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John R. Lott, Jr.*

A lot of Americans who believe that people have the right to own guns were very disappointed this weekend. On Friday, the Bush Administration's Justice Department entered into the fray over the District of Columbia's 1977 handgun ban before the Supreme Court by filing a brief that effectively supports the ban. The administration pays lip service to the notion that the Second Amendment guarantees that gun ownership is an "individual right," but their brief leaves the term essentially meaningless.

The quotes by lawyers for the lawyers on the two sides say it all. The District's acting attorney general, Peter Nickles, happily http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00030.html"> noted that the Justice Department's brief was a "somewhat surprising and very favorable development." Alan Gura, the attorney who will be representing those challenging the ban before the Supreme Court, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00030.html accused the Bush administration of "basically siding with the District of Columbia" and that http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... s-national "This is definitely hostile to our position. As the lead to an article in the Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... s-national">said</a> Sunday, "gun-control advocates never expected to get a boost from the Bush administration."

As probably the most prominent 2nd Amendment law professor in the country privately confided in me, "If the Supreme Court accepts the Solicitor General's interpretation, the chances of getting the DC gun ban struck down are bleak."

The Department of Justice http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/07-29 ... States.pdf argument can be boiled down pretty easily. They claim that since government bans machine guns, it should also be able to ban handguns. After all, they reason, people can still own rifles and shotguns for protection, even if they have to be stored locked up. The Justice Department even seems to accept that trigger locks are not really that much of a burden, and accepts that the locks "can properly be interpreted" as not interfering with using guns for self-protection (pp. 30-31). Yet, even if gunlocks do interfere with self-defense, DOJ just believes that the regulations should still be allowed as long as the District of Columbia thinks that they have a good reason.

Factually, there are many mistakes in the DOJ's reasoning: as soon as a rifle or shotgun is unlocked it becomes illegal in DC and there has never been a Federal ban on people owning machine guns. But these are relatively minor points. Nor does it really matter that the http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm? ... _id=228534 only academic research</a> on the impact that trigger locks have on crime rates finds that states that require guns be locked up and unloaded face a 5 percent increase in murder and a 12 percent increase in rapes. Criminals are more likely to attack people in their homes and those attacks are more likely to be successful. Since potentially armed victims deter criminals, storing a gun locked and unloaded actually encourages increased crime.

The biggest problem is the standard used for evaluating the constitutionality of regulations. The DOJ is asking that a different, much weaker standard be used for the Second Amendment than the courts demands for other "individual rights," such as for speech, unreasonable searches and seizures, imprisonment without trial, and drawing and quartering people.

If one accepts the notion that gun ownership is an individual right, what does "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" mean? What would the drafters of the Bill of Rights have had to write if they really meant the right "shall not be infringed"? Does the phrase "the right of the people" in the Second Amendment provide a different level of protection than the http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution ... ights.html First and http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution ... ights.html Fourth Amendments references to "the right of the people"?

But a ban on gun control is not under consideration by the Supreme Court. The question is what constitutes "reasonable" regulation. Where do you draw the line? The DOJ brief argues that if the government argues that gun control is important for public safety, it should be allowed by the courts. What the Appeals court argued is that gun regulations needed to not just be reasonable, but that they meet was is called "strict scrutiny" -- a test that ensures the regulations are narrowly tailored to achieve the desired goal.

Perhaps the Justice Department's position isn't too surprising. Like any other government agency, they have a hard time giving up their authority, even if it was not something that they believe is important. The Justice Department's bias can been seen in that they find it necessary to raise the specter of machine guns 10 times when evaluating a law that bans handguns. Nor do they even acknowledge that after the ban, DC's murder rate only http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm once fell below what it was in 1976.

Worried about the possibility that a Supreme Court decision supporting the Second Amendment as an individual right could down the road "cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation," the Department of Justice felt it necessary to head off any restrictions on government power right at the beginning. Those who had brought the case

But all is not lost. The Supreme Court can of course ignore the Bush Administration's advice, but it does carry significant weight. President Bush has the power to fix this by ordering that the Solicitor General brief be withdrawn or significantly amended. Unfortunately, it may take an uprising by voters for President Bush to reign in his Justice Department.

http://johnrlott.blogspot.com John Lott</a> is the author of http://www.amazon.com/dp/1596985062/ref ... otttrip-20 Freedomnomics</a>, upon which part of this article is based, and a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Maryland.
 

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Thanks for posting that, Renegade. Reading it, (and right on the heels of Bush's recent action that stripped many vets of their 2nd Amendment rights), I'm hoping that we're realizing that there is something far more significant and serious going on here than just a "liberal Democrat" agenda being promoted by ignorance.
 

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Finnegan said:
Thanks for posting that, Renegade. Reading it, (and right on the heels of Bush's recent action that stripped many vets of their 2nd Amendment rights), I'm hoping that we're realizing that there is something far more significant and serious going on here than just a "liberal Democrat" agenda being promoted by ignorance.
You are absolutely right, but where are the voices willing to speak out? These things have given me great concern for a long time now, and it is frustrating to see the complacency in America's citizens. You try and shake them up to some level of awareness and even the conservatives and LDS get mad. Things are messed up. I posted an article about the roots of alot of this liberal progressive movement but most just ignore these things. They'd rather read antecdotes and play movie trivia. Most remainin the dark that the same forces that parade around as democrats also guise themselves as republicans. Who cares right? It is easier to just assume that the 2nd Ammendment and other great and noble things will always be there and that the republicans will ensure this. :evil:
 

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The District's ban may well violate the Second Amendment, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement said in a brief filed ahead of a court deadline, but the case should be sent back to lower courts for evaluation under a "more flexible standard of review."

Oh, good thinking Mr. Clement. After all the Constitution is just a Goddamned piece of paper. Right? We need something more flexible, like modern day propaganda and mainstream brainwashed thinking to guide the way.

I get really pizzed when i see how much the Declaration of Independence gets swept under the rug by our courts, media, schools, and virtually everything. This is disturbing because the Declaration of Independence clearly illustrates what our founding fathers were battling, and what and why they were trying to establish the things they did. The Declaration clearly states that one of the reasons the king of England was a tyrant is because he tried to make the military and governments power stronger and seperate from the civil power. That is tyranny people, and that is what is going on right before our eyes. That's okay, maybe someone will jump in here and offer up a feel good post that everyone can agree on, because it is written in an easy to digest matter and this will all go away. This won't be the first time I have seen this happen. :twisted:
 
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