Supreme Court Overturns DC’s Handgun Ban

City Desk is reporting that the Supreme Court has overturned DC’s Handgun Ban. City Desk quotes Antonin Scalia’s blog: “We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.”

Is everyone going to get a gun now? Or do you think just like Eleanor Holmes Norton told me last week – the City will just pass very strict laws on ownership? Make your prediction now.

51 Comment

  • I have a pending gun case. I had a shotgun in my home and was taken to jail for it. I have been sitting on pins and needles hoping the decision went my way. Now, all I want to know is do I get my shotgun back or should i go buy another one?

  • I’ve never been a big gun advocate but I am thinking about this–not a decision I take lightly.

  • I thought rifles and shotguns were still legal under the ban? Only handguns were banned. Why were you taken to jail for something that WAS legal at the time? There must be other details that you left out.

  • While disappointing to me and likely many others in Petworth (notwithstanding nate’s interests here), this is not all that unexpected. The court was disposed to rule this way.

    Though I realize others have their own views, I am unconvinced that having a gun in the home makes anyone any safer, and there are some stats out there that imply that it actually increases the dangers of gun violence to the owner.

    It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the coming weeks/months/years. If there is any silver lining to the ruling, it is that the court ruled that the right to own is not absolute, and that some restrictions on gun ownership and possession were reasonable. As the NYT article on the rule notes: “The court concluded that the amendment protects an individual right to bear arms, but it also said that the right is not absolute, opening the door for more fights in the future. Lawmakers across the country may look to the decision as a blueprint for writing new legislation to satisfy the demands of constituents who say there is too much regulation of firearms now, or too little, depending on the sentiments in their regions.”

    Let’s hope a cadre of creative attorneys restores some semblance of control to gun ownership here in DC – though there are admittedly too many on the streets despite the old law, it was an extra tool in the prosectors and cops hands to arrest and bring down dealers and other bad elements.

  • What a stupid stupid stupid decision.. antiquated constitution, antiquated “to the letter” judges.

  • Rifles are shotguns were permitted under very limited exception – they had to be unloaded, and disassembled. I believe that they the law may also have been a grandfather-clause, where continued ownership was only allowed if one owned the guns prior to 1976.

  • Handguns were grandfathered if owner prior to ’76. Rifles and shotguns were still legal to purchase and own in the District so long as, you said, they were disassembled or a trigger guard was used.

  • SIGH. I almost want to get a gun now just to defend myself from the nutjobs. This makes me so sad.

  • So incredibly disappointed.

  • This is horrible news! This is a sad day for DC, and our right to govern for ourselves.

  • I would imagine with the ban, the people who are going to commit violent gun crimes are still going to get guns and commit the crimes…While I don’t plan on owning a gun, I feel that if its legal to own guns, the people who are willing to break the law to own guns won’t feel so much more superior or stronger knowing that they are about to commit an offense on someone who may or may not be armed.

  • So now not only will there be fireworks on the 4th, everyone will be running around shooting their pistole’s into the air! Can’t wait!!

  • oh wow, dc stopped violating my constitutional right to own a so sad now…please, the only people this old law kept from having guns were the law abiding citizens…

    i wonder where all these ‘antiquated constitution’ comments were a few weeks ago when people were having a fit over the trinidad checkpoints violating the constitution?

  • ok sorry this has nothing to do with guns or this post, but I just posted 2 free premier showing tickets on the forum for two different movies.

    One is tonight so I just wanted people to have a chance to get them since its at 7:30pm.

    Sorry for the short notice, and the interjection into this post. I only did it since they are free and I’m not personally gaining anything out of it. (Also this post seems like it will get a lot of traffic)

  • People in DC who get shot are almost without exception criminals who brought it upon themselves, through membership in a “crew” or drug dealing activities. Sure, you might get mugged by a guy with a gun, but he’s not going to shoot you once you hand over your wallet and iphone.

    Hearing gun shots at night shouldn’t make you nervous, it should lull you to sleep like a warm summer rain on a tin roof. It’s not the sound of good honest people dying.

  • If you don’t want a gun, fine. But don’t for a minute think that the bad guys had been disarmed by DC’s prohibition.

    In a home defense scenario today, your options pretty much end at: “call 911 and hope you don’t get put on hold.” If you’re comfortable leaving your life in the hands of DC government’s ability to respond quickly, then don’t get a gun. Personally, I’d rather have the further option of defending myself effectively.

