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Washington Post said:
Scope of 2nd Amendment's Questioned

The Associated Press
Thursday, December 7, 2006; 8:49 PM

WASHINGTON -- In a case that could shape firearms laws nationwide, attorneys for the District of Columbia argued Thursday that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

The city defended as constitutional its long-standing ban on handguns, a law that some gun opponents have advocated elsewhere. Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.

At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" applies to all people or only to "a well regulated militia." The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment's scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California's ban on assault weapons.

In the Washington, D.C., case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.

Courts have upheld bans on automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns but this case is unusual because it involves a prohibition on all pistols. Voters passed a similar ban in San Francisco last year but a judge ruled it violated state law. The Washington case is not clouded by state law and hinges directly on the Constitution.

"We interpret the Second Amendment in military terms," said Todd Kim, the District's solicitor general, who told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the city would also have had the authority to ban all weapons.

"Show me anybody in the 19th century who interprets the Second Amendment the way you do," Judge Laurence Silberman said. "It doesn't appear until much later, the middle of the 20th century."

Of the three judges, Silberman was the most critical of Kim's argument and noted that, despite the law, handguns were common in the District.

Silberman and Judge Thomas B. Griffith seemed to wrestle, however, with the meaning of the amendment's language about militias. If a well-regulated militia is no longer needed, they asked, is the right to bear arms still necessary?

"That's quite a task for any court to decide that a right is no longer necessary," Alan Gura, an attorney for the plaintiffs, replied. "If we decide that it's no longer necessary, can we erase any part of the Constitution?"


The case is: Shelly Parker et al v. District of Columbia, case No. 04-7041.
US Government military != militia. Hopefully the court sides with the US Department of Justice's decision on the matter: link


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brucelee said:
Ha... Ironic that it's in DC... You know, where their crime rate went up like 1,000,000% since guns were banned.

It's true, almost literally.

Since the firearm prohibition in IIRC '77 the general crime and murder rate have both upwardly trended every year plateauing at some periods and then rising again. IIRC there has never been a year in which the crime rate in DC has gone down as a whole.
I'll have to go recheck some sources to confirm as much but thats been my understanding for decades, as a DC native.

- Janq

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I take serious issue with a few things they said, but this in particular...

"We interpret the Second Amendment in military terms," said Todd Kim, the District's solicitor general, who told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the city would also have had the authority to ban all weapons.

The Constitution (and Bill of Rights) is not the governing document for the military. It is the governing document for the government and every U.S. citizen. In fact the military is pretty much the only part of the U.S. government that the Constitution doesn't apply to, particulary in legal matters. That makes their argument pretty thin, plain and simple.

Not to mention U.S. code currently and defines two legally recognizable militias. (Remember, no private militias allowed...) but
1) State militias.
2) The regular militia.

The first is obvious, the latter refers to (and I'm horribly paraphrasing here) any able bodied citizen meeting certain requirements (age and whatnot). I would look it up, but I don't feel like it at the moment. (I want to say section 49, off the top of my head but who knows for sure...) You could google it if you are feeling ambitious.

This general public malitia can be called on to defend the country as the document says. And from that the legal right of citizens to own arms for the potential to defend the country can be said to be very clear. (exactly for the purpose the 2nd amendment... imagine that)

Its not written in stone exactly, but as it currently is written the law and constitution make a much stronger case for private gun ownership than not.

Now assuming you can agree with that (since I'm sure most of us here already do... ;) ) lets take this argument to the next logical step. If we are in fact given the right (and serious responsibility) to be able to defend ourselves from modern military forces, that makes a pretty strong argument for some of the more "evil" guns. .50 bmg, full auto, etc.

That, at least is how I look at it.

This link is to the part of the U.S. code I was refering to. Ignore that 49 nonsense, that was something else.

Above in mentioning "49" - it was actually something else entirely different. I was thinking of 29 - Federalist 29 - the paper written that defines the views of some of the founding fathers held in wording parts of the constitution. While having little or no legal relevance, it discusses the function of militias and how they should be implimented. Much more significant, I believe is a part that clarifies and discusses the idea behind, in particular "a well regulated militia". To me, based on the wording of the Federalist paper and my understanding of the English language at the time, that phrase refers to being properly outfited/equiped NOT as some now attribute to meaning "controlled'. This to me further defends the idea that militia does infact refer to the general "able to fight" population, not specifically state militias.

In plain english, "having a population with weapons capable of matching those that an invading force might have" is what I believe the founders of the Constitution intended, based on the things I just mentioned. How law makers, etc. interpret that any differently is beyond my comprehension. Maybe there is something else that I don't understand, but in general the "hot topic" issues in politics today seem to hinge on parts of the law where there are plain contradictions, or morality/gray areas. Guns don't fit in with that, IMO.
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