More on the D.C. Gun Ban

I covered the introduction of Sen. Orrin Hatch’s bill to repeal the D.C. gun ban here, and pointed you to Publicoa’s coverage of it here. Now the Cato Institute responds. Excerpts:

In February, joined by two other attorneys, we filed the Parker case, a civil lawsuit in federal court on behalf of six D.C. residents who want to be able to defend themselves with a handgun in their own homes. When we informed the NRA of our intent, we were advised to abandon the effort. Surprisingly, the expressed reason was that the case was too good. It could succeed in the lower courts then move up to the Supreme Court where, according to the NRA, it might receive a hostile reception.

Nearly two months after we filed our lawsuit, the NRA filed a copycat suit on behalf of five D.C. residents and moved to consolidate its case with ours. Both suits challenged the same regulations, asked the same relief, and raised the same Second Amendment arguments. But the NRA included several unrelated constitutional and statutory counts, each of which would prolong and complicate our case and give the court a path around the Second Amendment.

Thankfully, on July 8, federal judge Emmet Sullivan, wishing “to avoid any protracted delay in the resolution of the merits in either case,” denied the NRA’s motion to consolidate. That means the NRA failed in its attempt to control the legal strategy. Just one week later, Sen. Hatch introduced his bill. The timing is suspicious, to say the least. If enacted, Hatch’s D.C. Personal Protection Act could result in the dismissal of our lawsuit. After all, plaintiffs cannot challenge a law that no longer exists.

Everything points to an NRA effort to frustrate Parker. Why was the bill introduced by Hatch rather than some back-bencher? Why not wait for a court decision (the legislative option is always open, even if the court were to go the wrong way on the Second Amendment)? Why did the NRA file its suit at the outset? Why raise extraneous legal claims, then move to consolidate with Parker, a clean Second Amendment case? Why include Ashcroft when he’s so obviously an improper defendant? Essentially, the NRA is saying, “If we can’t control the litigation, there will be no litigation.”

Tuesday in response to a Randy Barnette piece, I said “Perhaps the NRA’s maneuverings aren’t as self-serving as they often appear to be.”

Then again, perhaps they are. Hanlon’s Razor says “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” However, the NRA leadership has never struck me as stupid. The jury, at least for me, remains out.

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