    And nobody wants to think about a major disaster, but during the LA riots and Katrina, we saw how armed residents kept their homes from being looted. There are just too many cases where calling 911 isn’t going to save you; having an effective means of self-defense at hand is insurance against those “bad days.”.

  • Umm, Mark, the sounds of shooting, be the recipient a good or bad person, will in no way lull me to sleep. I hope that you efforts here are sarcasm, and even if so, are poorly delivered.

  • My loaded shotgun was legally owned and kept in my own home. It was not disassembled or registered. Nor was I riding around looking for trouble. In fact, I had never shot the gun. And I had no interest in shooting it. But if someone entered my home….

    Now i should have prefaced this by saying that I do not think that people should be allowed to walk down the street with shotguns. Or handguns for that matter. Good luck keeping criminals from obeying this law. I am willing to take my chance that even a sorry force like MPD will protect me on the street. But in my home, I am not so willing to cede that protection over to MPD.

    For those of you unconvinced that having a gun in the home makes anyone any safer, i guarantee you it doesn’t make you any less unsafe. I have owned guns all my life. None of them have ever gotten a mind of their own and shot anyone..

  • well, thats not quite how i would put it mark, but in a (closer to) perfect world, that is how it would go… if only it were just the bad guys getting shot :/

  • My prediction: lots more litigation! The DC Council will attempt to place the most stringent restrictions permissible, and gun owners will continue to litigate until a restriction is upheld. It may be reminiscent of those abortion restrictions in places like Missouri that keep being enacted, and keep being contested.

  • Well, I applaud the decision. While I used to be for gun control, living in the hood has taught me different. While it is very nice to say that not having guns in the society should be the way to go, it is necessary to point out that all my law ignoring neighbors/drug dealers, have had their guns and until the government disarms the drug militia, I prefer to get my own to have a chance on defending myself, if necessary.
    I am not happy about being able to own a gun as it is a sad reality of living in this crime infested place but since I refuse to move (and really can’t even afford to), this is my only option.
    DC should not be worried about limiting individual’s freedoms on owning gun but rather about solving the crime issue and taking care of the those citizens who have been running around robbing and car jacking people at gun point. But something tells me that when normal people get their guns and fight back, the crime might actually drop as it only takes for few gangster to be killed for them to figure out that if they jump me on the street, I just might fire back.
    I know many of you won’t agree as you must not have been held at gun point, robbed or attacked walking down the street but once you are, you will understand what I’m talking about.

  • The problem with gun control laws is that Criminals do not obey the law.

    Just because this ban is lifted does mean there is going to be flood of guns coming into DC. It also does not mean that everyone is going have a gun. I predict that there will be very little impact (if any) on crime.

  • Well as soon as I can get one, I will, just to say I have one. After all the lawsuits are settled I really dont think its going to be that big of a deal. The city is so left leaning anyway that most people who dont already have one will not want one.

  • Reading some of the commets you expect DC to look like the wild west. I think people have to realize guns are not the issue but people committing crimes are. We live in an urban city where 10 years ago most of us wouldn’t dear to live here. So crime will always exist and we’re always going to have bad apples. I’ve been around guns and feel comfortable around them. Anyone who doesn’t feel this way I would recommend a quick course on gun saftey and use.
    I doubt most people have faith in the DCPD protecting individual homes and God forbid someone breaks into your home and threatens your family, you want to know that you can protect them.

  • I have a feeling that from a legal standpoint this case will have far more impact on the communities and states surrounding the district than the district’s laws, itself. I think DC gun laws will essentially remain the same with the exeption that the court has ruled against any constitutional platform for mass bans of firearms. That being said, I will be bringing my rifle and handguns into DC from storage, registering them properly and keeping them in the condition the law requires (with the hope that the Unloaded/Locked/Disassembled rule gets a review). Safe and Responsible gun ownership & use is something to be celebrated not feared.

  • I would love to believe that this will make criminals think twice about their actions, but it tends to be the nature of criminals to not think too far into the consequences of their actions. As far as crime is concerned, I will put this decision into the “non-factor” category. Some people will register handguns and feel safer and that is fine with me, but I doubt your average criminal could have cared less about it.

    I do, however, expect a few idiots to think this means they can carry guns with them where ever they go. I hope it is the criminal idiot who gets caught doing this over the non-criminal idiot.

