- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The hundreds who waited in line the Supreme Court for hours — even days — to hear arguments yesterday on the case to overturn the District’s handgun ban included a mix of lawyers, aspiring lawyers, activists and everyday tourists.

Jason McCrory, 23, of Lancaster, Pa., had the first spot in line. He arrived Sunday evening with a friend and camped out with a blanket on the sidewalk.

“I wanted to make sure I got a good spot in line,” said Mr. McCrory, who had been to the country’s highest court twice before. “The Second Amendment is something that’s important to me.”

Jeff Knox, director of the Virginia-based Firearms Coalition, hoped the ban would be overturned.

“The right to bear arms is an individual right,” he said. “And now [the court] will have to sort through the reasonable restrictions involved.”

Outside the courthouse — before the building’s long, sweeping staircase — opinions were split on whether the court’s nine justices should overturn the District’s 32-year-old ban as they also addressed the Second Amendment.

“It’s our law, and we have the right to determine our own gun laws the same way every other jurisdiction has a right to determine their gun laws,” said Michael D. Brown, a D.C. shadow senator.

Alex Reynolds, of Alexandria, was No. 29 in line. He arrive Monday afternoon to hold spots in line for two of the case’s original lawyers, in lower courts. Mr. Reynolds remained outside after the lawyers had gone into the courthouse, sitting in a lawn chair and using the lawyers’ coats as blankets.

Robyn Steinlauf arrived yesterday morning from Virginia to join 30 others from the Brady Campaign, including some who carried signs reading: “Sensible Gun Laws Save Lives.”

Miss Steinlauf, 27, got inside the courtroom only briefly, in the non-permanent spectator seats. Still she was satisfied with what she heard in “just a tease — three or five minutes of the arguments.”

Genie Jennings came from Maine to meet other Second Amendment Sisters, who argued the right to bear arms for self-defense is especially important for women and the elderly.

Others had less interest in the ban and more in the historical significance of the case, District of Columbia v. Heller.

“The most interesting thing is what the court rules about the amendement and what the text actually means and says,” said Kelley O’Connell, a law student at the University of San Diego.

Ron Shrader, 47, and a small group of high-schoolers from Canadian, Texas, came on a field trip but were not aware the gun-ban case was on the docket.

“We came here to see the court because they’re studying it in school, but we didn’t know the case was up,” Mr. Shrader said.

The students said they are used to citizens being armed publicly and don’t think gun ownership leads to more crime because their town (population roughly 2,300) is strict about following the law.

However, Mr. Shrader said “reasonable” gun restrictions are acceptable in areas that have trouble keeping a lid on crime.

Said Jonathan Bracewell, 24, of Virginia Beach: “I think people with criminal intent will find their way to a gun no matter what the law says.”

His wife, Sarah, said: “There are two extremes, and the balance has to be found. There are certain things that are reasonable, but banning them completely is one of the extremes.”

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