Nanny State: A Victory for Self-Defense

16 March 2007

A Victory for Self-Defense

by Robert A. Levy

Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies and served as co-counsel to the plaintiffs in Parker v. District of Columbia.

Unless and until the Supreme Court says otherwise, it looks as though the District of Columbia's 31-year-old gun ban is history. Good riddance.

In a landmark opinion Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower federal court on all counts and concluded that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms."

The case, Parker v. District of Columbia, was brought by six D.C. residents who want to possess functional firearms within their homes for self-defense. Their lawsuit was not about machine guns and assault weapons. They didn't ask for the right to carry guns outside their houses. Parker was about ordinary handguns, in the owner's private residence.

Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judge Thomas B. Griffith, a recent Bush appointee. Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson dissented. The court majority stated unequivocally that activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia."

Indeed, said the court, "the right to arms existed prior to the formation of the new government" in 1789.


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