There’s an excellent column at Real Clear Politics this weekend from Steve Chapman which I wanted to draw your attention to. It deals with the gradual evolution of gun laws in the United States – particularly in some of the least gun friendly, liberal bastions – and the role of the courts in this gradual migration.
Gun-control advocates are learning the downside of getting their way. Recently, a federal judge struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on the carrying of concealed handguns. Anti-gun forces have been losing in legislatures for a long time. Now they are finding that even where they win, they lose.
Washington used to have the strictest gun laws in America. Besides the prohibition of concealed guns, all firearms had to be registered and handgun ownership was forbidden.
The restrictions had no evident effect on crime: In the 1990s, the nation’s capital was known as the murder capital. But they invited a legal challenge — a historic one, as it happened. In 2008, the Supreme Court invalidated the city’s handgun ban as a violation of the Second Amendment.
The collective history in Chapman’s article is more than a collection of dates and case numbers, though they are available as reference. Several cases in Chicago and San Francisco are included, each taking the same long, slow arc that is being observed in DC. One of the chief points of confusion – and an unfortunate straw for anti-gun liberals to grasp at – is that the courts do agree on some restrictions. Violent felons and the demonstrably mentally unstable and violent – proven through adjudication – have been legally barred from gun ownership without constitutional hindrance. Somewhat more controversially, bans on carrying in specific public locations – schools and government buildings – have also withstood challenges. And where such exceptions are found, liberals have tried to use them as cracks in the armor to be wedged further open.
But in the end, the courts seem to be coming slowly into alignment, and the consensus is that private ownership for the purpose of self defense, both in the home and in the public square, is in keeping with the founders’ intentions. A few regional courts, packed by liberal executives, are still bringing back rulings which slow the tide, but at the highest levels they are falling by the wayside. It’s too early to declare victory and go home, but in keeping with Chapman’s thinking, this battle may finally be on the way to a just conclusion.