Washington D.C. Handgun Bill Overturned

The big news of the day is the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision overturning the Washington, D.C. gun ban.

Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion overturning the D.C. handgun ban. His opinion acknowledged that the right to own and carry a gun is not absolute and states may enact reasonable restrictions on handguns. So while the NRA folks are celebrating, I’m not sure this is an opinion that will drastically change the current environment in Washington, D.C., or around the country. But still, this is a meaningful win for gun owner rights activists because states will have a lot less latitude to put in blanket restrictions like the Washington, D.C. gun ban.

(I think the other big winner in all of this is Barack Obama because a loss today certainly would have mobilized the right against Obama in the fall. So for all personal injury victims who don’t get shot, this is probably a win for them too, particularly for those who were injured by a medical device. Congress is showing interest in a bill to overturn Medtronics v. Riegel, a recent Supreme Court opinion that found that many medical device claims are preempted by FDA approval. Many believe Barack Obama would support such a bill.)

I just glanced at the opinion for about ten minutes. Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by the “historical narrative” both before and after the adoption of the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia spends a great deal of time talking about English and colonial history and how language was used over 200 years ago. He neglected to mention that the nature and power of handguns have changed a little bit since then. But I’m glad ancient history was the basis for the Supreme Court’s ruling as opposed to, you know, the real consequences for all of us today.