26 Jun 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court Second Amendment Decision Hailed by Black Activists
Washington, D.C. – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the Constitution’s individual right to own firearms and overturning the ban on most gun ownership in the nation’s capital in the first major Second Amendment case in almost 70 years is being hailed by black activists of the Project 21 leadership network.
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli says the decision supporting an individual right to use firearms is a loud and clear declaration that the government cannot pick and choose what constitutional protections are honored and enforced.
“This is a great day for law-abiding citizens of the nation’s capital who have unjustly been denied their full right to protect themselves and families for over 30 years,” said Borelli. “The Second Amendment guarantees the individual right of citizens to arm themselves for self-defense and not become easy prey. Perhaps the government should find a better way to keep illegal guns away from criminals and not law-abiding citizens.”
The case of District of Columbia v. Heller is an appeal of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in Parker v. District of Columbia. In Parker v. District of Columbia, the DC Circuit ruled the District of Columbia’s Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which bars handgun ownership by most D.C. residents, is unconstitutional.
The specific question being answered in District of Columbia v. Heller today was, as phrased by the Court: “Whether… provisions [in the District of Columbia code] violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes.”
The District of Columbia, defending the constitutionality of the firearm ban before the Court in oral arguments March 18, argued the Second Amendment’s right to “bear arms” refers not to an individual right to use firearms, but rather to a “right to participate in the common defense” and a restriction of “the authority of the federal government to interfere with the arming” of state militias. The District of Columbia argued to the Court that “the Second Amendment… is expressly about the security of the State; it’s about well-regulated militias, not unregulated individual license.”
Opponents of the ban, however, said the Founders considered self-defense a right and one they intended the Second Amendment to protect, telling the Court “the framers knew exactly how to condition a right on militia service… and they didn’t do it with respect to the Second Amendment.”
“There are countless instances in which individuals are on their own when it comes to protecting themselves and their property. A majority of the Justices recognized this and upheld the Second Amendment’s specific protection of an individual right to self-defense. Now that D.C.’s citizens have had this constitutional right restored, criminals will have good reason to think twice before trying to plunder another’s property,” added Project 21’s Borelli.
In 2007, in a newspaper column published in Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, Borelli addressed some of the public policy aspects of the case:
Besides violating the Second Amendment, D.C.’s gun ban is a violation of the fundamental rationale of law. In The Law, noted political theorist Frederic Bastiat wrote: ‘It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.’ D.C. promotes the opposite, effectively protecting the plunderer and punishing the property owner.
Borelli also pointed out:
Research shows that law-abiding citizens using firearms for protection can save lives and deter crimes. In ‘Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control,’ co-authors Gary Kleck and Don Kates note that ‘as many as 2.5 million victims use guns to defend against crime each year’ and ‘handguns are actually used by victims to repel crime far more often than they are by criminals in committing crimes – as much as three times more.’
Borelli believes that in addition to it being unconstitutional, it is immoral to deny law-abiding citizens the right to legally possess a firearm, especially within crime-infested neighborhoods.
Borelli’s column is available at www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVBorelliGuns90507.html.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.