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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lawyers for Heller File Brief in DC Gun Ban Case

Lawyers for Dick Heller, a security guard, filed a brief with the Supreme Court yesterday saying that the District's categorical restrictions are so broad that they cannot comply with the Second Amendment's protection of the right to bear arms.

"However else [the District] might regulate the possession and use of arms, their complete ban on the home possession of all functional firearms, and their prohibition against home possession and movement of handguns, are unconstitutional," wrote Heller's attorney, Alan Gura, one of three lawyers representing those who challenged the gun ban.

The case will be argued before the justices March 18, and it promises a historic examination of the Second Amendment.

Heller's brief said the amendment's preamble referring to the militia gives one, but not the only, reason the framers considered the amendment necessary.

Gun-rights advocates were shocked and felt betrayed last month when the Bush administration's U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, who represent's the government before the Supreme Court, agreed that the Second Amendment provides an individual right but also said that the appeals court had used the wrong standard in evaluating the District's law.

Clement said the D.C. Circuit's broad opinion could call into question federal gun-control measures, and he recommended that the District law be sent back to lower courts for evaluation "under a more flexible standard of review."

Heller's brief said limitations on the rights of individual to possess firearms should be held to the court's most restrictive scrutiny.

"Demoting the Second Amendment to some lower tier of enumerated rights is unwarranted," the brief said. "The Second Amendment has the distinction of securing the most fundamental rights of all -- enabling the preservation of one's life and guaranteeing our liberty."

Thanks to all VSSA members and other gun owners who answered the call to support the Association's efforts to file an amicus brief on the side of Heller. We reached our goal and are joining 39 other state associations and the brief should be filed in the coming days.

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