The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


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Candidates React: D.C. Gun Ban Struck Down

Gun rights activists Ariel Sarousi (2nd L) Craig Burgers and Steve Bierfeld (R) of Arlington, Va., react to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the District of Columbia's gun ban, June 26, 2008 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

Updated 12:18 p.m.
In reaction to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the D.C. gun ban, the presumptive presidential candidates issued statements variously praising and parsing the decision.

John McCain issued the following statement:

Today's decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Barack Obama had a different view:

I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today's ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.

As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.

Posted at 11:20 AM ET on Jun 26, 2008  | Category:  Primary Source
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Goos heavens, AzynAm247. This decision isn't making handguns easier for criminals to access. They already have quite free access to them as they follow "gun control" laws as readily as they follow the laws pertaining to theft, rape and murder. This is about taking the cuffs off the law abiding citizens that have been unconstitutionally disarmed for decades. Decades filled with a rising crime rate ever since this well-meaning (and I'm being kind) yet utterly boneheaded ban was put into effect.

Posted by: outsidelookingin | June 29, 2008 3:26 PM

This is all really simple to me i suppose living in a country where you can't walk down the street and buy a gun (and will you look at that LOW GUN HOMICIDE) you just look oddly at all the fuss in America. Look, with examples it's as simple as this: reffering to people on this site who have commented, people like Mike.B should be allowed to have a gun wheras people like Aaron Bur should not. It is that simple i refer to Obamas statement about fatherhood " Any fool can have a child, it takes a real man to be a father" well apply that to these cooky Americans (any fool can own a gun only a responsible person should) because if you all have the right to run around shooting each other with legal hand guns then IRAN has the right to a nuculear weapon put that in your gun-shaped pipes and smoke it because it is the truth.

Posted by: Aussie Observer | June 26, 2008 11:04 PM

Aaron Burr - Obama has been consistant in saying that he thinks the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own firearms. His (and two of the desenting justices!) view of the D.C. gun ban, is that a coimmunity can enact reasonable laws to protect the community without violating that right. Now, we all agree that the D.C. gun ban went too far, way too far. But, reasonable laws, such as those that exist in Sweden and Norway and Austria, would allow people the right to own firearms, even for purposes of home defense, but would have them locked up in a gun safe otherwise. They also require firearm safety handling tests, both a written and a practical test. I just cannot see someone being able to own a gun they cannot shoot srtraighjt...or handle safely. That is reasonable and I hope D.C. enacts such a law because I think it would pass Constitutional muster.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 26, 2008 3:43 PM

We now have DC v Heller joining Roe v Wade to allow guns and abortions and I am sure we will have many test cases to establish the limits of both rulings. The partial birth ban and the machine gun ban will tested as will the 50 state and the DC rules on both issues.

Posted by: epd | June 26, 2008 3:37 PM

Translation of Obama's ridiculous statement: "This is not the Constitution I thought I studied."

If one of the things that allegedly qualifies this guy for President is his knowledge of the constitution, than someone should hire me to develop a time machine.

His attempt to have it both ways here is really grotesque. He stated unequivocally throughout the primary season THAT HE SUPPORTS THE DC BAN. He cannot now say with a straight face that the majority opinion is consistent with his views.

He also previously stated that he wants to reinstate the so called "assault weapon" ban. How does that position jive with today's decision? NEWS FLASH: It doesn't...

Indeed, one of the first things that President Hussein Obama will undertake is to work with a tyrannical DEMOCRAT congress to undermine our citizen's gun rights.

BHO wants to close the gun show loophole. TRANSLATION: He wants to restrict private ownership and sale of guns! I think not, pal.

Obama's view of the 2nd Amendment is the same view he has with everything else. He changes his position depending upon the way the political wind is blowing.

During the DC primary he took the position that the DC gun ban was good to win votes. Now after the decision comes down, Obama thinks the DC gun ban is bad because it will gain him more votes.



Posted by: Aaron Burr | June 26, 2008 3:18 PM

I don't get it. Obama didn't say he was against the ruling. In fact, he endorses it because he clearly says here that he will "uphold the constitutional rights of LAW-ABIDING gun owners, hunters, and sportsmen". How is that different from what McCain said about this ruling's affirmation of the Second Amendment? And why did McCain have to inject those negative, petty comments about Obama? Why did he even have to go there, because they're both essentially agreeing with the ruling! How many people out there would have anything negative to say about either candidate if McCain and/or Obama would step up sometime and say something like, "my opponent and I both agree that ....."? Now THAT would give me more confidence in the abilities and strength of character of these guys!

