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January 20, 2008

Concerns about concerns about the recognition of serious gun rights

Today's Washington Post has this interesting article headlined "Administration Rankles Some With Stance in Handgun Case." Here are snippets:

The Bush administration's position in the case before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns has created an unexpected and serious backlash in conservative circles, disappointing gun enthusiasts and creating implications for the presidential campaign....

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the Republicans' chief deputy whip, called the brief "just outrageous," and Republican presidential candidate and former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) accused the Justice Department of "overlawyering" the issue.  David B. Kopel, an associate policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, said that President Bush was elected in part because of the passion of gun rights activists and that "the citizen activists would never have spent all those hours volunteering for a candidate whose position on the constitutionality of a handgun ban was 'maybe.' "

Though this article does not focus specifically on felon-in-possession laws or the severe sentence enhancements that federal law has for certain gun offenses, it does highlight the special challenges facing the Bush Administration when it endorses "the proposition that the Second Amendment provides for an individual right for gun ownership."  As I have explained in prior posts, if the Supreme Court in the Heller case shows a serious concern with a serious individual right to gun ownership, there can and likely will be significant subsequent litigation over many types of federal gun crime sentences in lower courts.

Some recent related posts:

January 20, 2008 at 05:36 PM | Permalink


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My understanding is that the Fifth Circuit has held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. But as far as I know, there is not a huge amount of (or any?) litigation in the Fifth regarding the legality of gun laws -- whether on an as-applied basis or as a facial attack. If my facts are right, why is this so?

Posted by: Confused | Jan 20, 2008 9:52:29 PM

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