Feelings Mixed Over Pending Ruling on DC Handgun Ban

By Allison Aldrich | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

On the Spot (CNSNews.com) - With the Supreme Court's decision over the District of Columbia's handgun ban looming, residents and visitors in the nation's capital, in speaking with Cybercast News Service, expressed concern over the direction the Court may take.

The decision, which is expected this week, will determine the future of Washington's 32-year-old ban on individuals owning handguns.

Cybercast News Service sampled opinions of D.C. residents and visitors on the ban and on whether they support individual gun ownership.

Charlie Higgins, a visitor from San Diego, Calif., said he hopes the Court upholds the ban on handgun possession.

"Even though I think we should have the right to bear arms, I think that handguns in the city make the crime so much worse," Higgins told Cybercast News Service. "Without a ban, it would be that much easier for the criminals to get a hold of them."

Despite a strong belief in keeping handguns out of D.C., Svetlana Stepanoea told Cybercast News Service that she supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

"I hope they will keep the ban on the city," she said. "But I think the amendment is a good thing for the country just because I think that's what America is all about -- that people have certain freedoms -- and I do think people have a choice whether they want guns or not."

Crime was an important concern for residents of D.C., a city dubbed "the murder capital of the world" in the 1990s.

"There are so many drugs in the neighborhoods --and with drugs come violence, and they usually use guns," said Johnny Little of Washington. "I think the ban should continue for another 32 years and after that, another 32 years."

On the other hand, some told Cybercast News Service that the gun ban is ineffective in curbing violence and eliminating easy access to illegal handguns.

"It's probably best to not have illegal guns on the street," said Brandon Whitney, who said he moved to Washington, D.C., from Detroit.

"It's one thing if people get a permit and get a gun, and you go through the process. It's another thing if there's an illegal gun on the street," Whitney said.

"You should be able to have a handgun, but you should have to sign up for it, and it should be tracked," he added. "But again, (this is) D.C., and I know a lot of people get shot with an illegal gun that they buy legally in Virginia. People get shot all the time with illegal guns."

Opinion was split on whether D.C. residents should be able to own a registered handgun.

"I think they should be allowed to, 100 percent" said Jason Sams, a Virginia resident. "There's a ban on guns in D.C., but yet every other person has one; it's kind of strange."

Sams said he is hopeful the Supreme Court will overturn the handgun ban.

When asked about the use of handguns for self-defense in a city notorious for high crime rates, however, many said D.C. residents should rely on law enforcement rather than take matters into their own hands.

"I don't think people have a need (for handguns)," said Jessica Hawley, a visitor from Arkansas. "If they have to defend themselves, that's what police are for."

D.C. resident Andrei Smith echoed those sentiments: "I don't think people should have guns here. I think [the Second Amendment] should only apply to the police force."

Whether local residents felt safer with -- or without -- the handgun ban depended on their interpretation of the Second Amendment.

"I agree with the people who say that [the Second Amendment] was about the need for militias when there was not a standing army. The fact that people say they need individual arms is ridiculous today," said Buzz Mauro of Annapolis, Md.

Whitney, however, countered with his support for an individual's right to bear arms.

"The Second Amendment is great, it needs to be upheld, but within reason," he said. "It's just a matter of being honest and upright and making sure that people can get access to guns while at the same time keeping people safe."

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