Thursday, June 26, 2008

VCDL take on Heller decision

Via the VCDL's outstanding VA-ALERT, posted in full:

The affirming and two dissenting opinions are in a 157 page document that can be downloaded here:
http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf

My reaction to reading it the first time:

1. It says a blanket ban on popular self-defense guns, like handguns, are unconstitutional (Chicago, here we come!).

2. It held a trigger lock and disassembly requirement, which makes the firearm useless for self-defense, is also unconstitutional. (Yes!)

3. It does allow for a locality to require a license to possess a firearm in the home(ugh), but requires that such license be forthcoming and not denied arbitrarily and capriciously.

4. It says that carrying a gun in a person's home is protected, but is silent on carrying outside the home. (That's because the Heller case didn't address carry outside the home.)

5. It says that carrying CONCEALED firearms can be restricted or prohibited (ugh).

6. It says that long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons (they should have said 'violent felons' in my opinion) and the mentally ill are OK.

7. It also says that prohibiting carry in "sensitive" locations like schools and government buildings are OK. (This is way too broad and most government buildings are not sensitive. Military and government intelligence buildings, yes. DMV or most other local/state government buildings, no.)

8. Conditions and qualifications can be imposed on the commercial sale of arms (like requiring a background check, apparently). Such conditions and qualifications not being overly restrictive is not addressed. :-(

9. "Dangerous and unusual weapons" are not protected (they consider machine guns to be such a weapon since most people do not own them). The logic in saying machine guns are not protected because most people don't own one for self--defense (and hence are "unusual") is a circular one. More people WOULD own machine guns if they were EASY and INEXPENSIVE to get! But they aren't because of existing laws that infringed on the ownership of such guns put in place back in 1934 and 1968.

Sheesh.

So the end result is a mixed bag. People in DC (and hopefully soon, Chicago) can now have a loaded gun, including a handgun, in their home for self-defense and can move said gun around freely within their home. It allows for a license requirement to have such a gun, but requires the license be forthcoming and not denied on a whim. It does not protect concealed carry in any way nor does it require permits to do so not be arbitrarily and capriciously denied. This is a battle that will have to be fought another day and one that is quite possibly winnable.

Bans on carry in schools and government buildings and perhaps other "sensitive" locations are constitutional. Because "sensitive" is not clearly defined, this is going to be a headache.

We will continue to have the purchase of firearms loaded down with qualifications and conditions. :-(
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Be sure and take the Washington Post poll here (thanks to Bill Smith for the link):
http://tinyurl.com/5x4u8d
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