Obama does make a valid argument for some form of gun control, though. There's no getting around the fact that more control is needed in Chicago and Washington than in Cheyenne or some retirement community in Florida. Get the point? More importantly, what's wrong with denying a convicted felon the right to own a gun? You break the law, you don't get a gun! Plain and simple! Also, why in the world does a person NEED 10 or 20 guns in the first place? Why do people need assault weapons? You have to use that many guns or shoot that many rounds to protect yourself - at some point you're no longer "protecting yourself" - you're OUT OF CONTROL! Was that the intended purpose of the Second Amendment? Not only that, but why does a law-abiding citizen have to worry about gun control anyway? You're not affected by it - unless you WANT that assault weapon, or you want a basement full of guns!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 3:04 PM

mjames2 - I just found this NRA article about the murder rate difference between Sweden and the U.S., too. The combined firearm related murder and acciental death rate in Sweden in 2001 was 1.3 per 100,000 vs 7.3 for the U.S.! That's a HUGE difference and it is entirely due to their safe and safe handling laws!

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 26, 2008 3:03 PM

"I'm not against gun ownership, but being a former D.C. resident, it's not safe to have handguns being easily available to drug dealers and other criminal elements."

PLEASE! Do you seriously think that drug dealers and criminals every really cared about the handgun ban?

I guess that you would cite the abnormally low murder and crime rates in DC as evidence supporting this theory?

Posted by: Sean | June 26, 2008 2:59 PM

I think the USA should ban all cars, trucks and motorcycles - they kill more people each year than do all of the forearms in this country, oh, and don't forget the airplanes and helicopters, hang gliders,parachutes.....

P.S. Don't forget to arm the bears.

Posted by: AlEx4132 | June 26, 2008 2:56 PM

mjames2 - Sure. There are, however, several ways of looking at this - in terms of guns per people or in terms of households with guns. A current Wikkipedia claims that Sweden has 32 guns per 100 residents (Norway has 36, ) whereas the U.S. has 90 per 100 residents. In terms of households, however, 38% of U.S. households have at least one gun whereas 41% of households in Sweden have at least one firearm. A glaring difference seems to be that U.S. residents seem to collect guns whereas European's buy them to use. One thing that has always struck me is the number of crappy junk firearms you see in U.S. collections. In Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, or Denmark, people save and buy only the highest quality rifle or pistol or shotgun. Instead of 5 hunting rifles, they will own one really good one. Likewise, you will spend a lot of time in, say Sweden, finding someone who owns a semi-automatic pistol. They buy top notch S&W and like revolvers.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 26, 2008 2:53 PM

I live in the woods over a cliff at the end of a dirt road. It is a very, very beautiful, peaceful slice of nature. I have little kids and a wife and they are not afraid of anyone and I like that.

Yet there are meth heads in the hills around me and they are nuts, really and truly crazy dangerous.

We never have locked our house, keys are in the cars.

If someone comes up my road at night, I will know they are coming before they know I know. I do not want them in the house. I will try to meet them outside.

But really, the AR is kind of like an item, a mint Colt, so it shoots straight.
Of course I hope I never ever get in a tactical fight where spraying bullets at medium range is a good thing.

Main thing is that not just right wing people know how to protect their safety. I just don't worry about it, but I sure would worry if unarmed, that is the point.

Growing up in Minnesota, I began competitive shooting as a little kid. As my politics went more and more anti-our-current-government, it never dawned on me that owning and knowing how to use weapons was a bad thing for we the people.

Liberals really are a problem. Careless and weak is never a good thing in a predatory world. I decided I am leftist because conservatives are actually Big Brother Government people who lie and most Libertarians are kooks. Sometimes it is hard to know exactly how to love this country.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 26, 2008 2:50 PM

There are too many people who either own guns or have access to them, and have No experience, not a clue about gun safety!
The average hand gun owner couldn't hit a door from 20 feet.
I look forward to the day when every gun owner is required to pass a safety training class, and pass a shooting accuracy test, for each type of firearm that they own.

Also... I love that line about prying my gun from my dead hand. More likely they'll be taking it from the hand of your young child after he has killed someone. Or, from the hand of the one family member who has just killed another family member.

Posted by: Steve Oday | June 26, 2008 2:42 PM


Does Sweden really have a higher rate of gun ownership? Can you provide a link for some evidence of that?

