Editor’s Notebook

GHayesby Gila Hayes

Beelzebub might ask for ice skates on his Christmas wish list this year, because by my estimation, the netherworld has just frozen over! Why? Because last Saturday, word came that Senior United States District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., ruling on Palmer v. D.C., had declared the District of Columbia’s ban on publicly carrying handguns unconstitutional. See the judge’s ruling at this link

Kudos to Attorney Alan Gura and the Second Amendment Foundation for sticking with it as long as it took to attain this victory! Palmer was filed almost exactly five years ago so you can see that getting a decision on this kind of litigation is the reward for long and laborious efforts. Emily Miller’s news report at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/27/emily-miller-federal-judge-rules-dc-ban-on-gun-carry-rights-unconstitutional/ reports that during that five-year time span, Attorney Gura “twice asked the federal appeals court to force Judge Scullin to issue a decision.”

D.C. gun laws are an almost impenetrable maze, starting with an initial hurdle to obtain permission to even have a handgun in the home. Applications to register a handgun required a statement explaining why the applicant wanted or needed a handgun.

When one of the four plaintiffs expressed her wish to “carry the loaded firearm in public for self defense when not stored in my home,” the registration was predictably denied on the grounds that pistols “may only be registered by D.C. residents for protection within the home.”


The four plaintiffs were a mix of D.C. residents and non-residents, and despite the usual dodge that the District Police Department would not issue the various permits needed to non-residents, as noted above they also denied a plaintiff who does indeed reside in the District. Incidentally, the non-resident facet of the case did not prevail, because “the court finds these claims are not ripe,” wrote Judge Scullin.

Gun rights gains occur incrementally, and it was only through Heller that guns for even home defense could be registered, and the District has considerable barriers to even that. Now, in Palmer, citizens have the ruling that the District’s ban on carrying a gun for protection is unconstitutional. Of course, we must expect that more pressure will be required to overcome the entrenched opposition to armed defense rights, be that in the home or on the street, and Gura has said he expects the District to file an appeal to Scullin’s ruling. While more fights loom, Palmer is a great first step!

Learning More...

Several weeks ago on a Sunday night we were scanning through the cable TV channels when we ran across a pleasant surprise. C-Span’s Book TV featured a debate between Alan Gura and the author of a book about the Second Amendment, Michael Waldman. The discussion was insightful, and it is archived on C-Span’s video library at http://www.c-span.org/video/?319872-1/book-discussion-second-amendment-biography.

I recommend it to you.


[End of August 2014 eJournal.
Please return next month for our September edition.]