Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Risky Business

I guess the District of Columbia (my home) has little choice but to seek Supreme Court review of the D.C. Circuit's decision striking down its gun-control law, but it's a risky business. As things stand, the D.C. Circuit's decision is an unusual interpretation of the Second Amendment that will only affect the nation's capital. The Supreme Court might reverse it, but it could also affirm, and then gun control will be revolutionized nationwide.

The Second Amendment was a sleepy constitutional backwater until pretty recently, starting, I would say, with Sanford Levinson's article, The Embarrassing Second Amendment. Prof. Levinson pointed out that perhaps the Amendment really does mean that there is an individual right to bear arms. Ever since, the debate has gotten more lively.

I'm kind of agnostic on gun control. My old friend Eugene Volokh has written quite a lot about it and suggests that the statistics really do show that widespread gun ownership makes society safer. I've never investigated the matter thoroughly, but I have a lot of respect for Eugene.

In any event, the District is taking on a big project and a big risk. If the Supreme Court grants cert, watch for the sparks to fly.

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