Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What on Earth Are D.C. City Politicians Smoking? Hallucinating About Gun Control in Parker

Lawyers for Washington, D. C. today belatedly filed the District's request that the U. S. Supreme Court consider its appeal of Parker, the landmark decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means what it says.

The city's petition rests on three arguments and some strained logic and very smoky facts.

The arguments:

  1. The Second Amendment protects weapons possessed and used by state militias, only.
  2. The District of Columbia is not subject to the Second Amendment.
  3. Because the District bans only handguns and not shotguns and rifles, the District's ban does not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.
Fine.

I'm not certain that the District's reasoning and legal artistry in the petition reflect well on the dozen lawyers who labored weeks past the scheduled filing date to hone their arguments, but there are some absolute gems within the District's petition for a hearing, including:
[E]ven if there is a right to possess and use weapons unrelated to militia service, the Second Amendment restricts only federal interference with state-regulated militias and state recognized gun rights. (Emphasis added throughout.)
The District's lawyers claim that
[T]he Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits have held that only states may enforce the Second Amendment.
Hmm. Is that position unique to the Second Amendment or does it apply to the others, as well? If the states are responsible for enforcing the Amendments, do they also have a responsibility to enforce the body of the Constitution on behalf the federal government?

According to D. C., states have a duty to enforce, but are not subject to, the Constitution:
State courts seldom construe the right secured by the Second
Amendment because of their uniform agreement that the
Amendment does not bind the states, as this Court held
unanimously more than a century ago in Presser v. Illinois,
116 U.S. 252 (1886).7
Perhaps the lawyers should have at least mentioned as a courtesy to the Justices that Presser was decided years before the courts ruled that state governments are subject to the Bill of Rights. Today, that's a settled matter.

The District's rhetoric is "strong" regarding the political decision of the D.C. council in 1976 to ban handguns:
The Council concluded that existing regulations imposed on handguns and penalties associated with handgun-related crimes were insufficient to combat handgun violence, because handguns themselves are inherently dangerous. The very premise of the legislation was thus that “the ultimate resolution of the problems of gun created crimes and gun created accidents . . . is the elimination of the availability of handguns.” As the Council summed up, “the bill reflects a legislative decision” that handguns “have no legitimate use in the purely urban environment of the District of Columbia.”
Strong but wrong. The reality has been a bit different.

The number of homicides within the District does not appear to be related, at least in a positive way, to the 1976 ban.

Homicides in the District have been at historic, tragic and nation-leading levels for more than 30 years, and they remain so today. In fact, measured against comparable national figures, the "ultimate resolution" has been an abysmal and deadly failure, as D.C. residents and visitors find themselves without any meaningful defense against the thuggery so prevalent there.

Even the finest lawyers can only shade history, but they can't re-write it wholesale.

The District has been extraordinarily dangerous for ordinary people, before the gun ban in 1976 and since. The District Council enacted the ban in reaction to runaway violence. In 1975, homicides in the District reached a rate of 33 per 100,000 population, a rate 241% greater than the rest of the country.

While District politicians proclaim handguns “have no legitimate use in the purely urban environment of the District of Columbia,” its citizens are deprived of the one tool proven most effective preventing crime, the threat of an effective self defense.

So, 30 years after the D.C. council solved the crime problem with their "effort to 'freeze the pistol population within the District of Columbia,'" thousands more citizens are victimized by crime each year than should be the case if only the District would reduce its crime rate to average.

According to the FBI 2005 Uniform Crime Report and figures complied from the UCR by The Disaster Center, the District's violent crime rates far exceed those of the rest of the nation. Today's numbers reflect the failure
  • Murder, 530% greater than the rest of the nation.
  • Robbery, 376% greater than the rest of the nation.
  • Aggravated Assault, 148% greater than the rest of the nation.
Today, we know that "gun free zones," whether cities, post offices, schools or countries like England and Australia, have become magnets for crime as criminals prey upon their victims secure in the knowledge that there will be no effective resistance from their victims. On the other hand, there are 100 million more guns in the U. S. than there were in 1975, and crime rates have decreased. Forty states have recognized the rights of citizens to possess and use handguns, and crime rates have gone down.

