District attorneys nationwide ask Supreme Court to keep gun ban
By SAMUEL MAULL | Associated Press Writer
6:43 PM EST, January 11, 2008
NEW YORK - Prosecutors from across the country, afraid that an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling could erode state gun laws, on Friday asked the high court to uphold a ban on unlicensed handguns.
The district attorneys, from 18 jurisdictions, weighed in on case in which justices will decide whether the Constitution's Second Amendment bars a conviction under tough Washington, D.C. handgun laws. The prosecutors say a ruling against the ban could impair law enforcement and jeopardize public safety.
The case stems from the conviction of Dic k Heller, a 65-year-old security guard who had a permit to carry a handgun at work but was denied a license to keep one at his home in what had been a high crime neighborhood. He kept one anyway
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction, saying the city's 31-year-old law against buying, selling or owning an unlicensed handgun was overly broad and offended the Second Amendment's right "to keep and bear arms."
The prosecutors, led by district attorneys Robert M. Morgenthau of New York County and Kamala D. Harris of San Francisco, say they worry that what applies in Washington might have an impact on their communities.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Dwyer, head of Morgenthau's appeals bureau, said the high court's review of the Second Amendment will be its first since 1939.
"We would like for the court to reverse the D.C. circuit," Dwyer said, "for them to say there is no individual right to possess a gun, that it (the Second Amendment) enables states to arm militias."
"We hope they don't say anyone can have a gun anytime he wants," Dwyer said.
The prosecutors submitted the papers as a friend-of-the-court brief, filed by parties who are not part of the case but who have an interest in its outcome. The district attorneys, who represent a total of more than 25 million people, come from jurisdictions that include New York, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, San Diego, Oakland and Atlanta.