The Washington Post ran the editorial below on Thursday, 20 March 2008; Page A14 -
The Supreme Court should not deprive governments of their ability to protect public safety.
BY THE END of oral arguments Tuesday in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, a majority of Supreme Court justices seemed to embrace the notion that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Such a conclusion, however, should not automatically prove fatal to the District's admittedly tough gun control law.
Every right, including freedom of speech, is subject to some limitations. The legal and public policy arguments for allowing broad government regulation of firearms are compelling. District law bans private ownership of handguns and requires long guns to be kept in the home disassembled or stored with a trigger lock. This approach reflects the grim realities of an urban setting where handguns account for a disproportionate number of homicides and are used in a great majority of robberies and rapes. Speaking on the courthouse steps after the Supreme Court arguments, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier reiterated that "a weapon that is easily concealed, that can be taken inside of schools, inside of churches, inside of government buildings without anyone's knowledge . . . is something that we don't want in the District of Columbia."
Six justices active in questioning during Tuesday's arguments seemed to at least contemplate an individual rights approach. If a majority embraces such an approach, it is far from clear what legal standard they would then apply to determine the constitutionality of the D.C. gun law. Reaching consensus on this issue may very well be the biggest challenge for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. We urge the justices to adopt the lowest standard of review to allow governments maximum flexibility in enacting laws meant to protect public safety. If a majority cannot agree on this, we would hope that they would heed the suggestions of Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, who argued for a tougher standard but one that clearly permits sensible regulation, such as licensing, background checks and a ban on machine guns.
I replied today with one of the 98 comments made below:
Thought it was worth passing along - both the less the bright editorial and my recent experience.I am reading this discussion from my current project work in Jackson, MS (I live in Florida). An interesting and related vignette happened on very early Thursday morning.
About 0120 somebody knocked on my motel room door. He kept saying "Hey", and moved both left and right and did the same thing at other doors on rooms (which accessed directly outside). After a few knocks on various doors including a couple repeat knocks on mine, I got up, put on my glasses, and checked the peep hole; Since I had no expection of anybody coming to visit me - my wife was in Pennsylvania - I just wanted to confirm what this noise maker looked like.
I then calmly did what I could do in Mississippi and Florida (because of different gun laws and essentially the same Castle Doctrine) that I could not do in DC.
I moved back from the door about 12 feet, took the safety off my traveling companion (a 9mm Beretta), and just listened and waited.
After about 10 minutes of this continued activity, I concluded that what ever this person was doing, it was no threat to me, and I went back to bed.
Had this been a test by an individual to determine if a room invasion was possible, he would have been able to force the door open, but I would have ended the event in the doorway with what I call Copper-Lead Injection Therapy.
I was not excited or worried. I was ready to handle my responsibilities. I did not call the Police, since nothing had occurred that was illegal or dangerous; their response time was a non-issue.
What would have happened in DC?