Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DC v. Heller Heard Today

I had a chance to listen to the oral arguments for this case over lunch today. C-SPAN is a greater asset than people realize because of things like this. The Justices were pretty fair to both sides, though they really seemed to treat Walter Dellinger, counsel for the District of Columbia, like he was very slow on the uptake. Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg got into the act, sounding very incredulous about the logic behind the handgun ban in Washington D.C. In return, they grilled Alan Gura, the attorney for Richard Heller, on the arguments made to remove the ban. Their tack seemed to be focused on the plaintiff's historical arguments, and whether he submitted that "reasonable regulation" could be considered. He listed what can be considered reasonable regulations, which is sure to anger more than a few "no rules no way no how" gun owners. The "well-regulated militia" clause was well-argued by Gura, stating that certain weapons should be beyond the purview of bans, but that handguns are not one of them. I could see perhaps no crew-served artillery, mortars or grenade launchers as destructive devices needing more scrutiny than a personal rifle or handgun.

Oh yeah, the "plastic handgun" scare tactic came into play again. Like "assault weapons," the term "plastic handguns" is pretty nebulous. For example, my XD40 has a plastic frame that holds the trigger assembly, magazine release, sear assembly, slide stop and slide rails. Everything listed there that isn't the plastic frame is steel or aluminum. My slide is steel, the barrel is steel, the springs, extractor, and firing pin are all steel. If my gun goes through a metal detector, it will be detected. The infamous Glock handguns are exactly the same. The parts where the cartridges are held and fired is all steel. Why? There aren't many cheap polymers out there that can handle the levels of pressure generated when firing a bullet from its cartridge casing.

In short, the attorneys for the District of Columbia tried to stir up scare tactics about easily concealed guns showing up everywhere. Dear leaders of the District of Columbia: that is ALREADY HAPPENING! Criminals are ignoring your handgun ban regardless of what you do to the people who do obey the laws there! All it does is make more targets of the people you are supposed to protect. The defendants mentioned the shrinking crime rate, and that's fine. They have to realize that the murder rates grew in DC despite the Brady Bill of 1993-2004 and despite their handgun ban of 1976.

As I'm not a lawyer, I'm keeping my guesses on the results to myself.

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