Comparing the experience of the various states that have liberalized gun possession for lawful citizens with areas taking the opposite path, the conclusion is inescapable that crime has increased within the District, and law-abiding citizens have been made victims, because of the 1976 law. Scores of thousands of victims have suffered as a result.

In the 30 years since the "ultimate resolution" they're now defending so energetically, 30 years spent working to "freeze" pistol availability, D.C.'s homicide rate has increased while the rest of the country's has decreased. The District now suffers from a murder rate five times greater than the rest of the country, twice as bad as it was when it enacted the ban.

With a success like this, D.C. politicians should be looking for solutions in the mirror and stop sacrificing their citizens an the altar of a failed ideology.

Perhaps the dollars and time invested in the ban could better be invested in "gun psychology" research: What makes an average Glock, Smith & Wesson, Ruger or Colt go bad after crossing the border into D.C.? What are the catalysts that turn guns that were
ordinary law-abiding pistols when they left the factory into deadly creators of gun crimes and accidents? How can we approach the root causes of whatever is missing from the guns' lives? What has caused guns to jump up from their homes elsewhere to illegally enter the District and prey upon its people and why don't they perform the same way in the same numbers elsewhere? What motivates these guns to enter a life of crime in Washington, D. C.?

LINKS: For a PDF of the District's petition, click here.
H/T: SCOTUS Blog

6 comments:

Private Beach said...

I am suspicious of any attempt to prove statistically that gun control either works or doesn't, because there are simply too many variables involved to allow for meaningful comparisons. But if gun ownership is so effective at preventing crime, then why do many gun-free countries have lower crime rates than the US? And how meaningful is it anyway for one city in the US to ban guns when they are easily purchased in neighbouring states?

Given that in most countries, the majority of murders are not committed by muggers or burglars or other random strangers but between people who know each other, would fewer or more of such murders occur if weapons were not easily available? The one thing you can say for sure about gun control is that no one will get shot if there are no guns around - though there are still other ways of killing people.

Though I disagree with you on gun control, I think guns are just a symptom. The real problem is a culture of violence, and that is much harder to eradicate.

Anonymous said...

private beach said...."But if gun ownership is so effective at preventing crime, then why do many gun-free countries have lower crime rates than the US?"

Because those other countries lack a Bill of Rights which acts as a restraint on the actions of Government when used against the citizens. The level of intrusiveness that it would take to reach the same level of efficacy as say a "JAPAN" would send liberals...even the radicals screaming from the room. Concurrent to a universal gun ban in Japan (btw, the Yakuza or Japanese mafia is not so constrained) goes along an ability to casually beat a confession from any suspect and have it stand in court. The crime clearance rate for Japan is 98% whereas in the USA it's only about 40% because of our Constitutionally protected rights. Wire taps without warrant? NO PROBLEM. And so it goes.

I hear this crap about the blessed peace of the gun free countries and it all boils down to tyranny. Plus the Japanese may have a cultural bias which is not present in the United Kingdom. Britain banned guns. Is their gun crime rate down? Heck no! It's up 400% for which they blame US. "It's all those illegal guns flowing in from the YANKS" they whine....The great British empire has become a nation of sheep. I fear the only sheepdogs reside here at home in the good old US of A.

Anonymous said...

private beach said: "The real problem is a culture of violence, and that is much harder to eradicate."

The moment that spirit of America is successfully eradicated, this country will cease to exist. That so called "culture of violence" has another name. It used to be known as "rugged individualism." It's also called the "pioneer spirit." It is the mindset that allows us to take on the overwhelming forces of evil arrayed against us with overwhelming odds and still emerge victorious. It's George S. Patton. It's Andrew Jackson. It's Ronald Reagan. It's Theodore Roosevelt. It's Sheriff Pat Garrett. It's Amelia Earhart. It's JOHN WAYNE.

