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DC Flouts Supreme Court on Guns, as Washington Post Advised

The Washington D.C. City Council has created so many hoops for handgun owners to jump through before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights, they may require legal counsel just to identify what the hoops are.  This sorry state of affairs is much to the satisfaction of The Washington Post, which called for just such an obstructionist policy in an editorial. 

 

At least one of those hoops is illegal, according to the Supreme Court, but a Post news story spun that fact as the opinion of “opponents of the handgun ban.”  Is editorial policy coloring the news?


The Washington Post is no fan of the Supreme Court's recently rendered Heller vs. D.C. decision.  Last month when the nation's highest court told Washington D.C. that its gun ban violated the Second Amendment of the Constitution, a Post editorial called the decision a “misguided ruling.” The Post opined that the District's mayor and council would be on “solid moral and legal ground” if they re-crafted the District's gun control laws to make them “as tough as possible” under the Supreme Court's “puzzling mandate.”


Fast forward 21 days.  The July 18 edition of the paper carried a story about the first day of gun registration in the District in which only one person applied for a license.  That person was not Dick Heller, the man whose case went to the Supreme Court.  In fact, Mr. Heller did show up to apply for his now legal license, but because he did not have his gun with him he could not register it. 


According to the Post this misunderstanding didn't irk Mr. Heller.  What did irk Mr. Heller was the “strict storage requirements” mandated by the newly revised D.C. gun laws.

But Heller and von Breichenruchardt angrily criticized the city over other aspects of the handgun ownership and registration process, outlined in emergency legislation approved this week by the D.C. Council and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

The new law includes strict storage requirements that opponents of the handgun ban say violate the Supreme Court ruling. Gun owners must keep their pistols at home, unloaded and either disassembled or equipped with trigger locks. Weapons can be loaded and used only if the owner reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger from an attacker in the home.

Note the spin.  The Washington Post indicates that it is a matter of opinion whether the storage restrictions violate the high court's ruling.


It's not opinion.  It's fact.  Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, stated, “In sum, we hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”


It is clear that the D.C. restrictions requiring the gun to be “unloaded and either disassembled or equipped with trigger locks” render the gun inoperable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.


Further, as reported by Jeff Johnson of One News Now.com (a former NRA employee) but not reported by the Post,  the District's requirement that every gun submitted for licensing be test-fired by police ballistics experts violates a congressional ban on federal agencies creating any kind of gun owner registry.


The Supreme Court's ruling in the Heller case did leave room for municipalities and states to put reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.  But it also made clear that excessive regulation would violate the Constitution. The Second Amendment-loathing folks as the Post need to set their anti-gun bias aside and report the facts as facts.


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.