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D.C. Residents Demand Second Amendment Freedoms

Friday, April 4, 2003


The National Rifle Association today announced its support for the lawsuit filed by five Washington D.C. residents in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C.), to vindicate the rights of D.C. residents to exercise the same rights held by American citizens in every State in the Union to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs; Sandra Seegars, Gardine Hailes, Absalom Jordan, Jr., Carmela Brown and Robert Hemphill are all residents of D.C. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, "Under the majesty of our Constitution, every law-abiding American, including the law-abiding residents of our nation`s capital, has the right to protect themselves and their loved ones from criminal harm. These five plaintiffs are lifelong residents of Washington, D.C.`s working class neighborhoods whose personal safety and the safety of their families have been on the line since this gun ban took effect. Some of them have been victims of violent crime and are lucky to be alive today. Ex-Senator Warren Rudman best distinguishes D.C.`s dangerous state of affairs, ‘Honest people don`t have guns and criminals do.`" NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox added, "The core of any substantive policy designed to reduce violent crime ought to be on disarming criminals. The current D.C. strategy is senseless. Law-abiding residents have to contend with a draconian law that leaves them defenseless when confronted with a violent criminal. In our nation`s capital, the criminal has the advantage over the victim. That is unacceptable and it is deplorable." Plaintiff Absalom Jordan Jr., a resident of Southeast D.C., echoed similar sentiments. "Law enforcement is overworked and by definition, arrive after the crime has been committed when it`s too late. Why can`t I have the right to protect my family? The Mayor and all the VIPs on Capitol Hill get abundant protection from their respective security details…and at taxpayer expense! Why are their lives more valuable than those of my children? All I want is a means to protect my family, should the need arise," lamented Mr. Jordan. In addition to the Second Amendment, the suit also raises additional constitutional issues in regard to this gun ban. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. It is the position of this legal action that the D.C. Code deprives D.C. residents of liberty and property by authorizing them to possess pistols on the condition that they are registered, but simultaneously prohibiting them from registering the pistols [see D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)]. The complaint also cites The Civil Rights Act of 1866 that provides in part: "All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory…the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property as is enjoyed by white citizens…" This was intended to protect the same rights as its counterpart, the Freedmen`s Bureau Act of 1866, which guaranteed "the right…to have full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and [estate], including the constitutional right to bear arms. The plaintiffs filed the suit against John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States and, Anthony A. Williams, Mayor of D.C., in their official capacities. All plaintiffs are eligible to own a firearm under federal statute.

Read the complaint (1.5 MB, PDF format) filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. --nra--

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.