  • This ruling makes me very scared to stay in the neighborhood

  • I still don’t know how I really feel about the actual gun ban and overturn of it (I’m leaning toward the “I don’t think it will actually make a material difference” argument) but I do think it is a good display of our government working as it should. Considering how much state and local governments decisions, actions and administrations affect our day-to-day lives, this is the nation’s highest court reminding us all that state and local government can not circumvent our constitution –and that they hold the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the constitution. It makes me feel that our big, slow, inefficient but sometimes amazing federal government is working as it should. Others may feel differently but as someone who has much more faith in Federal government than DC government, I am glad to know that DC is being held accountable to at least some of its actions. Now if it were only given the same rights that should come with that accountability….

  • Flipflop: That would be nice, but unless your collection is limited to pump action shotguns, bolt action rifles, and revolvers — no dice. At the press conference this morning the chief of police made clear that the ban on semi-automatic weapons will remain in place, so you won’t be permitted to register a semi-automatic shotgun, rifle, or handgun until after the DC government wastes several million dollars losing that lawsuit in light of Heller.

  • this is simply not a good thing.
    This makes it easier for people wanting to commit crimes to get a gun. Technically those guns need to stay in your house, people wanting to commit crimes won’t abide by that obviously. But law abiding citizens still will. So when you get robbed at gun point in the street, your right to own a gun will mean ZILCH.

  • Also, I just talked to my brother who is a cop in MD. Constitutional aspects aside, here are his thoughts on this issue of safety and handguns in the home:

    “here’s the rub…you are far more safe if you have a large dog in your home than you are with a handgun. In fact, most people who attempt to defend themselves in their homes with handguns are often times shot with that gun. While those with large dogs are much safer because the dog will instinctively attack an intruder. And if you don’t want a dog in your home, you’re equally safe with a shotgun. The mere “racking” of the shotgun’s action is enough to make any hardened criminal poop his pants. You don’t have to aim a shotgun; just point it down range at your intended target and pull the trigger. A shotgun loaded with #7 bird shot will injure an intruder and cause him to flee and you won’t have to live with the grief of killing another human being.”

    And yes, my brother the police officer said “poop his pants.” The rest of the stuff is something those of you intending to head out to buy handguns should think about first, though.

  • I remain unconvinced that having a gun actually makes you any safer as an empirical matter, but it sure might make me feel safer. While there now may be more total guns in DC, the cynical side of me says that the more relevant number, at least from where I sit — guns that will be used in the commission of a crime — will remain relatively unchanged. Having lived in our neighborhood for almost five years now, I can tell you that I am happy about the practical effect of the decision for DC residents (as opposed to its legal reasoning, since I haven’t read the opinion, and as opposed to how the decision will be used in the face of gun regulation nationwide as a general matter), since I’d at least like the option to provide myself with whatever sense of security a gun may provide. There was no shortage of guns on these streets with the ban, and the level of brazenness with which the law was flaunted was amazing. When 15- and 16-year old kids sit on the back of public buses and loudly talk about their guns, the law wasn’t preventing the thugs from getting the weapons, which I have to believe was a big part of its original intent. I’ll think about getting one if, after sufficient introspection, I determine that my psyche would feel safer with one. But then again, I have no doubt that any gun I have won’t be used, other than at the firing range.

  • Law abiding citizen never have or will use guns other than to defend themselves. Right, until the day they do. Even criminals were innocent law abiding citizens with no bad intentions once… 😕 And not all criminals have access to illegal guns. Sure, let’s make it a bit easier for them too. In particular as many many criminals are not in the records.

    Not to mention accidents, family disputes, children playing with somethng they shouldn’t (right.. “its not the gun that shot them, its the parent that did not keep an eye or dismantle the gun”), stupid teenagers being or pretending to be tough..

    Deterrent to criminals? Really? Are break ins into houses when people are there that common? And even if there are some, does shooting the intruder make things that much better?

    Just some questions that PoP 😉 into mind.

  • Anon @ 2:43 — so we’re all just criminals waiting to happen??? Sort of a pessimistic view of human nature, don’t you think?

  • The gun issue aside…I don’t like that the Supreme Court can overturn a DC law, and yet we STILL don’t have a representative in Congress with voting power. Taxation without representation!

