A federal district judge, in the District of Columbia no less, ruled resoundingly for the Second Amendment. He granted summary judgment to stop completely the ban on carrying guns in Washington, D.C.
Second Amendment win – details
Judge Scullin ruled as he did on this key fact: Washington, D.C., and only Washington, D. C., totally forbade any resident in or visitor to that city to carry a ready-to-use gun outside his or her home. And because “home” does not mean “hotel/motel room/suite”, no visitor could carry a gun in Washington, D.C. at all.
Judge Scullin cited two U.S. Supreme Court precedents: D. C. v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010). In both cases, the Court struck down a ban on keeping a loaded firearm inside the home. Those cases did not address carrying a loaded firearm outside the home. So the home-rule government of the city of Washington banned such carriage outright. Several plaintiffs sued to overturn this ban.
Scullin picked out this key principle from the Heller opinion:
Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures and (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad.
This strikes at the heart of the “living Constitution jurisprudence” that those who oppose the Second Amendment try to use. Judge Scullin just found that jurisprudence ipso facto invalid.
An earlier decision had already weakened the anti-Second Amendment case further. This case, Peruta v. County of San Diego, came from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court held the Second Amendment lets a person not only keep but also bear arms. And “to bear” means “to carry.” And not merely in the sense “carry home from the store” or “carry when you move.” “Carry” means “carry ready to use when confronting someone.”
Scullin found that, just as a person may carry a gun (to confront someone) inside his home, he may also carry it outside his home. To be sure, not everywhere. The government has full authority to set aside “sensitive areas” where no person may lawfully carry a gun. So one concerned with his self-defense need only stay away from such places. But how do you stay away from your neighborhood? Well, you don’t.
Furthermore, any person has the right to defend himself, no matter where. Scullin found no reason the government could curtail that right.
Second Amendment win – effect
So Scullin granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs. To be sure, he left some things to go to trial. (Some plaintiffs, who do not live in Washington, D.C., accused the city of denying them equal protection of the laws. Those claims must still go to trial.) But Scullin gave a simple order: the D.C. police may not enforce the city’s ban on carrying guns in public.
The city attorney applied for a stay of the order, according to the Associated Press. But the city’s chief of police already said her forces would not arrest anyone for breaking the anti-gun law. And the Mayor of Washington already pledged to write a new law to obey Judge Scullin’s order.
Those who support the basic right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment should take heart. For once, a judge ruled in close to plain English that the Second Amendment means exactly what it says.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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