Palmer v. D.C.



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By Kurt Hofmann, August 6th, 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin

Much has been written, and with good reason, about a federal court decision finding Washington D.C.'s outright ban of the carrying of defensive firearms in the city, whether openly or concealed, to be unconstitutional, and thus illegitimate. Senior Judge Frederick J. Scullin, of the United States District Court, District of Columbia, on Saturday, July 26, ruled that this total ban of armed self-defense is a violation of the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.

DC Metropolitan
PD Chief Cathy Lanier

That ruling prompted Washington D.C. Metropolitan PD Chief Cathy Lanier to issue orders to not arrest anyone carrying firearms registered in the District. That turns out to have been a very brief respite for D.C. residents who resent their government-mandated defenselessness, as Lanier immediately rescinded the orders when Judge Scullin issued a 90-day stay on his ruling, at the District's request, as they appeal the decision.

Lost in all this is the story of Tom Palmer, the lead plaintiff in the case, and thus in a very real sense the driving force behind an effort that might potentially represent the greatest advance in history in the federal government's recognition of the right to armed self-defense outside the home.

Tom Palmer

Palmer, an openly gay man, may well be alive only because he decided that his life was more important than adherence to laws that demand his helplessness, so he was prepared to effectively resist the hate crime that almost claimed his life in 1982. From Jessica Lee's interview with Palmer in the Washington Blade:

Palmer, who is gay, was close to being a victim of a hate crime until be pulled out his gun and defended himself, perhaps saving his life. I had the opportunity to interview Palmer and our exchange follows.

Washington Blade: What made you decide to get involved in gun rights?

Tom Palmer: I have long been a believer in the idea that if you aren't harming the rights of others, you should be left alone. My own experience showed that a firearm evens up the odds when brute force is on the side of brutal people. I'm alive today because my mother gave me a firearm to carry and I had it when I needed it. No one got killed, which is just the way I prefer it. Had I not had it that night in 1982, we would have been beaten or stabbed to death.

Image, Oleg Volk

Forcible citizen disarmament advocates would of course much prefer that an outspoken gun rights advocate not be gay, because as self-proclaimed "progressives," they believe that it is their side that deserves to don the mantle of "Protector of Gays" (and blacks, and children and females). Simultaneously, their narrative portrays the gun rights movement as being monolithically white, straight, male, and middle-aged or older, and bigoted against any who do not share all those characteristics.

That narrative is becoming more difficult to sustain, with Top Shot champion shooter Chris Cheng now providing commentary on the NRA's news channel, with a particular focus on the racial, religious, gender, lifestyle, and cultural diversity of gun rights advocates. From the National Journal:

Chris Cheng

Then, last year, Cheng took to his blog to announce he was gay. This wasn't a surprise to his friends and family: Cheng and his boyfriend had been together for four and a half years. But he wanted people to see that gun owners were a diverse set of people—and who better than a gay, racially diverse, tech-geek-turned-champion-marksman to deliver the message?

In April, Cheng officially signed on as a news commentator for the NRA.

It is an article of faith among the gun ban zealots that racial minorities, women, the LGBT community, etc., owe the self-proclaimed "progressives" their allegiance, and in failing to deliver that allegiance, they are not only working against their own self interests, but committing a kind of ideological "treason," as well.

But it is they, the "progressives," who hope to keep these most vulnerable members of society disarmed and defenseless. It is they who claim that the best protection for such people is "hate crime" laws, making it "more illegaller" to commit heinous violence against someone if the assailant was motivated by hate for a group his victim is a part of, rather than anything about the victim himself.

Tom Palmer is fighting for everyone's Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. That makes him a far better man than any who oppose his efforts.

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A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.

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