  • Here’s what I’ve been thinking all day about this: how many people who didn’t previously own guns will now, simply because it’s legal? By the way it appears, if you want a gun in DC, you already have one.

  • Jimmy D, I’m sorry but some of the things your “brother the police officer” said are just ignorant.

    You don’t have to aim a shotgun? The spread of 00 buck from a typical “combat” shotgun at 12 feet is about 2.5 inches. There’s still a lot of room to miss.

    Using bird shot to stop an intruder is silly and you’re probably better off not having a gun at all. Birdshot does not penetrate enough in most cases to cause any real damage. It won’t even knock the guy down. Yeah you might scare the guy away, but if racking the shotgun didn’t already make him “poop his pants” shooting him with bird shot will likely just piss him off. What if the other guy has a gun? What if he’s hopped up on PCP? If you’re going to shoot someone, you want to STOP him.

    Oh yeah and good luck finding #7 shot.

  • Bone- (sweet name by the way- so fitting if we’re going to be talking about buck shot!) I’ve heard police officers say the same thing, so regardless of if it is true/probable/accurate/ignorant information, it’s got to be a somewhat common belief among actual police officers.

    The dog bit always gets me though. I’m sure that many big dogs might be a bit intimidating to intruders, or that some might even have some sort of “attack the bad guy” instinct, but unless an intruder in my home had a squirrel in his pocket, my big gal wouldn’t even wake up from her nap. Maybe I should get a beware of dog sign anyway…. which would be a grand hoax.

  • anon @3.17, no I did not say “we’re all just criminals waiting to happen”. If you read what I said you’ll see I don’t say that. 😀 I am saying that some of us are criminals waiting to happen and having more guns around is therefore not necessarily such a great thing…

  • Nate: Your shotgun was not legally owned if it wasn’t registered. It’s a relatively easy process to register a shotgun or rifle here as it is. If you were arrested and charged with having this shotgun illegally you may be prohibited from owning firearms in the future. That’s the kind of thing you need to check with a lawyer about.

    And to all who think this is the Federal Gov’t infringing on “our rights to govern ourselves” – that’s just not the case. We and by extension our local officials enacted laws that we’re now finding to be unconstitutional. Just like if DC tried to pass a total ban on abortion. The law wouldn’t be constitutional. Neither was the gun ban.

  • HA HA HA, a liberal city is faced with gun totting criminals. Just remember every time you have an encounter with a stranger, you will have in the back of your mind ‘does that person have a gun’. I used to live in DC 20 years ago and got the hell out. I can tell people are scared and some of you are going to see how it feels to live in true urban city.

  • Ditto on the the pump of a shotgun scarring an intruder away. It’s an unmistakable sound that can even make Jimmy D poop his pants.

    I highly doubt the ban lift will cause a significant rise in gun related crimes in DC, at least not any more per year that we already live with. What will probably change is the type of gun related accidents that are usually associated with keeping a handgun in the house.

  • Yes, apparently five of the Justices need to go back to 5th grade English class to learn about sentence structure:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” EQUALS “A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed.”

  • I’m sure whatever happens that DC will rewrite and put restrictions back on, as many as possible, probably including a ban on *carrying* weapons. (Don’t many states have such restrictions on carrying, concealed-carry, etc?) So even if law-abiding citizens can now buy a gun and own it legally, I doubt they will be able to legally carry it around. I tend to be in favor of the handgun ban, but now that it’s gone, I don’t think that will really help law-abiding citizens on the street vs. a mugger who’s holding. “Excuse me, Mr. Mugger, but if we could continue this transaction at my home, I’m sure we could work something out. Please follow me…”

  • Yes, all states have some restrictions on carrying concealed, but 32 states have what’s called “shall issue”, in which anyone that’s over 21 can get fingerprinted, pass an FBI background check & undergo some training will be issued a concealed carry permit. Virginia is one such state, and you don’t see folks in Rosslyn blowing each other away. “Shall issue” concealed carry is not likely to happen here though.

  • This isn’t going to have any practical impact in the district. People who are apt to have guns (criminals and folks like Nate) already do. Fact is having a handgun or shotgun inside your house is not likely to change anything. Home invasions, the sort of crimes some people (you know who you are, my suburban refugees) seem most worried about, are very, very rare. The most likely outcome of having a gun in your house is…


    The next most likely outcomes are, in order:

    (1) someone breaking in and stealing it when you are at work reading Prince of Petworth when you should be finishing that report;

    (2) your cousin bringing his kids over and one of them (Festus Jr.) shooting Mittens the cat with your Glock; or

    (3) you wake up in a haze, mistake two DC squirrels outside your window for Hanibal Lecter, and create a job opportunity for a window repair man.

