Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Victory for the 2nd Amendment

SCOTUS struck down the DC Gun ban. Full opinion here; HT: Ace.

We now have a legal context in which to evaluate gun control laws, and an important benchmark is now established: outright prohibition is not constitutionally permissible. Does this mean that I'll be able to buy a chain gun at Walmart? No, but somewhere between that world and the world of DC and NYC is where our laws will find a balance, much in the same way that we find a balance in the context of the 1st Amendment.

It follows that much legal work remains. For instance, Mrs. Φ asked, "does this mean that DC residents can buy guns?" Not quite: it means they can own guns. But to buy a gun at a gun store, the buyer must possess a driver's license of the state in which he makes the purchase. Does DC have its own DMV? If it does, then its residents must make their retail purchases at DC gun stores. I'd be surprised if such creatures exist. If they do, they are almost certainly prohibited from selling guns to civilians under a network of regulations that SCOTUS didn't address. Now, motivated buyers can make their purchases in private transactions in states where such are unregulated: Virginia for example, but not Maryland. But the point is that motivated governments can, at present, throw up all kinds of obstacles in the face of their citizens, and these obstacles will need to be litigated one by one.

Politically speaking, this decision should provide a litums test by which Republican senators should evaluate the judicial nominees of the upcoming Obama administration. If the Democrats can "Bork" any nominee not swearing fealty to Roe v Wade, then Republicans can return the favor to any nominee not upholding the 2d Amendment. Sauce for the goose, and all that, with the added advantage that the right to keep and bear arms is, you know, actually in the Constitution.

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