March 9, 2007 3:25PM

Banning the Ban

Since Mayor Fenty is sure to demagogue today’s D.C. Circuit ruling to death, it’s worth making a few points about what this case did and did not involve. First, it is not about concealed carry. There are excellent arguments for concealed carry, but Parker was not a challenge to the provisions of D.C. law that forbid carrying on the street, concealed or otherwise. Instead, the plaintiffs in Parker challenged the provisions of the D.C. code that make it well‐​nigh impossible for ordinary, law‐​abiding citizens to own firearms for use in home defense. Shadow representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has referred to these provisions as D.C.‘s “Gun Safety Laws.” Which is cute. Here’s what those laws actually provide:

First, you can’t own an unregistered gun.

Second, you can’t register a handgun that you didn’t register prior to September 24, 1976, which is a nice Catch‐​22.

Maybe you’ve somehow managed to leap these two hurdles. Maybe you thought ahead and registered a handgun back when disco was king. If so, you’ve got a gun you can keep in your home. But it must be quote “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” endquote, thus rendering it utterly useless if someone breaks into your home. What you’ve got there is an expensive paperweight. 

And as hard as it is to believe, even if you own a lawfully registered pre‐​1976 handgun, you cannot legally carry it from room to room within your own home without a license. The penalty for carrying a pistol in your own home without a license is imprisonment for up to one year, and a fine of up to $1,000. And you can’t get a license. 

If the “right of the people” to keep and bear arms means anything, it means that, at a minimum, such laws cannot stand. That is what the D.C. Circuit held today.