DC Not Conforming to the Supreme Court Decision…

On June 26th the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the DC gun ban case, which I along with everyone else who was waiting for this decision, immediately posted on! In their close call ruling (5-4) the Court held:

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.
It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any
manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.


3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

Read a follow-up on this that I did here.

We all, or rather some of us, knew then that DC would come back with a new ‘ban’ appearing to be in compliance of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Less than a month later, they have indeed. Today’s Washington Post runs an article on DCs “New Gun Law”. It’s an interesting read, and actually one of the shorter editorials I’ve seen there lately. It also shows, that regardless of the Mayor’s announcement the day of the ruling that DC would conform to the Supreme Court’s decision

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is now tasked with lifting the city’s ban and coordinating new policies with law enforcement to deal with the legality of handguns in D.C., a city with one of America’s highest crime rates. (Although the ruling only applies to handguns in the home, carrying a concealed weapon is still illegal without authorization.) In an exclusive interview, Fenty spoke to NEWSWEEK‘s Daniel Stone about the ruling and the city’s plans to comply. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Where were you when you heard? What was your reaction?
Adrian Fenty: I was at City Hall when I heard the ruling. We knew it was going to be a close vote. We were hoping it would be 5-4 our way. We lost by one vote, but it’s hard to argue with the process and we certainly respect the judges’ authority to make the decision that they did. We don’t necessarily agree with it, but now we’ll draft regulations that conform to it.

…..you can see from the Washington Post editorial how they are also obviously AND blatently ignoring it and inviting lawsuits (the lawyers in DC must be thrilled):

A New Gun Law

The District’s proposed substitute for a statute struck down by the Supreme Court is reasonable — and necessary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008; Page A18

THERE WAS BOTH a triumphal and defeatist cast to the news conference that D.C. officials held yesterday to unveil new firearms legislation. The agreement by the District’s sometimes-fractured political leadership on a course of action was worthy of celebration. But it was hard to stomach the need to promulgate rules allowing ownership of handguns — something the city had forbidden for decades until the Supreme Court’s recent decision. Nonetheless, the proposal strikes the right balance in allowing residents to exercise Second Amendment rights articulated in the court’s landmark decision while aiming to keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent their misuse.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) aptly called the Firearms Control Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 a “negative bill,” made necessary by the court’s unwelcome decision on June 26 to invalidate the city’s 32-year-old ban on handgun ownership. The measure is the result of work by Mr. Mendelson, chairman of the public safety committee, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). Likely to be enacted today by the council on an emergency basis, it would permit only handguns in homes for self-defense. Sawed-off shotguns, machine guns and short-barreled rifles would still be banned. To register handguns, residents would have to complete an application, pass a written firearms test, provide a photo and proof of good vision, and be fingerprinted — all sensible requirements that are generally seen as being able to pass court muster.

Still, as Attorney General-designate Peter J. Nickles noted, there is little doubt there will be legal challenges, partly because the court was so opaque on what restrictions it would accept as reasonable. The threat of further litigation thankfully did not cause the city to shy away from drafting requirements on safe storage of firearms or a provision that handguns undergo ballistics testing as part of the registration process. Both measures are clear public safety measures that the government has every right to impose. Ballistics information is useful to police in solving crimes; loaded and unlocked guns pose an intolerable risk to young children and teenagers; and even the strongest of gun advocates espouse proper storage of firearms. By the same token, the city is correct to stand by its ban on automatic and most semiautomatic weapons. In our view, the court’s assertion of an individual’s right to ownership of a firearm for self-defense does not extend to ownership of a gun capable of firing multiple rounds in seconds and fitting the court’s own definition of a dangerous weapon.

Still doesn’t seem too bad, does it? There’s a clue in there as to what they are STILL proposing.

The first thing though is the “ballistic testing” as part of the registration process. Now, this could be a good idea, I’m not going to argue that, BUT (you knew there had to a b-u-t in there didn’t you?), exactly how many criminals will jump through all the hoops to legally register their gun AND allow for ballistics testing? I’ll tell you……………..N-O-N-E!!!!!! This is just one more headache for the everyday, average citizen to discourage them from exercising their CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT!

Can we get serious here for a moment? Let’s say I want a gun. I go through all the required registration processes, which costs me money of course, pay for the gun, pay for the lessons on its care and use and some thug breaks in while I’m out and the gun is home (since DC won’t allow carry permits) and in his ransacking, finds my gun and takes it. Now he uses that gun in a crime and what do you know? It’s registered to me, so now I have to go through the interrogation, inconvenience, expense, etc of proving myself innocent.

Am I the only one who finds a problem with this? In other words, from what I can tell, this requirement of ballistic testing to track the gun is just something designed to try to convince me that getting a gun is NOT worth the trouble. It’s just another regulation that basically says the average law-abiding citizen is guilty until proven innocent (which seems to be the new motto these days)! In other words, the unintended consequence (or maybe it is intentional) renders this process pretty useless in my opinion as it will NOT catch the crook, just the law-abiding owner who never even used it!!!!

