Dick Heller is the man who brought the lawsuit against the District’s 32-year-old ban on handguns. He was among the first in line Thursday morning to apply for a handgun permit.
But when he tried to register his semi-automatic weapon, he says he was rejected. He says his gun has seven bullet clip. Heller says the City Council legislation allows weapons with fewer than eleven bullets in the clip. A spokesman for the DC Police says the gun was a bottom-loading weapon, and according to their interpretation, all bottom-loading guns are outlawed because they are grouped with machine guns.
Here’s the money passage from Scalia’s opinion in Heller describing which weapons can still be regulated:
Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.”… We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”… It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
There’s nothing “dangerous and unusual” about a bottom-loading handgun; the District’s just jerking around with formalistic distinctions in order to limit as many household weapons as it can. See this DCist post, via Instapundit, for more examples of that from the new regs, especially the apparent requirement that your gun must remain disassembled until an intruder breaks in, whereupon you’re entitled to try to hastily put it together while your uninvited guest clubs/stabs/shoots you to death. Believe it or not, our Democratic Congress may solve this problem; if not, Heller’s surely going back to court for round two to force some judge to put meat on the bones of whatever Scalia meant by “the sorts of lawful weapons that [are] possessed at home.” Exit question: How many millions of dollars in litigation expenses will it cost the District to fight, and lose, the next round of lawsuits instead of complying with the Court’s decision now in good faith?