This morning the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in the case of Parker, et al v. the District of Columbia, overturned the District of Columbia's handgun ban on Second Amendment grounds. Under the decision, which is contrary to the overwhelming weight of legal authority, District residents would now be allowed to keep handguns in their homes.
Since its enactment, overturning the DC handgun ban has been the Holy Grail for the National Rifle Association and its supporters. Pending appeal, it looks like they may have finally achieved their goal. And if the case, which concludes that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms," is heard on appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court, it has the potential to lay the groundwork for literally every local, state, and federal gun law in America to be challenged: from the federal ban on gun possession by felons to the ban on the manufacture of new, fully automatic machine guns.
In a twist more disturbing than ironic, the court's decision was issued the same day that a new study, Chief Concerns--Violent Crime in America: 24 Months of Alarming Trends, was issued by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The study warned of increasing violent crime and the facilitating role of firearms: According to the New York Times:
"Local police departments blame several factors: the spread of methamphetamine use in some Midwestern and Western cities, gangs, high poverty and a record number of people being released from prison. But the biggest theme, they say, is easy access to guns and a willingness, even an eagerness, to settle disputes with them, particularly among young people.
'There's a mentality among some people that they're living some really violent video game,' said Chris Magnus, the police chief in Richmond, Calif., north of San Francisco, where homicides rose 20 percent and gun assaults 65 percent from 2004 to 2006. 'What's disturbing is that you see that the blood's real, the death's real.'
Aggravated assault, which is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by a means likely to produce severe injury or death, according to an F.B.I. Web site, increased at a relatively modest 3 percent, but aggravated assaults with guns rose 10 percent. And some cities saw far higher spikes."
While today's decision is a dream come true for America's gun lobby and gunmakers, it may mark the beginning of a long, national nightmare from which we will never recover as a nation.