Senator Dianne Feinstein On the Supreme Court’s Ruling Overturning the DC Handgun Ban

As Stuart noted below, today, the Supreme Court declared “that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to have a gun, not just the right of the states to maintain militias.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in the landmark 5-to-4 decision, said the Constitution does not allow “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

The following is a transcript of remarks Senator Feinstein made at a Judiciary Committee Business Meeting today, in response to the Supreme court ruling:

“I must admit as much as I knew this decision was coming, I was viscerally affected by the decision.

I remember both Justice Roberts and Justice Alito sitting in front of us and indicating how they would respect stare decisis and precedent – and this decision takes down 70 years of precedent.

I guess I didn’t really think that they would do this. I think it opens this nation to a dramatic lack of safety.

I speak as a former Mayor. I speak as somebody who has gone to homicide crime scenes. I speak as somebody who was lost a youngster that I mentored, who killed himself by playing Russian roulette with a weapon he found. I speak as somebody who authorized assault weapons legislation, who believes that it was working when it was allowed to expire. I speak as somebody who has watched this nation with its huge homicide rate, when countries that have sane restrictions on weapons do not have that homicide rate.

And I happen to believe that Second Amendment does relate to the keeping of a militia. And I happen to believe that this is now going to open the door to litigation against every gun safety law that states have passed – assault weapons bans, trigger locks, and all the rest of it.

Unbelievably, this decision also strikes down the DC trigger lock requirement, which simply ensures that the gun won’t be used by someone who steals it, or finds it, or doesn’t own it.

I think this is a monumental decision. I am profoundly disappointed in Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both of whom assured us about their respect for precedent.

To the ranking member (Senator Arlen Specter), I listened as you talked about ‘super precedent,’ and everybody nodded their head and agreed with it.

And with this decision, seventy years of precedent has gone out the window. And I believe the people of this great country will be less safe because of it.”

The NY Times motes that “the last time the Supreme Court weighed a case involving the Second Amendment, in 1939, it decided a narrower question, finding that the Constitution did not protect any right to possess a specific type of firearm, the sawed-off shotgun.”

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11 Responses to Senator Dianne Feinstein On the Supreme Court’s Ruling Overturning the DC Handgun Ban

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    I find that Feinstein disappoints time and time again. The “seventy years of precedent” that she laments doesn’t exist. Heller is clearly a case of first impression, maybe more so than any case in my lifetime. It squarely addressed a question of major importance that has never before been tackled head on by the Supreme Court.

    For Sen. Feinstein to pretend otherwise doesn’t transcend seventy years of truth, it ignores more than two hundred years.

  2. Darrell

    DiFi is a long time gun control advocate. That’s her lament.

  3. Darrell

    The NY Times also notes the 70 years of precedent in an editorial: Lock and Load

  4. Darrell Prows says:

    And the NYT is wrong also. Everyone knows exactly what the law is on abortion because Roe v. Wade established it. No one before now knew if there is a Second Amendment right to bear arms because it has never been considered by the Supreme Court before Heller.

    As for whether the government has the right to control the manufagture of sawed off shotguns, the answer is still yes.

  5. Darrell

    On the “70 year precedent” — Via TIME Magazine:

    The Court had not waded into this divisive issue since 1939, when it declared, “We cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear” arms.

    And from Bloomberg:

    The Supreme Court hadn’t considered the Second Amendment since 1939, when it issued a ruling that both sides in the debate later claimed as support for their arguments.

    Here’s Wikipedia on United States v. Miller:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Miller

  6. Darrell Prows says:

    What is nearly universally recognized in legal circles as clear dictum is being cited by media sources as the holding of Miller. Given the fact that the Miller case decided an entirely different issue than Heller (marginally related but different nonetheless) it is not a true precedent. Meaning that the Heller case was presented with the specific question of whether The Second Amendement guarantees a personal right to bear arms, or something different. The Miller Court was presented with a defendant and a case where they truly wanted to uphold a criminal conviction and proceeded to do so by assuming, but not deciding, that the Second Amendement is limited. Because the issue was never faced squarely, and decided cleanly, Heller is the first case in which the Court ever attempted (albeit in a fairly ham handed manner) to rule on the exact question presented by Heller.

  7. Darrell

    Right or wrong — it seems that some people do see Miller as a precedent. Personally, I’m a gun control advocate like DiFi, so I’m fine with her lament and the fact that she evidently questioned both Alito and Roberts on this issue during their confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee and is no disappointed that they seemingly went against upholding “precedent” that evidently a discussion among Judiciary Committee members during those confirmation hearings.

  8. Ike says:

    It is interesting many of the recent supreme court rulings have been so closely split by the court. There have been at least 3 rulings of 5-4. I support my own right to carry a weapon and allowed to do so in Texas (by license) but I also believe this issue should be governed by states’ rights. I have a gun to protect my home and my family and growing up in the country I was raise on the sport of hunting and believe I should have that right. However, it is disappointing many states will begin to challenge this ruling for a host of issues which, in my opinion, are not applicable to this ruling. Anyone with a gun should be required to lock it up when children are in the home. Everyone who obtains a gun should be required to have a background check. Many of these issues simply make sense. I had a nephew who shot himself because the family’s gun was not locked up. Gun ownership requires common sense – unfortunately not all Americans seem to have that trait today when it comes to fire arms. I am not an NRA member and I do not support their platform. I am simply an American with my own personal view.

  9. alrudder says:

    I think the court is where the people are, I’m sorry the vote was so close.
    But for those who don’t like the legal interpretation, politically this is a winner for the Dems. in short…Republicans have now lost the gun issue to bash us with.

  10. Theresa says:

    I agree entirely with Sen. Feinstein. I don’t think our founding fathers intended to look into the 21st century and decide for our local mayors, city councils, and law enforcement officers whether or not people in each city today should be allowed to buy and keep guns. There has been a serious problem of gun violence among young people in Washington, DC, for a long time. It will only be harder to solve when access to guns is made easier. Since Washington is the center of the federal government, safety is an even more complicated problem. Representatives of the people in each city and state should be able to make these decisions. Since only one person carried the Supreme Court decision, hopefully it will be overturned some time, but obviously not soon.

  11. Ike

    Thanks for chiming in here and sharing your view with us. Gun ownership does require common sense and as you said not everyone who owns them use it.