Friday, June 27, 2008

A CAUTION ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT DECISION

RADLEY BALKO. REASON Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion avoids any decision on incorporating the Second Amendment to the states, and his history suggests a strong reluctance to incorporate individual rights. Scalia's opinion does interpret the Second Amendment as an individual right, but only for self-protection, and only in the home. The concept of the Second Amendment as a bulwark against an overly oppressive government seems dead. . .

Scalia also goes out of his way to note that the "individual right" the Court found doesn't undo onerous regulations on the sale of guns, leaves untouched bans on "unusual or dangerous" weapons, and doesn't overturn existing bans on concealed carry.

So what's the real practical effect of today's ruling? Seems to me, it's limited to the following:

- A future Congress is barred from passing a uniform federal ban on handguns or rifles in the home. Just about any other federal regulation would probably still be okay, provided it meets the minimal commerce clause test.

- The 600,000 residents of Washington, D.C. and residents of other federal protectorates now have the constitutional right to own a handgun, provided they meet a set of conditions put forth by the city council-the limits of which will be litigated at a future date. Also, even this right for this small group of people extends only to handguns or rifles kept in the home.

Any other city, state, or locality may still pass a gun law just as restrictive as the one struck down in D.C. And even the D.C. city council can still make its citizens jump through a number of hoops before allowing them to own a handgun.

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