Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies and a member of the board of directors at the Cato Institute.
GLENN: Let’s go to Bob Levy. He’s with the Cato Institute. Bob, what do you think of this ruling today, Supreme Court?
LEVY: Well, I couldn’t be more happy. We filed this case about five years ago on behalf of Mr. Keller and five other plaintiffs and the court, at least a majority put forth, and they finally recognize the Second Amendment secures the individual right.
GLENN: How fragile is this, Bob?
LEVY: It’s not five members at all. Five members on the court are all it takes and that’s what we got and Justice Scalia couldn’t have been clearer. It’s an individual right, it includes the right of self-defense and people in Washington D.C. can now go and apply to register handguns. D.C. law has prevented the registration of all functional firearms for all people, all owners at all times for all purposes and the Court said without any equivocation whatsoever this is impermissible, it violates the Second Amendment. That’s good news for D.C. residents.
GLENN: What do you expect to come out of this? In the next year what do you think’s going to happen? What is New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. look like? What does)
LEVY: Well, Washington has been resolved. Of course, there are going to be a lot of procedural things going on about changing the law and about registering handguns. The other cities are much more complicated because it has never been determined and is not determined by today’s decision whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. So there will have to be litigation that fleshes that question out, and there will also have to be litigation that determines the scope of the right that’s secured. So we know, for example, there’s nothing wrong with keeping guns away from kids, keeping guns away from crazy people, keeping weapons of mass destruction away from terrorists. They don’t have a Second Amendment right to that. So we’ll have to find out exactly what are the rights that are permissibly regulated and which ones are impermissibly regulated. That’s going to take more litigation.
GLENN: Because Washington D.C. is not a state, it’s just a city, it may have different rights. For instance, the State of New York could say we’re not going to issue any kind of carry permits, we’re not going to issue permits for guns, and they can get away with that in New York City?
LEVY: Well, it’s not so much that Washington D.C. is a city. It’s that Washington D.C. is a federal enclave which is governed by federal law, whereas New York has its own set of laws which applies not only to the state but to cities within New York as well. So there will have to be additional litigation to determine whether states and cities outside of Washington, which is a federal state, whether states and cities elsewhere will be governed by the Second Amendment. I think the answer to that is yes and I think the Court will agree with me, but it has not yet been finally determined.
GLENN: All right. But if it does happen, that’s actually not so horrible because you could always just move to a state that understood the Constitution. I mean, these states, some of these states are getting so far away from the Constitution. I mean, jeez, I don’t even know how it’s America anymore in some of these states. But you could find those states that would say you have an absolute right to own a gun. But then the whole thing kind of breaks down, doesn’t it? You’ve got one —
LEVY: The states have been pretty good on this. 44 states do recognize an individual right under their state laws and state constitutions. 48 states allow concealed carry with various degrees of discretion. So it hasn’t been so much the states. It’s been the municipalities that are passing their own regulations under power that’s delegated from the state. They are the ones like New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, they are the ones that are going to be challenged and they are the ones that have to get — will down the road be overturned.
GLENN: Bob, thank you very much. Appreciate all your hard work.
LEVY: My pleasure, thank you.
GLENN: You bet. Bye-bye.