THINGS DID NOT go well the last time the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit took a hard look at the District’s gun regulations. In 2007, the court struck down as unconstitutional a handgun ban and a requirement that long guns in the home be kept unloaded and secured with trigger locks at all times. A conservative majority of the Supreme Court used the case as a springboard in 2008 for a ruling that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Why the first sentence? What exactly did not go well the last time? First, second amendment rights to arms for self protection were protected, after decades of neglect by judges and lawmakers. Second, crime has fallen across the board in DC. This is due to a variety of factors about which honest people can disagree, but the decline has continued post-Heller. The predictions in 2008 by the intelligentsia were to the contrary: this would lead to doomsday. (John Lott examines the drop in crime here. More general crime data on DC is available here, although 2009 is the last year listed.) Third, the decision shows that there is still considerable room – in this case the ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines – for judges and lawmakers within the guidance of the Heller decision.
Lastly, if this was a “common sense” decision, why didn’t progressives call for this before? In their simplistic view, gun control laws are helpful and needed because guns need to be controlled to control crime. The proof that said laws control guns is in the name itself: gun control laws. It is tautological, and often false. As a non-gun-owning resident of DC, I support crime control. That may or may not involve greater restrictions on gun ownership.