Emerson Radio Address: Strike Down the DC Gun Ban


Date: Feb. 2, 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Guns


"The Constitution is also known as the Law of the Land, and the Bill of Rights sets forth the principles that govern our basic freedoms as Americans. In the case of the Second Amendment, the interpretation of the American right to bear arms is subject to ongoing debate in our courts.

There are some places in the country where the Second Amendment is restricted by local laws, and the right to bear arms is limited. Clearly these local laws violate the Bill of Rights, from which stem the protections that allow Americans to legally use firearms for hunting, sports, and self-defense. No entity infringes on the Second Amendment rights of citizens more than the District of Columbia, where the possession of a firearm is completely illegal.

Like so many gun laws, the individuals who follow the law are not the problem. It is criminals, especially violent criminals, who flout the law and use weapons to commit crimes. Obviously, there are people in the District of Columbia who have guns in violation of the law. For criminals, it's a great place to ply their trade. It is much easier to steal from, threaten, or even harm law-abiding citizens who the criminal knows will not defend themselves or their homes with a firearm.

Finally, a challenge to this wrongheaded law is coming to the Supreme Court. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, several DC residents allege that the DC gun ban essentially prohibits armed self-defense in the home. These concerned residents have a litany of laws supporting their position, including a series of efforts I have cosponsored and voted for.

I am doing one more thing to help repeal the DC gun ban, I am now a part of that lawsuit. This week, I will sign an amicus curiae brief: a document conveying the conviction of more than 100 members of Congress that the Supreme Court should strike down the DC gun ban. This is an extremely important test case for the Second Amendment, and the outcome has ramifications for more than the District of Columbia.

Cities across the country will be watching this case to see if the DC gun ban is upheld. If it is not, and the ban is struck down, similar restrictions on the Second Amendment may be ruled as unconstitutional. If the DC gun ban is upheld, not only will those laws stay in place, but more of them may be on the way.

Ultimately, laws infringing on the Second Amendment have one aim - to take firearms out of the hands of American citizens who abide by the law. I've long said that the logical place to start fighting crime is to go after criminals. These laws cast a much wider net, and the legislators who promote them ask us to concede a portion of our constitutional freedoms. If we do that, and give up even a small part of the liberties with which our Founders endowed us, I fear we will have an extremely difficult time ever getting those rights back.

As all eyes are on the Supreme Court and its landmark decision in this case, know that I, and the law-abiding gun owners of Southern Missouri, are on the record in their chambers: strike down the DC gun ban!"