D.C. Mayor: Court Ruling May Mean More Violence
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
A landmark decision today from the Supreme Court. By a vote of five to four, the justices ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to own guns. The ruling struck down the strictest gun-control law in the country, the District of Columbia's ban on owning handguns. NPR's Libby Lewis reports.
LIBBY LEWIS: There are plenty of people here in the nation's capital who agree with Wayne LaPierre, leader of the National Rifle Association. He called the five-to-four ruling a great moment in American history, but just don't go looking for them in the Trinidad neighborhood in northeast D.C.
Ms. BARBARA ANNISON(ph) (Washington, D.C.): So what about that means, that people are going to be able to get guns? Oh no, I hope not.
LEWIS: Barbara Annison, 60, has lived in Trinidad for 30 years. She had a hard time believing the Supreme Court overturned the district's ban against handguns.
Ms. ANNISON: Don't we have enough crime out here, killing, and everybody gets - I mean, they're already getting the gun, but this way everybody, you know. And you can walk the streets, somebody just (unintelligible) you. I'm totally against it.
LEWIS: Her tree-lined neighborhood got in the national spotlight recently when D.C.'s police set up a military-style checkpoint after a spate of violence that left seven people dead in 24 hours. Now, the highest court in the land that individuals have the right to own guns as a means of self-defense.
Ms. ANGELA BRISCO(ph) (Washington, D.C.): What they (unintelligible), I'm going to get me one, because that's what it's going to come to. We're going to be like the O.K. Corral.
LEWIS: That's Angela Brisco, 46. She lives off 16th Street here. She and her friend, Michelle Johnson(ph), were outside having pizza for lunch.
Ms. BRISCO: We all know the illegal guns was out here killing people, but even if you're able to go purchase a gun now, and they get in the wrong hands…
LEWIS: Brisco and Johnson didn't think much of the court's distinction between handguns kept inside for self-defense and guns that wind up on the streets. Johnson nodded at her four-year-old daughter, Ariel(ph).
Ms. MICHELLE JOHNSON (Washington, D.C.) It's upsetting because little kids like my daughter would think, if she sees something like that, it's fun to play with, and they don't understand when you have toddlers, you have to explain to your kids what guns are.
LEWIS: They said Washington, D.C.'s mayor, Adrian Fenty, was just in their neighborhood, and Ariel met him, and he knows just how they feel, but they said they're going to tell the mayor again, just to make sure.
While they were talking about calling the mayor, Fenty was telling reporters he believes that more handguns will only lead to more handgun violence.
Mayor ADRIAN FENTY (Washington, D.C.): And as mayor of the District of Columbia, I think I speak for the near-unanimous population here in the city when we say we're disappointed, we wish the ruling had gone the other way but that we stand here, and we respect the court's power to make this ruling.
LEWIS: Acting Attorney General Peter Nichols said the city would set up a hotline for residents once it decides just how to deal with the decision.
Mr. PETER NICHOLS (Acting Attorney General): Now let me be very clear. You cannot go out today, if you have a handgun, and carry it around. This is not open season with handguns. We are going to strictly regulate the registration of handguns, and there will be no authorization of automatics or semi-automatics.
LEWIS: There are no gun shops in the city, and the city could decide to use its zoning powers to keep them out. Ron Moten with the anti-violence group Peacaholics called it a sad day for Washington, D.C.
Mr. RON MOTEN (Peacaholics): We don't believe that people really understand the magnitude that this decision will have. We already have a black market in D.C. where drugs and guns are being smuggled from Maryland, Virginia and beyond. What this would do is open up the drug market even more in D.C., where people will be selling guns, buying guns, selling guns.
LEWIS: He said he believes the decision will only make his group's work harder. Libby Lewis, NPR News, Washington.
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