    I’ve owned several guns in my life. Growing up in Texas I can remember my dad instilling a healthy respect of firearms and dispelling their mysteriousness… thus, no local children ended up ventilated when my parents weren’t around. My dad was less clear about driving the Corvette when he wasn’t around, a “miscommuncation” that ended with a very sore rear-end.

    People on the other side of the Supreme’s Latest Hit like to note “the statistics” show that guns in the home are more likely to be used by kids shooting themselves or their friends accidentally. This is true, but it’s also true that such situations involve children who haven’t been taught to respect weapons (like I was) by very stupid parents. If you are going to have a gun in the house then you ought to take a few minutes to (a) scare the bejezus out of your kids; and (b) show them how the weapon works when they are old enough so that it’s no big thing. As with anything else regarding children, keeping them in the dark is a bad idea.

    If my dad had spent a smidgen of the time he took to school me on weapons talking to me about women then Lil’ Gal probably wouldn’t be nearly as cranky as she is.

    I’ve owned everything from a .357 snubby to a AR-15 supporter (civvy version of the M-16) which I took in trade for a Kawasaki ATV (yee haw!), several shotguns, rifles, and pistols. I’ve carried weapons whilst hunting and whilst working (back when I used to travel in the early ’90’s). I stopped hunting (it’s boring, like camping without the smores) and I sold my last pistol off years before I left Texas for DC (I sure hope my old secretary Bobbi Jo doesn’t kill anyone with that snubby).

    I just didn’t feel the need to pack anymore. Like I said, guns just aren’t that mysterious.

    I know that some of our neighbors in Petworth have shotguns. It makes them feel better, and good for them, but I doubt that Lil’ Gal and I will run out and load up at Gun’s R’ Us in Virginia.

    This is not an invitation to break in to Chez Oden, mind you, as Lil’ Gal is a biter and the dog (the famed Slightly Confused Watchdog) might knock you over trying to hide under the bed, but we just don’t see the need. I am much more concerned about somebody breaking down the door when I’m not around and stealing my alligator boots and my complete collection of Jim Reeves LP’s then somebody coming in during the night while I’m dreaming of BBQ brisket and longnecks.

    I play the percentages. I don’t split 7’s and I just don’t worry about shit (‘scuse the French) that ain’t likely to happen. While it’s unlikely that a shotgun in my closet would be used on an intruder OR on me (unless I put Lil’ Gal’s Spanks in the washer with oily rags again), it ultimately will come down to this:

    How hard do you think it’s going to be to register a gun in a city where you need a security clearance, a week of vacation time, and the tenacity of a boweevil to get your car inspected?

    I only have so much time left before I head off to the great Rodeo in the Sky, and I prefer to spend as little of that time with people who work for the city as possible. I mean, they already got their little fingers in my pockets, so why would I *purposely* give them more of my hard-earned nickels AND my precious time?

    I’ve got BBQ to eat.

  • The ban on handguns wasn’t the only item overturned. I believe the court also said that the disassembled/locked law for rifles and shotguns is unconstitutional because it infringes upon one’s right of self-defense.

    Here’s the quote:
    “In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

  • Odentex, I read your post in the voice of Sam Elliott in The Big Lebowski.

    Apologies if that offends.

  • Bogfrog:

    Don’t be scared of staying in the neighborhood!

    The Supreme Court specifically said that PoP still can’t have a gun since he’s from New York and isn’t likely to be able to figger out how it works. 😉

    Additionally, my crew, The Grant Circle Pop’N’Lockers, will protect you. We have satin jackets and berets. We settle all disputes with furious moves and haven’t lost a dance-off yet. Those Sherman Circlers [spit] can buy all the guns Tony Scalia will allow — we’ll just lay the Atomic Toprock on them and it’s game over.

  • No offense taken. Sam is actually a Californian, but I have been authorized by the General Manager of Texas to offer George W. Bush (and a player to be named later) for Sam Elliott.

  • AlphaTango apparently learned grammar in DC public schools.

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