Gun-rights advocates believe they have set off a ticking time bomb that will prevent the Democrats from avoiding the gun question in the 2008 presidential election, writes George Washington University law Prof. Jeffrey Rosen in Time magazine. If by June 2008 the Supreme Court affirms last month’s decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washingon, D.C., striking down the capital’s ban on private handgun possession at home, Democrats may be forced “to choose between supporting an unpopular handgun ban and conceding that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right,” Rosen says. He adds that such an outcome might create a backlash that could ultimately help the cause of gun control rather than hurt it.
If the courts embrace the view that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental right of individuals to arm themselves for uses like self-defense, it could open the floodgate to a wave of challenges to many moderate regulations. “You could very easily envision a challenge to the Brady Law on the grounds that there shouldn’t be background checks for the exercise of a constitutional right,” says Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. A Supreme Court ruling in the D.C. gun-ban case “could do for gun-control advocates what Roe v. Wade did for pro-life advocates,” says Robert Spitzer, political scientist at SUNY Cortland and author of The Politics of Gun Control. “It could be a catalyzing event.”