Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gun Rights on Trial

A homeowner suddenly confronted by a knife-wielding intruder reaches desperately for a handgun with which to defend himself. But the firearm lies disassembled and unloaded in a drawer, useless. Before the homeowner can reassemble and load his pistol, and confront his attacker, the assailant strikes, and strikes again - with fatal results.

The real cause of the homeowner's death in this scenario? That he had the misfortune to reside in the District of Columbia. For besides banning most semiautomatic pistols (the type of firearm that most knowledgeable Americans prefer for personal self-defense), the District requires that all registered handguns possessed by its civilian residents remain unloaded and either disassembled or fitted with a trigger lock unless there is a "reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to the person."

Precisely how, except as a club, is an individual supposed to use a handgun that is unloaded and disassembled or trigger-locked to protect himself from immediate harm? The District leaves that to speculation. But the District's attorney general has explained that "we are trying to balance the right to have a handgun for use of self-defense in the home, with protecting our citizens."

One might have thought that having "a handgun for use of self-defense in the home," fully loaded and ready to fire at a moment's notice, is one very good way of "protecting our citizens." Apparently the District's officials imagine otherwise, and they intend to enforce their fantasies on the city's crime-plagued residents, even if the consequence is those citizens' otherwise preventable deaths or severe bodily injuries at the hands of homicidal criminals.

To be clear, the above scenario pertains to what could happen in Washington, D.C., today . or tomorrow. Amazingly, this is the selfsame District of Columbia that on June 26 lost the landmark Second-Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller in the U.S. Supreme Court. But perhaps not so surprisingly, after all. Though Heller struck down the then-existing D.C. prohibition against handguns, it also allowed for the regulation of guns. D.C.'s post-Heller regulations still make it virtually impossible for a law-abiding citizen to have a gun ready for immediate self-defense in his home, and Dick Heller - the named party in District of Columbia v. Heller - and two other plaintiffs have already filed a complaint to this effect in U.S. District Court.

Could Heller allow gun regulation to the point that the regulation could become a prohibition for all practical purposes? What effect will it have, if any, on existing or future gun laws in other jurisdictions throughout the country?

Exactly what Heller means seems to be an open question. "Anti-gun politicians can no longer deny that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right," exults the National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist, Chris Cox. Nonetheless, Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, promises that "our campaign to enact sensible gun laws will be undiminished by the Supreme Court's decision in the Heller case." And the National Association for Gun Rights warns that Heller "is far from a victory for gun owners. It is already being used successfully to infringe upon the rights of gun owners across the country."

Certainly Heller did not hit what patriots hoped would be its target: a thoroughgoing and correct construction of the Second Amendment

Much more here

Mississippi: Car Burglar Shot by Owner: "A 22-year-old man will face burglary charges once he is released from a Jackson hospital. Police say Mario Lampkin was shot in the leg by the owner of a car who claimed Lampkin was breaking into the vehicle. After he was shot, Lampkin walked to the Baptist Medical Center. The shooting happened just before 6 a.m. today at an apartment complex in the 1300 block of N. Jefferson St. The car owner was questioned and released. That person has not been charged. Two other cars at the apartment complex also had been burglarized. Police say they suspect Lampkin may be responsible for those, too."

Idaho man arrested after handgun standoff: "A 37-year-old Boise man is being held in the Ada County Jail on a felony aggravated assault charge after a handgun standoff late Wednesday night on Table Rock. Damon Glenn Smith was also charged with felony DUI and misdemeanor resisting arrest after the incident, which occurred at 11:48 p.m. Wednesday on top of the Table Rock mesa, a popular sightseeing spot overlooking Boise. Witnesses told police the trouble started when a car passed Smith's truck as both vehicles were on the way up to the top of Table Rock. Witnesses said when Smith got to the top of the mesa, by the giant fluorescent cross which overlooks the city, he got out of his truck and pulled out a handgun, first threatening the driver of the other car, and then pointing it at other people on top of the mesa and threatening them. At that point, witnesses said the driver of the car Smith first threatened pulled out a 9 mm handgun, pointed it at Smith, and told him he was going to disarm him. That man then took the handgun from Smith and determined it was fake. Witnesses told police Smith got into his truck and tried to drive away but was stopped by police, who were responding to a 911 call about the fight. Smith, who appeared visibly intoxicated had a hard time standing and failed field sobriety tests, according to police reports. When officers went to take him into custody, Smith resisted arrest and had to be physically restrained, Boise Police spokesman Charles McClure said. The other man involved in the confrontation displayed his handgun legally and police determined he was fully within his rights to defend himself at the time, McClure said."

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