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Reaction to Gun Ruling (*Updated)

We'll be posting reaction throughout the day on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn D.C.'s longtime hangun ban.

The first comes from D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who chairs the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. He has scheduled an oversight hearing for Wednesday, July 2, at noon in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004. Those who wish to testify should contact Victor Bonett at (202) 724-4865, by fax at (202) 724-6664, or via e-mail at vbonett@dccouncil.us and provide their name, address, telephone number, organizational affiliation and title (if any) by close of business Monday, June 30.

Mendelson said in a statement: "I look forward to working with the Executive and my colleagues on the Council. While I am disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision on the Heller case, our response will be swift and comprehensive. We will have time to revise our registration law, while simultaneously ensure that the safety and well-being of those who live, work, and play in the District will be protected."

Mayor Adrian Fenty, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and the city's legal team, including interim Attorney General Peter Nickles and Supreme Court advocate Walter Dellinger, will hold a news conference at noon on the steps of city hall--the John A. Wilson Building--to react. D.C. Wire will be there and report back with a full briefing.

Click jump for more reaction, including from the Brady Center and the National Rifle Association:

*Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group favoring tighter firearms controls, said outside the courthouse that the ruling was "quite clearly" a defeat for the organization's legal position. But, he said, there was a silver lining to the outcome. Although the majority opinion says that handguns can't be banned, it does allow governments to impose restrictions on ownership.

* National Rifle Association's executive vice president Wayne LaPierre."This is a great moment in American history. It vindicates individual Americans all over this country who have always known that this is their freedom worth protecting. Our founding fathers wrote and intended the Second Amendment to be an individual right. The Supreme Court has now acknowledged it. The Second Amendment as an individual right now becomes a real permanent part of American Constitutional law."

* Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand: "Today's opinion turns legal logic and common sense on its head. As measured in gun death and injury, handguns are our nation's most lethal category of firearm: accounting for the vast majority of the 30,000 Americans who die from guns each year. Handguns are our nation's leading murder and suicide tool. Yet the majority opinion offers the greatest offender the strongest legal protection. It's analogous to the Court carving out special constitutional protection for child pornography in a First Amendment case. In its ruling, the Court has ignored our nation's history of mass shootings, assassinations, and unparalleled gun violence. It has instead accepted an abstract academic argument with dangerous real-world results for residents of the District of Columbia. Thankfully, because the plaintiff in Heller did not challenge the District's ban on 'machine guns,' Washington, DC's ban on most semiautomatic weapons, including semiauto handguns, should be unaffected."

*U.S. Rep. James Moran (D-Va.): "The Court's decision is an affront to D.C. resident's right to enact laws in the best interest of their public-safety.We ought to respect the prerogatives of urban communities on the frontlines battling gun violence in the same way we respect those of more suburban and rural areas where guns are more commonly used in sport shooting and hunting. I am relieved the Court didn't take this ruling to the extreme and unravel decades of responsible gun safety laws enacted by local and state governments. One thing is certain, the gun safety debate will continue. Future fights will be on turf where supporters of commonsense firearm safety laws stand on firm footing."

* House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH): "In the most significant victory for the Second Amendment in recent memory, the Supreme Court today reaffirmed our citizens' constitutional right to keep and bear arms. That right applies to every law-abiding American, not just those who live and work in Washington, D.C. The basis of this decision is straightforward: Americans - including residents of our nation's capital - should have the ability to defend themselves, and under the Constitution, they are clearly guaranteed this right. For more than three decades, this right has been denied to law-abiding Americans in the District of Columbia, but today's decision rightfully restores it to them. This decision should send a clear message to opponents of the Second Amendment. The Constitution plainly guarantees the solemn right to keep and bear arms, and the whims of politically-correct bureaucrats cannot take it away."

* D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5): "The residents of Ward 5 are concerned about the implications of the Supreme Court's decision. With 22 homicides in Ward 5 alone since the beginning of the year, it is imperative that we develop the most rigorous and stringent gun laws possible."

* Stand Up! For Democracy In D.C. Coalition President Anise Jenkins: "With this anti-democratic and ill-conceived decision, the Supreme Court has accomplished in one blow what the District's adversaries in Congress failed to do - gut the gun-control laws that protect our citizens from violence. The District already is experiencing a spike in violent crime this summer - how many more of our citizens will be the victims of guns because of what the Court has done?"

* Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser (D): "I am disappointed in today's Supreme Court action which ruled that the DC law banning private handgun possession at home violates the Second Amendment. For more than 30 years, the District of Columbia has had a very strict handgun law and this morning's decision will likely introduce more handguns into the District of Columbia.
District of Columbia laws have regulated the purchase, sale, possession, ownership, registration, transportation, importation, and manufacture of handguns. The DC Council, along with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), will continue to meet their obligation to protect the residents of the District of Columbia. Today's ruling will allow the legal possession of handguns in private homes but this possession will be strictly regulated, including the registration and finger printing of hand gun owners, and until so doing, all DC laws remain in effect.Today's Supreme Court decision does not impact our laws prohibiting the possession and use of guns outside of the home. There is no right to carry handguns on the streets in the District. That has not changed. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons will continue to be banned throughout the City.

By David A Nakamura  |  June 26, 2008; 10:47 AM ET
Categories:  David Nakamura , Gun Ban Case  
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