For 31 years, it has been illegal in Washington, D.C., to buy, sell or own a handgun–a law now up for review at the Supreme Court. Newsweek finds a former Washington drug dealer, 19, who says it wouldn’t be much trouble to get guns there, ban or no ban. “I wasn’t tripping on D.C. laws,” he says. Dick Heller, 65, a security guard who lives in a once drug-ridden D.C. neighborhood, filed the challenge to the city’s gun ban with backing from libertarian attorneys. If the justices adopt the individual-rights view and strike down the D.C. restrictions, it will set off a wave of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of gun-control laws nationwide.
That doesn’t mean all those laws would be struck from the books. Even if the justices decide there is an individual right to bear arms, they could still uphold the D.C. ban as a reasonable measure to protect public safety. there’s also a possibility that the justices could rule the Second Amendment does not apply to Washington, a federal enclave ultimately controlled by Congress, and leave it at that. It’s hard to argue that what Washington needs is more guns. This year, 169 people have been murdered there–77 percent with firearms. Heller, who brought the case, woke up one day to find a window of his Capitol Hill home punctured by a stray bullet. To Heller, who is licensed to carry a weapon for his job guarding federal buildings, the law has it backward. “I can protect [federal workers], but at the end of the day they say, ‘Turn in your gun, you can’t protect your home’.”