Posted by: mjames2 | June 26, 2008 2:33 PM

shrink2 - I'm glag you identify yourself as a "leftist" instead of as a "liberal", becasue I couldn't disagree with your attitude more. I wouldn't own an AR15 if you gave me one. They are inaccurate and worthless and I am not even aware of any sanctioned target matches that use them. I shoot 300 meter international freestyle. That means a bolt action 308 and peep sights and groups measuring sub-one MOA. For hunting, I use a 270, also bolt action. The only handgun I own is a S&W X-Frame in a 460 Mag for hunting elk in dense thickets. It is extremely accurate (out to 200 yards!) and provides all of the "macho" you could possibly want. Why on earth would anyone want a piece of junk like an AR? If you want "self defense" a good pump shotgun is all you need. Other than that, guns are for sport shooting. Period.

Posted by: MikeB | June 26, 2008 2:31 PM

I have a nasty (all the tricks) AR15 and lots of other killing gear. My hand made traditional bow is one of my favorites.

Someday we may have to fight a facist, right wing dictatorship. Cheney says he cares about this country but of course, he lies.

As a leftist and a $$$ donor to Obama, I love the contrast between Obama's statement and the ridiculous clown, John McSame.

For a year I have predicted a brutal but winning battle with the Clintons and a walk over McSame. Wanna bet I am wrong on the second prediction?

You Bush/McCain people need to get your filthy hands off this country.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 26, 2008 2:10 PM

I feel sorry for the Obama supports who think Obama is for the 2nd Amendment. If elected President, he'll work to undermind that right as he did in Chicago (where the result was about the same as DC's gun ban).

Posted by: Alan | June 26, 2008 1:57 PM

JP, read this: "A Liberal Case for the Individual Right to Own Guns Helps Sway the Federal Judiciary" -

Liberals have been defenders of the Seond Amendment all along. Moreover, Barak Obama's comments today reflected what he has been saying all along, the Second Amendment is an individual right. Even two of the justices desenting in todays decision wrote that they believe the Second Amendment is an individal right. (but they feel that local governments should be allowed to regulate firearm's. I disagree with that, by the way, as do about 1/3 of those who identify themselves as liberals.) My position is close to Obama's, but I would require that firearms be locked up, in a steel gun safe, when not under the immediate control of the owner, and would require firearm safety and demonstrated ability to operate them safely and accurately. It doesn't make much sense to me to require the operator of a car to just pass a written test. They need to demonstrate that they can operate a car lawfully and with some minimum degree of competence. In Sweden, where gun ownership is a bit more common than here, they do require this and I do not see it as being an undo burden to emulate them. They have a firearm related death rate, by the way, that is less than one-quarter of ours as a direct consequence of this. Locking guns up prevents theft and children accessing them and firearm safety and competency tests guarranty that the owner of a firearm knows how to use it properly and safely.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 26, 2008 1:52 PM

Shoot your selves for you have been doing it before the Supreme Courts answer today. Good luck, but may your god bless you for you have not gained anything. Keep on letting your children die for an illegal war. Keep on forgiving your government when millions are loosing homes. Forgive you government . Told yah, screwed blue and Tattooed. Very simple for any moron to understand.
My gosh our brother and sister for years, you have not asked the important Questions and CNN. In Canada we are watching and learning, but the world, and your bloody weapons. Soon you will need food WATER possibly? ITS alright though, Black water will Protect you all, TRUST ME. Let CNN post That.

Posted by: Justada55+ | June 26, 2008 1:38 PM

mibrooks27, it wasn't Liberals that brought forth Heller v DC it was Robert Levy/Gura and the Libertarians.....big big difference between Liberals and Libertarians.

Posted by: JP | June 26, 2008 1:27 PM

the comments from the candidates pretty much sum up the difference between them. McCain gives us demagogery and 2 cheap shots at Obama that are in fact ridiculous and intenionally misrepresent him (Obama, after all, agrees on the constitutional issue - not that you would think so reading McCain). Obama, on the other hand, gives us a sensible and thoughtful statement balancing the constiutional position he has always held with the need of government to be able to regulate aspects of gun ownership, which the court also upholds (not that you would get that from McCain's statement, which would make you think the court struck down registration, machine gun bans, everything the NRA is against, etc.). It's pretty clear who the old politician is, and who's trying to run for office as a reasonable thoughtful person despite how people want to make that impossible by twisting everything he says.

Posted by: JoeT | June 26, 2008 1:12 PM

I can't wait to get my gun so I can defend myself against this Republican administration!

Posted by: DC guns | June 26, 2008 1:06 PM

I am a Democrat, generally liberal, who owns several handguns and shoots them regularly. I also have a concealed carry permits from Virginia and Utah, and over 40 hours of defensive handgun training. In order to get a CCW in either state, one has to be fingerprinted, pass a background check and register with the state, precisely what most moderate citizens support as a regulatory regime for guns in general. I think this ruling will have little practical impact in DC, but it does affirm the basic right to self-defense, a key to personal liberty.

