- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In reading the article “Council passes emergency bill to allow guns” (Metropolitan, Wednesday) and hearing all the commentary on the airwaves regarding the new D.C. handgun law passed as emergency legislation, one has to wonder about the honesty and attitude of the D.C. Council toward it’s citizens. Rather than servants of their people, it seems the Council consider the citizens their wards. The statement by D.C. Interim Attorney General Peter J. Nickles saying the new measures are for the safety of the public, and then D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s statement that even having ready access to a gun is useless, makes me think they do not believe their citizenry are intelligent or responsible enough to handle firearms or act in the best interests of themselves or their own families.

Then we can consider the new legislation itself, which on it’s face flies opposite to the majority opinion as expressed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The new law treats handguns exactly as D.C. treated long guns, which is to say in a manner that renders them useless for anything other than decoration. Prior to the conclusion of District of Columbia v. Heller, the possession in a residence of a long arm, itself not a fully proscribed item, required it to be disassembled, unloaded and locked-up. That, of course, renders that gun to be not at all useful in the residence.

If one takes the emergency legislation and examines it along with the statement made by the D.C. Attorney General and Mrs. Norton, one has to wonder who will be rendered safer by the new legislation, the citizens of the District or the criminals who would prey on them?

NORMAN

HENDRICKSON

Bowie

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The Second Amendment does not bestow, create, confer or give a right to individually own firearms. What it does is guarantee and protect a pre-existing right of individual ownership for protecting oneself or defending the state. Or, as one British field-grade officer wrote to another during the Revolutionary War: “Fighting these American colonials is not like fighting European peasants. These Americans all own their own guns.” Precisely.

Now that the issue has moved out of the narrow and unique confines of the District, the individual states come into play. Not mentioned in any of the debate so far is that 44 of the 50 states also have a “right to arms” in their state constitutions. Six states make no such mention. Of the 44, five have the same clumsy and archaic wording about the militia as the federal Second Amendment, which historical revisionists have seized upon to flip what was exemplar into something exclusionary. Thus was conjured up in the mid 1960s by a few radical law school professors the so-called “collective rights” theory of the Second Amendment.

In contrast, the other 39 states make clear what the right consists of. Delaware’s Right to Arms article in its Constitution reads as follows: “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.”

The District government would do a lot more good for the community by amending its Constitution to incorporate such a sensible treatment of gun rights instead of further foot-dragging by overregulating gun ownership. (“Gun law shenanigans,” Editorials, Tuesday.)

JAMES D. MILTON

Arlington

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