A D.C. ban on home handguns may not be constitutional, the solicitor general tells the Supreme Court, but rights are limited and federal firearm restrictions should be upheld.
In their legal battle over gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment, gun- control advocates never expected to get a boost from the Bush administration.
But that’s just what happened when U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement urged the Supreme Court in a brief Friday to say that gun rights are limited and subject to “reasonable regulation” by the government and that all federal restrictions on firearms should be upheld.
Reasonable regulations include the federal ban on machine guns and other “particularly dangerous types of firearms,” he said in the brief. Moreover, the government forbids gun possession by felons, drug users, “mental defectives” and people subject to restraining orders, he said.
“Given the unquestionable threat to public safety that unrestricted private firearm possession would entail, various categories of firearm-related regulation are permitted by the 2nd Amendment,” Clement said. He filed the brief in a closely watched case involving Washington, D.C.’s ban on keeping handguns at home for self-defense.
The head of a gun-control group said he was pleasantly surprised by the solicitor general’s stand.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, said he saluted the administration for recognizing a need for limits on gun rights.