Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller prevails, D.C. fails

Yes, I'm interrupting the stunning week-by-week story of my attempts to get into better shape and become a better shooter for a healthy dose of opinion on gun ownership and today's decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a significant victory for lawful gun owners in the United States, one that affirms that yes, your home is your castle and you may defend it with commonly-held firearms, including handguns. You may also keep firearms ready for use as well, as this decision also does away with the crippling restriction in the District of Columbia that guns must be dismantled when stored in homes. The result of this decision should also have an effect on the varying handgun bans and restrictions throughout Illinois. For one, Chicago will likely have to reinstate their registry, and also likely be quick about issuing permits for the guns brought in. The various suburbs such as Evanston, Winnetka and Park Ridge will also likely have their total bans rescinded. Home defense will be allowed once more throughout Illinois.

This is a small victory despite its importance, though. Gun owners will still see various attempts to limit what kind of firearms can be owned, what various accessories can be allowed to make the gun more accurate, what cosmetic features are allowed (like the feared bayonet lug) and even a call for restricted-capacity magazines. We've had the right affirmed with the Heller decision. We're now going to need to raise awareness that a lot of the features found on civilian rifles are as a result of the development of military rifles and make the weapons more accurate, and thus less dangerous when used lawfully. The intent of lawful use of a firearm is to hit your target and not hit anything else.

Here's something from the decision that might also allay those fears of endless bickering over details to restrict the scope of the decision a little:
“We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” (53)
US v. Miller from 1934 has been used to justify restriction after restriction. I've got news for the feature-restricting types: there are a lot of 30-round magazines for the AR-15/M-16/M-4 series of rifles in civilian hands, and they're used lawfully at the range for plinking, at numerous shooting classes, and for sporting competition. Trying to pass a restriction to 5 or 10 rounds per magazine, or requiring a non-detachable magazine goes against the decision found here as well as a proper re-reading of Miller.

To put it into baseball terms, today's decision is a solid RBI double. All the upcoming legal wrangling will be what determines how well the next batter will do. The struggle for gun ownership is not yet over, folks. We will have to constantly reaffirm our rights to rapid issuance of permits where no restrictions are found, to use of current calibers and future technological improvements in firearms, to simple possession without police interference. Those cities that go the registry route will likely need to be guided forcefully into not using those registries as political or social weapons against gun owners. There are many small battles left to win in this struggle, yes there are. We who own guns lawfully must not relent in this argument.

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