Distinguished Alumnus Robert A. Levy on Second Amendment Rights

Americans who want to defend themselves by possessing suitable firearms should be able to do so says Robert A. Levy ('94), who served as co-counsel to the plaintiffs in Parker v. District of Columbia. Levy's comments appear in a Washington Post op-ed following the reversal of D.C.'s 31-year-old ban on gun ownership by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Levy's success in helping to overturn the District's gun ban, one of the most stringent in the nation, lights the way for the Supreme Court to rule on the controversial issue of whether activities protected by the Second Amendment extend beyond the concept of an armed militia to the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.

A Victory for Self-Defense, The Washington Post, March 12, 2007. By Robert A. Levy.

"Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. Anti-gun regulations don't address the deep-rooted causes of violent crime -- such as illegitimacy, unemployment, dysfunctional schools, and drug and alcohol abuse. The cures are complex and protracted. But that doesn't mean we have to become passive prey for criminal predators. Americans who want to defend themselves by possessing suitable firearms should be able to do so.

"Off and on over the years, Washington has reclaimed its title as the nation's murder capital. The D.C. government has been minimally effective in disarming violent criminals. But it has done a superb job of disarming decent, peaceable residents. For starters, no handgun can be registered in the District. Even pistols registered before the District's 1976 ban cannot be carried from room to room in a home without a license, which is never granted. Moreover, all firearms in the home, including rifles and shotguns, must be unloaded and either disassembled or bound by trigger locks.

"In effect, no one in the District can possess a functional firearm in his or her residence. And the law applies not just to 'unfit' persons such as felons, minors or the mentally incompetent, but across the board to ordinary, honest, responsible citizens who live in the District, pay their taxes in the District and obey the laws of the District.

"Sadly, if someone breaks into their homes, their only choice is to call 911 and pray that the police arrive quickly. That's not good enough. The right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, includes the right to protect your property and your life. No government should be allowed to take that right away.

"Unless the Court of Appeals elects to rehear Parker, the case will probably head to the Supreme Court; and that is where it belongs. The citizens of this country deserve a foursquare pronouncement from the nation's highest court about the real meaning of the Second Amendment. For those of us eagerly awaiting a clear statement in support of an individual's right to keep and bear arms, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has declared that the Constitution is on our side."

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