There’s also doubt out there about just how useful and successful this idea really is. Read HERE, HERE and HERE.

Ballistics Database Yields 1st Conviction

Oxon Hill Man Tied To Murder Weapon

By Ruben Castaneda and David Snyder

Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 2, 2005; Page B01

Evidence linking an Oxon Hill man to a murder weapon — the equivalent of a handgun’s fingerprint — yesterday helped Prince George’s County prosecutors win a first-degree murder case.
~snip~

The database was created by state lawmakers in 2000; New York is the only other state with such a law. The program came under criticism this year after Maryland State Police issued a report saying it was costly and ineffective.

Since the law’s inception, state police have gathered test-fired shell casings from more than 43,000 handguns sold in the state, according to the report, which was compiled last fall. Police had used the database 208 times, yielding six “hits,” or matches, the report said. The program had cost the state $2.6 million and had produced no convictions, the report said.

So, it only took 5 years to finally get a hit. WOW really successful and it only cost the Maryland taxpayers $2.6 million dollars to get that ONE hit. What a bargain…………………NOT!!

From Wikipedia:

Ballistic fingerprint databases

Some localities, particularly Maryland, have attempted to build up a large database of “fingerprints”; in the case of the Maryland law, all new firearms sales must provide a fired case from the firearm in question to the Maryland state police, who photograph it and log the information in a database. The Maryland State police have written reports critical of the program and have asked the Maryland General Assembly to cut off funding for the program since it has not contributed to solving a single crime, and has simply been a drain for taxpayers, and police resources.[citation needed]

A California Department of Justice survey, using 742 guns used by the California Highway Patrol as a test bed, showed very poor results; even with such a limited database, less than 70% of cases of the same make as the “fingerprint” case yielded the correct gun in the top 15 matches; when a different make of ammunition was used, the success rate dropped to less than 40%. California has passed a bill AB 1471 which requires all new models of handguns to be equipped with microstamping technology by 2010.

Alteration of fingerprints

Although every rifled barrel leaves a unique “fingerprint” on a bullet fired through it so that comparisons can sometimes be performed, it is extremely easy to permanently or temporarily modify a ballistic fingerprint at will. Also, polygonal rifling may leave striae that are difficult to match to a particular barrel, such that some police agencies have forbidden the use of weapons with such rifling in order to match accurately after the fact just which gun fired which bullet[citation needed].

There is also a possibility that the owner of a weapon might replace the barrel (if it is worn out, for example), which will change the fingerprint. As mentioned above, use will add wear marks to the firearm, which will alter the fingerprint by obscuring some existing marks, and creating new ones. Temporary changes in fingerprinting are also possible. Specifically, it is possible to buy a replacement barrel for most firearms–often for as little as US$20 for a used part. It is possible to replace the barrel in many firearms, especially semi-automatic handguns, in minutes, with no tools. This barrel may be used in a crime, then removed just as quickly.

Ballistic fingerprinting of bullets does not work at all with firearms such as shotguns that fire shot-containing cartridges. In many cases the shot rides inside a plastic sleeve that prevents it from ever touching the barrel, and even in cases where the shot does touch the barrel, the random movement of the shot down the barrel will not leave any consistent marks.

But back to today’s editorial in the Washington Post. I looked up DCs new Firearms Control Emergency Amendment Act of 2008

The proposed legislation has four main components:

  1. Continues to ban handguns in most places but creates an exception for self-defense in the home. The handgun ban remains in effect, except for use in self-defense within the home. Sawed-off shotguns, machine guns and short-barreled rifles are still prohibited.
  2. Requires the Metropolitan Police Department to perform ballistic testing on handguns and makes such testing a registration requirement. The Chief of Police will require ballistics tests of any handgun submitted for registration to determine if it is stolen or has been used in a crime. Also, to serve as many residents as possible, the Chief will limit registrations to one handgun per person for the first 90 days after the legislation becomes law.
  3. Clarifies the safe-storage and trigger-lock requirements. The legislation modifies existing law to clarify that firearms in the home must be stored unloaded and either disassembled secured with a trigger lock, gun safe, or similar device. An exception is made for a firearm while it is being used against reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person within a registered gun owner’s home. The bill also includes provisions on the transportation of firearms for legal purposes.
  4. Clarifies that no carry license is required inside the home. Residents who legally register handguns in the District will not be required to have licenses to carry them inside their own homes.

Separately, Chief Lanier will issue emergency rulemaking on firearms registration and the licensing of firearms dealers, to bring the District into compliance with the Heller ruling. The rulemaking has four main components.

