.

Following the reversal of the unconstitutional ban in late October 2014, the Metropolitan Police Department began accepting applications for carry permits. Of the 107 applications filed as of May 9, only 26 have been approved.

So, in addition to the 3,000 DC citizens who are officially allowed to have arms to protect their homes, there are a whopping 26 individuals who have a carry permit for personal self-defense. All else in DC is a “gun-free zone.” Which means, of course, more guns are in the hands of criminals than with the law-abiding citizens denied their Second Amendment rights.

The 18th Century French political philosopher Montesquieu, known for his belief that free governments are dependent on fragile constitutional arrangements and freedom from tyrants, would sum up the DC denial of rights thusly: “There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

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