Posted: 5/7/2003 4:25:59 PM EST
Group Suing DC Over Gun Ban Shuns NRA Involvement
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
May 06, 2003
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - District of Columbia residents suing the D.C. government over its 1976 gun ban said Monday they do not want their lawsuit combined with a somewhat similar suit filed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Robert Levy, a Georgetown University law professor and constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute, said his clients are "just perfectly situated to make the best case possible in the jurisdiction that has the worst laws possible.
"The NRA, in our view, is just simply fouling the waters" Levy told CNSNews.com. "They are prolonging the resolution of the case and introducing all sorts of extraneous causes of action and bringing [Attorney General John] Ashcroft into the case when he has no business in the case."
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Levy is litigating the Feb. 10 civil claim by Shelly Parker, Dick Anthony Heller, Tom Palmer, Gillian St. Lawrence, Tracey Ambeau and George Lyon that the District of Columbia and D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams have violated their constitutional right to own and possess firearms under the Second Amendment by maintaining and enforcing the de facto ban on private ownership of guns.
The NRA's lawsuit - brought on behalf of Sandra Seegars, Gardine Hailes, Absalom Jordan, Jr., Carmela Brown and Robert Hemphill - also claims that the D.C. gun ban violates the Second Amendment. But the Seegars suit names four additional "causes of action" for the court to consider.
The Seegars suit claims that the D.C. gun ban violates the Fifth Amendment protection against being deprived of property without due process, as well as the provision dealing with "equal protection" under the law. The NRA also claims the D.C. law violates the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and imposes regulations that are not "usual and reasonable" as required elsewhere in D.C. law.
NRA attorneys want to combine the Seegars suit with the Parker action. Levy has filed a motion to block that consolidation.
"The NRA lawsuit contains all sorts of extraneous claims - unrelated to the Second Amendment - that will, in our view, first fail; second, give the court, if it wishes, a way to circumvent [addressing] the Second Amendment - which is the guts of what we want to accomplish in this case; and third, delay the case," Levy argued.
Ted Novin, a spokesman for the NRA, told CNSNews.com Monday afternoon that the group could not comment on Levy's objections yet.
"We're in the process of filing a document with the court and, when it's filed," he said, "we'll be free to comment on it."
Ashcroft named as co-defendant in NRA lawsuit
In addition to the government of the District of Columbia, the NRA lawsuit also named U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as a defendant. Levy said he had considered doing that as well, but decided against it.
"There's no basis on which to include Ashcroft as a defendant," Levy argued. "He prosecutes felonies in D.C., not misdemeanors."
The law Levy is challenging imposes misdemeanor penalties for violations, meaning the "Corporate Counsel" for the District of Columbia - similar to a city attorney - prosecutes violations. Levy is not arguing that the Second Amendment protects a criminal's possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, only that law-abiding citizens have that protection.
Levy pointed out other negative factors brought about by including Ashcroft as a defendant.
"You prolong the resolution of this case," he explained. "Any time you bring the feds in, they have an automatic 60 days to respond.
"Our case is ready to be ruled on, and we didn't want that kind of a delay," he added.
Political considerations are also in play in the decision, perhaps more so than in any case in recent history.
"Ashcroft is friendly to an 'individual rights' view of the Second Amendment," Levy said.
"If Ashcroft wanted to weigh in on our side of this case, the Justice Department is perfectly capable of filing an amicus brief or asking the court for an opportunity to intervene on our side," he continued. "But, by including him as an adversary, that sets the wrong tone altogether."
I hope this group wins and shows the NRA what they have been doing wrong. The NRA likes to throw a lot of crap at the wall and then hopes that something sticks. It's not as risky as having only one argument but it does make for a mess no matter what the outcome is.
In most of these things the NRA wants to get involved and then TAKE OVER. After they get control of the suit, they compromise away our rights. Screw that!
The NRA can just sit this one out.
I've met Robert Levy from the Cato Institute.
He's gonna tear them a new ass!!
If you want to read the side of the CATO attorneys who filed the suit, it is here:
[url=keepandbeararms.com/information/XcIBViewItem.asp?ID=3577]CATO Attorneys to NRA: Butt Out![/url]
And more cases where the NRA has tried to butt it's way in:
[url=keepandbeararms.com/information/XcInfoBase.asp?CatID=175]Gripes -- the blind side of the NRA[/url]
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