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NRA’s win v. housing authority another victory over ‘gun-free’ zones

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Yesterday’s victory for the National Rifle Association against the Wilmington, Del., Housing Authority’s anti-gun regulations was not the first such gun rights win, and if other housing authorities don’t get the message, it may not be the last.

The NRA’s victory, headlining today's The Gun Wire, is being reported as “a surprising blow to public housing officials” by the News Journal, which should not be such a surprise, considering last year’s win by the Second Amendment Foundation in a case against the Warren County, Ill., housing authority, and an earlier settlement in a case involving the NRA and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in a 2008 lawsuit against the San Francisco Housing Authority. That case was settled in 2009 when the Housing Authority amended its rules.

Gun bans, or overly restrictive gun regulations, in public housing are not allowed. That has been the consistent outcome of such cases, and equally consistent has been the reaction of bureaucracies on the losing side.

As the Delaware coverage notes, “The ruling directly contradicts a July 2012 ruling by U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark who found that the limits on residents carrying guns in common areas like lounges, halls and laundry rooms was ‘a reasonable policy’. Judge Stark is an Obama appointee.

Housing Authority Executive Director Frederick S. Purnell was quoted stating his disappointment, observing, “Overall I think the ruling sets us back.” Back from what? More than half of the people responding to a poll about the outcome agree with the decision.

Purnell reportedly contended that restrictions on guns in common areas of the public housing project “struck a good balance between the right to bear arms and the overall mandate we have to provide a safe environment for our residents.”

What’s to balance? Where does it say the exercise of a civil right is somehow an imbalance to “a safe environment” for other housing authority residents?

Like it or not, this relates to last year’s effort by former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington CeaseFire to cajole private businesses in Seattle to declare themselves “gun free zones,” and a story in yesterday’s Washington Times about a South Carolina pub that posted a sign in the window barring concealed firearms and calling gun owners “losers” and “d….bags.”

The newspaper reported that the pub owner, who would only identify himself as “Pete,” reportedly described himself as a “conservative Democrat” who supports gun rights, “not the ‘big-ass liberal’ people are painting him to be.”

The Washington Times did not make clear when the sign went up, but according to the BearingArms blog, backlash has been swift.

Underlying all of this appears to be an effort, whether deliberate or subconscious, to make the public increasingly uncomfortable about firearms in their midst. That horse has left the barn, however, because of the millions of gun owners across the nation who legally carry firearms in public places.

Those armed citizens are already out there, amongst the people, going about their business in a peaceable manner and harming nobody. That is the part of this equation that gun prohibitionists haven’t discussed.

Yesterday’s NRA court victory is another step in what may be a fairly long road back to what many gun rights activists describe as a “full restoration” of the Second Amendment as it was envisioned and adopted by the Founders in 1787 and ratified in 1789. Most of that erosion has occurred in the past century, so it is going to take a while to regain ground.

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