- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2007

We’re one step closer to a proper respect for the right to self-defense through gun ownership in the District of Columbia. With Friday’s stunning federal appellate court ruling which threw out key sections of the city’s gun ban, the District must now either appeal the decision, which might invite a Supreme Court ruling to invalidate gun bans everywhere, or let the District’s ban expire. An appeal is likely, which would stay the ruling for further litigation.

Whatever happens, this 2 to 1 ruling is a victory for ordinary citizens and the Constitution. The decision by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shifts the gun-control debate toward what is frequently called a “conservative” interpretation of the Second Amendment but what is properly called a constitutional interpretation. A citizen holds an inherent right to own firearms for self-defense, we have long contended, based on the plain language of the Second Amendment, which was the founders’ commonsensical recognition that self-defense is itself an inherent right of a free people.

In the instant case, the court ruled for six District residents who felt compelled to challenge the ban for reasons of their own personal safety. The six include a community activist threatened by drug dealers, a police officer who resides in a high-crime neighborhood and a homosexual man who has been assaulted by those who don’t like his sexual orientation. Each has a compelling personal-safety justification, beginning with the fact that in Washington the bad guys have guns and the law-abiding citizens don’t. Ordinary people should be able to defend themselves inside their own homes.

As a matter of policy, the District’s gun-control laws have been an unmitigated failure. Gun violence accelerated after these laws were enacted in 1976. The laws had no good effect and harmed ordinary people.

Enthusiasts for leaving the bad state of affairs alone, including Mayor Adrian Fenty, are lining up behind the fiery dissent of Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who argues that “the District is inescapably excluded from the Second Amendment because it is not a State.” We’re not surprised. Gun-control advocates have never had the Constitution to stand on, so specious reasoning is offered instead.

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