This is what the Second Amendment says:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
This is what the District of Columbia did:
It passed a law in 1976 holding that all guns in the home must be “unloaded, disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.”
Between 1976 and 1991, while the U.S. murder rate increased at an unseemly 9%, the D.C. murder rate, which had been declining before 1976, increased by a staggering 200%.
Clearly, while bad things can happen if there are guns around the house (children inadvertently killing themselves or friends, impulse suicides, impulse murders), worse things can happen when there are no guns around the house. (And no, I do not personally own a gun.)
On March 7, 2006, the Federal District Court issued a 75 page long opinion holding that the Washington, D.C. law violates the Second Amendment (that bit about not infringing the People’s right to keep and bear arms).
And here’s how the New York Times characterized the court’s ruling:
Interpreting the Second Amendment broadly, a federal appeals court in Washington yesterday struck down a gun control law in the District of Columbia that bars residents from keeping handguns in their homes. (Emphasis mine.)
Now, much as it always pained me to admit when I was a card-carrying, gun-control liberal, there’s no “broad” reading necessary to conclude that a law making gun ownership entirely ineffectual does, in fact “infringe” upon “the right of the People to keep and bear arms.” The only way to get around this language is to change the language, not to try to nitpick it and narrow it to death.
And before those of you start making the old argument that guns are only allowed for a “militia,” and that the National Guard is our militia, hold your breath. The only way to harmonize “militia” and “People” in the Second Amendment is to envision a situation in which people have the ability, because they are armed, instantly to form citizen’s brigade separate from the United States Military. Nor is this careless drafting. (As if the Founders were ever careless about these things.) That the Founders viewed these citizens’ militias as entirely separate from forces under Government aegis (including the National Guard) they would not have drafted the Fifth Amendment as they did:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger. . . .
“Land and naval forces” (i.e, the standing military) cannot be the same as “militia” because the language then becomes redundant — and it is a standing principle of statutory construction that you would language to avoid redundancies.
In other words, if you don’t like the Second Amendment, take steps to change it. You know what I mean: those extremely difficult steps that most Americans won’t stand for when it comes to gun control, such as convening a new Constitutional Convention or engaging in the painful process of having both houses and all those state legislatures pass the proposed amendment by a supermajority. What you don’t do is pervert the Amendment’s language beyond recognition, and than classify as “broad” a reading that actually interprets the language as written.