Standing By While Its Citizens Die
Whatever right the Second Amendment guarantees, it does not require the District to stand by while its citizens die.
–Washington, DC Attorney General Linda Singer
That line is the sine qua non of the District’s case against the repeal of its unconstitutional gun ban. This is wholly ironic since DC has consistently fought to uphold its right to do just that: stand by while its citizens are raped, robbed, and, and kidnapped.
From Gura & Possessky’s response to DC’s petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court:
V. Citizens Under Criminal Attack Are Not Required to Stand By and Die Awaiting Police Protection.
Petitioners correctly note that the Second Amendment “does not require the District to stand by while its citizens die.” Pet. at 30 (emphasis added). Yet the city consistently fights to secure its right to stand by while its citizens are victimized by crime. For example, the city has successfully defended its right to “stand by while its citizens” are raped, kidnapped from their homes, and further abused. Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1981) (enbanc).
The city has likewise successfully defended its right to “stand by” in the face of the worst urban rioting in our nation’s history. Westminster Investing Co. v. G.C. Murphy Co., 434 F.2d 521 (D.C. Cir. 1970). The city has even defended its right to “stand by while its citizens die” when the perpetrator is a police officer. Morgan v. District of Columbia, 468 A.2d 1306 (D.C. 1983) (en banc).
Indeed, the city has asserted its right to “stand by while its citizens die” in the course of volunteering their assistance to the police. Butera v. District of Columbia, 235 F.3d 637 (D.C. Cir. 2001).
Petitioners cannot be begrudged their arguments that they are under no general obligation to protect citizens from violent crime. As a matter of tort law, Petitioners’ position is consistent with accepted notions of sovereign immunity and the public duty doctrine. And as a matter of constitutional law, citizens do not enjoy any positive right to police protection. DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep’t of Social Servs., 489 U.S. 189 (1989); Castle Rock, 545 U.S. 748.
Petitioners’ sincere desire to reduce violent crime is unquestioned. And Petitioners’ consistent assertion of immunity for failing to police the city is valid policy, borne of the regrettable truth that even the best police force cannot perfectly protect the general population against violence. Accordingly, the people’s need for Second Amendment rights is inevitably, regardless of Petitioners’ best intentions, a matter of life and death.
Because of Petitioners’ demonstrated – even if understandable – inability to police the entire city, local government cannot substitute for the right of individuals to keep functional firearms in their homes…
If the city does not wish to “stand by while its citizens die,” it has many opportunities to act without infringing upon the Bill of Rights…
In the meantime, people need not stand by and die while waiting for Petitioners to provide a safe city in which to live. The Second Amendment guarantees to citizens something that Petitioners have expressly and consistently disclaimed any legal obligation to provide: an effective means of preserving their lives.
crossposted on The Main Adversary