    • A District resident who seeks to register a handgun must obtain an application form from MPD’s Firearms Registration Section and take it to a firearms dealer for assistance in completing it.
    • The applicant must submit photos, proof of residency and proof of good vision (such as a driver’s license or doctor’s letter), and pass a written firearms test.
    • If the applicant is successful on the test, s(he) must pay registration fees and submit to fingerprinting. MPD will file one set of fingerprints and submit the other to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for analysis and criminal background check.
    • MPD will notify the applicant whether all registration requirements are satisfied. At that point, the applicant returns to the Firearms Registration Section to complete the process and receive MPD’s seal on the application.
    • The applicant takes his or her completed application to a licensed firearm dealer to take delivery of the pistol. If the dealer is outside the District, the dealer transports the pistol to a licensed dealer in the District to complete the transaction.
    • The applicant takes the pistol to the Firearms Registration Section for ballistics testing. When testing is complete, the applicant may retrieve the pistol and take it home.

    • Applicants bringing a firearm from another jurisdiction into the District must transport it immediately to the Firearms Registration Section, or notify the Section that they will do so within 48 hours.
    • MPD will allow the registration of previously possessed handguns other than those that qualify as “machine guns” under District law (that is, all automatics and most semiautomatic pistols) for the next six months. During that period, the Office of the Attorney General has established an Amnesty policy not to prosecute anyone for unregistered possession of such a handgun when it is brought to MPD for registration, although those who have committed other crimes with firearms of course remain subject to prosecution.
    • Regulations for registering handguns in either of these two scenarios are similar to those for newly-purchased handguns, but do not require the assistance of a licensed firearms dealer.
  1. Provisions for registering a handgun purchased for self-defense in a District residence.
  2. Provisions for registering a handgun legally registered in another jurisdiction, or a handgun possessed in the District but not registered.
  3. Provisions for transporting firearms legally within the District. When the law allows transporting a firearm legally, the owner must transport it unloaded and securely wrapped in a package, with the package visible in plain view.
  4. Provisions for becoming a licensed firearms dealer.
    • Firearms dealers must first be licensed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
    • Potential firearms dealers must be eligible to register guns in the District and eligible under federal law to sell them.
    • Firearms dealer licenses will be valid for one year.
    • Applications for dealer licenses will include a sworn or affirmed statement by the applicant, and may require photographs and fingerprints.
    • Firearms dealers must also comply with other District licensing and zoning requirements, such as having a Basic Business License and certificate of occupancy.

OK, color me silly, but in the Supreme Courts ruling did they not specifically state:

3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.

Still requiring the weapon be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock is in DIRECT VIOLATION of the Supreme Court’s ruling, not to mention the Constitution. I think the DC council needs a better legal team, because obviously they are seeking advice from complete idiots.

The Newsweek interview wrapped up with:

The people who aren’t supposed to have the guns likely already do, regardless of whether it’s legal. Is it possible to draft regulations targeting criminals specifically? Or do you think you’ll draft the new policies more broadly to affect everyone?
That’s a good question. I don’t think we would ever draft a law in which we would single out any particular person or group. But we’re trying to keep as many guns out of the city as is humanly possible. That’s a general policy here that’s important for cities like D.C. However, we absolutely want to prioritize keeping them out of the hands of criminals.

OH, so we won’t draft a law to keep guns out of the hands of criminals…….oh wait, we already have that but only the law abiding citizens obey it……..so we’ll use the “safety” tactic to get LEGALLY OWNED AND OPERATED GUNS BANNED, while the crooks and cops are the only ones armed. Yeah, that makes so much more sense now…..and I feel so much safer…… *rolling my eyes, wondering why I’m so stupid*

Gun control just doesn’t work to cut down on crime as has been shown time and time again. All gun control does is create MORE victims out of the law abiding citizens who are not able to protect themselves in their own homes as guaranteed in the Constitution.

All these new laws lately in all areas just strip the average citizen of any rights while letting the crooks run free. I call that fucked up backwards!

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~ by swfreedomlover on July 15, 2008.

4 Responses to “DC Not Conforming to the Supreme Court Decision…”

  1. In a way, I think guns should be treated like cars–we should vet people to see if they’re sane and competent and give licenses, because the power to kill (why kid?) is a huge responsibility that we don’t want just anyone to have. But as you show, gun regulations so often sail way past reason and criminalize people trying to defend themselves against criminals. Gun violence still persists in DC despite those laws–could it be that they’re going after the wrong people entirely?

  2. Lilo, they already DO vet gun license applicants for any mental or criminal background. What they need to do is make that a federal mandate so all states follow the same procedure.

    These gun laws are meant to disarm the people. The battle cry of getting guns off the street, and “for the children”, is all just bullshit, for as reality shows………….gun laws do NOT get guns off the streets….they just allow the criminal element to feel safer when attacking others and imprison the law-abiding citizens in fear.

    I never considered owning a gun, now I am seriously considering it, and all because I know they want us disarmed. A disarmed people are easier to overcome and control…………….gun laws prove that.

  3. I guess what I meant was that I want it done in a more consistent manner. There is a HUGE difference between Florida and NYC, as I discovered when I wanted a concealed carry permit up here!

  4. Ahhh, yes that does make sense.

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