Updated on May 21, 2016
Turns out billions of dollars can’t buy you an agenda. In another stunning defeat for Bloombergian gun control, a federal court has once again slapped the District of Columbia with a ruling abolishing their stifling gun laws.
The case is called Matthew Grace and Pink Pistols v District of Columbia and Cathy Lanier. Lanier is the chief of police for the District. It involves a DC law in which citizens must show “good reason” to qualify for a permit to carry outside the home. In the landmark District of Columbia v Heller decision, the court recognized that “the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.” After the Heller decision, the city wouldn’t back down. Instead of recognizing our constitutionally protected rights, the city created a confusing and nearly impossible standard to qualify for a license.
In D.C., all firearms must be registered. Actually, all “approved” firearms must be registered. D.C. has taken a chapter out of California’s oppressive gun laws in crafting their own and have created a list of handguns that are “eligible” to be registered. Here is just the FIRST page of seven and a half of that list:
In addition to needing a license to carry a firearm, citizens in our nation’s capital cannot even own ammunition without a permit to own/carry a firearm. “High capacity magazines” over 10 rounds are also illegal in the District. The law also required gun owners (or potential gun owners) to meet a “variety of age, criminal history, personal history, mental health and physical requirements” along with mandatory gun training, pass a safety program, and undergo an “in-person interview” with a law enforcement officer. But, don’t worry, all you law abiding criminals. If you have a gun without a license, you can “voluntarily and peaceably deliver [or] abandon” your guns at any police station and they won’t charge you with a crime. Instead, they’ll probably have a private auction in the precinct to the highest bidding police officer to keep. Or they’ll simply make the gun “disappear” into their personal collection. All these requirements only allow you to possess a gun in the home. No one within the constitutionally authorized “ten Miles square” of the District can legally carry a handgun or other “deadly weapon” outside of home unless that person is a government official who has more rights than you do. The problem is that the regulations created by an unelected police chief make it near impossible to even get a license to carry in your home. The Grace case changed that.
The District requires that applicants for a license to carry demonstrate a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.” Naturally, this “proper reason” would be adjudicated by the extremely anti-gun police chief Lanier. The court ruled that the “good reason” requirement “is unconstitutional, that [Grace & Pink Pistols] will suffer irreparable harm.”
Chief Lanier was mandated to create a policy to facilitate the new law put in place after the Heller decision. Part of that policy was to require applicants to show “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.” The reasoning for this was to force citizens to “at a minimum require a showing of a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” In other words, after you’ve been attacked, show us proof that you survived and we’ll think about it. That proof must be “allege, in writing, serious threats of death or serious bodily harm, any attacks on his or her person.” Only serious bodily harm. Anything less than serious was expected to be absorbed and shrugged off it seems.
Even that wasn’t enough. If they passed the subjective (to police) hurdle of proving that they had in fact been hospitalized or otherwise suffered “serious bodily harm” they then had to prove that “the threats are of a nature that the legal possession of a pistol is necessary as a reasonable precaution against the apprehended danger.” It is entirely possible that the police department would simply say, “well, yeah that sucks, but we think a baseball bat is good enough. Application denied.” It gets worse.
“The fact that a person resides in or is employed in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason to fear injury to person or property for the issuance of a concealed carry license.”
Seriously. In 2015, D.C.’s murder rate jumped 54%!! What did Chief Lanier blame on the dramatic increase? Guns. You know, the guns that the average citizen wasn’t allowed to have in the streets.
“A greater percent of those arrested for homicide have prior convictions for felony violent crimes,” Chief Newsham told the paper. “And a lot of times more than one gun was represented at the crime scene. The means either there were two shooters and one victim, or those involved were shooting at each other.”
This is interesting since Chief Lanier had only approved about 50 licenses as of the end of 2015. 50!! And not a single one of them was involved in a single one of those crimes. Eighty percent of applicants were denied their basic right to self defense.
Anyhow, back to the “proper reason” requirement. Plaintiff Grace applied for a license to carry last August because his wife was robbed on a public street and there had been several robberies in his neighborhood. Several of those robberies were performed at gunpoint in his neighborhood. The police had not arrested anyone for those crimes and the perpetrators remained on the loose. However, because Grace had not demonstrated a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community,” his application was denied. Grace stated his “proper reason” was the 2nd Amendment. That should have been enough, but it wasn’t. It was the sole basis for his rejection.
The plaintiffs relied upon the 2nd Amendment to argue that the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t just apply at home. The defendants (DC and Lanier) had to prove it only applied in the home. To anyone with a 6th grade education, it’s obvious that the 2nd amendment doesn’t just apply to the home primarily due to the “bear arms” clause. The court agreed.
The Supreme Court has explained that “[a]t the time of the founding, as now, the ‘bear’ meant to ‘carry.'” One does not typically think of “carrying” as an activity exclusively done within the home…Thus, reading the Second Amendment right to “bear” arms as applying only in the home is forced or awkward at best, and more likely is countertextual.”
As to the arguments by the defendants that one must present evidence that their lives are in jeopardy, the court probably laughed and shook its head while writing “the Supreme Court recognized that when ‘bear’ is used with ‘arms’…the term has a meaning that refers to carrying for a particular purpose – confrontation.”
