The Supreme Court has spoken this morning, and I'm seriously reconsidering my line of work. The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms restrictions intact.
It's no surprise that a majority-this majority-viewed the handgun ban as unconstitutional. But some of the reasoning seems breathtaking in its utter stupidity. Justice Scalia, in a comment ripe for riposte on the Daily Show, wrote that the handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense because (in part) "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police." And you can also use your foot at the same time to kick the intruder in the groin! While plunking a ukelele with the other one!
Of course, now that the door has been opened and the red carpet laid out for the NRA, all sorts of challenges to state regulations will introduced, and some will surely be thrown out on the constitutionality grounds that this ruling invites. Here in Kansas, we have almost no restrictions on handguns anyway: we have conceal-carry, we don't have to report lost or stolen guns, there are no limits on the bulk purchase of guns, and no assault weapons ban. One of the few sensible ideas that we haven't gotten around to messing with is that there is no law forcing the Universities to allow guns on campuses. This means that we can (and do) post signs on doors that note a prohibition on handguns in University buildings. But I'm betting that, with this decision today, someone will introduce a bill in the next legislative session that will reverse even that.
As someone who works in a University, I've spoken with colleagues who have students about whom they have serious qualms. In speaking to administrators here, I've learned about the surprising number of restraining orders taken out by students against other students, faculty against students, etc. There is already no restriction on the selling of handguns to juveniles here. I'm waiting to see what happens, with utter disbelief that the Court knowingly opened the door to bringing the wild west back to the prairie.