Posted by: Armed Democrat | June 26, 2008 1:02 PM

Until we have an opportunity to read the entire decision, it is difficult to comment but Justice Scalia apparently said there was no absolute right to have firearms which would still be subject to resonable safety regulation by governmental bodies. The statements from the two candidates would suggest that Mr. Obama (or someone in his camp) had actually read the opinion while Mr. McCain's statement was only "red meat" for his supporters along with an obvious attempt to resurrect the statement by Mr. Obama regarding the life style of certain segments of our society. The cowboy/frontier mentality, as it regards firearms, still runs deep and that is reflective of evolutionary traits and not intelligent design.

Posted by: FER | June 26, 2008 12:57 PM

AzynAm247,Do you honestly believe that "drug dealers and other criminal elements" abide by such laws. Laws exist for the same reason as padlocks, for honest law-abiding individuals. THere is a threshold for law - a bell-curve if you will; at some point, increased law is a disincentive to those it is designed to protect. When extreme gun restrictions are instituted, it only becomes easier for the criminal - in this case, the criminal is the only one with the to place odds on who wins in that encounter?

Posted by: A responsible citizen | June 26, 2008 12:55 PM

Obama is like the Frogger.

Constantly switching lanes to avoid oncoming traffic. There is not a single issue to date that he has not been willing to waffle, backtrack, restate, "revise and extend" on. This is just the latest. What he said today is nothing close to what he has said about this law in the past.

The only problem with the Frogger is that -- while he can dance and dodge for quite some time if he's good (and Obama's really good) -- eventually, he's gonna' be grill meat.

For the sake of the country, we can only hope that doesn't happen AFTER November.

Posted by: ep | June 26, 2008 12:51 PM

I am a gun owner and an Obama supporter. I am delighted that his common sense views about firearm ownership, about the Second Amendment being an individual right, are at long last becoming better known. And, for you NRA types, it was *liberals* who brougth the suit that got the DC gun ban tossed out. National survery's indicate that roughly one-third of all liberals own firearms and shoot recreationally. The conservative distortion that only they are somehow the defenders of the Constitution is both wrong headed and dishonest.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 26, 2008 12:51 PM

Change comes ever so slowly in DC. It only took 32 years for 5 individuals to see the foolishness in DC's gun control law. As a DC resident, I am pleased to see the Mayor and his Acting Attorney General willing to enforce the Court decision.

Now, if we can get Mayor Fenty to agree to request that the Obama Campaign reimburse the city for the $50,000 the tax payers spent on Fenty while he was campaigning for Obama in a partisan campaign, we'll be making progress.

Its time for Fenty to prove he knows the difference between right and wrong.

Posted by: Right and Wrong | June 26, 2008 12:43 PM

No one cares what Barrack Hussein Obama thinks - Change you cannot believe in

Posted by: mike | June 26, 2008 12:38 PM

Thanks for the update. I withdraw my previous comment.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | June 26, 2008 12:28 PM

You're right -- McCain is pandering. He's only marginally better than Obama on this.

Barr is the only strong voice on this -- he co-wrote part of the brief.

Posted by: info | June 26, 2008 12:25 PM

I wonder if these same people have bomb belts for their wives?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 12:23 PM

I am not going to give a comment one way or another about the actual ruling -- I don't want to be flamed -- but if gun supporters swallow John McCain's 2nd Amendment pandering -- shame on you.

Isn't integrity worth anything? Or does following the partisan and money-grubbing wishes of the NRA mean more to you than anything else?

McCain may be "better" than Obama on your issue -- but the statement above and the "amicus brief" some minion of McCain's wrote in support of Heller are a complete and utter fraud. And his history of gun support has been unenthusiastic and tepid -- considering that John McCain is a retired military man and a Senator from a Western State.

Obama was a long-time State Senator from an urban area with absolutely no personal background with guns -- who has come a long way and is supported by NRA Dems such as Bob Casey, Jim Webb, Bill Richardson, Brain Sweitzer, Mark Warner...

But, go ahead an believe McCain's NEW pro-gun stance is real and ignore the bigger picture.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 12:00 PM

Shouldn't that be CANDIDATE (singular) reacts? I see nothing from Obama on this decision.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | June 26, 2008 11:49 AM

Guns have always been easily available to drug dealers and criminal elements in DC.

Now, they're easily available for the rest of us.

Posted by: info | June 26, 2008 11:37 AM

I'm not against gun ownership, but being a former D.C. resident, it's not safe to have handguns being easily available to drug dealers and other criminal elements.

Also, you don't want shoot outs and armed robberies to occur on the streets. This isn't the Wild, Wild West.

Posted by: AzynAm247 | June 26, 2008 11:30 AM

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