Surely confrontations do not occur only in the home, and therefore “[t]o confine the right to be armed to the home is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right to self-defense…Indeed, confrontation that might necessitate self-defense are less likely to occur in the home than on the streets of a city with many dangerous neighborhoods…Thus, the textual analysis, when viewed with a touch of common sense and logic, weighs heavily in favor of finding that the right to bear arms reaches beyond one’s doorstep. Finally, I would emphasize that a legitimate need to protect oneself can arise at the drop of a hat. Thus, the right to “carry weapons in case of confrontation necessarily includes a right to carry firearms to protect oneself against unanticipated and suddenly arising threats.
This is what the Bloomberg agenda will never get. When they say “you don’t need a gun to eat at the Olive Garden” or “to shop at Target,” what they’re really saying is that there is some kind of magic ball that will tell me when I do. What about walking to or from Target from my car? Or how about when I finish my soup, salad, and bread sticks and leave the Olive Garden? Am I supposed to know ahead of time that I will need my self-defense firearm? Thankfully, the court isn’t full of ignorant, agenda-driven zealots bent on making victims of as many people as possible. History simply refutes any argument that the Founders limited the right to keep and bear arms to being a “domiciliary right.” The court cited several examples of Colonial and Founding Era doctrines laws and directives that required citizens to carry arms publicly. In Rhode Island, “no man shall go two miles from the Towne unarmed, eyther with Gun or Sword; and that none shall come to any public Meeting without his weapon.” Thomas Jefferson himself made sure his firearm was a “constant companion on [his] walks,” as it is mine. My how our rights have fallen since then!
With all this evidence of historical context, the court had “little trouble concluding that under its original meaning the Second Amendment protects a right to carry arms for self-defense in public.” DC and Lanier contended that they can regulate the public carry of arms because DC is such a populous city with many symbolic landmarks, monuments, and buildings as well as “important” government officials. The court rightly questioned this supposed divide between the rights of urban and rural citizens. The court “reject[ed] these arguments wholesale.” The defendants tried arguing that “the law does not ‘destroy’ any particular person’s right to carry a gun for self-defense because any person could, at some point, face a threat that arises to the level necessary to be issued a license under District’s ‘good reason’ requirement.” The court called these argument “frivolous!” – explanation point and all.
The court also addressed the “more guns equals more crime” mantra frequently spouted to justify bans – or desired bans – on firearms.
But there can be no doubt that at least some of those citizens seek a carrying license for the legitimate purpose of protecting against an unexpected confrontation. The District’s policy thus bans some citizens from exercising their constitutional right to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense, and no amount of proof of the negative effects of exercising a constitutional right can justify a ban. (emphasis mine)
This is a point I’ve been raising frequently in my debates with anti-gun zealots. I’ve decided to stop arguing “statistics” and “evidence” that point to crime, either in my argument’s favor or not. My simple response to such claims is that our rights aren’t dependent upon statistics, nor are they dependent upon those that choose to use guns for illegal purposes. The problem with these arguments is their tunnel-visioned approach to the issue. They point to instances of illegal use of guns to justify their bans or restrictions on them while ignoring that just about everything is prone to illegal use: cars, candlesticks, rope, alcohol, hammers, you name it. The court said it best: “They waste much ink on the irrelevant contention that plaintiffs cannot prove that ‘more guns equals less crime…'” and “the fact that a person can demonstrate a heightened need for self-defense says nothing about whether he or she is more or less likely to misuse a gun.”
Now, we get to my favorite part of the decision. In its defense of their overly oppressive licensing law, the city and police chief incredibly argue that “if no occasion arises where a handgun is needed for self-defense,” the denial of the Second Amendment right to bear arms “cannot cause harm.” In other words, if someone never finds themselves in a situation where they need a gun for self-defense, preventing them from having one doesn’t violate the Constitution. Yes, I was surprised this argument was made as well. However, not as surprised as the court. “What poppycock! Once again, defendants, sadly, miss the point,” said the court. I’ve waited my whole life for the word “poppycock” to be used in a 2nd amendment case! I can die happy now.
The right to self defense is present regardless of whether I ever need to defend myself. Such a silly argument would mean that we should disband our military because there is no specific military threat against our country that the citizenry and law enforcement can’t handle. It’s absurd on its face. The court agreed.
“The Second Amendment protects plaintiffs’ right to bear firearms for self-defense – a right that can infringed upon whether or not plaintiffs are ever actually called upon to use their weapons to defend themselves…The right to bear arms enables one to possess not only the means to defend oneself but also the self-confidence – and psychic comfort – that comes with knowing one could protect oneself if necessary.”
Yet again, the gun grabbers lose. Our rights are not conferred upon us by the 2nd amendment. The 2nd amendment is not a second class right. Our right to self-defense is guaranteed by virtue of our very existence. Humans were not born with powerful paws, sharp teeth, antlers, quills, or other organic body parts for self defense. Throughout our existence, we have used tools to defend our lives, whether they be rocks, sticks, bows and arrows, swords, or, more recently, firearms.
While this case did address the right to bear arms outside the home and the unconstitutional burden of providing “good cause” to get a license, Grace and Pink Pistols refused to challenge the other registration requirements and hurdles that citizens must jump through to get one. The court did NOT rule on the constitutionality of needing a license or carrying in sensitive areas like “government buildings, schools, the National Mall, the area surrounding the White House, public transportation vehicles and stadiums.” I guess we’ll have to leave those challenges for another day.