NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 14, 2007

Last week's decision, striking down the District of Columbia's ban on guns as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, flowed directly from the text, history and original understanding of the Constitution, says Ted Cruz, solicitor general of Texas.

In some ways, the decision should not be at all noteworthy or surprising:

  • After all, the text of the Second Amendment explicitly protects "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms," and the D.C. gun ban amounted to a complete and total prohibition on citizens owning operational firearms in the District of Columbia.
  • The challenged city ordinances prohibit the private possession of all handguns and also require that all long guns (i.e., rifles and shotguns) be disassembled or have trigger locks in place at all times.
  • This latter requirement has no exceptions -- so that even if a violent crime is underway in your home, removing the trigger lock in self-defense or in defense of your family constitutes a crime.

No state in the union has a prohibition as draconian:

  • Indeed, the constitutions of 44 states, like the federal Constitution, explicitly protect the individual right to keep and bear arms, and the legislatures of all 50 states are united in their rejection of bans on private handgun ownership.
  • Forty-five states go even further, allowing private citizens to carry concealed handguns for self-defense.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's decision rejected the Ninth Circuit's "collective rights" theory and embraced instead the Fifth Circuit's holding that the Second Amendment protects individual rights.  In so doing, the D.C. Circuit took a major step forward in protecting the rights of gun owners throughout the country, says Cruz.

Source: Ted Cruz, "Second Amendment Showdown," Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2007.

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