What it's NOT: George Clooney, Alec Baldwin. Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopie Goldberg, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Cindy Sheehan, Dan Rather, Hillary Clinton and husband ne RAPIST hubby: Bill.

How you answer your own statement will identify with which crowd you identify. Therein lies the difference between "Left and Right" in political discourse.

Then ask yourself this: Which of the above groups would have successfully mounted a WAR against the greatest military power on the face of the Earth in 1775 (Gt. Britiain) and have perservered until victory or death? Would that be George Clooney or George Patton?

Anonymous said...

private beach said: "Given that in most countries, the majority of murders are not committed by muggers or burglars or other random strangers but between people who know each other, would fewer or more of such murders occur if weapons were not easily available? The one thing you can say for sure about gun control is that no one will get shot if there are no guns around - though there are still other ways of killing people."

Man, I can kill you with a rolled up newspaper.

The bottom line is that nobody kills with a gun. They kill with their heart. Whether that heart is evil and the killing unjustified or righteous and the killing also therefore righteous, lies in the state of the heart.

Let me ask you if you agree with this statement: "A woman raped and strangled is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet?"

Nobody will get shot if they are no guns around. You must be the President of an Ivy League university.

The biggest mass murder in US History was perpetrated by a set of BOX CUTTERS and some airplanes! But would it still have happened if the flight crew had been armed with handguns? Well, what do you think?

The box cutters prevailed because the "culture of violence" was absent that day in three out of four instances. FLT 93, however, was full of sheepdogs. For the meaning of that do a google on Sheep and Sheepdogs by LTC David Grossman.

Anonymous said...

The Japanese people submit to a level of government intrusion into their personal lives that Americans would find intolerable (to put it mildly). For example, every Japanese household is subject to a "safety inspection" every six months, which is basically a warrantless search by the police. In addition, the police require the residents to fill out a questionairre. Some of the questions they ask of teenaged girls are: "Have you been sexually active in the last six months?" And if the answer is affirmative: "Would you call this, A) rape, B) seduction or C) consensual?" I kid you not. The Japanese pay a very high price for their "safety".

Citing homicide rates of foreign nations with tough gun control laws (Britain and Japan, especially) and proposing that the U.S. follow their lead as a way to reduce our homicide rate, is false logic. The truth is that the U.K. has ALWAYS had a very low homicide rate and a low gun crime rate, going back over a hundred years, to the 19th century, when there were no gun laws at all in the U.K. In fact, the current rate of homicide and gun crime in the U.K. (crimes per hundred-thousand population) is actually higher than it was a hundred years ago, when anybody could walk in to a ironmonger's (hardware store) and buy a revolver with no restriction.

rosignol@gmail.com said...

But if gun ownership is so effective at preventing crime, then why do many gun-free countries have lower crime rates than the US?

In a nutshell, it's not the guns, it's the people.

In American culture (more so in certain subcultures), violence is considered an appropriate reaction to certain situations (not legal, or even necessarily acceptable, but appropriate).

And how meaningful is it anyway for one city in the US to ban guns when they are easily purchased in neighbouring states?

Not true. To purchase a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer, you have to either make the purchase in your state of residence, or have the firearm transferred to a licensed firearms dealer in your home state. That dealer runs the NICS check before you take possession of the firearm.

[...] The one thing you can say for sure about gun control is that no one will get shot if there are no guns around - though there are still other ways of killing people.

That is not practically possible in the US. There are around 200,000,000 firearms in the country, give or take a few hundred thousand.

Besides that, plenty of people are killed with knives or fists. Getting rid of firearms won't change that.

Though I disagree with you on gun control, I think guns are just a symptom. The real problem is a culture of violence, and that is much harder to eradicate.

I would say that is a fairly accurate assessment of the situation.