This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 3, 2015:
Some in the media called the announcement by the District of Columbia’s attorney general that he was dropping the appeal over Judge Frederick Scullin’s decision (see Palmer v. District of Columbia) a victory in the gun wars. Even the usually sensible Washington Times called it a “surrender,” headlining: “D.C. Surrenders to 2nd Amendment, Gives up ban on Carrying Guns in Public.”
To be generous, that is an overstatement. What Attorney General Karl Racine really announced was a strategic retreat. The war against guns remains active:
We need to focus our energies not on litigating old laws [that have now been ruled unconstitutional], but defending new ones that our leaders enacted in good faith to comply with court rulings while still protecting public safety.
Racine is no doubt familiar with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, in which Tzu said many wise things, including this:
Should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his left.
If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
Racine knows two things that pro-Second Amendment people are just beginning to understand: there is (and has been for many years) a war against guns, and in the last few years those pro-gun people have won just about every battle in that war, despite their ignorance.
Like an army general (think Robert E. Lee) faced with overwhelming odds, Racine hopes to wait this one out. He is pulling his troops in from the outer perimeter and putting them inside where they can delay and hopefully discourage pro-gun forces before they obliterate him and his army.
Last summer, Judge Scullin ruled in no uncertain terms that the District’s anti-gun policy was blatantly and unequivocally unconstitutional:
In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny….
Scullin then demanded that the District’s council, which, as a federal district, operates at the discretion of Congress, “adopt … a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
Instead, the anti-gun politicians populating the District’s council developed a draconian, costly and frightfully complex process to keep all but the most determined citizens from obtaining a concealed carry permit. At present, its “may issue” system requires applicants to pony up $110 in application fees, to attend 18 hours of classroom instruction (made more difficult because there are no licensed instructors in the district), and, finally, to “prove a need” beyond just wanting some personal protection in order to justify issuance of the permit. As of January 27, some 69 hardy souls attempted to enter the labyrinthine maze. Three withdrew, no doubt out of disgust and frustration. Of the remaining 66, just eight have been approved. When pressed on the matter, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said that 11 had been denied, and the remainder were still being processed.
Stall, dither, and delay. That’s the strategy being undertaken by the council, hoping by some miracle perhaps that Second Amendment supporters will go away.
That’s hardly likely. There’s the smell of blood in the water, and at least two lawsuits are pending against the District, one asking Judge Scullin to rule on the constitutionality of the District’s scheme, the other brought by citizens who went through the process and were still denied a permit.
The momentum, at present, is all on the side of the pro-gun forces. It may be that Racine’s decision to withdraw from the field of battle was informed by “The Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015” offered in the House and the Senate by pro-gun representatives, which would neatly remove the power to regulate guns in the District from its council. His decision might also have been informed by the momentum being gained by those pressing forward on the next pro-gun issue: national reciprocity. There’s Senate Bill 498 and House Bill 923, introduced simultaneously by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) that would allow citizens who possess concealed carry permits in their home state to exercise that same right in any other state (that allows concealed carry). The Senate offering already has 23 cosponsors while the House bill has 17.
There’s House Bill 986 and 402, nearly identical bills offered by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) respectively, to accomplish the same thing. HR 986 has 114 cosponsors while HR 402 has 81.
Perhaps Racine is not as smart (or well read) as this writer thinks he is. But if Sun Tzu is right, Racine is out of options: if he strengthens his van (his forces on the front line), he will weaken his rear. If he strengthens his right, he weakens his left.
All he can do is buy time. The clock is ticking. It’s just a matter of time before his position is either so weakened that it becomes ineffective, or his forces are obliterated altogether. Like Custer (to change the analogy only slightly), Racine knows the end is near.
For the victors, the sooner they realize that this is a real war with real victims and real issues of freedom at stake, the sooner Racine and his anti-gunners will be relegated to a footnote in history. Victory in this great war against guns will not happen when minds are changed but when power is removed from those whose goal is the same as Hitler’s:
The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms.
History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.
Alan Gura: Victory in Palmer v. D.C.
The New American: Rubio Introduces Bill to Gut D.C.’s Anti-gun Laws
FreeBeacon.com: DC Issues First Gun Carry Permits